Tulameen Canyon – July 28, 2017

Rivers week was in full stride. The gang had paddled the Similkameen from Blowdown, the rarely-paddled Pasayton that everyone raved about, the Upper Similkameen to Princeton and the lower Tulameen “house rocks” run. Which is to say that everyone was paddling like fine tuned machines. Then I showed up, back in a solo boat after a half dozen years of tandem paddling with Maddie or Hannah. Might be interesting…

The thing about the upper Tulameen is that there is no gradual build up. The first kilometer hits you with hairy water right from the start, and then it’s the c-c-c-canyon. Imagine the French Connection starting with the car chase. That’s the story arc of the upper Tulameen.

We were ten boats strong, four tandem and six solos. Sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Perfect water level. Everyone looked great, like we all stepped out of an MEC commercial. And fabulous paddling. OK, maybe an opening stumble by yours truly. I don’t think it actually counts if you self rescue in under 15 seconds. But no worries, and I got to write a trip report!

After a lovely hour or so – the mystery drop! The log is gone, the level was good, Anne & Alain made it look so easy, I figure I’d just run it blind.  Nearly did it upright too!  Most boats made it fine, and a few who didn’t chose to drag boats back up over the Island and try again, to the great delight of the lunch-munching crowd.  Everyone gives a great cheer when someone makes it, but you know what they really want to see is river carnage. 

Further down, a great double surf wave that we stayed and played at for ages, getting cockier and cockier. Scott in the bow of a tandem decided to stand up while surfing. Then a headstand. Then standing and turning around – sploosh! Carey showed us a back surf. Bernard smashed into most everyone but he did get a momentary standing solo surf in. 

Oh, there were a couple of pinnings for excitement but no boats harmed. All in all, a stellar day on a stellar river run. 

Dan Burnett

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