The Puntledge River festival is a sweet event put on by the Vancouver Island Whitewater Paddling Society. They have worked with BC Hydro to release water in the 65-110 Cubic Meters per Second range for the festival (for those of us using cfs, multiple the cms by 35 and you’ll have a pretty good idea of the cfs). There are 2 runs on the Puntledge–the Lower is a fun Class III/IV play run and the Upper is a Class IV+/V- creeky, slidey, waterfally run. Also nearby is the Brown River which happened to be running while we were there due to all the rain.
Hey, Shayne told us this was a play run–he didn’t say nothing about no Waterfall!
Shayne and Carrie came down to Ecuador on a trip with us a couple years back to enjoy some warm weather paddling. Vancouver Island definitely has some awesome whitewater, but even hard-core British Columbians like to get out of their drysuits every now and then. So they spent a week with us checking out Ecuador’s best whitewater. This weekend Shayne was returning the guiding taking us around to the festival’s best runs.
There are no races or other competitions at the Puntledge Festival, it’s just a bunch of people who want to get out on the water. The festival organizers had shuttles running all day long for the Upper and Lower sections of the Puntledge as well as the Lower Brown river. It’s pretty awesome to have so many people out on the river doing lap after lap until their bodies are too tired to take it anymore. Then it’s time to drink beer and huddle under the tarps to meet new friends and hide from the rain!
The Upper Puntledge is a very unique piece of whitewater that, unfortunately, doesn’t lend itself very well to photography due to the lack of eddies and super thick and bushy shoreline.
So, we have no photos, but Don put together a video from his Go Pro camera. It was mounted on his boat instead of his helmet so the perspective is a little skewed, but I’m telling you, it’s a lot bigger than it looks! The river, at the best flows, is roughly 3800 cfs. The river is 200-500 feet wide, often splitting into 2 channels, and is full of slides, waterfalls, and ledges. It’s a pretty crazy experience to be “creeking” on almost 4,000 cfs.
Anyhow, enjoy the video: