Saturday, April 05, 2008

North to Canada- Part 1

This spring break, we went on a mission to end all to Vancouver Island, Canada. I had never been paddling North of Washington so with some convincing from Christie Glissmeyer, we loaded the truck and were driving to Canada.

Josh Mckeown and I joined forces in his vehicle and welcomed Kim as well....yes in his bench seat Tacoma, we were very cozy. We met up with Todd Baker in Portland where Kimmers left us. From Portland it was roughly a four hour drive to the port just outside of Bellingham, WA. That was four hours with limited music and lots of Wheat Thins!

Photo: Christina Russell
Crossing into Washington

We finally arrived at the port around 10:00pm. It was a LONG drive but we knew it was worth it. The decision was a unanimous one to camp out at the port. Josh and I crashed in the TAcoma and Kim and Todd squeezed into the back of his Subi. We were told by security that we would be woken up at 4:30 am to drive up to the loading dock...from which we would load at 7am. Yep. That was early so we waisted no time in gettin' to sleep.

Early the next morning, we boarded the ferry as an over sized vehicle.... If you are over seven feet high you count as oversize...just FYI.

Photo: Christina Russell
Team Aldercreek happily parked in the cargo hold on the ferry to Victoria

Being that it was very early, we all took our time in waking up. Todd went on a mad search for real coffee, Kim consulted with Todd on said "real" coffee and I walked around in the VERY brisk air on the upper deck. Yep, it worked and dang it was cold.

Photo: Christina Russell
The author enjoying the cold Canadian air

The ferry ride was about an hour and a half long which meant we arrived at our port destination around 8:30 ish. Austin immediately declared we were going grocery shopping so off to the nearest "Canada Costco" we went. Did you know they have "Gas Bars" in Canada. Not kidding.

Our ultimate destination was in Port Renfrew just five minutes from the Gordon River. Austin set us up well at two cabins WITH a hot tub....yeah we felt awkward going paddling and coming back to the hot tub....aren't expeditions supposed to be rough and tough. Not necessarily :) But don't worry, we certainly had a bit of roughing it in the days ahead.

Photo: Christina Russell Attempting to follow Austin Rathman in the infamous FJ cruiser...more on that later

Our first look at what Vancouver had to offer came in the form of a park and huck known as Bugaboo Falls. It is the put in for the lower gordon which we decided to hit on the first day. Check it out!

Photo: Christina Russell
Bugaboo Falls- 30 feet

The falls was perfect and it let directly into a 25 footer! Too good to be true we thought, and we were right. Smack dab in the middle of the second waterfall was a log making all paddling on it impossible.
Due to the wood in the second falls, we were unable to run the waterfalls and decided on paddling the lower Gordon. This section is mostly class 3/4 and ledgy. The canyon walls were steep and smooth as we would later realize is a characteristic of BC paddling.

Photo: Christina Russell
The put in for the lower Gordon

Ah yes....the put in for the Lower Gordon is a good one- steep and slippery as ever. The locals have set up a bomber system of ropes to get ya about half way down...the rest is up to you. DONT slip and fall on ur bum- ya might just break your tailbone (this comes from personal experience. I have now officially broken and rebroken my tailbone three times)

Photo: Christina Russell

A look at the canyon walls on the lower section reveals the thick foliage that lines the creeks. Bring your machete if you want to hike out! he he he the one time I forgot my machete, I really needed it. Of course, that's how it goes.

Photo: Christina Russell
Josh and the author checkin' out a spring

None of us realized how tired we were from the two days of travel but by the time we got to the bottom of the Lower Gordon, we were pooped. Ryan Scott and crew met us as we were hiking out and provided fantabulous refreshments. Thanks guys! Off to the hot tub we went.....

Part two coming soon...Stay tuned!

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