Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Grand Canyon of the Stikine

Deep in the darkest corner British Columbia five young men came upon a monster. This beast was no animal, no true terror, yet a beautiful calm river passing under a steel bridge.

The Grand Canyon of the Stikine has always been a very sought after big water adventure. Held within the clutches of one of North Americas deepest canyons this piece of whitewater has always been mesmerizing to those up to its challenge. Rob Lesser an elder legend discovered this places amazing whitewater potential in the late 70's. Trying its first descent in 81', failing, then returning 84' for the complete run of the canyon. Not until many many years later did all the runnable rapids get fired off. This is not due to their difficulty, but rather the shear aspect of being far far from any help.

Back to our story... It was late night after two full days of being packed like sardines in a Subaru, we stopped, paddled out into the darkness to check the bridge gauge to see our flow and then determine our fate. danda, danda, thats like "Jaws"... it was perfect, 4.5 notches showing. Oh baby we were flying high. We soon arrived in Dease lake where we posted up in a small hotel for the night.

The next day we cruised around and found a shuttle driver to help our quest. Trig from the local school gave a helping hand and offered a free ride if we gave a slide show on return. Of course! another night passed with drizzling rains hitting the roof. Anxious, nervous, and worried we all drove to the put in on the morning of the 5th of September. The level held and the skies were looking good. We did the whole picture session with the famous sign and with no time to waste we were off in to the unknown.

All the boys... High on life... scared as hell... and ready for war.

Right at the hi-way 37 bridge 200 meters into the 3 day run.

We didn't say much on the six mile paddle to Entrance falls, only a lot of grunting and barking like the dogs we are. Finally after what seemed like... too long, we got there. With no intentions of scouting this one we all lined up and bombed straight in to the gut of the infamous first rapid. I have almost never felt better.... it was like when someone finally opens the car door releasing your crushed finger. Maybe not the best of comparisons. It was a relief! It was on! day 1 included many classics like; Wicked Wanda, Threes Goats, Wasson's hole, Pass fail, and an uncountable amount of sick huge rapids that impressed me.

They call him Gravy, cuz he's so smooth. -Lane Jacobs Three Goats rapid day 1.

Lane and Evdog dropping into the long entrance of Pass Fail the whole rapid is massive all together.

Gravy "R.D." on Pass Fail, the big move where a bad ferry could be disastrous.

Pass Fail was huge!!! A big long rapid leading into an almost must make move around two boulders. Pushy and demanding we all made it through. 4 passers, 1 failure, but everyone was fine and stoked.

Next was Wasson's hole, which had always been the most intimidating rapid in my mind. A must run river wide ledge with a small window to miss a man eating hole. We chose to run far right and punch a window while also avoiding the gnarl wall. Far away from the biggest hole we all styled it.

Me and Lane buried in Wasson's Hole, Ian droppin' in hot.

From there down to our camp was a section I will never forget. Huge wave trains, ferries, punches, and epic canyon scenes brought us to Site Zed and our lovely camp.

Site Zed camp. What a nice place we had about 7 to 8 hours of light when we got there. We just wondered around and took pictures admiring the place we were in.

Site Zed, it looks small from here, but is at a level and size of rapid I don't get to see very often. This is my favorite shot of the trip, so pretty.

We chilled and talked about our fortune of being able to visit places like this. While we did the whole fire and eating thing the skies cleared and the sun came out. It was a sunny afternoon/evening... just what out sole's needed to recharge.

The bottom half of Site Zed. A maelstrom of nasty muck where a dam was almost put in to place, could have ruined the entire canyon.

I don't know how much all of you folks have heard about the old plans of damming this river. However years ago a hydro-electric company had all the elements aligned to dam the river at Site Zed. this would have flooded the upper narrows and seriously damaged the lower section of river. We all slipped by avoiding a near tragedy.

E.G. the Killah scouting out the biggest hole on the Stikine, Site Zed.

Anyone up for a Hairy Ferry?? First move of day 2.

It was a scary one. We couldn't see the next drop, which looked bad and this ferry was pretty stout, we didn't waste anytime. lane went and eddied up, followed quickly by Ian who flushed into the next drop blind. I went and flipped, luckily I was way out in the middle, with a airscrew-esque roll I was up in the blink of an eye and kept on giving her. Tyler came and finally Rush was down. It was a pretty weird way of running the river because once you left the crew you were so far from anyone else. It was a very individual effort in there for sure.

Day 2: It consisted of many fun read and run drops, that I may have not read if I was leading, Props "R.D.". That was until we arrived at "Always a Fucking Problem". It was a cool rapid infected with many holes that would make you pay if you chose the wrong line. We all paddled hard and killed it.

Ian routing through holes on "A. a F.P."

Some random rapid on day 2. -Lane.

After that was one of the most continuous pieces of the river. A massive committing box gorge which treated us well with boils, amazing sights, crashing waves, and one hole that almost ate us all. The day was getting a bit long when we finally reached a beautiful sight. The Wall!!!

The Wall 1. One of the best pieces of whitewater one can run. No true scouting, just the knowledge of "It flushes down the middle".

It was a huge rapid, the best of the run to that point for sure. We all just said OK and dropped in there. It is a long long section with nothing but the goods.

I remember reading a blog of Tdub's where Danial wrote, "Finally we got to ‘the wall”. Possibly one of the finest big water rapids out there, all of the elements were in play, big holes, lateral waves, gnarly undercut rocks in the riverbed, all that shit. Tommy and myself set out first and it was awesome. Big ass shit. Just a taste of what was to come on day 3." Well said sir.

Then we came hot into Garden of the Gods. It's bazaar to come from the claustrophobic feel of the whole day 2 and the Wall right into an open landscape with big boulders and pourovers. Sick light greeted us for some video and pictures.

Myself and Lane droppin' into the biggest rapid of the Garden of the Gods section.

Stoked to get to the next rapid, beautiful lighting in this section, we were blessed with blue skies.

Right after that beast we arrived at the only beach on the whole river, camp 2. We had less light to spare here at this camp, but still had plenty of time to chill and take in the sights. For all you TDub'ers out there "Follow the Fat Chief to the east as the sun sets and what you will find is pure magic".

Drying gear at camp 2. Best fire of all times, kept us all warm and loving life.

Another good night of unabridged sleep came and went as we awoke to day 3, "The Meat". All I knew is that the Hole that ate Chicago was down river of me and I was ready to look down its gut. It started off with a bang! A long rapid for about a mile ended the G.O.G. section and had us dropping into yet another tight spot.

The first biggen of the day was scary. Wall 2, essentially a huge hole you have to pretty much hit and not get surfed. There was a nice line though. Consequences are extreme on this day because all 4 of the biggest drops are pretty much stacked. Meaning if you swam at Wall 2 it would be probable to swim all the way to the bottom of V-drive. This would be BAD! This is what you have to think about though out there in Deepest Darkest Savage BC.

The Treemista is cra-ZA! Routing into the Wall 2, right above Sissors. We all had good lines here, but it was rowdy!

Sissors had a line, no doubt, but with all the above in mind no one sacked up to give her. The rock was SOOO bad on the left! Big waves lead straight into "The Hole taht ate Chicago". No photos of this one, only video. Lane, Myself, and Tyler fired it off. It was mega sick. I was very very glad to make it through with out issues. That drop kind of defined the run for me. Walled in, huge, holes, boils, paddle hard, plug, fired up!

The truly right below there is V-drive. Now this rapid, I had seen in photos before, but nothing could have prepared me to drop into this monster. The ramp honestly drops close to 30 feet into crashing waves. No joke.

Myself dropping in to V-drive the biggest rapid in mass that is run on the river. These waves are unbelievable. So big!

The Garcia bro's exiting the clutches of V-drive.

We all kind of ran the rapid at our own pace and got to the bottom of the canyon where we reunited with smiles loving our present moment. We had completed the crux section of the Stikine. More amazing big rapids lead us hot into the slot.

Ian finishing it off.

Tanzilla Slot. All of the entire Stikine river + the Tanzilla river (the waterfall in the background) squeezes through a 5 to 6 foot wide slot. It must be very deep in that there canyon. It was a cool place to see, I had heard of it, and even seen it, but never imagined how it would really look. Like putting the whole Futaleufu, Yellowstone, or Snake rivers into something that a boat couldn't fit through sideways. Crazy crazy place. After that we kept paddling through small waves and a cool canyon where we saw so many goats jumping and scaling the walls with ease. What felt like a good 10-15 miles later we reached the takeout. "Talhatan river" not Telegraph creek. We messed that up, but got it sorted out quickly.

The Grand Canyon of the Stikine could have been the best river I have ever paddled. Don't know??? It was so good I can't really compare it with what I have ever done before. It's 3 days of pure beauty and huge drops, plus you are all alone out there. I kept having to slap myself to understand that I was actually doing this, I was there. Hard to believe I was doing it after thinking so hard about it in the past, being so anxious, and growing up having this river as the Holy Grail of kayaking. All the elements fell into place. 5 good friends, all strong confident kayakers, a good water level, amazing weather, that creating the opportunity to do the impossible.

A clear starry night on this river is almost a one in a million chance. The trip of a lifetime.

All Photos by Tyler Bradt, Lane Jacobs, and Ian Garcia

Later E.G.


Fred Norquist said...

Fuck Yeah evan nice work man, that is some stouts for sure, Big water is nuts, stoked for chile man!!!

River Roots said...

All you TDUB kids. At camp two, look to where the fat chief rises, and he will guide you... Good luck to any crew attempting this canyon! May the force be with you!

Anonymous said...


Northwest Video Scrapbook said...

Yeah! Nice! Props to you boys!

Anonymous said...

Go to the tall pines in the clouds and look towards the setting sun for the sacred fat chief. Once you see him, enlightenment is very attainable


Davis Gove said...

God Damn.
This is the update I have been so anxiously waiting for. AMAZING. Complete tits. Can't wait for my day to come on this beauty.

Anonymous said...

awesome write up bro, stoked to see the footage you guys got, Congrats!


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Good job man!! waouuuw
In france, we project to do it next year...
Photos are beautiful!!
many thanks for this article EG!!

Matt said...

Hello from Dease Lake School!

Thanks for coming in to our school for the slideshow. Many of the students fish and have cabins at the mouth of the Tahltan (your pullout). They have never been up river from there or heard about people coming through the canyon. It was really eye opening and inspirational for all of the students and as well the staff who were able to watch.

We hear about the canyon and its rapids but other than looking in from a few spots along the Telegraph road, seeing it from the water was great.

Thanks again for taking the time out right before a long drive home. Good luck on your future river runs.


ps - Let us know if anybody is coming back up. Maybe we can plan a showing for the entire school...

Anonymous said...

The race is on for the first-b of all major kayaking runs around the world... which river will be next?

E.G. said...

yeah to all.... the race for the first-B is on.

The Stikine is one hell of a place go with caution and surely you must find the Fat Chief to make the run a complete experience, once that is done enlightenment will crest upon those righteous souls brave enough to face it's glory.

-killah out

Anonymous said...

nicely done evgar and the rest of you boys. outrageous place no? come and stop in portland on your way back and check out the kid. peace...polk

lperin said...

looked like a real sick were bomb, who is shooting those and with what camera?

Anonymous said...

Evan, That is amazing bro! I cant wait until I get the chance to run that monster. If I was on my shit and not in school I would have joined you boys for sure. Next time. I was nervous for you when I found out you were running it. Of course you boyz all styled it and had yet another epic. Hope to see you at home some time soon, even better I will join your tour when I graduate this shit.

Anonymous said...

double vaginal double anal, bdp stlye, raw raw rawhhh. Your a killer.

Anonymous said...

double vaginal double anal, bdp stlye, raw raw rawhhh. Your a killer.

Anonymous said...

yeah, real nice e.g. any plans on running this again in the future? also is that a LL remix you paddled for the stikine?

Unknown said...

Amazing write up. I am working up to be able to run this some day.