|Giltoyees photo credits: Ben Seeberger and Ali Marshall|
|photo: Whitebox Magazine|
I think it was Jeff West who said it the best:
“The Stikine makes other rivers seem two dimensional. I had always thought of water flowing downstream, side to side and sometimes upstream. Additionally, on this river the water is constantly exploding upward and sucking down. It felt like a giant roller coaster and monster trampoline combined. Waves would throw you into the air. Seams would pull you into deep mystery moves. The crashing diagonals were the painful part. These waves are so massive that when you hit them it knocks the breath out of you.”
After paddling this section of whitewater, those words now make a bit more sense. With a background in kayak surfing and creeking across the Northwest, I’d like to think I've taken my share of beatings. This was of a different sort. As we made our way down the canyon I had the vision of riding on the back of a beast as it charged around trying everything it could to knock you down and throw you off. The waves that hit you were heavy and angry. The random eruptions of water made it difficult at times to anticipate where the river would take you, blurring the line between water and air, control and abandon. The last major rapid on the Stikine, and definitely one of the most memorable for me, was V-Drive. The river was a bit low when we put-on which made some rapids easier, but others chaotic (V-drive especially). The river was at a level which allowed us to scout V-drive from river left, and after a look, Mathieu, Louis and Sam strapped in and ran it as a train. And then the rapid ran a train on them...
At one point I was looking at three boats upside-down getting blasted along the canyon wall on river left. There was probably a 4ft surge up and down and it was startling to see your buds getting proper smashed with nothing you can do to help but watch. After seeing that, it was a long and lonely walk up to the eddy above the rapid but I was fortunate enough to not hit the wall at the bottom of the rapid, and Kristof threw some epic freestyle in there, possibly unintentionally!! (https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=737684636279909).
After finishing our three day trip through the canyon, I felt great but learned the lesson of how truly tiny one can feel when matched against the mental, physical, and spiritual power of the Stikine. I’m thankful to have done this with such a solid group, but in the end, when you pull out of an eddy on the Stikine you are pretty much on your own in there.
Some footage from these three rivers, and a few other shots from around Terrace and the Northwest BC during 2014 season!: