Elk River, Fernie BC – 8 rivers in 8 days part II

Leap of Faith Falls, Elk River, BC

The second part of our trip to BC found us being enticed further and further from our plan of going to Squamish. Hanging out with Tarquino in Golden, we heard that the Toby river was at a good level, and was a classic that we shouldn’t miss. It lived up to it’s promise: amazing scenery and great rapids. Unfortunately, we were too busy paddling the rapids, figuring out the tricky portage, and checking out the wild scenery to take any pictures! The Toby changes from an alpine setting, to tiny slot canyons, to southwestern style hoodoos in just 10 miles. They call it the 7 canyons run, but they must’ve been counting in metric, ’cause we thought there were more than that!

Glen dropping in
We we’re lucky enough to catch up with Jamie and Val as they were setting shuttle for the Toby, and had a great day paddling with them. Their buddies Glen and Bryce joined us for day two, and then they all said, “well if you’re this close you might as well come on down to the Elk as well.”

Bryce in the canyon approaching the falls
So with Squamish and coastal BC getting ever farther away, we headed down to just outside of Fernie to get on the Leap of Faith section of the Elk.

Darcy making the falls look tall
The Elk is a classic, with reliable dam release water letting you paddle at least some sections all summer long. The canyon has beautiful, super committing steep walls, and the river is a real juxtaposition from the hydro/logging industry that’s all over the banks on top. In fact, you have to tread lightly between keep out/no trespassing signs to get in and out of the river.

Don putting his head in the water so he doesn’t have to see the landing
The adrenaline start to the Middle Elk is to seal launch in right above Leap of Faith. Again, it may be a conversion problem, but I think it’s a bit taller than the 40 feet that people say it is. But it’s beautifully shaped, and has a great landing. The entire setting is super cool: a tight slot canyon feeds out into a huge amphitheater-like plunge pool. It’s a lot like Pusuno Falls in Ecuador, but on a larger scale.

Below the falls, entering the Middle Elk
It was a rare treat to paddle with four boaters who all knew the lines, so Darcy and I got to kick back and be guided. It was pretty sweet.

Tarquino and Darcy on the Kicking Horse
Our plan was to see Tarquino again and retrace our steps back through Revelstoke to Whistler, but Google Maps said the fastest way from Fernie to Whistler was via the US, I-90 and Seattle! So we dropped down into Montana, got to turn the data back on our smart phones, and are heading the fast (and cheaper gas) way to Vancouver.
This trip has already been all about Plan B, but now we think we’ll actually make it to Squamish. More to come when we get there!

Thanks to Glen Carpenter for the photos of Darcy and I going over the falls. Great boating with all you folks we met up with in BC.

Another Plan B
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