With the departure date closing in on them, and a mountain of trip food ready to go in barrels, Charles, the trip organizer, was faced with the uncomfortable possibility that he would be eating dehydrated food for the next 2 months if the Provincial Government didn’t issue their park-use permit to run a commercial canoe trip on the Upper Stikine River. Although there wasn’t any reason to believe the application would be denied, Charles still breathed a sigh of relief when the permit finally arrived in his inbox the day before the trip – really.
Running a trip on a river for the first time with new people always requires an extra dose of tolerance for uncertainty and adversity; which is part of the adventure and what makes the first run so special. For the seven souls who paddled the Upper Stikine River in July of 2015, it was a trip into the unknown. Adding to the list of unknowns was, what was it going to be like to paddle this great northern river in an El Nino year? Will it be in full flood, or will they have to drag their canoes over gravel bars? How difficult will the rapids be? Guidebooks are still only subjective reports; when an author says, “A class 3 rapid”, do they mean an easy rapid requiring some simple manoeuvring, or do they mean, “For expert paddlers only!”, as the government website would suggest?
In the end, all they had to rely on was their skills, each other, good judgement, a willingness to learn, – oh yeah, and strong coffee.
The Upper Stikine definitely lived up to its reputation; spectacular mountain vistas, vast wilderness, damning headwinds, cold rain, radiant sunshine, delightful paddling, and big moose. No doubt, it was a lot of work, but the kind or work that is deeply rewarding. Seven people, with a 30-year age range, coming from totally different backgrounds and a wide range of canoeing experience, safely achieved their common goal to complete one of Canada’s most spectacular canoe expeditions with aplomb.
Check out the video here:
Photo gallery available here: