Kuskanax Creek (Gr. 4-5)
Written by Spencer Cox Thursday, 08 February 2007 20:51
To get there: It is more or less right in Nakusp, BC. Just North of the town centre along highway 23, there is a road turning right up towards the Hotsprings. This road parallels the creek. There are various options for takeout, the last of which, is right in Nakusp, when Kuskanax heads under the highway 23 bridge.
However, we elected to hike out after a brief waterfall section, rather than paddle the long flat sections on the lower that we saw from the road. The waterfall section we took out below, after a bit of a hike up the river left bank, and a bit of backtracking upstream, ended us up at the Gardener Creek viewing area. This was what we planned, so we could paddle off Gardener Creek falls a few times before calling it a day.
We put in at the campground just beside the developed hotsprings (a nice treat after paddling). These are at the end of the Nakusp Hotsprings road. If you’re feeling lucky, or if the water is low, you can also do an upper run. To get there, turn left, just below the hot springs onto the Kuskanax FSR. Head another 5 or so kilometers along the road tell it crosses over the river.
Description: The stretch from the Bridge to the Hotsprings, I have not ran. When we were there the water was quite high. If you hike up the trail from the hotsprings, along the creek, in less than a kilometer, you will see the crux of the upper run. Its a nasty two part drop, where the first is about a 2m ledge, the second a 8m drop, with a sievy boulder midstream separating the right and left. You have to be all the way right on the second fall, because below it, the river left side is badly undercut. I don't really know what's above this crux section. Below it, there are a few class 3-4 rapids tell you reach the hotsprings campground where we put in.
From the hot springs campground, the river starts off class 2, but there is a class 4-4+ bedrock and boulder chute within a few hundred metres. From here, there are various sections of class 4. In and amongst the class 4 there are some definite harder rapids, many getting up to class 5, with a combination of ledges, boulders and bedrock. This was an awesome section, requiring little scouting, with lots of good cruisy water.
The next notable feature is a class 5-6 drop which you may have seen from the road on the way up. It is a steep rapid dropping almost 30 feet. It starts on river left, drops through a few ledges/holes, then slams into a bedrock outcrop, forcing most of the water to make a 90 degree right turn. It then runs along this ledge, and makes another sharp left, dropping off the ledge that constrained it. At lower flows it looks easy and fun (easy for class 5-5+). At high flows, the holes, and undercuts combine, so that you would have to have a bit of a death wish to get in here.
Below this, it gets back into cruisy class 4. Your now starting to approach the waterfall section. The first of which is a tight class 5-5+ ledge, dropping about 2m into a large hole, about 5m from the brink of a 6-8m cascade.
There are a few more water falls, and steep drops in the section after this fall. However this is an easy takeout, if you’re not planning on doing the lower, and it leads perfectly to Gardener Creek.
While you’re there: If you have some time, grab a map, and work your way to the Gardener Creek FSR. There is likely a waterfall studded run back there waiting for the first descent. The road looks like if you head down the Kuskanax Creek FSR (the road also accessing the upper part), you will bridge Gardener, and then head up the river right side. There is another waterfall, and slide right above the one by the road, so I would imagine there are more.Spencer Cox.
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