When the Vancouver Island whitewater google group lit up with reports that Cameron River was going to be in all weekend the decision was made to pack up and spend 2 days enjoying this super classic run. With Sandra just starting to get her creek-on the Cameron’s 40+ class 3+ to 4 rapids seemed like a great way to head-butt the season into gear, that and all the local rivers being in flood and BC Ferries running almost half price rates for most of June made this decision easy. It is possible that there is a better intro to creeking run out there somewhere but if so, I haven’t found it. Cameron is super low volume pool drop with a great mix of boulder gardens, bed rock and ledges set in a picture perfect Vancovuer Island Canyon. At civilized flows this is a cruisy low stress run.
This weekend after lots of talk and friendly competition about the fastest possible time down Cameron River Tristan and myself decided we were going to have a crack at it on day 2 for our third run. Having paddled it twice the day before we were pretty confident that we could bomb down it without to many woody surprises. That is right about when I started to make some poor decisions. But before I explain that any further I’ll have to tell you about the take out that inspired my bad idea. The take out on Cameron is very fitting for a Vancouver Island Creek run. Its a slog straight up out of the river bed, all though not overly long it is dirty, slippery, sweaty and steep, oh ya and it happens right after you just finished running over 40 rapids.
This less than ideal hike out and my desire to beat the home town advantaged locals lead me to believe that taking the break apart out of my boat would be an OK idea. After all, in our 5 years of paddling both Tristan and I had never broken a paddle. Having had two perfectly clean up right runs the day before we may have got a little over confident. In my defence though as I pulled the break apart out of my boat I did mention to Tristan that I was taking the paddle out and reminded him not to break his paddle . . . . hahaha right?? Nope! You would have thought by now I would have learned that joking about something like that before a run coupled with Murphy’s Law would surly mean we were going to break a paddle, and that exactly what Tristan did.
Feeling a little exhausted as we sprinted from top to bottom as we entered the lower and deepest canyon Tristan flipped and while doing a roll managed to snap his paddle in half off a rock. As he rolled up with a now 2 piece paddle we both immediately burst out laughing at our current situation. It wasn’t until minutes later on shore while debating our next course of action that we were able to stop laughing at our stupidity. With the biggest and most technical rapids still to come Tristan decided to do the hero thing and C-1 the rest of the way out of the canyon rather than waiting for me to solo the rest of the run and bring back a break apart. We tried taping the 2 pieces back together with a stick and tying it with some webbing but we couldn’t get it to hold (I also ditched most of my pin kit and my roll of duct tape).
In the end we still finished in just under an hour but unfortunately missed the locals best confirmed time of 38 minutes. Considering our delays though and still finishing under an hour I’m confident that the best time can be put well into the mid to high 20’s.
I will go back for that fastest time record but I will be bring the break apart, hike out or not.
Enjoy some pics and video of this island classic.