We put on in town to have a warm-up down the rafting section, and carried on down to Salto Baker and down the 1st canyon with the sun coming out for eventually a beautiful day.
It was by far the biggest thing that we’d ever paddled, just moving around in between rapids was hard work from the boils and eddylines.
The first rapid in the canyon has a simple line, but a huge wavetrain to get you introduced to the power of the rapids, pushing you all over the place and shooting you straight down into the 2nd rapid.
The 2nd drop has a bit more of a line in it, having to make an ‘S’ move left/right/middle to avoid a gigantic hole at the top, and then being dragged down the wall afterwards.
This rapid must be one of the most powerful in the world, you feel dwarfed by the size of the waves crashing around you and is very easy to loose a sense of direction.
One run down at the top, I was charging left to make the line, when I was swallowed by a seam, and popped up back over on river right and had to sprint to just clip the curler into the hole at the top. Scary.
The 3rd drop is another simple looking rapid, but is much harder when you’re in it. A mega hole at the top left, you can skim as close as you dare, and then either head left for a boring line, or stay right till the last minute to surf a giant wave from right to left above the bottom cliff.
The next canyon has no major rapids, but is full of whirlpools and boils to suck you down and give you a little fun.
We carried on down to the 3rd canyon, which wasn’t quite as powerful as the first, but had a good number of rapids which are all still very big, but simple lines, huge volume read & run (ish) in a spectacular canyon.
Taking out at the bottom we had a bit of a walk back to the road, but the sun was out and spirits were high after managing to paddle the whole Baker on our first day there with no problems.
Staying there for a few days we got in some good runs, with the odd upside-down moment, or having a 30 foot wave dumping straight onto your head to keep you alert.
It’s a river on a lot of peoples ‘to do’ lists, and deservedly so. A beautiful place with one of the most brilliant rivers to paddle in the world, if a bit scary.
A video of some of our southern adventures can be found here too: https://vimeo.com/124867271