Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Thrills and Spills: Cowichan River Youth Kayak Fest 2016

Big thanks to Liam B. Ellis (Class of 2016 at Brentwood College) for this awesome write up on the Cowichan River Youth Kayak Fest (CRYK) held on Vancouver Island recently. (previously posted on the Brentwood College blog)



Spring’s sunny weather heralded the arrival of the annual Crykfest, an unforgettable whitewater kayaking and camping festival at Skutz Falls, Cowichan Lake. Organized by ODP Head Mr. Norman, the event was attended by students from across the province, from Nanaimo to Chilliwack to Mill Bay. Seasoned paddlers and beginners alike, our Outdoor Pursuits team used this opportunity to break through the Brentwood bubble and make connections with fellow BC students and the natural world.

On Friday, we were bused to Horseshoe Bend campsite to set up our tents before heading to the Cowichan Aquatic Centre, where we launched our kayaks into the swimming pool to get accustomed to rolling upright from a capsized position. Saturday was the first day our kayaks were moistened by the mighty Cowichan River. We set off from Duck Pond, a relatively calm stretch of the river, and worked on “eddying out” and proper paddling technique. Our muscles grew weary as our bipedal bodies adapted to incorporate large plastic vessels onto our torsos, but the idyllic wild beauty of the river inspired us. That night we ate supper around a campfire, swapping riddles and singing loud, repetitive campfire songs as we sipped our hot chocolates. 

We got our first taste of whitewater (both figuratively and literally) on Sunday, as we paddled through a more daunting section of the river. I found myself inverted and careening downstream on more than one occasion. Our wet suits proved their worth as we battled rollicking rapids and feisty back-currents. Finally, all of our small groups joined forces for a final run as we barreled down the Cowichan as one unit. At the end of an adrenaline-fueled day, we packed up our tents and cooking gear to head back to the mundane realities of overdue homework and sinusoidal wave calculations.

Mr. (Dan) Norman talking to the crew!

Our friend and local Chilliwack paddler, Darcy Wilkins

Thanks to Joe K. Whittal for the photo

Happy winner of the Kokatat Maximus PFD! THANKS KOKATAT!

Crykfest is a fantastic way to flee the glow of computer screens and the pressures of humdrum everyday existence. For a moment, nothing matters but you, the river, and your battle against nature in a tiny plastic boat.


Liam B, Ellis ‘16

Green River, UT

Green River, UT
Photo: Shawna Franklin