Tamihi: White water ride

For the novice paddler looking to prove themselves, there’s no better place than Chilliwack’s Tamihi rapids.

Tamihi will host the 2015 Canadian National Whitewater Slalom Championships in July. Jenna Hauck/ Progress

Tamihi will host the 2015 Canadian National Whitewater Slalom Championships in July. Jenna Hauck/ Progress

For the novice paddler looking to prove themselves, there’s no better place than Chilliwack’s Tamihi rapids.

For three decades this section of the Chilliwack River that runs alongside Chilliwack Lake Road has been a national training site, its rushing waters challenging Olympians and world champions. For years, Canadian national teamer and five time Olympian David Ford honed his skills on the Tamihi rapids.

In late July, 200 of Canada’s best kayakers will tackle the rapids in the 2015 Canadian National Whitewater Slalom Championships.

But the beauty of the Tamihi rapids is that they are accessible to anyone.

“It’s sort of a measuring stick for Fraser Valley boaters,” says Jon Allen, a national-level kayaker and instructor with the Chilliwack Centre of Excellence. “Once you’re comfortable running Tamihi then other boaters feel comfortable paddling with you.”

The Tamihi rapids experience starts with a flat section at the top. Call it the calm before the storm, sitting there for a moment or two before taking the plunge.

“For the novice this can cause an apprehensive feeling, doubting whether you are up for the challenge,” Allen says. “When an experienced paddler hits that flat bit at the start they may feel excitement and anticipation. You go through the process of choosing your line (path through the rapids) depending on who you’re with and what thrill you’re searching for.”

Novices can take a line straight down the middle, a challenging but not overwhelming route.

“It’s a fun line surrounded by turmoil,” Allen explains. “The other lines that exist are endless. Your comfort level and familiarity with the rapids will determine how you push yourself. This is something that paddlers like to play with.”

“Without many hazards for experienced paddlers, Tamihi can be a playground in the middle of dynamic moving water,” he continues. “In the late summer, with the water levels lower than usual, Tamihi transforms into a place that paddlers can go to learn skills and practice techniques.”

The Tamihi Creek recreational area is nearby, offering 108 campsite and access to the Trans Canada Trail.