Grand Canyon of the Stikine River, B.C. (part one)

Most of the time when paddlers endure a humbling experience it’s about the adventure, your surroundings, and the decisions you make throughout the adventure. Seldom is it about the places you are unable to make it to..

It had taken me a long time to get to the day when I said, “O.k. I’m in!” Plans were set and the departure date was only a few days away. My window of opportunity was small given a new job, recent move, and financial obligations. It had to work out perfect or it just wasn’t going to happen at all.

In 2001 I was new to kayaking and came across a video of the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River which had just enough footage and details on that part of the river to convince me that that river would forever be to much of an undertaking for me. Mostly the volume of the river and the over all commitment to the canyon. Putting myself in a position where survival is the only emotion and navigating the canyon safely is the main goal didn’t seem like an aspect of kayaking that I really wanted to experience.

I have always held that river up there pretty high on the personal list of toughest rivers in the world, but as the list gets shorter it makes it easier to wrap your mind around the possibilities of successfully completing a trip of that caliber. This trip along with other major whitewater expeditions were first attempted 30+ years ago and still only the top few out the entire population on the planet are lucky enough to get there.

Three days after I committed to the trip the weather shifted and the river came up to a level that would have forced an evacuation. Plans were on hold and my window for this season was fading fast. Three more days of being ‘on hold for the Stikine’ felt like an uncomfortable dream that you just couldn’t get to the end of, wanting to go and know more, but you can’t hurry up the process no matter how bad you want to.

After some low water training and to many days on hold, I had to wish the crew a safe journey and sit this one out. This is the first trip that I had been so close to departing for and denied on. Fully geared, food for days, packed for a mission and instead the departure date has been pushed back eleven more months.. so for now all i can do is keep the dream fresh in my mind and wait. Next year Stikine, next year.

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