21 Aug 2013

Report by: Carl Jacks, Incomappleux River Expedition Trip Leader, New Denver, BC.

Aerial photos by: Chris Armstrong, Nelson Search & Rescue, Aug. 2003.

Incomappleux River Kayak Expedition, Sept. 2013.

Launching September 3rd, an ambitious team of Revelstoke and area whitewater paddlers will embark on a week-long, self-supported, 55km kayak descent of the Incomappleux River on into Upper Arrow Lake.  Putting on near the south-west boundary of Glacier National Park, the team must first confront hauling their heavily loaded kayaks over Flat Creek pass, a grueling 13 km alder choked, grizzly infested back country route starting near Hwy 1, some 50km east of Revelstoke.  If successful, the 9 person team will be the first to complete a full, self supported descent of the Incomappleux River by whitewater kayak.  Interestingly, an ill-fated 2003 raft attempt claimed three of four team members lives in which no bodies were ever found.

Nestled within BC’s Selkirk Mountain Range, the Incomappleux River (AKA Fish River) is arguably the last remaining unexplored, free-flowing North American waterway in proximity to an urban zone; in this case Revelstoke, BC.  Part of the world’s only known Inland Temperate Rainforest ecosystem, the Upper Incomappleux Valley is also a highly important habitat zone for endangered populations of southern interior grizzly, wolverine, bull trout, and what have become the last remaining herds of Selkirk Mountain Caribou.  In effort to protect sensitive migration routes and core habitat, the New Denver, BC based Valhalla Wilderness Society (VWS) has developed an expansive conservation project known as The Selkirk Mountain Caribou Park Proposal.  Included in this proposal is the Upper Incomappleux Valley, however very little information has yet emerge about the river itself.

One of the many features found along the Upper Incomappluex Canyon. Photo taken by Chris Armstrong, Nelson SAR. Aug. 2003.

Intent on drawing greater awareness to the VWS proposal, the expedition paddling team will document their encounters as they navigate the Incomappleux Valley’s unique landscape, complete with 1800 year old-growth forested box canyons and other awe-inspiring features accessible only by river kayak.  With expedition support granted from Canadian outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-Op, upon their return the team will be responsible for presenting their adventure story and other findings in the form of several trip reports, photo essays and video productions.

An initiative of the West Kootenay based Endangered Creeks Expedition (ECE) team who organize exploratory paddling adventures in support of local campaigns for environmental protection, there is no doubt in trip leader Carl Jacks’ mind that the Incomappleux will be the ECE’s most physically challenging river descent to date.  Previous ECE adventures of notoriety included Duncan Lake area kayak descents on Glacier, Howser, and East Creeks when, at the time, large-scale private hydro-electric proposals classified these creeks as unnavigable for recreation.