Halloween at Skookumchuck
Last Tuesday I headed up north for a late season Halloween surf trip. I checked the levels the night before I and was happy to see the tides were maxing out at 14 to 15 knots for four days. Yay! I get cold pretty easily and was a not so stoked to see it was running super early in the morning. Even so, I couldn't pass up one last Skook trip before winter sets in.
All was rolling smoothly on my way up to Vancouver until 30 miles from the Canadian border I realized that I left my passport in Hood River. I stressed for a few minutes but decided I was already 6 hours into the drive and it would be worth trying to make it through the border with my driver's license. Luckily enough I was sent right on through with plenty of time to meet up with the rest of my group and catch the ferry to Langsdale. (Getting back into the U.S. was not so easy but I figured there are worse places to be stranded than British Columbia. I was asked a million questions, had my truck searched and was warned that by January 2008 passports will be mandatory.)
It seemed like I had just fallen to sleep in Egmont when my alarm rang. It is pretty dark and cold at 5:00 am on the 31st of October, even on the Sunshine Coast, but we were so excited to surf the Skook we geared up and rallied out for dawn patrol. As we paddled out of the Egmont Harbor I couldn't see much besides my frozen breath but it began to get light just as we started to hear the rumble of Skookumchuck rapid.
Skook was just as good as always, a big, bouncy, glassy wave. The coolest thing about it is that it is so dynamic. Every ride you get a different wave. On the way up it will have a huge trashy pile but as it peaks it becomes steep and green. The six of us surfed straight through the sunrise and all through the morning. Finally, as early afternoon came around, our arms were aching and the wave was flattening out so we decided to call it a day. I've decided that the fun factor of winter dawn patrol is definitely based on having good cold water gear.
Key gear for winter paddling:
Breathable DrySuit with Gortex socks (I don't know how I ever survived without one)
1 piece fleece insulation suit with relief zipper
Pogies (Some people prefer glove but I find they let my grip slip off the paddle)
Neoprene Skull Cap
Down Jacket at the Take out
That night all the Egmont locals came out in costume with bags full of candy, home made fireworks and strobe lights. They invited us to come party around the town bonfire and enjoy their firework display which was one of the coolest I've ever seen. Thanks to everyone in Egmont for such a memorable Halloween celebration and thanks for putting up with all of us kayakers all the time. See you next time!