The Grand Canyon of the Stikine

At 00.02 on the morning of the 17th of September 2011 I received a text from Daz Clarkson, having just completed one of his life ambitions, the Stikine, hats off to him!

here's his first thoughts committed to laptop……….


"Haunted shadows awake me, a serpent cuts the land.  Burning with each beat of my heart.  Cold sweats and startled sleep once more.  Wounded I had ached to dance to its song since I first had unstable beginnings in kayaking.  As challenges came and went the Stikine sat proud, a giant into my pantomime of exploration.

11 Sept, a sleepless flight to Vancouver and a drive to the north country, the magnet pulled faster and faster.  12th Sept as darkness fell-tired.  The night offered promises in the morning light.

Confused conversations, like the drunkards plea, had drawn six together.  We had one common thread, the morning light brought a clear cloudless sky.  Packed and loaded we paddled down to the closing wall.  Gray vaulted doors with shimmering threads, the Grand Canyon of the Stikine.

Rapids came and went, with each wave friendships grew.  The pull to put on had sacrificed my body clock.  portages were difficult and eddies missed.  My body hampered with fatigue.  But this band of brothers became solid.

Three days the canyon all housed in isolated grandeur let us pass.  Emotions the mental landscape were pushed and pulled then set free in a world of boundless possibilities.

Framed in the walls, no hike out, no portage you stare, the heart beating into the gut.  All snarls and barks.  All the demons of the heart.  your blades try to power through the water, slices of chance form and disappear.  Head down you commit.  Roll the dice, load the gun, dance with the reaper but it means more than this.

Small but critical, a 5 ft gap ejects you from the canyon, the worst is behind you but you know more is to come.

Gravel beaches and first nation fishermen salute its passing.  But the flame is still alight, its a place of magic and spells, of silence and noise.  Of passion and grace.  Of trust and chance.  The majesty and honour envelopes you.  I was numb both physically and mentally at the take out, no one tells you about this.

Without the unwritten bond, without the band of brothers.

The serpent could coil and thrash at any moment.  So its with respect that I take these memories and remember the path of the heart.

Its not about commercial gain, or funding.  Its not about what you kayak, you ride or what paddle you have.  Its not even about the moves you make.  Its about much, much more.  its about the words that cannot be said, the truth that shines in the darkest hours and the salute to the river.

For this I thank you all, my friends.  For the river, a thank you is not enough – a lotus to you – my teacher"