Friday, March 19, 2010

A First Descent On The Stewart River

The falling of the river levels on the Lester river pointed us in the northward direction for paddling possibilities. The changing of the river conditions were signalling dire prospects for the season ahead. Joel, Andy, Cliff and myself decided that the Stewart river would be a good run. I could see from the put in that the river was not going to be as juicy as I preferred but was still at an acceptable level.

We geared up in the falling afternoon sun and put onto thee river. The Stewart river is familiar friend of mine and a yearly run I make. The river began with a longer slide that was disappointingly scrappy. After many bends of the river as it gently ran amongst it sloping canyon wall we heard the rumblings of "Plumber's Crack". There before us lay the horizon line of a clean ~12 ft falls. We each joyfully ran multiple laps off it enjoying some quality boof time and I took the time to learn the "stomp" technique. The joyful and stress free fun felt good.

We continued onward and arrived what was otherwise known to me to be an unrun falls. I had only portaged it in the past, but my companions having never seen it were intrigued by the possibility of running it. The river dropped of a ~10 semicircular precipice and fell shallowly onto a flat base of rock, then terminating in a descent hole in the center. None of us felt confident that it could be boofed effective (landing flat) so we explored the possibility of it having enough angle to slide through. Joel was feeling decisive and empowered not only by his full face helmet, shock absorbing bulk head, and warranty on his kayak. I set up safety finding a spot right at the base of the falls and waited. Without a hitch Joel skidded down shooting past the side of the hole and scoring himself a first descent. Having the falls already probed for us, we each took our turns being some of the first to run the line. Stay tuned for Joel's naming of the drop.

Only a single bend later, I went ahead and ran the "Pillow Drop" and smiled as I plunged down a 15 ft sliding falls and shot off of a giant billowing pile of water deflecting from a giant boulder. We all took to the drop without hesitation and added to days exhilaration. After portaging a nasty looking blasted fish ladder and sped through the last slide the river had to offer. We paddled into the dusk as the river opened to the flaming horizon reflected Lake Superior. It was a evening of joyous paddling not technically difficult but of sheer fun. I only wished the the river levels would hold and that another run could happen the following day. But there was no such luck for the snow had all but melted from the forest and the waters seemed to be receding. I headed homeward looking forward to the weekend of paddling before us.

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