Sunday, October 16, 2005

Grand Canyon of the Stikine River

"The Grand Canyon of the Stikine will make you stare into the abyss of your soul"
Said Olli Grau, after his trip down the Stikine.
The Stikine truly is an introspective river. Since we drove over this river a month ago, on route to the previous rivers The Susitna and Alsek, the Stikine was on my mind. When most rivers make you stare outward into the rapids and scenery, the Stikine commands an inward stare. During inspection this stare should find a sound mind with other thoughts/worrys in your life "Turned Off" for the moment.
The flow was a higher than the pictures we had recieved from previous trips. We sat in contemplation for two days hoping for the river to drop and deciding if we should put on. With the forecast predicting rain showers soon, Tristan McClaran and Myself spotted a window of opportunity and decided to go for it.

It began as a scenic float, Tristan and I both bitched at the amount of flatwater. Just kidding, but seriously, it was a long flat paddle.
Six miles later we came to entry falls which marked our first option to hike out if the river was to much for us. Here is Entry Falls from 300 feet up.

We hiked down to get a better look at it. Tristan in front of the big rock.

Tristan and I decided it looked good, so we gave it. After Entrance Falls we came on to even bigger rapids. The waves threw us around violently, the last time I was thrown around this much was trying to paddle out into huge Ocean breaks and being denied.

Before long, we came to Pass/Fail

After a few more miles we landed at the Site Zed camp. Here is a photo of the water level and our markers.

On the portage of Site Zed Rapid, the last unrun rapid of the Stikine, Tristan and I got lazy and just put on around halfway down the rapid just beside/below the biggest hole. Here is Tristan getting ready

We Ran all of the Rapid behind me, We have heard the Johny Kern put on here also.

This is looking back at the top of Site Zed, its big.

We puton together and both made it through the hole. As day two went on the cliffs came in tighter and tighter.

Here is Tristan trying to get a visual on the next few horizons of the rapid called "The Wall". "I think middle flushes", He says.

Here is a shot of "The Wall"

Shortly after the wall we made it to the Garden of the Gods Camp. It was only 1:00 Pm so we built a fire to warm up, then got back in our boats and kept going. The rapids got tougher and more stacked up. The wall two trashed us and spit us out at Scissors. I got tired and talked Tristan into camping on a ledge just above Scissors. The next day we awoke recharged and ready to go we went into scissors first thing. Sorry no pictures, but it went well for both of us.
The hole that ate Chicago was huge, we ran it down the gut. I went sub-aquatic for a long time and popped up downstream. little did we know V-drive was just around the corner, we nearly missed the scout eddy.
V-Drive was out of control, it must drop 20 to 30 feet in there and it stuffs you into the botttom of the river, wow that was a ride.
After V-Drive we found the Log in the Tanzilla gap, that was fun. In the tanzilla gap the river is only 4-6 feet wide and there was a log right at river height. Tristan tackled it and I portaged. After a few more rapids it was back to the old flatwater tour for the long paddle out.
This river was extremely challenging, dangerous and commiting. Any mistakes could have cost us big. Tristan and I both feel extremely fortunate to have been in such a beautiful, terrifying place. Please don't take this river lightly.


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