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When Yellowknife paddlers hit Mosquito Creek, everybody wins

William Carpentier, a participant at the Mosquito Creek whitewater race, paddles through the waves. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio

The inaugural Mosquito Creek whitewater race was a success, despite not going at all as planned, said Somba K’e Paddling Club director Kevin Cull.

The event took place at the creek, near North Arm Territorial Park outside Behchokǫ̀, on May 27. Five paddlers turned up to race nearly two kilometres in the unusual spring heat.

Participants were allowed one practice lap followed by two timed race laps. The best time of the two would count.

However, when two paddlers flipped during the practice lap, the three remaining participants decided to proceed with just one lap – and not to race.

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Oliver Hodgins was one of the remaining participants. He also sits on the club’s board. The course was surprisingly bumpy, he told Cabin Radio.

Evan Sullivan, a volunteer at the Mosquito Creek whitewater race, waits for paddlers at the finish line. Sullivan was there on behalf of Jackpine Paddle, the sponsor of the event. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio
Kevin Cull, director of the Somba K’e Paddling Club, paddles through Mosquito Creek. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio

Describing the motivation to stick together and not race the second time around, Hodgins said it was to look out for one another.

The paddling club has held events at the creek previously but never a race, Cull told Cabin Radio.

And while Somba K’e Paddling Club co-hosts the annual Latham Island paddling race with the Yellowknife Multisport Club, it has never staged a whitewater race, he added.

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Cull had the idea to hold the race at Mosquito Creek after driving past the creek and talking to people who had previously run a paddlefest event there. Cull said he and his partner paddled the course last summer, to test the waters, and decided to try to hold the race in May, when the water level would be high.

Jackpine Paddle, a local paddling tour company, sponsored the event and provided paddling gear, a canopy tent, and a staff member to provide assistance at the venue.

‘We’ll definitely be back’

Participant Zack Coady said that while the course was bumpy, it was also lots of fun. The first stretch is quite tame, he said, but quickly gets into rocky whitewater.

“There’s lots of little flat rocks and stuff – they call them pillow rocks, where the water is just flowing over them, so you can’t quite see them under the water till you’re right there,” said Coady.

“It’s pretty bumpy going around, lots of continuous rapids, lots of wave trains, stuff to rough you up, but nothing too extreme.”

Zack Coady, left, and Rilee Lloyd, right, were two participants in the inaugural Mosquito Creek whitewater race. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio
Pablo Escobark, a canine attendant at the race. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio

He said he would definitely be back next year.

“I think having an icebreaker paddle every year is just something good for the community,” said Coady.

“It gets people out of the winter, new faces who join Yellowknife over the winter, and just a cool way to celebrate the summer starting.”

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All participants were awarded a fly swatter for taking part, in honour of the creek’s name.

Volunteer Bruce Laurich considers this year’s event a test run with a view to holding a similar event for more people next year.

William Carpentier at the finish line. Talar Stockton/Cabin Radio

Paddlers William Carpentier and Rilee Lloyd said they were excited to join in when they heard about the race.

“It’s been hard to find people enjoying a whitewater opportunity in Yellowknife,” Carpentier told Cabin Radio. “So when we heard about that, we kind-of jumped on it.”

If the race becomes an annual event, “I think we’ll definitely be back,” said Lloyd.

“The club hasn’t done something like this in almost 10 years now,” Cull told Cabin Radio after kayaking in the race himself.

“So just to get a group of people out doing an event like this is kind-of a big thing for us.”


Correction: May 30, 2023 – 10:50 MT. We initially reported Zack Coady describing “pillar rocks” in the creek, but we misheard. He said “pillow rocks,” and described how it’s hard to see them until you’re right on top of them. The article has been amended accordingly.