Day 5 – Aug 9 Chilko Lake-Chilko River
Rising at 9, we hastily had breakfast and started repacking everything to fit on the raft. It was going to be a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. One very annoying aspect of our campsite was the amount of various biting flies making a constant buzzing around us with the majority trying to make a meal of us as well. I sure hope that this is only happens here.
We said farewell to Symo around 10:30 as he really wanted to get started back to Prince George where he had a date with a girl there he knows from Australia. We haven't heard back from him on this yet...
Hitting the lake around 2pm, we made it down the lake to the resort in about 20 minutes, which also marks the beginning of the river. The blue tinged, crystal clear water moved us quickly past cottages and many fly fishermen.
The river continued its pace, although there were a few stretches where it braided around wood littered islands. We had gone around 30km when we came to a wonderful campsite, with plenty of wood and a fire pit ready to go. Shaun took out his rod and reel and the first 3 casts brought in 3 fish, too small to keep unfortunately. The rest of the fish must have gotten spooked as no more were to be pulled in that night.
We had a dinner of bbq pork ribs, done to perfection, rice, and freshly made coleslaw. We followed dinner up with a hot chocolate with a shot of Amarula, a concoction similar to Bailey's Irish Cream.
Day 6 – Aug 10 Bidwell Canyon
After a delicious breakfast of granola with yogurt, and coffee, we broke camp and hit the river a little earlier than yesterday - around 1pm. Not exactly early risers, are we?
The river continued to clip along at a good pace, and we were always on the lookout for the signs that would indicate Bidwell Canyon was around the corner. We scouted one rapid that was unnamed, an easy line with a few big holes.
Gradually the riverbanks were dotted with more rock and the velocity of the river increased. We saw a path lead up and away from the riverbank on the left and knew that we had made it to Bidwell.
We hiked up the well worn path to the ridge overlooking the first section of the rapid. At this point we were around a hundred feet above the river. The canyon constricted the river significantly, causing haystacks and waves to appear and disappear at random. The line seemed fine - centre then far left, then work our way back to the right again. We left Bruce to film us at where we would be on the left, about half way through the rapid so that he could get as much footage from one location as possible.
Shaun and I walked back to our boats, occasionally looking down to the river below to ensure we had it mapped in our minds correctly. Pulling out into the current, it was quite noticeable that the river was very fast and the waves were even bigger than we expected.
Within what seemed like 20 seconds we were upon the eddy that Bruce was filming from. It was hard to believe that we were there already. The next section of rapid was a bit more complicated - start left (where we were) then head to centre then finish left again.
Once at the bottom, Bruce walked up to his raft while we got in position to film his descent. After what seemed like a half hour, we saw the bow of his cataraft edging around the top of the rapid. He was able to keep it in the centre punching though holes and climbing over waves so that the pontoons were half out of the water.
With the reduced mobility of the raft, Bruce was unable to make the eddy we pulled out in and went around the next bend into the unknown.
Shaun and I gave chase as soon as we were back in our boats, running solid class IV water for bend after bend until we finally came to one eddy where the raft was waiting. We had obviously entered the 'White Mile' and what a rush it was, extremely pushy class IV rocking down the river. Unfortunately it was over too soon and the canyon became less steep but tightened up to vertical walls only a couple dozen feet wide.
We camped on naturally terraced grazing land. The area was stunning with the only drawback being the frequent waft of cow dung in the air.
Our dinner was burritos made with fresh lettuce, a black bean spread from a dehydrated mix combined with onions and some leftover rice, guacamole made from scratch, cheese, salsa, and a dash of Tabasco for zip.
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