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I moved to BC a year ago and have had the joy of exploring a lot of new rivers that are new to me in that time, especially over this summer. While Covid has been devastating no doubt, I have tried to note all of the silver linings it has also had.

In the summer I am usually working in outdoor education leading kayaking or horse packing expeditions but things did not go that way this summer. What did happen as a result though was that I got to do a lot more personal paddling than I have in the last 5 summers I have spent teaching. My favorite new river that I got on this summer was a gem in the Kootanays called Skookumchuck creek. You may have heard of the Skookumchuck surf wave, I have written about it here, but Skookumchuck Creek is hundreds of kilometers away from the tidal surf wave towards the interior of BC. North of Cranbrook the creek flows into the Kootanay River. This gem boasts 20k of boofy, turnstyley class 4 in a beautiful BC valley a good drive down some logging roads. ( I mean how else would you get to a good river in BC?) We paddled it at a relatively low flow, 1.7 on the visual gauge at the takeout, where the rapids had time between them but the action didn’t stop!

The run is for the most part read and run if you are comfortable peering down relatively steep drops from small eddies at the top and being heads up for wood. We got out to scout 2 rapids where we couldn’t see the bottom well and one log across the river. The run is continuous fun and at the lower water level not stressful for class 4 boaters. Even if you are nervous about some class 4, someone to follow or a look at more rapids will set you up for success at low flows. At higher water things do flow together a good bit more I hear.

In addition to being just good clean fun the river is beautiful. You paddle at the bottom of a forested canyon for most of the day and just as you think you are coming out of it and things are opening up a last little canyon section surprises you for a finale. A particularly magical moment was when the sun came out and we floated past steep walls with water streaming down them as hundreds of dragonflies flew overhead in the sunshine.

I look forward to returning to this run which is most certainly on my top 5 new BC rivers list!