Northern BC Creeking: T-Town

Photo: Jean-Francois Bisson
Every time I think this place can’t get any better, I get a full face-slap of awesomeness in the form of new and challenging whitewater. I am not sure what is harder these days, deciding which runs to do out of the large list of surrounding potential, or keeping myself motivated with my studies. Ill let you know when I find that balance, pass or fail....
I have been fortunate in having a solid group of Yukon residing Quebecois in town for the past couple weeks who are always up for boating. My lawn is littered with boats, tents and gear; wouldn’t have it any other way. This is perhaps a different story for my landlord... I am halfway through an Emergency Care practicum in an out of town hospital, so every day off I race back to Terrace to keep boating with these guys.
In the past two weeks we have covered all the classics around Terrace, as well as many not-so-classics. These include some higher than recommended runs of some out-of-the-way creeks, and a few park and hucks. The day before yesterday for example we spent almost 7hrs total of hiking for a first D of pretty remote creek. Turns out the water was mucho high, too much in fact to run the big boys which included a curling frothy crap-your-pants 50footer, and another beautiful clean 40 footer with technical class 5 lead up (at current river level). Both of these falls occur within a couple hundred yards of each other, and will be good to go when levels drop, mark my words. It is worth a mention that a few kilometers down river of those two falls is another 40-50 footer, but that one looks horrible and lands on rocks. Definitely more walking than boating on that trip, but is an example of what is to be discovered in ‘em hills with a little effort. Each of the runs shown in the following pics are each worthy of a write-up, but pictures will have to do for now as I am currently back to work.

Headed to Butze Rapids, Prince Rupert

Granite Creek
photo: d.schwartz

T-cup, Granite Creek

Kleanza Creek, a T-town classic

Put-in drop, Blue Fungus, East Boulder creek (low!)

Maintenance in Rockstar Canyon, Williams Creek

Guilluame running lead up rapid, which sets you up for the first major Rockstar drop

worth the work, Rockstar Canyon

2nd main drop in Rockstar

below Rockstar canyon

well worth the hike, Location X

all up in it, with Louis looking on - first drop on Khatada River
photo: Jean-Francois Bisson

Louis on Khatada, first drop

Last drop, Khatada
photo: Jean-Francois Bisson

Wesache falls
photo: Jean-Francois Bisson

Scissors beats Paper, Louis goes first and ops for the ol' paddle toss
photo: Jean-Francois Bisson

after Louis's little mishap, I decided to hang onto my paddle!
photo: Jean-Francois Bisson

Sam Drouin on a fluffy rockstar drop
All in all, pretty solid 2 weeks! Until next time..........


Moments after I just sold my creek boat I received a call from my good buddy Alex.  Appalachian State had just finished finals and everyone had left town, Alex was looking for someone to boat with.  Boone had been slammed with rain and the Watauga was at a healthy flow, as well as Linville.  Scrambling to get a boat, I was out the door and on the way to the High Country.  It was the usual late afternoon lap and luckily we managed to bum shuttle to grab two laps before the sun shifted behind the mountains.  10 miles of paddling later and we were starving looking for food.  Planning on attending a party later I passed out before 9 o'clock.

6:45 came early the next morning, rushing out the door to meet the crew for a Linville lap.  But this day we planned on paddling from the falls to the lake.  A total of 16 miles, I knew it was going to be an enduring day.  Shuttle was set and we was bush whacking  our way to the base of the falls.  It was 10:30 and we were launching into the water.  The paddle to Babel Tower was new to most of the group, while John Grace, Eric Chance and Toby McDermott showed us the lines.  Following close behind Toby, I quickly noticed we were rolling up on Babel Tower and he was not stopping.  Fired up, we went straight into the rapid as seen:

Having multiple miles left, we charged hard within the difficult gorge.  At that speed, the rapids came fast and provided a new exciting challenge.  The group had great lines and made work of the miles presented downstream.  The following photo is of Cave Falls, luckily I caught the difficult line and rode the slide across.

We had lunch before paddling into Cathedral Gorge and took a break to rest our bodies.  Once hydrated and fueled we moved deeper into the Gorge.  Taking a few new lines was interesting and challenging for the group.  The shot is the final falls of Cathedral Gorge.
Surprisingly we were not finished with the difficult whitewater and still had about six miles left.  Exhausted we paddled on, navigating our way on down.  Miles later we were finally able to relax and paddle the runout.  

Trips like this give me a greater sense of how far one can push themselves within paddling and the great sport of kayaking.  This experience is one that I shall never forget and I day dream of when I will be able to explore again, with my boat and paddle.  Thanks WRSI for your support. (Photos: Eric Chance)

Kindly,  Ty Caldwell


April 2012

2012 Paddling Season...Game-On!

Start me UP 2012!

Another cold Canadian winter has come and gone. 
Paddling season 2012 is underway!  
The 2012 paddling season started off with my 
annual migration to Tennessee.  Lenoir CityTN 
is where we call home for 9 days.  

This area keeps calling us back year after year
because of the combination of warm sunny 
weather and hundreds of creeks to choose from within a 150 mile

There is a ridiculous selection of rivers and creeks to 
paddle close by when the rain Gods shower us with 
merriment, and for times when there is no rain to chase,
 there are always a few steadfast reliable go-to options. 
The concept of “chasing rain” is rather foreign to 
Ontario paddlers whose hometown creeking window is
 2 weeks long comprised primarily of snow melt. Chasing
 rain is a delicate balance of figuring out flows on the fly 
and estimating with some luck to determine which aspect
 of a creek is prime.  If the lower sections are in flood, 
one needs to travel higher up the run, above a tributary or five.

Another great part of paddling in the area is a variety in landscapes.
  To the South, are the Great Smokey Mountains
The Smokey’s are a fantastic place to paddle and photograph 
as river access is straight forward and paved roads often snake 
alongside the river.  The ability to help out an injured paddler 
or to swap out camera equipment is fantastic. The rivers in this 
watershed tend to be clean and clear, many of these rivers as 
well are host to fantastic drops and waterfalls. Rocks tend to 
be round and frequent.  It’s a flowing boulder garden where 
dream boofs come true.

To the North-West is the Cumberland Plateau which has a 
different character entirely. (I’ll save that for another blog).
The bottom line is that when paddling friends converge into 
this area and the water is flowing, great times are about to 
happen.  In seven days of paddling, we hit some rivers for the 
first time, and others multiple times because they are just too 
good not to.  Highlights included the Crooked Fork, Tellico, 
Conasauga, and the Little River Smokies. These rivers are 
always thrilling to boat. 

Baby Falls

The Tellico River is a South-Eastern classic, which 
serves as an excellent example to try and capture what 
it is that draws me in time after time. The Tellico River has 
crystal clear water, beautiful scenery and a mountainous setting, 
these aspects combined are a great excuse for a weekend hike…..
add water and you’ve got a class 3-4 playground that is nothing 
short of awesome.  The ledges make for great glory boof practice. 
Boofing the beak!

Tight eddies throughout to sharpen skills along the way.  
Baby Falls is the perfect learn-to waterfall….so long as 
you get out before diaper wiper if you find yourself on the 
“Tellico swim team”. 

"Safety Break"

Just below baby falls is the famous post card image at 
Bald River Falls.  It’s a great carry-up waterfall when water
 flows are sufficient. Shooting the lower section is a very 
intimidating set up and an incredibly exciting entrance.  
The rocks at the top are very slick and words are difficult
 to communicate over the thunderous roar of the upper 
waterfall section. 

Bald River Falls

Continuous class 2-3 three leads you to the most technical aspect 
to the river…Jarrod’s knee.  It is a five sectioned rapid that 
never disappoints. As a whole, it’s rather confusing, but when
 you break it down into 5 separate steps, it seems to fit 
together like puzzle pieces.  I have sat and studied this rapid 
many times over, and I still have much to learn. 
This is part of the beauty in rivers….so many secrets…
so much to know and learn. If you get a chance to paddle
 in Tennessee, don’t pass it up, you’ll be in for an awesome time!


Katie Dean Skunk Tour, Chattooga

Zach Dean, smiling his way down Sock-em-dog
Imagine going on a hike with a 50 pound kayak on your shoulder. Now load that kayak full with all the gear you need to go camping. Squish in some canyoneering equipment, and sling that expensive multi media gear over your shoulder. Self support kayaking can be a physical challenge. This is not a story about a cumbersome multi day. This is the Katie Dean Skunk Tour, LIVE on the Chattooga River! overnight style. 
Kate Walsh going deep
The weather had been funky for a few days and the phone rang, Katie Dean was her enthusiastic self, "I think the Raven Fork is going to run tomorrow, you want to go?" I responded with a quick "of course." Katie and her husband, Zach Dean, would meet me early the next morning. We were looking to catch the highest possible flows on the infamous steep creek.

Katie Dean launching her way down the Chattooga
Upon awaking I drove for an hour and was just a few miles outside of Cherokee North Carolina, the home of the Raven Fork creek. The phone rang again, and I was anticipating the worse. It had barely rained over night, Katie's unenthusiastic voice almost told the story faster then she did, " it looks pretty low". After a few minutes of conversation we decide that we would change planes entirely and head over to the Eternity Hole to do some play boating.

Arriving at the Eternity Hole, the river looked even lower then the Raven Fork. We checked flows on the internet again, and realized that the damn release would not start flowing for another four hours. We were double skunked. At this point the morale started to fade quickly. Standing on the side of the road staring at the second dry river bed before 10am lead to twiddling thumbs.

Looking up the beautiful Chattooga canyon
We all took turns starring at the iPhone the only thing on boatingbeta.com that had any water in it was the Chattooga. After a delayed conversation wondering if we were going to get triple skunked, the decision was made, we hoped back in the vehicles and headed to the last option for good kayaking. The group was a little bummed, we thought we were going to paddle one of the toughest rivers in the South East and now were headed to the mighty class 4 Chattooga. Katie came up with a last second plan, "how about we over night it". I hadn't overnighted on a river in a while and it seemed like the best way to spice up our midweek adventure.

Katie Dean, loving the skunk tour
Swinging into the grocery store we picking up rice, beans, brats, beer, and a loaf of garlic bread. Our groups mood was skyrocketing we went from skunked to supper classic overnighter.

There are two options when doing a self support kayak trip, comfortable camping with an incredible over loaded kayak, or to take the bare minimum and deal with having nothing at camp. There are two good perks to overnighting on the Chattooga, no hiking, and easy white water. The put in is a two minutes down hill walk, the take out is at a marina, and the white water is a solid two grades easier then what we were planning on paddling earlier in the day. "Bring it all" was the resounding words at the put in, there was no limit to the amount of gear we could bring. Packing got rather fun, hat, jacket, moon shine, roman candles, warm sleeping bag, and a pile of camera gear, I was bringing it all.

The crew packing up after the second overnighter
It has been 7 or 8 years sense I paddled the Chattooga last, and after the first couple rapids I was wondering why I had waited so long to get back on such a fun stretch of white water. We camped at Sockum Dog, and got to paddle multiple laps on the "hardest" rapid on the river. A strong conversation a few beers, and a small fire kept us company late into the evening.

Zach Dean, suns out guns out
Finishing any multi day is ruff, you have to go back to the "real world". Katie, Zach and I weren't ready for the "real world" yet so, we restocked the next day and headed back into the canyon. This time I was introduced to some new characters, Kate Walsh, Autumn Gold Gronborg, Sam Causey, and Sam M. These Characters made the second lap even more of an adventure then the first. I happily call them all good friends after only knowing them for an overnight trip.

Another adventure brought to you by Chris Baer


West Fwark Tuckaseegee

We stood at the lip of a 60 foot monstrosity that I thought we had walked in below. Granted it turned out to be a monumental adventure of which the likes many of my friends are currently jealous. The West Fork of the Tuckaseegee was giving for sure and the adventure that Tim and I had set out for. We were maybe a half a mile in and had seen that two horizon lines down it dropped off the face of the gorge pretty darn well. Knowing that we were in a remote spot with much to risk we hopped out to see what I currently to believe is a full 60 feet worth of raw energy from the gorge. As we assessed the situation and where to move with portaging I knew that just below lurked another monstrosity of more epic proportion to portage as well and since we were in NC that meant a nice rhodo fest down a steep gorge. After our decision was made the portage began of the first large drop, still unsure whether its runnable at the level it was at or not... its teeth were out. The boats were lowered to the safe spot using the trusty WRSI rope and then Tim took the plunge off as low as we were able to get into the pool. With a pat of the head, big smile and the motion to begin sending the gear we got ourselves and our gear to a safe spot to look up at the drop. After looking up we looked down the gorge to see another huge horizon line which told me we had gotten in upstream of what I was trying to avoid, a massive drop known as High Falls. We found the good portage rout around the drop and made our way to the bottom with a stop along the way to see the amazing view of the falls from the side. Once at the bottom we made our way to base to chill for a water break in the amazing mist from this huge drop (easily over 100 feet). After a chill break and telling Tim that we were where I was hoping to put in originally we both realized that had we put in here we would have missed an amazing experience in exploratory boating and teamwork when on a mission. We were greeted at the base of the drop by an awesome little staged continuous drop which was lots of fun and carried the wood characteristic which made this run so dangerous and difficult to do. There are many fun rapids tucked away in the gorge and an amazing plateau area which just has some beautiful scenery after the few rapids after the big drops. Then the run picks up again and you encounter a mixed in riverwide drop. On the right is a drop of around 30 feet total that has a top drop of around 5 to 8 feet ending in a 20ish foot drop that needs a good boof. The left is a nice slide which is fun and steep but pretty gentle. A ways after this you come to another highly wooded section. Once you reach the second good slide from where you can see the road most of the wood eases up but you still need to keep aware and you get some more fun slides mixed in there. All in all it makes for a killer adventure putting in above the falls however I would not recommend it for everyone as you are putting yourself into some situations where boat scouting and solid creeking skills are necessary. That is also why I encourage everyone to look at the beta out there about this run as it soon will be easy to access by all but should not necessarily be taken on by all comers as some groups have already had problems that ended in dangerous situations and having to exit the gorge, which is no easy undertaking.


Little Cali Creek in the middle of Austria

Little Cali Creek in the middle of Austria

 Robert Machacek, Peter Schwarzkogler and i have a nice day at the little cali creek in austria. We met at 9 o clock. We knew that it is stressful and difficult. We run some wonderful First Descents in the middle of the mountauns. After 7 hours we were back at the cars. Here are some pictures from that day.

The Double Drop at the beginning

second drop

one of the nice first descents
first scouting

then run, again a great first descent

only looking but not running, nice drop, nice day

 see you on the river 
Daniel Egger