by Lani Gelera
Canyoneerers and Photos by Marian Treger, Lani Gelera, Martin Biskup and Kubo Dubsky.
If you have an adventurous soul that yearns to experience something transcendent and surreal, sometimes you have to venture off the beaten path, canoe across the river, hike thru the forest and climb to the top of a canyon and then chase waterfalls all the way back down. As Cheryl Strayed’s mother once said, “Put yourself in the way of beauty.”
It was a bluebird summer morning and one of the hottest days on record for the summer in the Sea to Sky. On my first expedition to canyoneer down Box Canyon, four of us set out early to cross the Squamish River in our rented canoe. Launching off the start of The Spit, we flowed easily with the current to the bottom of the adjacent island, then paddled upstream to the west side of the river at the unmarked landing where we then trekked for 45 minutes to the top of the canyon to start our descent.
The canyon itself is one of mother nature's most fascinating masterpiece carvings. It’s a natural work of art created thru centuries of runoff from the snowpack and glaciers high above. Constantly pounding on the solid rock, the water smoothes over the granite, ever changing the landscape over thousands of years. GoPro and iPhone pictures will never capture the ambience of these surroundings, but they can give you a glimpse into the magical world of chasing waterfalls.
The first rappel down is the most intimidating in this canyon mainly because it's the opening descent and because you are lowering yourself into a dark tunnel where you can’t see the bottom, alongside a raging waterfall. The feeling of tonnes of crystal clear snowmelt water falling heavily on you while trying to control your descent down a slimy slippery smooth granite wall is exhilarating and keeps you present feeling alive. The end of the first rappel places you in a knee-deep pool, in a cave with precarious logs and debris hanging over the top while waiting for the group to gather.
In Box Canyon, there are 8 rappels down. All of them are unique experiences with their own elements of danger and excitement. The second most thrilling rappel being El Tubo, which is a huge smooth carved out granite tube at least 20 feet that you can slide down or rappel depending on water level. In other sections you end up inside the waterfall, sometimes you lose the wall altogether and swing underneath of it hanging in mid-space, lowering yourself down into the unknown. You can jump off a cliff into a pool below if the water levels are high enough. It is a unique adventure full of challenges requiring spurts of skill, strength and bravery as you go with the flow down the canyon over 2-3 hours.
Waterfalls are a powerful ever-changing force of nature to reckon with and deserve as much respect as they do admiration. Please do your own research, go prepared with proper equipment and experienced canyoneerers. For the adventurous soul, chasing waterfalls is a great way to spend a hot summer day, with good friends and Gaia herself.