SUPsquatch... the mythical creature that floats the Elk River near Fernie, BC with teams of up to 8 people on-board. A direct descendant of the ocean going surf beast, the river going SUPsquatch tamed by Mountain High Adventures is the only known river creature in existence in Canada!
Photo courtesy of Mountain High Adventures
With many years of experience running clients down the Lower Elk and through the Lower Elk Canyon as part of their river rafting tours, Mountain High Adventures was looking for something new for their clients. With the rise in popularity of Stand-Up-Paddle (SUP) paddle boarding, and having watched many YouTube videos of teams paddling giant SUPs on ocean waves, owner Jon Knauf got the idea of trying one on the Elk. Guest trips put in above the north Fernie bridge near the new RV Park, and paddle/float down to the Stanford Resort. Depending on the group, floats last 1-2hrs. Along the way, you learn the importance of coordination with your fellow paddlers, get to surf some small river waves and experience SUPing in a whole new way!
We met for our float at Mountain High's HQ. We were outfitted with wetsuits, life jackets, neoprene booties, and helmets to keep us safe and warm, should we lose our balance and go for a ‘swim’. We then shuttled up to the RV Park to put in. After a short but thorough safety briefing, we all gingerly climbed aboard the enormous SUP and practiced some manoeuvres in the calm water of a large eddy.
Photo capture from SUPsquatch video by Nick Nault
Once everyone was feeling comfortable we paddled out into the current. It didn't take long for everyone to get his or her sea legs, and for the fun to begin. We hit our first rapid and charged through like champs. I was thankful to be on board with the local Roller Derby team, all of who had tremendous balance and strength. After the first set of rapids, we found a small wave and decided to take turns hanging 10 while surfing the wave on our giant board.
Jon told us of a recent staff trip where they tested the board in the lower Elk Canyon, the same stretch of water they take their white-water rafting trips; I can't wait for them to start offering that experience to clients! We continued playing and laughing as we made our way down the river. As we arrived at the take-out, it was agreed that this is one river adventure not to skip.
Photo by Kari Medig
Story by Kyle Hamilton, a local Kootenay photographer who ended up settling in Fernie, BC. Kyle has love for the mountains and it has led him to focus on photography of mountain inspired activities. You could find him on a side of a mountain in -25C winter conditions with snow blowing around him shooting a heli-skiing event or next to a gentle mountain in the summer with one of his wedding clients... either way you could see him out exploring the areas around Fernie.
(Original story shared July 8, 2016)