A 2nd trip this year down the Petite-Nation river (first one here). This time my dad (Bernard) came along who had not done any rapids since the Mattawa trip we did back in 2009! This was to take a bit of rust off and see where my dad would stand while planning out trip to the Nahanni in 2023. Matt and Burger round out the group for 2 canoes on this day.
We figure out logistics to get to the river at a decent time a bit worried that the low flow rate might be an issue. My dad will do his debut in front with Burger at the back while I am up front with Matt behind. We go over a quick refresher of strokes and some basic scouting skills before heading out.
First up is an Class III rapid right, we had to portage/rope the first section due to a tree blocking the way. The rest was not too bad. Matt and I had to negotiate our strong sides, we both prefer the same side, I attempted to switch on most rapids so Matt could stay on his strong side. However I often switched sides instead of doing a cross-draw or a pry (I prefer doing cross-draws over prys for some reason). We had gentle arguments/teasing about it.. but I definetly need to work on both sides (and getting more comfortable with using the pry).
Bernard had a bit of trouble getting back into things (i mean 12 years ago was his last go at rapids, and that was being in the back) and starting in an RIII is not all that helpful. Both spotting and reacting was rusty so they ran a straighter line, Burger compensating a bit. It was a bit more risky but managed to make it through without too much trouble.
A few other rapids, nothing too too interesting in between, enough to keep practising some strokes and spotting until we got to les portes de l’enfer (Hell’s gates) a Class II-III rapid which is usually a pretty good run.
We had a lot of trouble in this one in subsequent swifts. With the low water level we got beached many times, for some reason moreso then at a lower water level later in the year, maybe the lines were just less visible?
In any case, this has to be one of the best endings of this river and i’m really really bummed I did not get it on video. Matt and I were first to reach the takeout and noticed the water level was quite a bit lower than usual, the takeout is a muddy spot so we expected to get dirty hauling the canoe out and over a steep section back to the cars. However on my first step outside the canoe, I realized that at this water level, its not the typical thick mudd but some super slippery stuff from hell! One leg immediately slips under the canoe with the other still in, the canoe immediately flips over and Matt is NOT HAPPY. The other canoe of course just laughs hystarically at this.. we don’t flip in all these rapids but flip getting out of the canoe.
Anyways, Matt gets back to his senses swims to the edge and tries to climb onto land… no go, the mud is so slippery we cant get footing, crawl or anything. I start laughing and Matt puts his half-pissed, “i’m going to succeed at this no matter what” face on and claws at the mud, no go, grabs a branch and tries to use it for leverage sticking it in the mud… no go. It was so slippery we couldn’t get out of the water no matter what we tried. I was laughing so hard at this point I had trouble breathing.
Meanwhile Burg and Bernard found a 2nd take-out (more recent) not even 10 meters further which was much nicer, complete with some posts and rope to help you stay upright while climbing the hill (it was hard to see until you got to that point). And they kept saying “I don’t know whats so difficult, look at this nice takeout right over here?”
Well we had a good laugh and now know, don’t take the “old” takeout especially at low water levels!!
After the car logistics, we headed to a local restaurant to enjoy their delicious pizza and a couple beers. We did end up returning to this river later in the season ( September ) for one final run that year.
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