|Posted by Tara Mulvany on May 26, 2014 at 7:20 PM|
Just a quick update before I set off on my adventure around Vancouver Island. I have been staying with Jaime, a kiwi, who has been living over this way for the past 10 years. We randomly met on 90 mile beach this past summer - I was dragging my boat up the beach after nailing my last surf landing of the west coast, and Jaime was there on his filming project to document the paddling lifestyle in NZ. Despite the fact that he didn't help with my boat, and sat in his van watching, he seemed like an alright dude. So a few months later, when I decided to come to Canada, I turned up on his doorstep.. that is, the back door of his handicapped bus haha.
I was planning on setting off last week, but I got a little distracted and ended up spending the weekend creeking on the Upper Puntledge River with Jaime and a huge crew. It was awesome. It's been a long time since I've paddled any whitewater, so on the drive to the put in, I was a little nervous, but pretty relaxed on the whole.. I put that down to being naive about what was in front of me. I probably should have cottoned on to how everyone else was dressed - most of the crew were wearing dry suits, full face helmets and elbow pads. I, on the other hand looked like a typical kiwi dirt bag kayaker, no shoes, a dry top with a ripped neck seal, a falling apart PFD, with no elbow pads, and a helmet not really suited to steep creeking. But all good, I was just stoked to be there!
I was paddling Jaime's creekboat (a LL Stomper), so he decided to take an 11.5 ft boat, the Jackson Karma RG.. not your ideal creekboat.. and just to instil a bit of confidence he flew down the path at the put in, smashed into the back of someone else's boat, skimmed out into some trees and went upside down. At this point I'm wondering what the best thing to do is.. disown him, or jump out and grab his paddle which I can see wedged in the trees under his boat. He hand rolls up, grabs his paddle and paddles towards the first drop. All class.
The run was unlike anything I had ever run before. I just blindly followed a string of paddlers, keeping my distance but trying to be in the exact position where the people in front of me were as they dropped over the edge of some pretty intimidating horizon lines. Thankfully, despite his questionable seal launch at the put in, Jaime styled it, the Karma RG flew, and I didn't have to disown him.
We paddled three runs in two days, and it felt so so good!! Now all I want to do is run whitewater again!! But the ocean is calling, (hopefully not the bears, wolves and cougars..) so I am on my way this evening. I've got my SPOT tracker, so you should see it ticking back into action in the next day or two - unless it decides to run out of battery. In front of me lies 1200 km of cougar country, and what everyone tells me, amazing scenery. There is one way to find out!
Just before I leave, I just want to say a huge thank you to a couple of people who have helped to get me to the start line - Jaime for providing endless entertainment (I mean, who else could loose two petrol caps in two days.. and get them back again..) but really, thanks for helping to get me sorted & for having enough faith in me to bring me down some full on water... & for reminding me how much fun the river can be.
Also thanks heaps to Richard from Alberni Outpost in Nanaimo, for donating me a solid Bomber spray skirt. And also to John Kimantas, the editor of Coast & Kayak, for giving me a huge stack of maps, his awesome kayaking guidebook for the island, "The BC Explorer", and chart atlas. I really appreciate it!
Jaime on the first drop of Stouten Falls