Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Waterfall Tour of Quebec...

As creekboaters, there are a couple of destinations that we hear a lot about as being the holy grails of extreme kayaking. Norway, Mexico, California, and Chile come up time and time again as the places to visit when you can gather the funds and the crew. I love traveling to locations such as these that are well-established and documented, but once in a while it's fun to get off the beaten path a bit. That is what Quebec is to me... a fairly undocumented mecca of absolutely everything that you could want as a kayaker. But you've gotta work for it!

I take no credit for this graphic by Spencer Cooke...

A typical Quebec waterfall...

Photo: Kelsey Thompson

This July I took a week long trip with my buddy Kelsey Thompson, and we paddled some incredible rivers in the Laurentian Mountains.

First stop... Les Sept Chutes de Saint Anne, Drop 1.

Photo: Kelsey Thompson

The Sept Chutes of St. Anne are located east of Quebec City, and are 7 absolutely incredible park and huck waterfalls on the St. Anne du Nord River. These drops were first-d'd by Dominic Chaput and Dominic Fournier(Dom and Domer) a couple years back at low water, and to my knowledge have only been run a handful of times by them since then. I've been researching and wanting to run them for the past three years, and I finally got a chance. After the 4.5 hour drive from Montreal, Kelsey and I met up with Steve Arns, Krusty Thompson, and Bob Butler and got to paddle these sick cataracts. Incredible day at a flow somewhere around 200 cfs.

"Big Water" Bob Butler styling it while I film and Krusty shoots photos.

Photo: Steve Arns.

Steve Arns, Drop 5.

Photo: Kelsey Thompson

Bob mid-bounce on Drop 1.

Photo: Steve Arns

After the Sept Chutes, we made the big drive northeast into the middle of nowhere to paddle the Malbaie River. In spite of it's remoteness, it is well worth the drive, and provides a great day of high volume class IV/V creeking and the sweetest 30 footer you'll ever run! The whitewater immediately took my mind off of the long drive and rainy night that we had just spent, as well as the fact that I had 1/4 tank of gas about 120 kilometres from the closest gas station!

Myself enjoying the zen moment.

Photo: Steve Arns

Kelsey rolling off the lip.

Photo: Steve Arns

Kelsey boofing another cool Malbaie drop.

Photo: Steve Arns

Upon completion of the Malbaie, Steve, Bob, and Krusty had to make the 11 hour drive back to the city of Ottawa, and the real world. Kelsey and I decided to rally back to the Sept Chutes and spend another day running those bedrock wonders. Upon arrival, we discovered the river had increased exponentially in volume because of the rain... and the Sept Chutes had now entered the realm of truly world class whitewater.

Kelsey's and my run that day was one of the best days of the summer for sure, and I was fortunate enough to end it with possibly the biggest/sickest/most fun rapid that I have ever run in my life... a burly cascade starting with a boof over a huge hole at the top, then down a whiteout curler-filled slide dropping about 30 feet, immediately off a 40 footer at full speed(trying to get right, because the left half of the boil pushes into a nasty kiwi-in-a-pocket type place), and then down another Toxaway-style slide dropping about 30 more feet.

The forty footer from the overlook.

After finishing our run on the Sept Chutes, Kelsey and I headed back in the direction of Montreal, and scouted the infamous Steve Fisher rapid called the Chutes de la Sainte Ursulles. I've been looking at this one for a couple years too, and the damn South African superstar had to crush my hopes and dreams when he first d'd it last year. Punk ass! Haha... just kidding, didn't want a piece of it in years past, and that didn't change during this trip.

The sickest thing ever run in my opinion...

Photo: Kelsey Thompson

After our grand adventure, Kelsey and I were treated to two days of sessioning the Lachines Waves in Montreal. Couldn't ask for a better place to mellow out after scaring yourself a bit.

Kelsey doing his Canadian National Champion thing...

Well that's all for now folks, hope you enjoy the video, and see you at the Green Race!

Chris Gragtmans

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