A short intro to Ashlu paddling, bedrock rapids, boulder gardens and optional waterfall.
Scouting / Portaging
Mostly only boat-scouting required with a few places you can take a look before if you so wish. Everything is scoutable even at higher flows but portaging some rapids would take a great deal of effort. The final waterfall can be scouted from the takeout bridge, or optionally not run.
Not to be confused with the harder Mine run above or the Box below, the Mini-Mine is a lovely short section which can easily be lapped thanks to a short shuttle. Access is straightforward: drive up the Ashlu Road from the Squamish Valley, don’t take the turn to 50-50, continue for about 2km until there is a sharp right turn down to the dam. Park at the junction, gate access is required at all times to the dam. Walk down the road to the dam and follow the portage signs to the right around the fencing and put on just below the dam. (there is no spillway to paddle here). The take out is at the 50-50 bridge just above the Box Canyon section, a large horizon line looms.
Because this reach is below the dam, the reading on the gauge reports exactly the amount of water you'll have. It can be paddled when the river is overtopping the dam during spring and the first half of summer or in late summer and fall during releases on the Box Canyon (typically 20-30cms). It’s been run as low as 7cms but 25cms is a good flow. If you go in spring when the dam is overflowing you may be lucky enough to paddle this section up to 90cms; at higher flows, it becomes solid class 4+.
Most of the river is read and run for any experienced class 4 boaters. It finishes with the Last Tango waterfall which is worth inspecting from the 50-50 bridge at the takeout before starting your run.
For those that want a bit more detail, from the start enjoy some boogie rapids until the river bends to the left with a large square rock in the middle. You can jump out on river right and take a quick look at the right slot drop or run the easier line to the left side of the boulder.
The right is a nice clean boof which gets harder as the rivers get higher and generally creates some chaos.
Below there is a nice long flat pool section before you enter into the longest rapid of this section. The river bends to the right, start middle then stay right, thread through some rocks back to center and get to a chunkier drop which requires a bit of a boof.
Below there is a little curler wave which often pushes people into the rock on the right so drive left as you take the right line.
Work your way back to the river left and enter another bedrock constriction, which at higher flows is stickier on the left but ends in another pool.
The next rapid has a sneaky line on the right with a nice diagonal boof or can be run easier on the left channel, both lines lead into another constriction rapid which gets boily on the left at higher flows again ending in a nice pool.
Another boulder garden rapid follows where you enter right and drive left, and before you know it you’re in an eddy above Last Tango. Enter in river-middle and aim your boat at the right side of the bridge below. It’s very easy to get pulled to the left here and run down the seam line of the double drop which can dish out a beating. Caution, if someone was to swim here they would not have long to get out before 50-50, and there’s a reasonably high chance their boat may enter the box canyon. So if you don’t have a solid roll it is probably best to take out on the right above the falls. When the river is high take out before the bridge on the right.
There is also another line down the far right of the falls which is a low-volume double-drop.
Take out immediately below the bridge and go inspect 50-50 and hopefully watch someone sending it or it's time to head back up to the put-on and run another lap of this superb high-quality short section!