Chilliwack River - Thurston to Tamihi

Tucked into a scenic valley between Fraser Valley and the US border, the Chilliwack River is an easy-to-access, run of mixed Class II-IV whitewater, depending on the section. Last weekend, following some major rain we hoped would bring the river levels up, we headed out to explore the section between Tamihi Rapids and Slesse Creek.

 The Trans-Canada-Trail

The Trans-Canada-Trail

We arrived at the Tamihi Creek Recreation Site around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. The river was already crowded with people fishing, and a couple folks were unloading race kayaks for practice laps on the rapids.

We packed up our bags and hiked up the Tamihi FSR to find a junction with the Trans-Canada Trail, a section of Canada's just finished 240,000 km "Great Trail". The trail cut back away from the road, into second growth forest covered in a yellow, orange and red carpet of fall leaves. It was mostly easy going, with some muddy ATV ruts and a couple downed logs. Near Allison Pool, the trail cut back towards the road, eventually running alongside it, with some sections of walking on the shoulder.

 The definition of "road-side" packrafting.

The definition of "road-side" packrafting.

Around 1:30 we arrived at Thurston Meadows. We were a bit short of our planned put-in at Slesse Creek, but after the past weekend finishing a run in the dark, we played it safe and decided to put in from there.

 Route map, dark blue is hiking.

Route map, dark blue is hiking.

The river channel closest to Thurston Meadows was too bony to paddle, so we walked about 500 meters back to the main channel and put in. The river quickly dropped through some fast, bony drops. They were fairly easy, Class II-III read and run, but some nasty rocks lurked mid-way through them, so keeping our heads up was important.

 Hiking from Thurston Meadows to the main river channel.

Hiking from Thurston Meadows to the main river channel.

The main hazard were the dozens of people fishing in the river, some less than impressed to have to reel their lines in for a moment while we paddled past. For about 5 kilometers, the river was mostly short drops and fun wave trains, at the lower water level, the main concern was keeping our boats in the deepest channels of water and avoiding excess butt dragging.

 Mid-rapid on Tamihi.

Mid-rapid on Tamihi.

After about an hour and half on the water, the nature of the rapids started changing, with bigger rocks and more boulder gardens marking the lead into Tamihi Rapids, a classic Class IV rapid that, at the water level I ran it, was an exciting maze of boulders and small drops.

 More Tamihi.

More Tamihi.

I ran Tamihi past the bridge, pulled out at the Recreation Site and hiked back to the van. All in, the trip took about 6 hours.

Cameron Fenton