The closest commercial rafting tours can be found on the Chilliwack River just one hour from Vancouver. And while the Chilliwack River suffers from a relatively short season it makes up for it in bumps, grinds and pure white water excitement. Dropping at a rate of 7 metres per kilometre, the Chilliwack is known for seemingly endless stretches of froth and foam.

The Tamahi Rapids in particular are home of the annual Canadian Kayaking Championships. The Chilliwack River is rated at between class iii & iv and rocks n' rolls through high water season from May to the end of July. During that time consumer-savvy Hyak Wilderness Adventures operates a daily shuttle service from downtown Vancouver. Pick up at 8 AM can be arranged from any major hotel. Hyak's Chilliwack River paddle-rafting tour lasts 4½ hours and includes a riverside feast. As an added touch participants can warm up at the end of the day with hot showers before returning to the city.

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Krumholtz

Krumholtz

Trees clustered together in the sub alpine stand a much better chance of surviving the harsh conditions. Called krumholtz, these tree islands are miniature ecosystems unto themselves, providing mutual protection against the elements while acting as a catch basin for moisture. A krumholtz provides habitat for lesser plant species as well as insects, birds and mammals big and small. Usually trees in the krumholtz, German for "crooked wood," are old if not ancient, stunted by a short growing season, harsh weather and a paucity of nutrient-rich soil. Branches tend to flourish on the downwind side only.

Illustration by Manami Kimura