Ski to Sea

Ski to Sea: River canoe leg breakdown


Year leg added to the race: 1973 (one of the original three legs).

Where: On the Nooksack River, from Everson’s Riverside Park to Hovander Homestead Park outside Ferndale.

Course length: About 181/2 miles.

Approximate time to complete: If the river is running near normal levels on race weekend, one hour, 45 minutes for top finishers and more than two hours or more for everybody else. If not, almost all of the teams will probably take longer than two hours to complete.

Course description: It’s not just a lazy ride down the Nooksack River to Ferndale. Competitors will have to navigate a course that is considered class 1 (on a 1 to 6 scale), but there are plenty of deceptive hazards due to logjams, submerged logs, undercut trees and other obstructions. Water level will play a key role in the speed of the river, and it’s likely a number of competitors could go for a swim.

Canoe race chair: Dave Schwab.

Pre-race meeting: 9 a.m. at Riverside Park in Everson.

Timing chip: Receive the timing chip from the road biker, swipe the chip to record the finish time for the road biking leg, canoe to Hovander Homestead Park, pass the chip to the cross-country biker. The biker will swipe the chip to record the finish time for the canoe leg.

2014 Top finishers

Men: Ivan English/Mike Vincent (Team Aeromech) 1:43:53

Women: Catherine Trask/Edith McHattie ( 1:56:49

Mixed: Matt Stodola/Ashley Paul James (Exxel Pacific) 1:48:41


Do a rain dance: The drastically lower-than-normal snowpack isn’t only affecting the skiing legs this year. Low snow in the mountains also means low spring runoff, and a leg that has often had to battle water levels that were too high could be looking at drastically lower water levels and slower speeds this year. If there is substantial rain before the race, water levels should be fine, but if not, canoes won’t have the current to keep their speeds up and could have new hazards to avoid. Race director Pete Coy said river levels reach their highest approximately 24 hours after it rains.

Life on the beach: With the expected low water levels, canoes at Riverside Park may be staged on the sandbar in the river, reducing the distance teams will have to carry them.



Park Drive, directly in front of the park, will be closed to all vehicles from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. to facilitate the exchange. Traffic between Lynden and Everson will be routed to Van Buren and Hampton roads during the exchange time. Parking for participants will be on the field at the northwest corner of the intersection of Stickney Island Road and Trapline Road, as it was in 2014.

Suggested departure time: 7:30 a.m.

Best place to watch the leg: While any of the bridges over the Nooksack River between Everson and Ferndale offer a great view, the best place may be any beaches near the Guide Meridian and Hannegan bridges with the expected low river levels. If it’s a nice day, bring a picnic lunch.


• Racers can take canoes to the park Saturday, May 23, and Boy Scouts will watch them overnight.

• Racers should remember that they must haul their canoes down the dirt path to the launching area. Boy Scouts will be available to help haul the canoes.

• Keep in mind that you’ll have to wear a life vest at all times. Loose-fitting clothing is best. Wear a top that you can easily take off if you work up a sweat.

• You can tip over, so be ready for that. Wear clothing that air-dries quickly.

• Stay in the middle of the river. Paddling from side to side won’t give racers an advantage.

• The river will be closed to all boats but those in the competition and safety boats.