Cheakamus River, Sunday, September 13, 2020
by Leigh B –
It was the Orange Boats’ Turn.
Some trips – only red boats dump, others – blue boats dump.
Often though – it’s a rainbow of boats dumping.
But this trip, it was the orange boats’ turn.
Due to the wildfires in the western United States, we had a lot of smoke in the air.
The drive up (and home) from Squamish was ethereal. At no point on Highway 99 was the ocean visible. I kept looking, but all I could see was white where the ocean was supposed to be. It was unsettling, to say the least.
Alain and Anne were at the meeting place to greet all of us. There would be three tandem boats, (Anne and Alain, Alison and Max, and Ian and Jaylene) and five, solos, (Greg, Stephanie, Luke, Tim and me). Shuttles were arranged and off we went.
The road to the put in is getting more rutted than ever and not to be considered unless you have good ground clearance. The unorganized campers were there in abundance and are making an awful mess of this paradise. So sad.
Alain had promised a perfect water levels (29cm3/s) and he did not disappoint.
Before putting in, our pre-trip meeting mentioned the first corner was woody. Everyone was aware and needed to be cautious. Of course, pre-trip jitters immediately took hold of me so I made a beginner’s mistake, I looked at where the problems in the rapid were and promptly went exactly where I was looking. Alain had a throw rope out immediately and tossed the rope into my outstretched hand. I was out before I was wet! Tim grabbed my boat, so all was well.
After that, everyone was relieved the trip report issue had been resolved and they all relaxed. Lots and lots of play spots. Everyone had lots of opportunity to surf and eddy as we headed downstream. Before you knew it, we were approaching Culliton Creek.
We pulled over to see what changes may have taken place. We could see wood on river left so we all opted for river right. Some skirted the rock and immediately popped into the eddy behind it, but most ran towards curve at the bottom of the rapid and scooted into eddies there. Most of the folks played at the rapid before stopping for lunch.
The rest of the trip was great and we finally saw a “full moon” in the sky (it was the sun) and although it was never revealed fully, it was nice to know the sun was out above the smoke. Since I haven’t paddled below the baily bridge in at least a million years, the bottom was a joy for me. It was so very beautiful. The last rapid was successfully run by all, and the takeout on river left was fine. We all helped get the boats up before the end shuttle.
Alain, thanks for organizing this trip and thanks to all who participated and shared this great trip. It was fun.