Van-Island Spring Break 08
Vancouver Island. Most people have heard stories in some sort or another of the island, but few ever go there and even fewer go to explore kayaking. I had been to the Island numerous times and this spring a group of Oregon kayakers decided they wanted to see it for themselves during Spring Break. (Most were either Highschool teachers or College Students) So plans were set to go explore one or two of the southern river systems near the Port Renfrew area.
The Gordon River was the main objective as it provides the most reliable, easily accesible and high-quality whitewater on the island. If weather, flows and time allowed we planned on exploring the nearby Lens, Granite Creek and San Juan River systems. However the always unpredictable British Columbia weather patterns sent snow our way and kept river levels low. This allowed for several great days on the Gordon River, followed by a few good days touring the south-half of the island's Park and Huck's.
Team: Christie Glissmeyer, Rob Bart, Ryan Scott, Jay Gifford, Christina Russel, Kim Russel, Josh McKeown, Todd Baker, and myself, Austin.
Gordon River: The Gordon River is located 10 minutes out of Port Renfrew to the north. You follow the Gordon River Mainline and the first bridge you cross over the Gordon River, is the takeout for the lower. You then proceed up to the bridge over Bugaboo Creek. A trail on river left of Bugaboo Creek will lead you to the Put-in for the lower, which is also the take-out for the middle. To put-in for the middle drive 2 miles past Bugaboo Creek to the bridge over Loup Creek. Put-in on Loup Creek for the Middle Gordon. This also serves as the take-out for the Upper Gordon. The put-in for the upper Gordon is 2.5 miles upstream when the road reconnects with the river.
Upper Gordon: This short stretch is jam-packed full of good Class IV/ IV+. Everything is easily scoutable/ portageable. The river leaves the road and travels through a spectacular granite gorge. The water is crystal clear and the rapids are clean and maneageable. Water levels can vary but this run should go at a variety of flows, obviously with the difficulty increasing as the water level increases. Be wary of going in too high as scouting/portage options will diminish as it does travel through a committing canyon.
Middle Gordon: The Middle Gordon, is a Class V gem. 8 Rapids form the highlights of the middle canyon which is equally as stunning and beautiful as the upper and lower canyons. Every rapid on this stretch should be scouted. This run increases in difficulty the higher the water level gets. Everything on the stretch has been run at quite high levels and scouting/portage options remain at high levels.
Lower Gordon: The Lower Gordon is a classic Class III/IV run. All of the rapids are boat scoutable / portageable. Nothing big or scary in this stretch just 4 miles of BEAUTIFUL clean whitewater through one of the most beautiful sections of the Gordon River Canyon.
Spray Skirts frozen- Day 1
Josh First Falls on Middle Gordon
Jay First Falls on Middle Gordon
The Crew in the Hot Tub at the Trailhead Resort
Christina Russel hangin in the Gordon canyon
So after a few days on the Gordon it was time for everyone to return home, except for Christie and I, who were waiting on the clutch to get fixed on my car. So with our trusty new rental Mini-Van, Christie and I went and enjoyed some of the classic park and hucks of the Island. All can be found labeled on the always handy Vancouver Island backroads mapbook, which can be purchased in the giftshop of any BC ferry. The falls we visited were Little Qualicum falls, Old Englishman Falls(the lower) and Goldstream Falls.
Christie G. Old Englishman Falls
Christie G. Old Englishman from another angle
Christie at Goldstream Falls
Myself, Austin R, back in a place dear to my heart....Little Qualicum
Christie G. steppin it up at Little Qualicum!