Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park is famous for having unbelievable standing waves, spectacular whitewater and whirlpools during high tide! So I made my way to Skookumchuck Narrows to see this for myself. On the way, I ran into Paul Hansen from West Coast Wilderness Lodge and he was very kind to offer me a boat ride to the rapids. I was really thankful because he saved me a 1 hour hike to the rapids but the camera guys were even more thankful since they would have had to hike with all their camera gear. As we headed towards the rapids, Paul shared with us the history of the area and he also gave us a scenic tour around the treeless Miller Island where the harbor seals were sunbathing. After the impromptu tour, he zipped down the river and dropped us off at the rapids.
As I approached closer to the Skookumchuck Narrows, I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing! The incoming tide created huge white water rapids that were foaming and swirling throughout the roughest section. No wonder it is called “Skookumchuk,” which means turbulent waters, in the Chinook language. I stood at the viewing area and watched kayakers performing tricks and riding the tall standing waves. To give you an idea of what the kayakers are up against, there is 200 billion gallons of water that flows through the narrows at a speed of 30km/hr. There was one kayaker who was performing amazing tricks by turning 360 degrees with his kayak on the glassy standing wave. This truly is a spectacle that everyone should see in person!
A kayaker called Pawel stood out because he was the only one with a long ocean kayak. Riding the rapids takes a lot of skill and strength but paddling a long kayak is extra challenging because of the sheer length and weight that a kayaker has to maneuver. The “long boat” is not ideal for performing tricks but it is a huge accomplishment just to be able to ride out the rapids on the ocean kayak. It was amazing to see Pawel hold steady for a few minutes in the standing wave while keeping his balance. Only experienced paddlers should ever attempt to paddle in the Skookumchuck Narrows.