Paddling a New River (No, not the New; the GATINEAU!)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

River: Gatineau, PQ
Level: 16 ft
Paddlers: Me, Stephen, Nick
Although I haven't been feeling 100% lately, the Gatineau River was running at an optimum level, and I just couldn't say no to Stephen's puppy-dog face. OK, he really didn't need to beg at all! Nick, Stephen and I drove to the Gatineau River to experience epic +16 ft levels and have some fun on a wave called "High Tension".

I took Stephen's demo All-Star, so we became the "All-Star Crew" for the day.

I was extremely nervous, as I usually get when I am on a river for my first time. I don't like that I don't know what to expect around each corner. I could run the Ottawa with my eyes closed, but this... this was different. The Gatineau seemed to be a lot like the main or middle channels of the Ottawa River. It was wide, and deep. The geography was a little bit different though. There were a lot more rocks on the shores, and clearly marked Portage trails.
The first rapid was uneventful, some class 2 thingie-ma-bob. We paddled up to an eddy to scout the next rapid, which was frighteningly named "Lucifers". As we were walking up the trail to take a look, Stephen asked if anyone brought a throw-bag, and Nick asked if we knew CPR. I was freaking out inside!

Lucifers had a fun wave to surf at the top, followed by a second wave just left of the first one. Below those two waves was a hole called Lefties, and a HUGE munchy hole on the river right side called Lucifers Anus. (Or, the "bum-hole of Satan" as Nick was helpful enough to explain). It looked like somewhere I did NOT want to go!

They told me I could surf the upper two waves and then drop into Lefties if I wanted. Nick went first, and after he flushed downstream, I went. I was afraid of accidently flipping above and being pushed into Lucifer's Anus, so at the last minute decided not to surf anything and just paddle through. A curler flipped me closer to the bottom and I got dragged a little in the shallow part, but it wasn't that bad.

Another rapid later on was a river-wide scary hole except for a sneak on the river left side. We basically had to hug the rock wall and paddle down a little chute. I was terrified that I would get sucked into the hole, but made it out safely.


Stephen and Nick Tensing Up!



We arrived at High Tension. This was a STEEP wave with very little to worry about below. I surfed it three times and had a lot of fun, but wasn't feeling great so spent the majority of the time on shore taking still photos. Once I would catch the wave, it felt like a 10 foot drop from the top of the foam pile down into the trough. What fun!

Nick Showing his Stuff on High Tension

I'm all giggles.. wheee!



The next rapid was called the wall, where there was a river-wide wall of water that we had to punch through. Nick described it like this: "I saw Stephen come over the wall and then saw the bow of your boat go up in the air and back down. I didn't see you after that and thought 'uh, oh, Jen's surfing'". Yeah I was! But I held on and was fine.




All in all it was a great day, the weather was warm, the river was fun (and nearly empty). I would really like to go back and run it again sometime soon now that I know what to expect I think I would have a better time!

Here is a link to Stephen's Trip Report: http://www.jacksonkayak.com/jkarticles05/article.cfm?article=200607241