Ashlu and Tatlow Rivers, BC

Exit from the Tatlow River canyon
Yahoo we finally made it to Squamish! After a quick warm up on the Birkenhead River up near Pemberton, we headed to the Ashlu to catch the weekend releases on the “Commitment Canyon” or “Box” section of the Ashlu River. It’s an interesting win/lose result of the Ashlu dam, that though the wilderness has been marred and the natural flow is gone, you can now plan on flows on the lower Ashlu based on releases from the dam.

In 2005 and 2006 when Darcy was in grad school at UBC, we spent a bunch of time up here, but this was our first time in the post-dam era. The area looks a LOT better than it did during construction. The road improvements make it really easy to get up to 50/50 and the mine section, but some of that adventure feeling has definitely been lost with the encroaching development.

Luckily, they’ve let the upper road go totally to crap, so if it’s an adventure you want, drive on up to the Upper Ashlu and Tatlow!

We had the dilemma over the weekend of good flows in both the Ashlu and Tatlow rivers. Which to do? Both!

It was cool having them both going and we even got both runs in on Sunday with our buddy Ben Hawthorne and a new partner in crime Brian Burger.

Ben firing up some crack on the Tatlow

Back in Darcy’s grad school days we were lucky enough one late fall day to catch the Tatlow going due to rainfall, and spent an incredible 4-6 hours on the run figuring it out for ourselves. With zero beta besides a rough description of the trail to the put in, we had an all out adventure in there. It was even snowing on us to add to the “epic” feeling of the day. This weekend was a totally different experience; it was a blast to bomb it with Ben filling in descriptions when our memories weren’t enough.

Tatlow River scenery

There was our group, plus three guys from Bellingham and the Bomb Flow gang with Evan Garcia and our fellow Wildwater alum Fred Norquist, all camping at the end of the road and paddling the Tatlow on Sunday. A bit of a change of pace from our first trip in ’05 – cameras flashing and boats boofing all over the place!
It was a fun scene, and great to hang out and paddle a bit with the Bomb Flow guys.

Check out the cool moss – and Ben on the 40′ slide

I don’t think our photos do the canyon justice, but keep your eyes open on Bomb Flow TV ’cause those guys filmed the %&$#! out of the Tatlow! Between their group and ours, I think there may have been more cameras than paddlers on the river that day.

view of glacier from Tatlow take out bridge

Since we camped out at the take out, we had plenty of daylight left after our hike up and paddle down the Tatlow. So we headed down for a bonus run on the Box.

Scouting 50/50 on the Ashlu

It was cool to be “warmed up” for waterfalls after the Tatlow, but 50/50 still lived up to it’s name. Or is it 70/30?

Don dropping into 50/50

…and tossing the coin

Logistics-wise, the road has been improved all the way to the Ashlu dam site, so a low rider could get up to the Box put in. The road above the dam project has apparently been left to deteriorate. The further you go the more over grown and rough it is. We definitely put a few scratches in the paint job of our truck on the way up to the Tatlow.

4 wheeling up to the Tatlow take out

About 3 miles downstream from the Tatlow take out there’s an landslide on the main Ashlu road. It’s in pretty good shape this year, but you do need a 4 wheel drive with some clearance, and maybe need to rearrange some rocks to get past it.

The culvert you need to cross in order to get to the Tatlow put in via car is perhaps worse than ever. You still need to shoulder your boats all the way from the take out to the put in.

Not to say some people didn’t TRY to drive up…

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