The Liquid Lifestyle – Fueling Your Passion
by Kim Cameron“In many ways the river is for the mind what the mountains are for the soul.”
It’s that infatuation for the Clearwater River that fuels Scott Streadwick, owner of Liquid Lifestyles, one of three guiding outfitters paddling the rivers of Wells Gray Park. His passion for white water has turned into a lifelong affair and a thriving business. Once unfamiliar with the area and its vast river system, it took just one kayak trip through the Clearwater’s high water canyons for Streadwick to fall for all its charms. Seventeen years later, he’s still in love and he’s still paddling.
“I hadn’t really found a river quite like the Clearwater,” recalls Streadwick. “It’s a very unique river in the sense that the entire watershed is pretty much protected. It’s un-harnessed. There’s no development on the river. It’s truly a natural river, in a wilderness setting.”
The Clearwater River runs 201 kilometers through the heart of Wells Gray Park. The largest tributary of the North Thompson River, Streadwick believes the diversity of activities available on the river sets the Clearwater apart.
“It’s got something for everyone. Whether you’re rafting, kayaking, fly fishing or just hiking along the shores, exploring some of the adjacent waterfalls, the number of natural attractions is truly unimaginable,” he says.
When asked to describe just one or two features that make Wells Gray Park a “must stop” on any journey up the Yellowhead, Streadwick mused that it’s the wide range of authentic experiences that are so easily accessible, just minutes off the highway.
“What you’re going to get in Wells Gray Park is truly an authentic experience. Whether you’re looking for high adventure or soft adventure, white water rafting or a scenic canoe trip – you’re going to find it here. When you’re talking about the front country, what you can access within an hour of the road is pretty impressive.”
While he’s a self-proclaimed “kayak dude,” Wells Gray’s other charms don’t escape Streadwick.
“One of the most amazing things about Wells Gray Park is the vast number of natural, attractions, whether it’s waterfalls, or the flower meadows (at Trophy Mountain), or Clearwater and Azure Lakes. It also has some of the most remarkable backcountry in Western Canada. There are places (so remote) you can only reach them by boat or kayak, on horseback, or on foot. It really truly is both a remote wilderness as well as an exceptional front country experience, all in one package.”
There’s an old saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Streadwick, running a company that not only guides white water rafting and kayaking expeditions but also trains in swift water rescue, a day at the office usually means getting out on the river. His favourite journey, however, is one he likes to take in the fall, when he can slip away from his duties at Liquid Lifestyles and step into Helmcken Canyon.
“There’s something really special about running the Helmcken Canyon,” says Streadwick. “Being able to rappel in beside a 467-ft high waterfall and kayak down the river and join the Clearwater at the base of a massive Class V rapid called Flowerpots, that just doesn’t get old!”
“It’s not just the white water, it’s the ambiance of being in such a unique environment, where you’ve got massive volcanic canyons on either side, and Canada’s fourth highest waterfall plummeting behind you, and you’re about to sit in the kayak and paddle an incredible section of white water down the Clearwater River. I don’t know anywhere else that you can do that and finish at your house, on your back deck with a BBQ.”
Fall may be Streadwick’s favourite time to check items off his Wells Gray bucket list, but he does admit, spring and summer have an allure of their own.
“If someone is looking for super high excitement, spring can’t be beat. The Clearwater, with all its power and might, is a pretty hair-raising experience – especially if you’re into white water – the high water is unfathomable,” he says. “Summer is pretty phenomenal too. It’s hard to beat +35C, crystal clear water and the sensational views (from the river).”
With so many options both on the water and off, Streadwick’s advice: you should plan for more than one day to really experience all that Wells Gray and Clearwater have to offer.
“If you’re coming, don’t come for just one day,” says Streadwick. “Come for a week, because you’re going to find more things to do here than you ever thought imaginable. That’s the biggest mistake most people make when coming to Wells Gray Park – they don’t have enough time.”
Of course, not having enough time on the first trip often means a second visit.
“Once they get here, they can’t believe how much there is to do and the next time? They plan on staying longer.”
Scott Streadwick is the owner of Liquid Lifestyles, a white water rafting , mountain biking and kayaking outfitter located in Clearwater, BC at the gateway to Wells Gray Provincial Park.
Kim Cameronis a freelance writer who shares stories of the people, places and unique experiences found throughout British Columbia.