BC River SUP – Return of the Chucks

May showers bring spring flowers…. and high water on BC’s network of rivers and creeks.  Back in the pioneering days of SUP in BC (May 2010),  five Stand Up Paddleboarders, along with Carl Jacks our River Guide and Whitwater icon, geared up to take on the Skookumchuck rapids near Mabel Lake.  Will 2015 now be the break-out year for River SUP in BC? 

This being my third run at the ‘Chucks’, I felt confident that I could meet the challenge.  My wife Michelle, who had been here once before, was noticeably concerned and that left Cory Ferguson, Mike Champigny and Ian Tribes to wonder what they were up against.  On our drive up from Enderby, I could see that the water level was much higher than our previous visit and had a nagging feeling that we would be in over our heads…. literally.  Carl sat somberly in the driver’s seat and I could tell his mind was onto how he was going to keep us safe in the fast moving current.

After a mad scramble to inflate, pull, yank, tug, and plug the last of our gear in and on, we charged off the dock onto our C4 iSUP’s, ready for anything…. almost.  The first leg of the river is very mellow and feels like that long uphill pull on a roller coaster just before it ‘chucks’ into the first drop or loop.  We all gathered our thoughts.  The next leg was a bumpy ‘S’ turn and then after that, the Class III ‘Chucks‘ for half kilometre or so.  Beyond that, a long manageable section that was more inkind to our current skill set.

Michelle, then myself were the first to make it through the ‘S’ turn and as I ferried around to pull near shore, Ian was floating past, clinging to the side of his board.  He had the dubious claim of being the first to ‘hit’ the ‘Chucks’ and Carl dispatched his nimble kayak in time to help Ian to relative safety.

I took off towards the big set and managed to stay on my feet for less than 15 seconds before falling ungracefully.  It took an incredible amount of strength to find a safe place to eddy-out and watched Cory, then Mike float by only a few seconds later.  Michelle decided to skip that the section a skip only to find out that the one after that she airmattressed through was the hardest of all.  There is no doubt the ‘Chucks’ were above our level but it was an incredible learning experience and we became better SUP’ers because of it.  We cruised the last section gracefully and enjoyed a great day on just one of BC’s many offerings.

Michelle poised for action

I can say this with confidence – River SUP is one of the funnest ways to enjoy the sport and I truly haven’t had this much fun, and adrenaline flow, in a good while – and we’re just getting started. The exit was followed by high 5’s and off to the pub we went to share stories and refuel.  Special thanks to Carl for keeping it real.  The C4 iSUP’s rocked it too.  Til we meet again…

Bonus Material – River SUP Tips:

  • Observe before you jump in
  • Wear the right gear
  • Don’t fight the river, work with it
  • If you fall, feet forward facing up
  • If you fall, try not to yard sale it – hold on to your paddle and fall on or near your board
  • Work you’re way up to the big stuff or –
  • If you start at the big stuff, make sure you have someone available to perform a water rescue
  • Take pictures!
  • Bring extra food in your pocket
  • Rock on!

Blog post by: Kevin O’Brien

1 Comment

  1. Comments  Mike Champigny   |  Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 12:03 am

    What a fantastic and fun day! If you want a new challenge, this is a great one to try out!

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