TRAVELS WITH GREASE AND PADDLE
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Day 6- We find ourselves in Whistler
As hoped for, we found desert warmth and big rivers in southern British Columbia. After catching the second half of Game 6 in the Indians/Sox series (a challenge, since nearly every pub and eatery was showing Ultimate Fighting Championship 79628), we drove down the winding canyon on the Thompson River and arrived at a riverside camp after dark. The sound of whitewater and the smell of sage greeted us, as did the rotting carcasses of a late fall fish run.
A breakfast of sauteed fresh chantrelles and hedgehog mushrooms wrapped in tortillas with cheese warmed us up as did rounds of coffee from the french press. A friendly family from Vancouver--Dave and Shirley and their daughter Bridget, a rising softball phenom in B.C.-- chatted with us about our drive and the grease conversion and offered to run our shuttle for the day's river run.
In an ominous upstream wind that some might call a gale, we dropped the Fried Piper near the confluence of the Fraser and Thompson Rivers and traveled back to the put in with our new Canadian friends. They watched from the banks as we paddled into the first rapid, The Frog, and hucked our boats into the surf waves above the large, amphibian-shaped basalt plug.
The Thompson, a famed big water run in North America (according to our guide book), was plenty powerful, even at the low flows of October. Canyon walls hemmed us in, while the rush of whitewater drowned out the noise of the paralleling highway and traintracks. Big wavetrains and swirling eddies tossed us around, but we made it through the more challenging upper canyon in tact.
"How do you keep these eddy lines from squirting your boat," asked Bru, but before he could get an answer said eddy line grabbed his tail, squirted him up and sent him downstream.
Big winds replaced big water, so powerful they blew Matt vertical and over after a current line dipped his tail. Paddling the last few rapids with impaired vision, for the winds were sending blinding spray off the whitewater of the rapids, we reached the take out and hiked up to the sleepy town of Lytton.
A public park was turned into an interim home, where we hung our gear to dry and feasted on smoked salmon with cream cheese and crackers and the last of our homemade cookies from Haines.
We found baseball and beer at the only open establishment in all of Lytton, and eventually the locals warmed to us. Saw the the Red Sox win and thought of various friends and family celebrating, while mourning for a few long-suffering Indians we're close to. The friendly BC folks had given us some firewood which made for a nice night under the stars, eating curried red lentils while Matt picked the mandolin. Natcho turned 35 living in a van, down by the river.
Woke up to realize we had put down our bed rolls right in the spot dozens of local native kids pass through to catch the bus. Matt gave a salmon skin to their dog, who daintily carried it away, set it down, peed on it, and walked away. We enjoyed another great day of whitewater, battled some really unbelievable winds in the canyon, found out San Diego is burning, and took off on a crazy, winding drive to Whistler.
Now, we're getting ready for our first college presentation Thursday at Simon Fraser in Vancouver.