Saturday, August 15, 2009

Canadian Sessions #1: Taureau

So after the return from Colorado, it was time once again to head up to Canada for my yearly trip. I've said it time and again, but Eastern Canada is one of the sickest places in the world to be in a kayak. (or on a mountain bike... or a sailboat)

My car locked and loaded once again in Asheville.

I was able to hit the Taureau section of the Jacques Cartiere River with my buddy Adam Herzog. This region of the Laurentian Mountains in Quebec is nothing short of epic, and I don't seem to grow tired of visiting it.

This was my first time on the Taureau, and I've been wanting to get on "the Linville of the North" for a long time now. This river captivated me when I was maybe 13 and read the AW article "A Perfect Day on Quebec's Perfect River" by Chris Koll. The river just sounded so ultimate, and I've wanted to paddle it ever since. Here's the link to the article:

Looking upstream towards the Taureau from 20 km downstream of the takeout... where the pavement ends.

Adam and I met up and camped at the takeout, so we would have part of the epic shuttle done. Adam was wandering around at 4:15 AM already and I "slept in" til about 6:30. We ate breakfast, got our stuff together and headed up. After a short hike in and a quick snack at the putin, we were floating on a beautiful, tannic coloured river through some meadows... with 15 miles of whitewater in front of us.

Adam paddling the flats.

The aforementioned article describes the river as having a symmetrical gradient scale from start to finish, meaning that it goes from flat, to class 1, then 2, then 3, 4, and then about 7 miles of class 5, after which it makes the same smooth transition back down. It's an unbelievable place. The flatwater lasts for a couple of minutes, and then the river slowly and gently narrows and starts to form riffles and eddylines. It just begs you to go downstream and discover what it has in store.

The class five section is nothing short of sick, and the river asserts a feeling of power that only big water creeks are capable of. Adam had about 25 strips of duct tape on both sides of his deck, with the names of the biggest class 5 rapids, and he read them off and explained them one after another as we drifted into them.

Here's the top of one of the gnarlier rapids on the river, Sieve Drop. Worth a scout and some safety.

Credit: Adam Herzog

All in all the river took us 4.5 hours and we did not stop enough to properly document what was going on. Adam says that this river is possibly the best river he has ever paddled, and I would have to say it's up there for me as well. I would recommend it very very highly... my one suggestion is to bring a shuttle driver!

Cheers, and good lines.
Chris Gragtmans


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