british columbia paddle

british columbia paddleThe British Colum­bia coast is one of the world’s best sea kayak­ing des­ti­na­tions: long fjords, a rugged out­er coast, off­shore reefs that pro­vide a mea­sure of pro­tec­tion from the full brunt of the Pacif­ic and a thriv­ing ecosys­tem where whales abound, wolf tracks criss­cross near­ly every beach and sea otters float in adorable rafts. And the B.C. coast is eas­i­er to access from the low­er 48 than Alas­ka. But plan­ning a self-sup­port­ed sea kayak jour­ney takes some knowl­edge. Here’s how you can plan your own awe­some and safe wilder­ness jour­ney in one of the best parts of the world.

Know Your­self
As with any trip, start by know­ing your­self. What are your kayak and expe­di­tion skills? Be bru­tal­ly hon­est. Can you land a loaded kayak through surf? Nav­i­gate through the fog? How many miles or hours in the boat do you tend to put in? Do you get grumpy if it rains for three days?

Know Why
Be equal­ly clear about your goals. Are you look­ing for a relax­ing trip with loung­ing in camp? Cov­er­ing a lot of ter­ri­to­ries? Play in rock gar­dens and coastal surf? Are you will­ing to wake up ear­ly to catch a tidal current?

Know the Weather
A marine VHF radio with a weath­er func­tion is an essen­tial piece of gear for pad­dling B.C. waters. As you spend more time at sea, you’ll learn how to inter­pret patterns.

Wind: On sun­ny days, expect the wind to rise in the after­noon from the north­west. Don’t be caught out in a strong blow by this pre­dictable pat­tern. When the wind blows from the south­east, expect rain and cold­er temperatures.

Inlets: In the steep fjords, tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences between the moun­tains and sea lev­els cre­ate an out­flow-inflow pat­tern. In the morn­ing, air flows out to sea as cold air tum­bles down the moun­tains. In the after­noon, the pat­tern reverses.

Fog: Coastal morn­ing fog can hap­pen any time of year, but morn­ing pea soup is most com­mon on the out­er coast in August, which the locals call Fogust.

Swell: The most com­mon swell comes from the north­west in sum­mer, but it can vary to come from either south­west or west depend­ing on what’s hap­pen­ing far out at sea. On the out­er coast, look for head­lands and off­shore reefs that block the swell for pre­dict­ed land­ings. When you set up camp, pay atten­tion to whether the swell fore­cast is ris­ing in the next cou­ple of days.

©istockphoto/CarrieColePhotographyClay­oquot Sound is lit­er­al­ly the end of the road. Canada’s High­way 4 up the west coast of Van­cou­ver Island sim­ply dead-ends at a small park­ing lot over­look­ing the Clay­oquot Sound in the surf town of Tofi­no. The park­ing lot is often full of peo­ple pack­ing kayaks to con­tin­ue their jour­ney north by the only way they can. Boat and float­plane docks sit in front of the icon­ic moun­tains of Clay­oquot Sound: Lone Cone and Cat­face Mountain.

A com­bi­na­tion of rain­for­est, rich marine life, a rugged out­er coast full of surf beach­es and wilder­ness­es where wolves and bears roam—and a birth­place of Canada’s rich con­ser­va­tion heritage—make the sound an ide­al destination.

There are more remote places on Van­cou­ver Island. But those require long dri­ves on dif­fi­cult log­ging roads, and few have the com­bi­na­tion of intact rain­for­est, a per­fect kayak­ing envi­ron­ment and a thriv­ing native cul­ture. “It was obvi­ous that Clay­oquot Sound was the last great rain­for­est that was left, and also the best pad­dling,” said Dan Lewis, recall­ing his arrival in Clay­oquot Sound in 1990 on a kayak cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion of Van­cou­ver Island. “That’s when I real­ized I’m mov­ing here.” Lewis, now the Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Clay­oquot Action, and his wife Bon­ny Glam­beck have been pro­tect­ing Clay­oquot Sound ever since.

The Sea
The sea dom­i­nates Clay­oquot.  The sea is in the salt that fills the air, the fog that lingers over the coast and the fish that’s sold in restau­rants in Tofi­no. A mile west of the dock, the pro­tect­ed inlets give way to the vast sandy beach­es and rugged off­shore islands begin. Past them, there’s noth­ing west until Japan.

The best way to explore these out­er waters is with a sea kayak. No oth­er craft has the ver­sa­til­i­ty to han­dle these waters, cov­er dis­tance, nose into secret coves, land on surf beach­es and pack your camp­ing gear for a week or two. The west coasts of Var­gas and Flo­res Island and the Hes­quiat Pen­nin­su­la offer easy beach camp­ing. Vast beach­es like Ahous Bay, White­sand Cove, Whales Island and Cow Bay (named not for bovines but for the moth­er gray whales that loi­ter there in the sum­mer) can accom­mo­date large groups with room to spare. Whales, wolves and bears are com­mon, and sea otters are expand­ing their range into Clay­oquot Sound after a rein­tro­duc­tion fur­ther north. Kayak­ers can choose between the surf zone, play­ing in rock gar­dens and off­shore jour­neys. The out­er coast of Flo­res Island, between Rafael Point and Sharp Point is ful­ly exposed to the Pacif­ic, and should only be attempt­ed by skilled pad­dlers in good conditions.

The oth­er way to expe­ri­ence the out­er coast is with a surf­board. Tofi­no is a surf town, and the com­bi­na­tion of beach cruis­er bikes and surf bums around town can make the first-time vis­i­tor won­der if they’ve stum­bled into a fog­gy Cana­di­an ver­sion of San­ta Cruz or Encini­tas. Beach­es close to town like Chester­man Beach, Cox Bay and Long Beach are pop­u­lar spots, and class­es abound. But even the remote beach­es of the wild islands appeal to board-surfers, who take water taxis out to wild surf beach­es and camp.

Clayoquot_SoundThe Inlets
When the out­er coast is too fog­gy or rough, it’s time to explore the glac­i­er-carved fjords that slice deep into Van­cou­ver Island’s moun­tains. Inlets like For­tune Chan­nel, Tofi­no Inlet, Shel­ter Inlet, Syd­ney Inlet, Her­bert Inlet and Bed­well Sound bring you deep into the tem­per­ate rain­for­est. Riv­er mouths like the Kennedy and Megin rivers are eco­log­i­cal­ly vital estu­ar­ies for salmon and the bears and wolves that feed on them. Camp­ing spots in the steep-walled fjords and dense forests of the inlets are few­er and far­ther between than on the out­er coast.

The Islands
The islands them­selves are a rich com­bi­na­tion of dense rain­for­est and oppor­tu­ni­ties to explore. You’ll need to take a boat of some kind to get to them. Mear­es Island includes the Big Tree Trail, a dif­fi­cult hike that leads to the top of Lone Cone for a stun­ning view. On south­ern Flo­res Island, the Ahousat tribe man­ages the Wild Side Her­itage Trail, which runs 11 kilo­me­ters from the native vil­lage of Maaq­tusi­is to Cow Bay on a series of pris­tine beach­es, trails and board­walks through­out the Sit­ka Spruce rain­for­est. It’s best done as a mul­ti-day back­pack­ing trip with great beach camping.

The Future
Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Clay­oqout Sound is pop­u­lar and get­ting more so. Whale watch­ing tours, fish­ing char­ters and hotel rooms get crowd­ed in the sum­mer. But the area is large, and big beach­es make it easy to find soli­tude. Remem­ber to use leave-no-trace camp­ing. Pop­u­lar sites have out­hous­es and bear box­es for food stor­age. Use them! Don’t store food in your tent or in open cool­ers. The area had prob­lems with accul­tur­at­ed wolves and bears in the past. Clean fish and build camp­fires below the high-tide line.

And sup­port con­ser­va­tion. As Lewis notes, the fact that the area’s a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for eco­tourism does­n’t mean that it’s pro­tect­ed. Min­ing pro­pos­als on the Cat­face Range, fish farms and indus­tri­al log­ging still threat­en part of the sound. Con­tribute your time and mon­ey to keep­ing Clay­oquout wild.

It’s a place you’ve prob­a­bly nev­er heard of. But the Great Bear Rain­for­est agree­ment has the poten­tial to keep places wild on a mas­sive scale.

What is the Great Bear Rainforest?
The Great Bear Rain­for­est is a mas­sive swath of sea, for­est, and moun­tains rang­ing from the north end of Van­cou­ver Island to the Alas­ka bor­der. At first glance on a map, it looks about half the length of the Cal­i­for­nia coast. But when you look clos­er at the intri­cate mix of islands and chan­nels, it’s real size is much larg­er. It is a land­scape of rugged reefs and surf-bat­tered islands, deep fjords, glac­i­er-carved coastal moun­tains, salmon streams and thick rain­for­est. It’s named for the Spir­it Bear (also called the Ker­mode Bear), a rare white-col­ored race of black bear, as well as two dis­tinct pop­u­la­tions of coastal wolves. Almost entire­ly road­less, the Great Bear is one of the last great wilder­ness­es of the Pacif­ic Rim of North Amer­i­ca. Dot­ted by one town (Prince Rupert) and the small First Nations vil­lages of Bel­la Coola, Bel­la Bel­la and Klem­tu, the region is the his­toric home of the 28 First Nations cultures.

What Hap­pened on Feb. 2?
Con­ser­va­tion bat­tles have raged around the Great Bear for decades. The com­bi­na­tion of small pop­u­la­tion, rich tim­ber and fish resources and sea access along the inside pas­sage have made it a tar­get for extrac­tive indus­tries. A coali­tion of con­ser­va­tion groups and First Nations have fought for the Great Bear a quar­ter cen­tu­ry. They notched a big win on Feb. 2.

It went under the unas­sum­ing name of The Great Bear Land Order, an agree­ment signed by BC Pre­mier Christy Clark. Under the agree­ment, rough­ly 38 per­cent of the land stretch­ing from rough­ly Bute Inlet to Prince Rupert is for­mal­ly pro­tect­ed from logging—an area that’s five times the size of Delaware. Anoth­er mas­sive area, 47 per­cent of the region, is des­ig­nat­ed as “Ecosys­tem-Based Man­age­ment,” which is also referred to as “light touch log­ging” with restric­tions to pro­tect streams and estu­ar­ies, buffers and that pre­serves half of for­est cov­er. But per­haps the most sig­nif­i­cant fact is that the var­i­ous par­ties were able to hash out an agree­ment after so long in opposition.

What Didn’t Happen?

It’s Not A Nation­al Park
First of all, the agree­ment doesn’t—as some sound­bites mention—protect 85 per­cent of the Great Bear from log­ging, which would be an area half the size of Ire­land. The land in Ecosys­tem-Based Man­age­ment “should not be con­fused as a sur­ro­gate or replace­ment for pro­tect­ed areas because it will involve rota­tion­al forestry, road build­ing, dry land sorts and a host of oth­er human activ­i­ties,” writes Ian McAl­lis­ter of Pacif­ic Wild in Bel­la Bella.

The Pipeline
The agree­ment does noth­ing to stop the oth­er threat to the Great Bear Rain­for­est: the pro­posed Enbridge North­ern Gate­way Pipeline. It would car­ry tar sands crude from Alber­ta across the coast range to Kit­mat in the Great Bear, where it would be loaded on tankers. The tankers would ply the nar­row, rocky chan­nels of the Great Bear, threat­en­ing the area with a Valdez-size oil spill. Hap­pens Now?

Ban the Tankers
Pacif­ic Wild and oth­er con­ser­va­tion groups are pur­su­ing a tanker ban in the Great Bear to counter the North­ern Gate­way threat.

As Abra­ham Lin­coln said, a law with­out enforce­ment is basi­cal­ly just advice. First Nations and con­ser­va­tion­ists will be mon­i­tor­ing the enforce­ment of the pro­tect­ed areas and envi­ron­men­tal restric­tions of the agree­ment. In an area as wild, remote, and sparse­ly pop­u­lat­ed as the Great Bear, where all trav­el is by float­plane and boat, a lot can hap­pen on the ground before offi­cials notice. “The bur­den of mon­i­tor­ing will fall dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly on the Indige­nous peoples—like Heiltsuk—who live on the front lines, and whose lives and liveli­hoods depend on the integri­ty of our lands and waters,” said the Heilt­suk Trib­al Coun­cil.

How Can I Visit?
You can help by vis­it­ing the Great Bear. The more that peo­ple vis­it and care about a place, the eas­i­er it is to enforce the agreement.

Like most remote and beau­ti­ful places, get­ting to the Great Bear is chal­leng­ing. That’s part of the adven­ture. The first step is a BC Fer­ry from Port Hardy at the north­ern tip of Van­cou­ver Island to Bel­la Bel­la, Klem­tu or Prince Rupert. From there it’s more chal­leng­ing. To access the coast, fjords or moun­tains requires a boat, a kayak or a boat with a kayak strapped to the deck. Plan lots of time: this coast­line calls for a zigzag­ging explo­ration of coves and islands. Trav­el is weath­er and cur­rent depen­dent. Cur­rent tables most­ly don’t exist, and unchart­ed tides do. This is true wilder­ness. Expect to share your camps with wolves and bears.

But like all wild places, it needs lit­tle defend­ing. Now’s the time to visit.

©istockphoto/ HABesen

©istockphoto/ HABesenThey don’t call it the Out­door Recre­ation­al Cap­i­tal of Cana­da for nothing!

Squamish, British Colum­bia is nes­tled between two world-renowned destinations—the city of Van­cou­ver to the south and the moun­tain resort town of Whistler to the north—but it’s a wor­thy des­ti­na­tion in its own right, espe­cial­ly for those who love all things outdoors.

With the ocean and moun­tains with­in a stone’s throw, the oppor­tu­ni­ty for out­door adven­ture in Squamish is prac­ti­cal­ly end­less. Here are sev­en rea­sons that Squamish will get any outdoor-lover’s heart fluttering.

Rock Climb­ing
Men­tion Squamish to a rock climb­ing enthu­si­ast, and there’s a good chance they may start salivating.

Squamish, with its extreme­ly acces­si­ble gran­ite cliffs and bluffs, is a world-famous des­ti­na­tion for rock climb­ing. The crown jew­el is the gran­ite mono­lith known as the Stawa­mus Chief, tow­er­ing over the town and offer­ing fan­tas­tic views of Howe Sound. You can’t miss it from the Sea to Sky high­way; keep your eyes open for the small dots (that would be climbers) scal­ing up the face.

Moun­tain Biking
With its mild cli­mate, Squamish’s many mean­der­ing moun­tain bik­ing trails are most­ly clear through­out the entire year. The trails are prac­ti­cal­ly end­less, and there are options for all lev­els of moun­tain bik­ers, although with the pres­ence of the moun­tains, expect a few leg-burn­ing climbs through mag­nif­i­cent old-growth rainforests.

Squamish may not be the ski­ing mec­ca that is Whistler (at least not yet; a ski resort for Squamish is in the ear­ly stages of plan­ning), but back­coun­try enthu­si­asts know that there are plen­ty of epic pow­der stash­es to be found in Squamish. If you’re will­ing to hike for it, there is some excel­lent ski­ing and split­board­ing to be enjoyed in near­by moun­tains, you just have to know where to look.


The best part about hik­ing in Squamish is that you’re typ­i­cal­ly reward­ed with some mind-blow­ing views. Steep climbs up the local moun­tains almost always result in epic vis­tas up top (save for a fog­gy day, but those views can be eeri­ly cool too). Trails are easy to get to, espe­cial­ly if you head up the Sea to Sky Gon­do­la, which offers access to a huge vari­ety of ter­rain and has options for var­i­ous hik­ing abil­i­ty levels.

Trail Run­ning
Squamish’s trails aren’t just for hik­ing and moun­tain bik­ing; just slip on a pair of trail run­ning shoes, and you’ll get to expe­ri­ence the local trails in a whole new way. The trail run­ning com­mu­ni­ty is con­tin­u­ous­ly grow­ing, and local races (includ­ing the Loop the Lakes Trail Run and the Sea to Sky Scram­ble Trail Run) offer the per­fect chal­lenge for locals and vis­i­tors alike.

Wind Surf­ing
What do you get when you mix the Pacif­ic Ocean with some seri­ous wind? You get the ulti­mate des­ti­na­tion for wind­surf­ing. Nature has craft­ed the per­fect con­di­tions for wind­surf­ing enthu­si­asts, and Squamish has recent­ly announced that it will be expand­ing its water­front to accom­mo­date two new wind­surf­ing beach­es. The best just keeps get­ting better.

Howe Sound offers some incred­i­ble sea kayak­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties, not to men­tion some killer views and plen­ty of wildlife spot­ting poten­tial (think bald eagles, seals, por­pois­es and the occa­sion­al whale). The new Sea to Sky Marine Trail includes wilder­ness camp­sites scat­tered around the coasts and var­i­ous islands of Howe Sound; sim­ply hop in your kayak and choose your own route for a killer kayak­ing trip.

©istockphoto/Kevin Miller

©istockphoto/Kevin MillerThis past sum­mer, some­thing extreme­ly awe­some hap­pened to the stretch of Pacif­ic Ocean that flows between Van­cou­ver, BC, and Squamish, BC—the out­door recre­ation cap­i­tal of Canada—better known as Howe Sound.

Howe Sound became home to a 40-kilo­me­ter marine trail known offi­cial­ly as the Sea to Sky Marine Trail. With six brand new des­ig­nat­ed wilder­ness camp­sites and more on the way, it’s now eas­i­er than ever to pop your kayak in and go for an overnighter or, even bet­ter, make it a week­long paddle.

If you’re look­ing for a BC wilder­ness expe­ri­ence that’s acces­si­ble but not over­run with tourists, then the Sea to Sky Marine Trail might be right up your alley. Here’s what you need to know to plan your own trip.

Be Pre­pared
One of the major perks of the Sea to Sky Marine Trail is that it’s super easy to access, with sev­er­al entry points along the coast, some just out­side of Vancouver.

But just because it’s close, doesn’t mean it’s easy; remem­ber, you’re still pad­dling in the ocean. Wind, waves, and tides are all things that you’ll encounter. Don’t attempt to pad­dle this trail unless you are well equipped in terms of gear, skills, and safe­ty knowledge.

©istockphoto/Kevin MillerPick Your Entry
There are sev­en entry points to the trail, the south­ern­most being Horse­shoe Bay—just out­side of West Van­cou­ver, where you can catch the fer­ry to Van­cou­ver Island, Bowen Island or the Sun­shine Coast—and the north­ern­most being right inside of Squamish.

Porteau Cove is one good option for entry, with a rel­a­tive­ly qui­et boat ramp and plen­ty of park­ing; just be sure to let the camp­site folks know that you’ll be gone for a few days to avoid a tick­et. The water tends to be a lit­tle less chop­py here than it can some­times be up in windy Squamish.

Take Your Time
At only 40 kilo­me­ters (25 miles), you could tech­ni­cal­ly pad­dle the entire trail in one long, intense day, but then you’d be miss­ing out on all the good stuff. The best part of this trail is tak­ing your time to explore the rugged shore­line, enjoy­ing the views of snow­capped moun­tains in the dis­tance and appre­ci­at­ing the fea­tures and details that you’d nev­er see from the road.

©istockphoto/peterspiroStick to the Campsites
Six new camp­sites have been devel­oped as part of this trail—Ramillies Chan­nel, Bain Creek, Thorn­bor­ough Chan­nel, Islet View, Zor­ro Bay, and Tan­ta­lus Landing—and there are three provin­cial parks along the route, pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al camp­ing opportunities.

The camp­sites are rel­a­tive­ly no frills, but they’re clear­ly marked and well laid out, with nice, flat areas to set up your tent. Feel free to pack a camp­ing ham­mock to make the most of the mil­lion dol­lar views.

Speak­ing of mil­lion dol­lar views, much of the land along Howe Sound, includ­ing the many islands in the sound, is pri­vate­ly owned, even when they look like wilder­ness areas. Keep the neigh­bors hap­py and stick to the des­ig­nat­ed campsites.

©istockphoto/Kevin MillerWatch the Water
One of the best parts of kayak­ing Howe Sound is that you nev­er know what you’ll see. You’re all but guar­an­teed to see a few play­ful seals frol­ick­ing around your boat; they’ll be watch­ing you with as much inter­est as you’re watch­ing them.

If you’re lucky, you may even spot a whale or a dol­phin. Hump­backs and orcas have been known to occa­sion­al­ly make appear­ances, and there’s no bet­ter whale watch­ing spot than the seat of your kayak.

Look up, too. There are a ton of bald eagles in the area.

Mind the Tide
Although Howe Sound is nice and pro­tect­ed, don’t for­get it’s part of the Pacif­ic Ocean, and that means that you’re going to be deal­ing with tides. Always bring your gear, includ­ing your kayak, well above the high tide line. Keep your pad­dles secure and bring a spare, to be safe.


Ever vis­it­ed British Colum­bia? If not, the next ques­tion begs being asked. What are you wait­ing for? There’s no short­age of epic adven­ture when explor­ing out­door activ­i­ties in British Colum­bia. You’re miss­ing all of this:


Climb in Squamish
Every sum­mer, thou­sands of climbers from around the world vis­it Squamish to test them­selves on the cliffs and boul­ders. The result is a vibrant climb­ing scene best known for its fin­ger and hand cracks. Con­sid­er hir­ing a guide from Squamish Rock Guides or anoth­er local com­pa­ny. Squamish is also a go-to des­ti­na­tion for moun­tain bik­ing, paraglid­ing, raft­ing, and kiteboarding.

Cycle in Stan­ley Park

The 1,001-acre park is next to down­town Van­cou­ver, so it’s an easy escape from the bus­tle of the big city. Con­sid­er rent­ing bikes and going for a ride on the sea wall that runs around the out­side of the park. Also, stop to check out the aquarium.

Hike the Lions
This is a seri­ous under­tak­ing. The Lions are the two most famil­iar peaks seen from the City of Van­cou­ver. Look­ing up at them is noth­ing com­pared to the view look­ing down from on top.


Surf in Tofino
There’s no surf­ing in Cana­da, right? Wrong. Tofino!

On the Rugged West Coast of Van­cou­ver Island, there are a dozen surf shops and schools offer­ing lessons and gear to get you out in the mighty Pacif­ic. In recent years, Tofi­no has built a rep­u­ta­tion as a tourist des­ti­na­tion, but not so much as to detract from the casu­al demeanor of the relaxed beach-side town. If surf­ing isn’t your game, check out the sea kayak­ing or whale watch­ing tours where you might see Grey or Hump­back whales.

Bath in Har­ri­son Hot Springs
At the south­ern end of Har­ri­son Lake, ther­mal springs leave the ground and are cap­tured in pools for your bathing con­ve­nience. The “Potash” springs have a tem­per­a­ture of 104°F, and the “Sul­phur” springs of 149°F. Both have a remark­ably high con­cen­tra­tion of dis­solved min­er­al solids at 1300 ppm.

Fer­ry to Gabriola 
Much small­er the Gulf Islands pop­u­late the straight of Geor­gia between the main­land and the larg­er Van­cou­ver Island. These ocean­ic gems are places worth the vis­it. Gabri­o­la’s most ancient cul­ture can be viewed through the lens of pet­ro­glyphs carved by First Nations. The island is also home to a num­ber of mod­ern art gal­leries fea­tur­ing work from eclec­tic local artists.


Pick Fruit in the Okanagan
The fer­tile land of the Okana­gan Val­ley grows plen­ty of tree fruits like cher­ries, peach­es, apri­cots, plums, as well as blue­ber­ries, rasp­ber­ries, and corn. Go there, pick your own fruit and stop by a vine­yard to get some wine for later.

Ski in Whistler
In list­ing out­door activ­i­ties in British Colum­bia, we’d be remiss not to men­tion this one. Whistler is a world-class ski­ing des­ti­na­tion before the 2010 win­ter games insti­gat­ed facil­i­ty improve­ments to match the nat­ur­al won­ders of the sur­round­ing moun­tains. The ski sea­son in Whistler typ­i­cal­ly begins around the third week­end in Novem­ber and extends into April. Be sure to also check out the vil­lage. It’s a bit like Dis­ney­land, but for adults.

If you haven’t seen the JP Auclair seg­ment in the film All.I.Can where he skis the streets of Ross­land and Nel­son British Colum­bia, now’s your chance. Even if you have seen it, this is worth a repeat. Set to a pitch per­fect LCD Soundsys­tem song, Auclair launch­es casu­al cork 7s over parked cars, back­flips over road inter­sec­tions, and makes the most of the melt­ing snow. Sparks fly from his edges as he grinds down a gut­ter. A dog barks as he pumps his legs for side­walk speed. A kid throws a snow­ball at him. By the end of his run, it will be hard for you to see win­ter streets the same again. 

The Grand Canyon of the Stikine Riv­er in British Colum­bia is a pad­dler’s equiv­a­lent to Mount Ever­est. To even approach it you need com­plete mas­tery of every white­wa­ter skill. The 45-mile-long Grand Canyon is a gaunt­let of mas­sive Class V‑VI rapids that are sur­round­ed by 1,000-foot sheer walls.

This video by Adri­an Kier­nan plunges us through the chaot­ic com­plex­i­ty of the white­wa­ter. Watch how the waves explode upward in spin­ning cowlicks or how the eddy lines form three-foot walls that rip against the cur­rent. To get a feel for the pow­er these waves pack, watch the punch one of the kayak­ers gets from a mas­sive wave at 5:14.

You’ll see why pad­dling leg­end Doug Ammons called this stretch one of the great­est white­wa­ter runs in the world.


This video from The North Face team rid­ers Mike Hop­kins and Matt Miles explores new ter­rain for down­hill-moun­tain bik­ing. Using 4‑wheelers and heli­copters, the two rid­ers explore the Ben­dor Range in British Colum­bia. The routes are steep, long, raw, and con­tin­u­ous. Their runs are not a cou­ple of hun­dred feet in ver­ti­cal, but thousands.

The lines are more like back­coun­try ski­ing than any­thing else. There’s the same jump turns down nar­row chutes, carv­ing turns on open slopes, and cliff drops. There’s the same full-on com­mit­ment for each of these runs, but take a look at the line they drop at minute 6:10. It’s unlike any­thing else in the sport.

These guys aren’t just explor­ing new ter­rain. They’re explor­ing the lim­its of the sport. 

Part of the beau­ty of surf­ing hap­pens while wait­ing beyond the break: The swell rolling beneath you, the wind blow­ing white cur­tains from the crests, and those adren­a­line charged moments of pad­dling into the wave. But when you’ve wait­ed for a while, you can’t help but start think­ing about the fish swim­ming beneath your feet. Con­tin­ue read­ing