Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Skookumchuck Narrows

I woke up Saturday morning to my phone ringing and a groggy ten second conversation. “We’re going to Skook, I’ll pick you up in a half hour,” said a voice that I couldn’t quite put a face to. I knew it had to be one of the young local Bellingham paddlers and without thinking replied, “I’m in, see you in thirty.” Impulse decisions have always led to the most exciting adventures of my life and I knew this weekend was going to be one to remember. On Friday, my plans to fly to the Homathko River fell through and I was just waiting for an adventure of some kind to fall into my lap.
Before I knew it I was driving through British Columbia on my way to the Skookumchuck Narrows, or more commonly known as “Skook.” Skook forms the entrance of the Sechelt Inlet on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast in Canada. As the tide changes, billions of gallons of water flow out of the inlet and are forced through the narrows creating the Sechelt Rapids. At peak flows these giant rapids create the infamous Skookumchuck wave. The wave fluctuates from a small rolling wave into a giant ten foot standing wave with a huge foam pile in just a matter of minutes; a dream come true for freestyle kayakers. The crew of five young Bellingham boaters consisting of Todd Wells, Eric Parker, Olin Wimberg, Ben Dann and myself motivated like I’ve never seen before. As the sun was setting we arrived at the campground next to Skook and recognized the familiar vans of the World Class Academy (WCA); a traveling high school focused on character, academics, and kayaking. All five of us attended the school at one time or another and it was great to see some of my former teachers and classmates continuing to live the dream. After a good night sleep we were all awoken in classic WCA fashion with cowboy coffee, cereal and leftovers. We were on the road by seven a.m. to catch the peak flows as the wave only forms for a few hours a day. The sunrise over Skook was one of the most beautiful I’ve seen in months. The fog and low lying clouds rose and a brilliant blue sky appeared just as the wave began to shape into full form. It was obvious that the WCA students and teachers had been shredding Skook for over a week as I got to witness some of the biggest tricks I’ve ever seen in person. Even if it was just for a day, we had one of the best WCA reunions ever.
Unfortunately school and other obligations forced us to leave after just one morning of amazing surfing. It was great to finally get back on a big wave after not surfing anything comparable since I was in Uganda with World Class last year. I can’t wait to uncover more of British Columbia’s whitewater gems and keep checking in for an update on our next mission North!
Here's a few pictures from our weekend at Skookumchuck. Thanks to Eric Parker and Todd Wells for the photos!

7:00 a.m. fog over Skook

Todd shreds the classic orange Ultrafuge with friends

I couldn't ask for a better wave so close to home!

From left to right: Myself, Eric Parker, Olin Wimberg, Ben Kinsella, Todd Wells

For more photos from our trip, check out my online slideshow here- http://www.flickr.com/photos/64223949@N02/show/with/6231879994