Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Whistler Cruiser Classic: Callaghan Creek

So amidst the coast range's epic shuttles, tortuous hike ins, and generally difficult logistics, lies a run that would be more appropriately placed somewhere like the southeast. Callaghan Creek is the classic cruiser in SW BC, and is a great place to spend a few days licking wounds from rougher terrain. The shuttle takes 10 minutes or less, and is only 3.5 miles. The run itself is only 2.3 miles in length, and can be done in as little as 30 minutes. The takeout is at the major highway in the area, so access is a piece of cake. With its "cookies and cream" water color and non stop class 4 boulder gardens mixed with the occasional bedrock slide, Callaghan is sure to please.
The next morning after our intense evening on the Ashlu, we headed out from the valley back into civilization, and decided to camp at the takeout for the Callaghan, a much nicer campground than function junction. It is a little pricey, but if you are only going to be in the area for a few days, it is worth it for being at the takeout for Callaghan. The forest is pretty nice there too.
Bone and I elected to do another late evening run after driving back from the Ashlu. So Tony drove us up and we put on Callaghan at what Bryan Smith told us was a "right proper" level. That couldn't have been a better description, as the level was on the high side of good. The flow was kinda stompy, but with the rock being sharp flood basalts, more water is better than low water.
We portaged the first ledge, having heard rumors of horrific experiences swimming in the cave behind the falls. We had around an hour of daylight at this point, so we were jazzed up. We approached the 15 foot falls and took a quick scout before dropping off close to the log.

Let me just say that the section between this drop and the 25 foot waterfall downstream was quite large. It isn't often in the SE where you are paddling 6-8 foot wavetrains with big sick holes while on your way to the lip of a big waterfall. It was a cool feeling.

We took a quick look at the big one and then bombed off with huge boofs. I think I landed stern first, but the boil is so high and receptive, it was a super soft landing. This was easily one of the best waterfalls I have ever run.

Below here, the creek is a nicely paced series of class 4 boulder drops. There are 3 slides in here, the first of which has a nasty piton on the left. The second one has a classic beat down hole on the right, which gave several rides during our time at Callaghan. Just when you are feeling warmed up, the bridge at Hwy 99 shows up, and you just need a ride back up to do it all over again, before finishing 20 feet from your tent.

The next day we hit it in the morning with the whole crew, only to find the level had dropped out pretty dramatically. This was a good sign for our trip to Tatlow the next day, but Callaghan does not do low water very well. There was a lot of the kind of scraping that makes you think you just ripped a tear in your hull. The waterfall was great as ever though, and in his typical fashion, Tony ran the 25 footer having no idea that he was coming up to the lip of a waterfall. There is a hole on that one if you look for it! He did a full typewriter move and came up stroking. The blue skies and pretty weather more than made up for the low flow, and the rest of us were satisfied to run shuttle for Bone and Shane, who had TVF laps to tend to. In fact, Callaghan is one of the best TVF runs I have seen. Though it can't compete with the West Prong or the Tellico, it drops 170 feet per mile and can be lapped with ease. Just the same, I was glad to have already been there and done that, and felt content to drive shuttle and enjoy our last chill day. Here are some shots from day 2 at Callaghan:

That night we went into the resort for food and drink, and gladfully said goodbye to civilization for the rest of the trip. The next morning we would head back into the Ashlu Valley with hopes that flows would have receded enough for Tatlow Creek to be in.

No comments: