With low water all around the Lower Mainland we decided to at least paddle a new river. After a few suggestions were thrown around we decided to go hit the Nooksack just over the border.
Embarking at 10am we crossed the border and took a beautiful drive out towards Mt Baker.
The Nooksack is a class III+ – IV river and usually run around the 600 – 1500 CMS level though Ryan has run it at around 2100 CMS. Today we tackled it in playboats at 500 CMS. No one in our groups had paddled it at this level, though Ryan had been on it a few times at the regular levels.
The Nooksack is a fairly short run (about 3KM) with a trail sitting right beside the river most of the way down on river right. It starts with easy gravel bars and some wood to avoid. If you just keep your eyes open the wood is easy to avoid in the gravel bar section.
After about 20 minutes of class II paddling the river starts to get steeper and as it drops into a bit of a canyon. Inside this canyon is where the Nooksack really shines.
The first significant rapid is called Horseshoe (I hear that some people call it the Ledge too). At higher levels it has a large pourover at the end of the rapid. For us the rapid invloved a few ferries behind rocks to setup your angle over a tricky rock just abouve an 8 foot tongue to finish. Both Ryan & Kevin hit the rock a bit off and braced up to finish off the rapid. Jean-Luc opted for a middle line which could have been a boof at higher water but ended up really being a pencil into a pool.
After Cynthia ran the drop mostly clean, one roll in the last pool, Kevin came up to take my safety position and I walked back up to my boat. I hoped into the water and nailed the staging eddies with little effort. Next up I hit the funny rock and got flipped. While upside down I got stuck on a rock which pulled me into an eddy and Kevin’s waiting hands.
After flipping me over Kevin pushed me off for the last drop. I promptly caught an edge flipped again got my paddle chocked in the drop and snapped it.
After a wet exit and signaling that my paddle was busted I swam hard for and eddy and caught it. As we all know swimmers have a hard time crossing eddy lines and I got pulled right up to the top and thouroghly maytaged at the top of the seam.
Between my sputtering breathes I wondered why none of the people in boats were coming to rescue me. I could see them occasionally but they couldn’t see me. Ryan was the only one able to see me sputter and spin in the little hole and he was not in his boat.
After Ryan seal launched over some of the paddlers in boats and came to my rescue I collected my half a paddle in the eddy with me and hiked down to my boat.
With my boat in tow I walked the trail back to the car. It’s actually fairly lucky that this happened. Aside from a good bruise on my arm and a few carbon slivers I came out okay and while walking I noticed hidden strainer.
The river ran so that if you didn’t pull out way above the strainer you would get swept into it with no eddies. I hiked back into the river and waited to signal the group to pull off. We got that all sorted and I hiked on in the hot day.
So a low water run ended up with a pretty good story. Now my task is to pick a new paddle. AT or Werner, time will tell. I suppose we also learned that I should pass the camera to others. I declined Kevin’s offer to take pictures or video so we missed my ‘awesome’ line on the rapid.