By Kanako Iwata-Eng
Led by Bill Petty, Doug Knapp, Jennie Goldberg, Andy Meyers, Chris Knorr and I paddled Statlu Creek (Class 3+) and Chehilis River (Class 3+) on Saturday and Coquihalla River (Class 3) on Sunday.
Because of the Easter weekend, the originally planned camp site at the take out was full. Besides, Doug who arrived early on Friday found that we had to pay $15/car for 3 nights up front whether staying all 3 nights or not. He found a free camp site on the Statlu Creek, and we met there.
Bill normally gets the destination early, but his truck broke down that morning. He was reluctant to go, but I kidnapped and smuggled him to Canada. When we arrived at the camp site, Doug said to me “You saved Bill!” but on the contrary, Bill was unhappy having to pitch the tent in the rain and sleep in it instead of inside his truck. Doug started a fire, but it was so wet the fire was generating only smoke and no heat.
It rained all night and was still raining Saturday morning, but by the time we finished shuttle, the sun was out. The Statlu Creek was clear and light green colored just like Jolly Rancher green apple candy. Despite the rain, the creek was slightly lower side but absolutely runnable. It is remote and serene with numerous pool drops. Very exciting! After merging into Chehilis, water continued to be Jolly Rancher green. The river wound between tall canyon walls. Many drops hit the headwall, and water was squirrelly in the corner.
Doug and Andy took turns to go first, and Bill led me the best line after observing the probes. However, this plan works only if I pay attention. In one rapid bending to the left with a headwall at the bottom, there was a big rock in the middle. I wasn’t sure which side of the rock and ended up on top of it and span half way. I perched on it for a moment facing the group waiting for me in an eddy and then fell behind the rock sideway but up right. When I got to the eddy, Bill said this rapid was called “Go Left or Die” (I wish I had know the name before) and usually has a big hole behind the rock I climbed. Luckily, as the water wasn’t high that day, I didn’t die though I didn’t go left.
We got out and scouted the Landslide rapid. Doug pointed a good line for me and then teased me, “…Or you can go up that rock in the middle and do that thing you did earlier.” Pool drops continued pretty much all the way. The highway bridge suddenly appeared, and it was the take out.
On Sunday, we drove to Hope and ran Coquihalla. We ran the section running next to the freeway. The best part was at the beginning with some relatively long steep boulder gardens. It was not as hard as the previous day but fun. We didn’t have any wood problems all weekend.
After that, Jennie, Bill and I hiked the Othello tunnels (old railroad tunnels) and scouted the lower Coquihalla (Class 5+?). The beautiful section was a narrow and steep. Each drop was about 8+ feet, and water was raging. In January, I hiked to see the Robe Canyon part of the Stillaguamish, but this looked even scarier than the Robe Canyon. I don’t recommend to paddle this section, but it was a great hike.