Destination British Columbia

While it may not be the first thought of SUP aficionados, British Columbia is a hotbed in the standup movement. Long known as a popular destination for canoe trippers, sea kayakers, and whitewater gnar-chasers, standup paddlers, equipped with the right cold-water gear (i.e. drysuits), are pushing possibilities.

Case in point: Check out this recent clip of Mike Darbashire surfing his SUP at the famed Skookumchuck Narrows tidal rapid. Located on the remote end of B.C.’s Sunshine Coast, the inlet constriction at “Skook” forms a massive, stationary wave during the tidal exchange floods that has long made it a freestyle kayaking Mecca.

In September, Laura Demers became the first woman to standup paddle the popular Bowron Lakes circuit, while Todd McAllen and Stephanie Forsythe of Vancouver’s Molo Design, used standup boards to explore the fjords of B.C.’s remote central coast.

Demers, 25, from Abbotsford, B.C., and her standup paddleboard opened eyes on the popular Bowron Lakes circuit, one of the most famous canoe routes in Western Canada. “There were a number of people who saw me and were snapping photos, and were just in absolute awe that I was doing this,” says Demers, who works as a sales rep at Western Canoeing and Kayaking in her hometown. Even though she has plenty of canoe and whitewater paddling experience, and a degree in adventure tourism from Vancouver’s Canadian Tourism College, Demers had only been standup paddling for less than a month before her six-day, canoe-assisted Bowron trip. “Even some of the Bowron Lakes parks guys out there in powerboats (they’re the only powerboats allowed out there) came up to us and were like, ‘can I take a picture?’” Read more about her trip on her blog and stay tuned for our interview with her on SUPthemag.com.

McAllen and Forsythe explored the maze of waterways along B.C.’s rugged central coast that provide the portal to the vast Great Bear Rainforest. “We took part in this expedition to become more aware of the cultural history and ecology of this area, which comprises 25 percent of the world’s remaining rainforest,” reported McAllen, a designer/architect-turned-standup paddler. Covering ground in a center console aluminum boat, the pair used their SUPs to tour the desolate coastlines and to visit First Nations communities. “This sport has further engaged us with our environment. We started to standup paddle because its something we can do anytime, anywhere.” To learn more about their seven-week expedition, read McAllen’s daily blog posts from the trip. – David Meacham

Bowron Lakes Circuit

Great Bear Rainforest

  • http://www.salmonbaypaddle.com Rob Casey

    Great article, and cool pics, thanks.

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