Trip Report & Guide: Skookumchuck Narrows, BC

Where to Stay

Indoor Accommodations

Especially if you visit during colder months, I recommend staying at the Backeddy Resort and Marina. Their rooms are as cheap as $69 CAD per night, or you can rent an awesome little cabin with a kitchen ($109-$199 CAD) and split the cost with a few friends. Backeddy is paddler friendly and even gave our three-man crew a discounted rate on a cabin during our latest visit. They’re located about a mile out of town, right on the water, so you can put in straight from your cabin or drive down to town and put in at the marina.

The Bathgate Motel in Egmont is right on the water, too, but it’s more costly and I haven’t found the staff to be quite as friendly.

Camping

There are two options for camping when the weather is warm. The first option is to camp at the post office in Egmont. You’ll pay $2 per person for a night to park your car and pitch a tent, and you’ll be about 50 meters from the marina, but you don’t want to leave your gear lying around all day when you’re not around.

The better option for camping is to head up to Klein Lake, about five miles out of town. It’s not as conveniently located, but having a lake to swim in makes summer days that much better while you’re waiting for the wave to come in. The lake isn’t a great winter option, though, because it’s at a higher elevation and can be snowy.

Salt Water and Special Gear

For those who have not done much playboating in the ocean, there are a few things to know about salt water:

  1. Beware of chafing. If it’s warm out, I’d wear a semi-dry top with a soft neoprene neck gasket. Latex gaskets tend to chafe in saltwater and, on top of that, salt water can damage your gaskets.

  2. Beware of chafing (again). Wear board shorts that won’t leave your thighs feeling raw. This is especially important if you plan to hike in/out from the wave each day. Hiking a few miles in wet, salty shorts can leave you walking funny for a couple days.

  3. Bring good footwear. Not only for the hike in, but because the rocks are slippery and, where they aren’t slippery, they are covered in sharp barnacles. It’s easy to slip or cut yourself here, so bring some good shoes!

  4. Wash your gear after the trip. Salt water is corrosive and can damage your paddling gear. I wash all of my gear and even rinse out my boat after a Skook trip.

  5. Bring a head lamp if you will be paddling to or from the wave in the dark. There are motorized boats in the channel, so it is important to be visible in the dark.

Crowds

The wave can be crowded in the summer, and you can find yourself waiting up to a half an hour or more in the eddy. This can really detract from a trip, so I’d recommend trying to time your trip in the fall. You might luck out in the summer and have the wave to yourself, but going in the shoulder seasons will give you better odds of joining a small lineup of other boaters. (Believe it or not, we had the wave to ourselves during this most recent December trip.)

Down Time

The wave is only up for approximately four hours in a given day, so Skook trips come with a lot of down time. Egmont is a tiny town, so don’t count on high speed internet for entertainment when the wave isn’t in.

Bring a book and musical instruments for entertainment at base camp. Paddle boards are also a great way to stay entertained during the day on summer trips. And if you’re camping at the lake, then swimming is a great option and will help get some of the salt off your body.

There is a nice little bakery tucked into the woods along the hiking trail to the wave. Hike to the bakery for breakfast to kill some time.

The Backeddy pub serves a great plate of poutine and has live music on Saturday nights, when the same band plays all year round (yes, even in December). They also serve a caesar salad for $4 and offer free pool.

Bottom Line

Skookumchuck is one of the world’s legendary playboating features, and tide charts make it easy to plan your trip far in advance. With a swift current, Skook is one of the world’s premier standing wave features for expert boaters. And when the current is slower, with a reliable roll and a bit of prior surfing experience, less advanced playboaters will enjoy the wave, too.

Gallery from our trip to Skookumchuck in late December (click on images to enlarge):

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Leif Anderson carving across the shoulder in his carbon Fluid Element. (photo by David Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Blister's paddle sports editor, David Spiegel, clean blunting. (photo by Eli Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Leif surfing near the end of the wave's cycle. (photo by David Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

David Spiegel getting air just after peak on day 1. (photo by Leif Anderson)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Eli Spiegel launching an air screw. (photo by David Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Leif bringing back the shutter-rudder. (photo by David Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

David with a clean blunt on day 2. (photo by Eli Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

Leif with a big flip turn. (photo by David Spiegel)

Skookumchuck Narrows, Blister Gear Review.

5:30am in a rain storm at the Egmont Marina. (photo by David Spiegel)

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3 comments on “Trip Report & Guide: Skookumchuck Narrows, BC”

    • Benjamin,

      I have seen video of paddle boarders and surfers out there. This video has some shots of a SUP on Skook around 9 minutes in: http://vimeo.com/72680200. The filmmakers might have some good input about SUPing the wave.

      I think it would be a good idea to try it out at relatively slow tides (like 11 knots to 12.5 knots) before hopping out there at really fast tides. At those slower speeds, the swim would probably not be too terrible with the combined flotation of a wetsuit, PFD, and your board.

      And remember, even on days with really fast tidal speeds, the tide will be slow at the beginning and end of the flood cycle. I’d say definitely get out there and try it!

      Good luck!

      David

  1. David & Paddle Pals,

    Thank you for sharing great eyecandy pics, thorough directions north (plus the cut off using Highway 543 + +) as I will be starting trip from Portland, the exciting Tour info, plus the area tidbits.

    Paddle Safe/Happy
    Chris

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