Rob Wall's Blog

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Squamish Paddling

Posted by robjwall on June 28, 2010

In the haze of our first few days in BC:  ‘oh my God we are in Canada’, ‘is this really the house we have rented’, ‘is it daytime now?’. In between getting lost finding the local shops, dealing with lost luggage, and buying 4 bikes, one thing jumped out at us from the local Paper.  The Mamquam White-water festival was on this Saturday.  This club is  trying to get people to join, and hosting a ‘friendly’ race on the white water slalom course on the Mamquam River.  We didn’t need to be asked twice: paddling was one of the big reasons to be in British Columbia, and we would need a club if we were to do any.  With high hopes  I got a map and figured out that we could walk up an old logging road and down a walk trail, over the ‘carpenters son’ bridge, and then over a small hydro dam to the start of the course  — about 6 or 7 km, no bikes yet.

We made it on time on Saturday, after a long scenic walk, slightly nervous of bears and cougar, to be greeted by hot dogs, music (reggae), and lots of plastic boats to try.  It was a real festival.   They even had dry suits to borrow.  The kids were initially reluctant, but a friendly ex Welshman Dave, offered to paddle down with us.   So Kira, Demelza, and I suited up and gingerly paddled out into the current.  It looked quite fast and intimidating.  It felt strange initially: we’ve only really paddled the Avon, and this water was totally clear, with clean rocky shores, and steep banks (no mud 🙂 ) covered in pine trees.   Canada!  like I imagined.

We got down without tipping out, but were all still a little nervous, I asked Kira “do you want to go in the ‘friendly race'”, to which she replied emphatically “Yeah, why wouldn’t I”.  There were 7 of  us all up, mostly guys probaly older than me, on a short fast course with 5 downstream gates and 2 upstream (average of two timed runs, but no gate penalties).  Demezla and Kira were the only kids.  They paddled very neatly down the course: The other Dave,  the guy running the club,  looked at me and said “Gee, they have obviously been well taught…” .  I explained that the Swan Canoe club didn’t have water like this, but did have a professional coach.    I did my runs , and managed a clean 2nd run (no gate judges anyway so no pressure) .  It felt so good to paddle whitewater, especially this clean cold water.  As I crossed the finish line for the 2nd run something happend and I capsized (‘thats cold’), … it took a while to force the paddle into the setup position: I managed the 2nd roll, and then… kept rolling.   Drysuits are great!  Demelza won the kids section (beating Kira), incredibly I won the overall race.    We are in the club and paddling with them each tuesday now (alternating between Alice Lake and the river course).   They are a great & energetic bunch, and we thank them!

3 Responses to “Squamish Paddling”

  1. julie said

    That looks fantastic fun.

  2. Glenda said

    What a great adventure, will look forward to following everything you do over the coming months, enjoy!

  3. helene said

    You never cease to amaze me, well done!

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