Monday, May 07, 2007

Findlay Creek, BC - Canada

A fine start to paddling season on Lower Findlay Creek - BC

If you have just spent the long winter digging out, skiing big lines, or just buried and hibernating under 10 meters of snowfall since last October....creekers from the motherland rejoice! This year's snow pack is MASSIVE and currently the Selkirk, Monashee and Rocky Mountain Ranges look stocked with a water supply certain to last through October. This doesn't even include the always representing BC Coast Mtns also spouting record amounts in new paddling frontiers like Terrace and Smithers. The past weekend brought a combination of skiing some of the finest powder of the year along with the resurgence of quality creeking back in the Columbia trench.

The final flush on Findlay Creek brings back memories of Cali

Findlay Creek has a special significance in that if it wasn't for a small mountain in the way, Findlay would actually be the headwaters of the continental Columbia River. Instead Findlay is one of the tributaries to enter the Kootenay River before it heads south into Montana. Things to take note about the East Kootenays and Findlay area in early May include: - Huge populations of Elk and Deer grazing this time of year, the excellent lush meadow camping everywhere, and the fact this run will be well blown out for most of the summer as temperatures increase.

The put-in for Lower Findlay creek is 5km up the Findlay forest service road at Findlay Falls Rec site. The camping here is excellent and is a base for paddlers who might alternatively paddle Skookumchuk or Dutch Creek. Just past Findlay Falls take a left turn on Skookumchuck forest service road and look for the power line road on the left which will take you to the takeout.

From the put-in a short trail leads down to Findlay Falls. This drop had a runnable right line in the past but has since become a logjam. The left main line of Findlay Falls is plain nasty at best.

Findlay Falls lands on a big choke stone.

As our crew of 3 departed with a slight hungover haze under the noon sun we were instantly surrounded by canyon walls and swirly currents. After about 2+ kilometers of clear water and two notable drops, the run tightens up and picks up gradient. Two narrow pinches lead you to a third boof-pinch aptly named the Portal. Set between vertical walls and a difficult scout, the Portal would certainly be a gauge (if it hasn't already)that high flows on this run would mean bad news.

Portal at low flows

After the Portal things really start rockin out with more drops and more consequences if you flub the boof strokes. Shortly after this section our group downsized due to a bruised rib but we were fortunate to find an exit climb out on river left for Colan and his boat. This left Jordie and I to tackle the crux of the canyon where the gradient goes off through a mess of scary sharp limestone.

In the steepest section a 200+ yard torrent requires a hard left cutback through a knuckle dragger's delight followed by a big launch off a pourover of chunky boulders.

Nailing this line would be the climax on the run if it wasn't for the surprise waiting just downstream of the big pool. The guidebook loathes about the wood in this previously unrunnable final ramp formed from a landslide on river right. Presently there is no wood to be seen and was first fired off by Scott Fiendel and I on last spring's mission.

Scott Fiendel on the final drop in 2006

The approach to this Kaweah-Cali drop is best done hard left with your foot on the gas until you punch a hole and enter the slide. From here Findlay Creek bubbles down until it joins up with the Kootenay. The best view is looking back upstream on the float out absorbed in those class V emotions. Here's to another epic summer in whitewater paradise. Props to Colan for remembering his 100 dollar camera on this trip.......sorry about the quality.

View Findlay Creek (V) in a larger map