Just 100 kilometers north of the well known Whistler whitewater scene
is the Bridge River watershed. A series of dams constructed between
1927 and current day inundate what could be some of the finest big
water paddling in the world. We'll never know though. From time to time
the Hurley River is referred to as the South Fork of the Bridge River.
This major tributary flows next to the road with minimal gradient for
some time before dropping into a deep canyon forcing the road to go up
and around through the mining town of Balore.
Having spent a week in Whistler paddling the classics, our group was
looking for something different. Thanks to Steve Arn's page our
curiosity was caught by the Hurley River and we headed out of Whistler
none too early in the morning. The dirt road was rougher than we
expected, landing us in Gold Bridge at three in the afternoon.
Thankfully the edge had been taking off by all our prior kayaking and
we didn't feel the burning need to put on. Plus flows were a touch on
the high side and should be lower in the morning. On the shuttle we'd
seen a sign for Kingdom Lakes and decided to give them a try. Good
thing we did, it has drive in lakeside camping for free.
Morning Kingdom Lake
don't think any in our group committed beta to memory, wanting to
experience adventure. We rise in the morning with a vague idea about
where put-in is. We look at the
Cadwallader River and remember something about stout waterfalls
upstream, but it looks too low to be much fun. We take the easy path
and drive past Bralorne, heading upstream until the river is close to
the road. If we didn't mind the brush we could drive all the way to the
water. As it is we decide to walk twenty meters to the river.
Sribar takes a short walk to the Hurley River.
Manuel Koehler starts an adventure.
into the run we've paddled a few easy rapids and suddenly there is a
horizon line and we wonder "isn't this run all boulder gardens?" A quick
scout reveals an...interesting looking falls. Manu gives it a thumbs up
and signals Rok Sribar through. It goes better than it looks and we all
Marco Guidi lines up the first falls.
Rok Sribar leading the charge into the Hurley River Canyon.
grin ear to ear in the pool below and paddle around the corner. Whoah
another horizon line, looks like we should have paid more attention to
Steve's beta. What's happened now seems obvious, we've put in above the
waterfalls "that are reported to be stout." and are in for a real
adventure. So far so good, and we're happy to see this horizon looks
better than the last, in fact super classic.
Sribar enjoys the same.
We are not surprised by the next horizon line now that we realize our
mistake. This one forces us out earlier as the river goes through a
wide rapid then narrows up as it plunges out of view. It's hard to see
what is happening, but there appear to be two drops and the first is
undercut with no place to set safety. You know what they say, it's not
a real adventure until something goes wrong. We brace ourselves for a
long portage and head up game trails on the left.
Guidi scouts the third falls.
minutes later and we take a break in the dense forest. We're not sure
how far to go downstream before trying to drop back in. Rok pulls out
his GPS and it looks pretty good near where we are, so Manu and I head
downhill to see the lay of the land.
We get a nice view of our portage rapid, which I believe has been run
at least once in the past. Perhaps lower flows would be nicer.
The very definition of V+
Looking downstream there is another falls but it looks like we can figure out
this puzzle piece at river level.
A steep scree field leads to the river but requires roping for the
as we're wrapping up the portage a log crumbles under a team member
resulting in a knee injury. Now we are truly in the adventure realm.
Thankfully the next set of falls is good as getting around them would have been
worse than assumed.
Marco Guidi probes.
The Hurley transitions into
boulder gardens and we make quick time boat scouting through, happy to
see the bizarre confluence with the Cadwallader
River. At one point in time there was an impressive
powerhouse here, thankfully there is not too much garbage strewn in the
river. While we've made good time on the upper section, but we all
realize that this is just the start of the normal run and portaging
anything with an injury will take time. We buckle down and prepare for
aggressive boat scouting.
Miles of boulder gardens fly by before we're finally forced to scout.
Manu Koehler probes.
Marco Guidi follows in good style.
It's a steep section and we're forced out of our boats to find clean routes through the bolder piles.
an interesting section of river with clean lines between others that
would be terrible to wander into. It's not low stress kayaking,
especially late in the day. Still we enjoy the quality and challenge of
the section, which continues longer than we expect. Finally a long
scout reveals a good route through the last significant rapid, and
we're cruising down to take out. We're all glad to have completed the
run, yet none of us would be in a hurry to return the next day. The
Hurley is a challenging river with many hazards. It took us about five
hours with no knowledge. As
we dry our gear in Gold Bridge a local pulls up and we chat about our
adventure. Apparently a hydro project on Hurley River is almost
completed and is 70% operational, diverting water into Downton