Cross Canada’s Stikine off the big water bucket list for Dane Jackson. Paddling Jackson’s new Gnarvana creekboat, His Daneness, as well as Benny Marr and the Voorhees brothers, notched not one, not two, but five laps down the big water crown jewel in August, testing both the boat as well as his big water prowess. The Stikine is one of extreme kayaking’s most heralded big water badges of courage, testing the mettle of early pioneers like Rob Lesser, Doug Ammons, John Wasson and more on up to today’s more modern Class V kayakers, also with oversized adrenal glands.
Paddling Life caught up him after he dried out for the inside skinny on going big up North.
Paddling Life: Congrats on bagging the Stikine…who all were you with?
Jackson: I rallied up with Ben Marr and the Voorhees brothers. We had eight days to get as many laps as we could before I needed to head back south.
Paddling Life: How psyched were you to paddle it?
Jackson: Beyond stoked. It was just one of those few rivers in kayaking that has had a reputation for my entire life, yet I still had never gotten on it. So once it was finally happening, it didn’t take long for it to live up to the hype.
Paddling Life: Why so long before getting up there?
Jackson: Honestly, it just got to the point that it was verging on ridiculous how long it took. I tried to go in 2018 but that was the year of the fires, so I got Alexandra Falls instead. The main reason is the time of the year it comes in. I always had some form of other routine for the season or was already headed back east for the summer. Whether to go to the Ottawa, fly somewhere in August, or get to the Southeast in September. In the end it was just time to make it happen; that was my one thing I needed to pull off this summer.
Paddling Life: Did it live up to its hype?
Jackson: All that and more. It was epic. I was pretty nervous for the first lap since big water can often get me a bit more nervous than some things, but I was still stoked to be in there. But as the run continued, I not only realized how much more whitewater was in there that you don’t see, but it was cleaner than I expected. You still need to know the lines and be safe, but it was just so much more joyful whitewater day to day than I imagined.
Paddling Life: Why is it so special?
Jackson: It’s one of those runs that has the most incredible views as you’re in there—the massive walls, the mountain goats, everything surrounding you. Then the whitewater itself has just got its own style—the boily rapids as the river narrows, the must-run rapids, the huge wave trains. Then on top of all that, the Wolftrack campsite is just amazing, being under this massive boulder surrounded by the forest. It is truly one of the best ones I have ever been to. There is also that fun feeling of knowing that you are way up north. So being in that canyon, so far north, doing these overnighters, is a pretty special feeling.
Paddling Life: Any carnage or close calls? Or any rolls?
Jackson: It was a low drama trip for sure, no major carnage to report. Wall 1 was giving us all either some time surfing the big holes, or at least some time getting bossed around. Beyond that it was a smooth trip with a dope crew.
Paddling Life: Five laps? How hard was that to pull off?
Jackson: It was smooth because we had three cars, so we could just drop two at the bottom, which was saving a double shuttle in between laps with the four-hour round trip. We just kept dropping in every day, and I was stoked those guys were down to rally!
Paddling Life: Any plans to knock off the rest of the Triple Crown? (Alsek’s Turnback and the Susitna’s Devil’s Canyon)
Jackson: Iam not actually familiar with those runs but keen to look into them!