Friday, June 20, 2014
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Friday, February 07, 2014
The slave river has been in the back of my mind since I started kayaking. The article with Steve Fisher crushing big lines and surfing these huge waves was just awe inspiring. Until last season I really thought the Slave river was out of reach to me. It lies in such a remote part of Canada that one would need to work in a northern diamond mine, work as a river guide or just not work at all to make the time to get up to this infamous playground. I fall into the latter at the best of times so it was about time that I attempted to make the journey up into Northern Canada/s North West territories.
It was not with "into the wild" style tactics that I took on the little mission. I had a lot of help from Aquabatics, a store down in Calgary and from a local by the name of John Blyth, who runs the slave paddle fest each year. (you can click on all those links and they'll open in the background). Without the hospitality and generous beta from these guys it would have been a tough go.
It has to be said this place is not close to anything by any means. Bring your food with you, bring bug repellant and if you drive a diesel car bring a funnel as they only have industrial diesel pump. Its a solid 18 hour drive from Edmonton and thats on a good day with no serious Bison interference
Once you arrive in Fort Smith there are a few choices for sleeping, there are a few motels and an abundance of crown land on which you can pitch a tent. I am not sure what the camping rules are there so don't quote me check out the town website.
Unlike most rivers we are used to the Slaves rapids do not total a lot of length making access to the various ledges, of which there are 3, relatively easy. It is the shear width and copious array of channels that make this river so breath taking. The force in some of these rapids really makes you feel how fragile you are. Some of these rapids take up to twenty minutes to cross.
Despite its volume this river offers something for intermediate paddlers all the way to the pro's. The waves here are spectacular, fast and powerful. Airtime is plentiful and so is sunlight so your days can be as long as you want them to be. there were waves as big as bus-eater on the Ottawa River and some small enough to learn how to spin or cart wheel.
If the drive is daunting there is always flight options in and out of Fort Smith from a number of southern airfields, although I can not see these prices being competitive. This was my first time up here and it is the closes thing we have to the Zambezi river in Canada. I can safely say that this will become and annual pilgrimage for me.
Leave any questions in the comments
Photo credits: Leif and Natalie Anderson, John Blyth and Rob Murphy
Monday, January 06, 2014
Revelstoke is a Mecca for a ton of outdoor sports, skiing, boarding, climbing, biking and of course kayaking. Each year I pass through Revi to catch up with friends and sample the goods, however timing can be difficult with rain sometimes causing a big rise in water levels.
This year I happened to find a few other foreigners that had some spare time and wanted to take a rip on the Jordan river, Revelstokes finest. The Jordan was just dropping in and I didn't have too much time to wait for it to come down to the appropriate level, so with just one car we got on and went for a rip
Despite being a bit on the high side the Jordan provided the sought after treats and we had a couple of epic laps. This river is most definitely one of my favourites. After running (literally) shuttle a few times, and after we were satisfied with the few laps we got, we headed north to
Clearwater for their annual festival and partied, what awesome few days on the river shouldn't finish with a festival?
Thursday, November 21, 2013
This past year has been a whirlwind. I said goodbye to the oilfield almost as soon as I received my Canadian residency papers, and moved to Edmonton, which is even further away front the epic white water that Canada has to offer. However it was for a good cause. A life filled with the time and resources needed to kayak and snowboard for the rest of my life.
Some have said I am crazy however when you get a chance to step back and look at your surroundings it can be both humbling and eye opening. At first a guys interpretation of the dream is to become a professional athlete. Travel the world on a shoe string making the most of what you have. This is by no means wrong, I just think it is an ill fit for myself and a choice had to be made. A choice to live the best of both. A healthy career that in turn provides a healthy life style.
Saying goodbye to a transient shoe string life style can be difficult, and in my case gut wrenchingly difficult. Driving away from that group of friends you have travelled with for what seemed like an eternity to start a fresh new adventure can be difficult. Self doubt, financial instability and the potential for failure all weigh heavily on ones mind. But you have to take a step, sure if you never leapt you might never have figured out with the other side has to offer.
It has been two and a half years since I moved away from the mountains, the ottawa river and my good friends, and what do I have to show for it? Success, somehow I have managed to achieve that balance. Unfortunately there has to be sacrafice, distance meant that friends loose touch and you each live your lives going in different directions. A necessary evil I guess.
But like anything enough effort can make anything work, and with a work hard play hard attitude I have had a season that has involved more kayaking than ever before. It has been awesome. Lots of new rivers, new people and new experiences.
The first trip of the season was to St Leon creek, which is located south of Revelstoke, BC. And what a river, it is gnarly, step and incredibly accessible. This is by no means a new river in terms of exploration but it is a must for anyone travelling in that direction. If you into driving, the road south is an incredible plethora of winding turns that opens up into a man made lake located in a breath taking valley.
Asides form the kayaking you have the St Leon hot pools to soak in after a few laps and an abundance of camping around the area. This is one of my favourite areas in Canada both for summer and winter trips. With great friends, unreal weather and a great few days under the belt down south and a shut down on the Upper Pingston it was time to head back to Revi and sample some of the local goods....
Photo Credit: Tommy Harding and Sean McTeirnan
Saturday, September 28, 2013
You would think living in the Albertan metropolis of Calgary it would mean, pollution, traffic, hypsters and drought, well you would be right about most of it, however they have recently invested millions into creating a white water playground for the large kayaking population residing in the most populous place between Vancouver and Toronto.
Although my season was vastly occupied by creeking and river running I managed to get down to this white water creation, Harvey’s Passage, to kayak with some friends while they taught a freestyle clinic on the weir. We managed to get this place while it was receding from high flood which meant we got to surf a wave, yes a wave in the middle of Calgary.
Although some of these features have been created to form some aggressive features it leaves a lot of room to practice everything from spins and front surfing to tricky-whu’s and airscrews. Be ready for the fire department to stop by as this whitewater parc. Is located directly to the west of a main highway, and a majority of commuters think we are drowning.
Check out Alberta Freestyle on facebook and Calpaddle.com for any info you need to paddle in this area.