Monday, September 8, 2008

A Pilgrimage reallized: Rogers Creek

When I first started paddling, I had many impressions and ideas of what it meant, and what particular things about the sport I thought were my own personal pureform. As you grow within a discipline, you refine and adjust your place of mind within the construct of that discipline. There are certain moments though, where sudden, exacting change can occur, and one's mindset evolves into a more pure view of what it is that drives one to whitewater.

For me, one of these leap moments was when I first saw footage of Rogers Creek. I was watching Aerated with some friends during college, and when the BC segment began, I was immediately engaged by the beautiful triple series of falls on Rogers, with the seamless mix of grey granite, electric blue water, and dynamic forest cover. The drops were obviously perfect, set in a committing and impressive wooded gorge, with perfect spacing, and a variety of lips, landings, and moves, all complimentary to one another and unique in their own right.

I decided at once that BC should be added to the list of places to go paddling. Over the years, many other streams and places in BC strengthened my drive to visit, but none did so with such potence as Rogers. Many would later say that its alot of driving for a few good drops, but any logistics and dealing seemed worth the endeavor, to run my pure drop.

So in combination with trying to align the trip with Tatlow Creek, another beyond normal creek, I tried to frame our presence in BC around Rogers Creek.

After arriving from the dry interior to the Lillooet valley down near Skookumchuck Hot Springs, it became obvious that we had returned to the typically lush BC coastal environs. The Lillooet ran thick with flow through the fjord and the granite was abundant everywhere you looked. We got to the takeout to see NC tags, which is always nice, and never suprising. A girl who was out to a foot injury told us that Garreth, Bo, a few Brandons, and others were up in the gorge and the flow was good. We quickly loaded up and headed up to the top, taken aback by the rough shuttle road and how steep it was. Once we got to the top, we geared up and commenced the freestyle unintendo butt slide down to the creek. We drove higher up than most paddlers do, and dropped 700 feet through super steep and sketchy forest, with loose ground and many interesting and out of control moments.

Keith breaking out the ropes. And we had been holding off for so long.

The view downstream from our put in. Just around the bend the first gorge looms.

We put on a little after 6pm, and without anyone "knowing" the run, we got started, ready to deal with it. Accessing the creek 3/4 of a mile higher than the standard put in added a few portages, but also included a super tight and quality upper gorge that contained 4 great drops. This is worth the added river distance and helps the run gain a more full length character.

Shane and Bone within the confines of the first gorge.

The gnarly second drop of the first gorge. We portaged the first run, then after watching Bone miss the eddy and survive, we ran it the second run.

After this gorge was a logjam rapid that led into a drop we had seen Tommy Hilleke run in an LVM. It looked quite marginal, and none of us ran the drop either trip. The seal launch was a great consolation though.

Keith, post seal launch, busy dealing.

Downstream, the pace was good West Prong type stuff, with beautiful water and moss covered vertical walls.

Rogers Creek scene

Then we got to the 10 foot ledge that can sometimes give people a ride who don't square it up. We were now in the main gorge, and the rapids were incredible. After the ledge, we hit a blind boulder garden that took some creative eddy hopping to decipher. Right below was another juicy boudler jumble that turned to the left into something big. It was a nice sloping 10 foot constriction against the right wall, unscoutable and unportagable. It was at the bottom of this drop that the creek slams into the left wall right above the beginning of the triple falls.

Keith rounding the blind corner

Staging for the main event.

We were now here. The place I had dreamed to go to for so long. It is certainly more impressive in person, and the first drop instantly appeared to be the critical moment. While the move was a "thousand times before" kind of deal, a mistake could land you in a pocket on the left that recirculated back under the faucet, and composure would be required, or a rope, to deal with that. No one else wanted to get out, so I verballed everyone through, and one waited for me to catch up below the first drop. The first 20 is just perfect. Huge delayed boof cross-graining to the right, with a blasty landing. Then the second drop had a nice launch on the left that guaranteed a bigger than life boof. Bringing it down was definitely a priority on the next day's run. The final drop begged a fierce ferry to drop it on the right, only to surf back left. Deep would be the single word that would best explain the result of dropping said waterfall.

View from the perch above perfection.

Gazing up from the bottom.

Once at the bottom, we gave celebration, having just run the sweetest set of waterfalls ever. All I could think about was running it again the next day. We took off on down and after some boogie, hit the next best section of the run. Some call this rapid the Raven Fork rapid, and I can see why. It is a perfect cadence of boofing and sliding, with some pockets and diagonals thrown in at random. The boof at the top is sweet, and then you drive into a big curl down a slide, throwing left and straightening out for some high flow, low angle romping.

Keith Kugley sampling some familiar style on the Raven Fork rapid.

Robert Bone about to drop into the final piece.

The section of creek from the 10 foot ledge up top, through the triple falls and to the bottom of the Raven Fork rapid has to be the best series of drops I had ever paddled at this point in my career. We gave praise once again, and then paddled a short distance to the gates of the gorge, where we hightailed out to the right along the wall to the takeout car, thus avoiding the crazy indian who lives at the takeout.

A few beers and kilometers later, we were setting up camp on the banks of the Lillooet, and traipsing over to the hot springs at the camp. With the close proximity to Rogers, the turquoise and milky Lillooet right beside your tent, and the relaxing hot springs, this place is definitely the perfect paddling camp.

Dream Camp.

The next morning we returned to Rogers for a repeat, and the water level was the same as the night before. We got some good on the water footage, and Shane elected to shoot the triple from the gorge rim, yielding some profound scale to our otherwise mostly riverbank camera work. Upon arrival at the takeout, we loaded up and said goodbye. It was time to go to Whistler, check back in with the rest of the world, and reassemble our plans. I didn't want to leave, but needed to move to the next destination. No matter how good something is, you gotta keep moving. It is through that change of place and time that we define ourselves. The place and time of Rogers for me is still fresh.

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