Friday, June 27, 2008

Upper St. Mary's

Well this year has been great for the upper St. Mary's river. We have had consistent flows of anywhere from 70 cms to 100 cms. These flows give you a variety of playing opportunities. Some of the waves get more defined and playful while others change shape and get pushier, making it harder to stay in for long amounts of time. But Everything is playful at these flows and I do mean everything. I can't say enough with words, but I have had a BLAST on all the surf waves and features that were just NOT around last year.
I have been in Cardston for the last few weeks and been able to go out and kayak this river whenever someone gives me the opportunity. I have been paddling with a number of people on this river this year. It has been a lot of fun meeting new people and seeing the different skills and abilities that each paddler has.
The public access is great for this river. The take-out is either at the Kimball River Sports parking area or at the Kimball Campground. To get to the take out you just pass Cardston heading South on Highway 2 then there will be a left hand turn that will take you past Aetna (Highway 501). Pass Aetna and keep traveling south until you cross a bridge over the St. Mary's River then take a right onto Range Rd. 250. Here you should see the Kimball River Sports parking area and office directly to the right and the campground is a little further down the road on the right through a white metal gate. You can't miss the Kimball River Sports cause they have a huge fleet of big red school buses. Once you have dropped off you take-out shuttle, take the gravel road (Range Rd. 250) that you turned onto right after the bridge, and keep heading south on it. The nice thing about this public access is that there is a sign of a man carrying his canoe with arrows directing you where to go, so follow him right to the put-in. This access is on a gravel road all the way to the river.
The river has some great features. Your first river bend to the left comes to a really nice eddy on river right that you can do some really fun Stern Squirts. At medium to high flows the first fun surf wave can catch you by surprise if you don't know where it is. Just a few hundred feet down stream of the river's first split in the river there will be a wave that rarely breaks at the top, so don't look for a white top. It is a very low profile wave that will hold you, but its not steep or a high wave. It's long and low. after this wave you will come up to a big left hand curve in the river. This next big feature is Blender. At medium to high flows an upper wave forms above Blender that is probably the smoothest surf wave of them all. I swear I was surfing in it for almost 10 minutes once (or at least that's what it felt like to me). Just below this wave is the main wave Blender which is a river wide feature. It becomes a pour-over at much lower flows, but its a big wave hole at medium to high flows. there are no eddies to paddle up, but there is always a nice bank on river left that you can paddle to and walk back up to hit the waves again and again. After Blender there are two pour-over holes called Twin Sisters. At these medium to high flows these features become fun side surfing wave holes. the top feature is known as the Twisted Sister because it is a lot bigger than the second feature. Once through these Sisters you will hit the Meat Grinder which is just a small boulder garden that creates some nice rolling waves. Here you come to a flat stretch of water that ends in a left hand curve in the river. on the river right you will find a pretty nice surf wave that has a small eddy on the right of it that helps you be able to catch the wave more than once. after this wave there are a few churning eddies along the right side of the river through this small stretch of water. After burning through that section you have Double Trouble. This feature can sneak up on ya if you don't know where it is, but when you come around a sharp left hand curve the river will start to curve back to the right and you will begin to hear the rapid. The river left side of the river becomes a steep canyon like wall then you will be able to see where the rapid is. its a nice side surfing wave hole, and is really playful with a nice eddy on river left at lower flows. A nice bonus wave that only appears at these medium to high flows is just below Double Trouble and has a nice calm eddy on river left. After you pass the cliffs its a slow flat water paddle to the end.

This video has pictures and video as if you were to make a journey down the river. Chronilogical from the start of the river to the end...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great shots and video!

Stew & Di