Englishman River Falls


This is about 10km out of your way if you're driving out to Long Beach, so it's worth checking out. It's supposed to be 28 feet high, and it's a very safe waterfall. My friend Duncan impressed me by running it (his first waterfall) purely on instructions from me. My friend Jason ran it without instructions, and he ran the section in between the falls without scouting and got a big surprise on one of the drops in there. I don't recommend it. Instead, walk down to the lower falls, and hike up on the far side of the bridge.

I'm not responsible for anything you might do as a result of reading this, but here's what I have to say about running the falls:
First of all, run the lower falls only. The upper falls look like death to me. Secondly, water levels: if the rock in the middle of the falls is showing, it's considered low enough to run. If the rock isn't showing then I'm not sure. I know people who got trashed (not seriously) running it with the rock covered, and I know at least one person who had no trouble. Your call.

It's normally run hard river left where I am in the picture, since this drops you nicely into the middle of the pile, but I think Jason said he ran it right-ish when the rock was covered and it was okay. Anyway, if you run it on the left, there's a nice eddy just out of sight of the bridge to sit in (make sure you can spit) and then you have space for a few strokes before you go over the edge.

Given the height of the falls, I recommend against any boofing or ski-jumping thoughts. When the water is low the way it is in this picture, the landing is fairly hard, and you want to pencil straight in to save your back (I hear the pool is 60 feet deep: for the movie Alaska, Jim Orava and his girlfriend Pam were taking a Coleman canoe over the falls and so they sent divers in to check the depth of the pool first). As you go over the falls, your body position kind of depends on your boat. In a long boat like a Corsica, you stand up on your foot pegs and pencil in. But be aware that in a short rodeo boat you will go over the edge with the boat at a much flatter angle, and if you have that sort of scoop nose like my X and XXX the boat will tend to nose up on landing. For both these reasons I was leaning forward a bit to make sure that the boat was good and vertical by the time I hit the water. One time at the Upper Fraser we were doing quite a high seal launch (high enough for a moment of free fall) beside Overlander Falls and the one time he went, Jason's X nosed up very abruptly for a hard landing.

Now the only remaining question is where to hold your paddle. The old school way is to hold it just above your head (so your teeth and nose are safe) with lots of bend in your elbows so that you don't tear out your shoulders when you hit the water. The new theory is that you should hold your paddle low and on an angle. It seems to me that this only makes sense for ski-jumping and boofing, where you're not going to go completely under water. On a big waterfall like this one it seems to me that you're going to either take a major shot in the stomach or risk eating your paddle shaft. Let's see, the winter I was in Mexico two guys, one of them the assistant guide, broke their noses with their own paddles running the twenty-five footer on El Salto. So be careful. I go with the old school method for Englishman, although I did do the low paddle thing in Mexico because I was landing at a non-vertical angle.

There's a nice bridge for the picture-taker and it's an easy walk in and to the top.

Update: The falls are gone. It seems that the pool and waterfall were created by a gigantic chockstone. Somehow in recent years enough material has washed out around the chockstone that the pool has drained and the river now runs under the chockstone. You can see what it looks like now on Paul Cipywnyk's blog (sixth picture).

The wide-angle view
The view from the top

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