2012 has been very generous thus far! Since January I have been fortunate enough to paddle many new places with a whole lot of great people.
Things started out with a Christmas break surf trip to my home-town on Haida Gwaii, in the true NorthWest of BC. As per usual, the Islands offered up some class swell. This gave me a chance to put some new carbon surf boats acquired in November at the world championships in North Carolina to the test. Highlight was one solo afternoon where the only thing bigger than the snowflakes obscuring my vision was the perfect pitching 6footers. I also enjoyed making snowballs from what accumulated on my deck between sets and pelting my mates freezing their asses off lying in the water on their surfboards.
After my trip to Haida Gwaii, I spent a few days skiing at home in Terrace BC, then packed up my car, slapped on some studded winter tires and drove the 14 hours south to Vancouver where I wrote my Nursing registration exam (which I passed!). Immediately after my exam I crossed the border and drove to Seattle where I spent a sleepless night at the airport before hopping on a flight bound for Quito, Ecuador where I was to meet up with a crew of friends for three weeks of South American whitewater.
|some warm water boating|
|Kevin meshing with some locals|
|Dusty-Bear protecting the bags......... at all costs.|
It’s hard to summarize my trip in Ecuador. The crew I was with was the raddest group of people possible. Kev, Dusty, Dan, Aliye, Daphnee, you guys rock and roll! When not running beautiful (boofy) rivers we spent in jungle missions, experiencing new culture, and yes... partying our faces off. We primarily based ourselves out of a town called Tena, and I was surprised at how set up things were for international kayakers. In Tena we stayed at El Welcome Break hostel, which caters to boaters, is clean, and cheap. It also is home to numerous hammocks which we logged considerable hours in when not on the many surrounding rivers. The whitewater was all good to go around Tena, and we managed to find some tasty nuggets to fall off. Ecuador carnage consisted of a popped out shoulder for Kevin Whiting who managed to pop it back in under water and hand roll back up, and one massive impact to the back of my head on a rapid called Dos Huevos. I won’t go into details, but was very much thankful for having a reliable brain-bucket. Even such, I was treated to an underwater comet-show and had to concentrate extremely hard to remember how to roll back up.
|El' Welcome Break Hostal, Tena|
|myself on Hollin Chico Photo: Kevin Whiting|
|Dusty-Bear, in charge and going large Photo: Kevin Whiting|
|Kevin Whiting following his brother|
|Dan Whiting with a big stroke off the lip Photo: Kevin Whiting|
After Ecuador, I flew back to Seattle and power-bombed my way back North to Terrace as the snow reports were huge and all my friends back home were raving about conditions. February and March were filled with some days in the mountains and two more trips to Haida Gwaii for some surfing.
|Haida Gwaii sunset|
My first river run in Terrace was my birthday present to myself on March 20th. After a half hour of waist-deep snow hiking to the put in, I was then held hostage in the middle of the river by an angry momma moose who was rather upset with me and would not let me away from the rock I was cowering behind. After almost an hour of mock charges, I decided enough was enough and crawled myself and my boat up the snow filled river bank to portage around the moose and put in below her. I’ve portaged a few rapids in my life, but that was my first wildlife induced portage. And, after putting back in and floating down river a few minutes, I almost made a mess in my drysuit when the baby moose (that mom must have been trying to protect) ran out of the woods to check me out. Needless to say I survived, but it was a close call for my underwear...
In the past month, the rivers around Terrace have been steadily increasing in volume and awesomeness. The most consistent run lately has been the Kalum river, home to Slapwave, which right now feels like surfing on the back of a herd of hungry stampeding vampire grizzlybears. Other highlights of the past month include a run down the notorious Copper km8 canyon labelled by a brand new Northern BC whitewater guidebook as: “not for the faint of heart, intense, violent, chaotic”. It’s basically a 150m continuous big volume rapid with 4 or 5 must-make/significantly consequential moves in quick succession, which leads into a big dark (but short) canyon. I love Northern BC, and mark my words, with the snowpack this year, it’s gonna be a doozy.
|Samuel drouin with an icy scout of the stout, Copper 8km|
|the bottom of the entrance rapid|