Another great trip down the Petite Nation. For me, this was the first whitewater of the year having finally been cleared for action after my hip replacement. We we also officially breaking in our new Esprit Canyon (Burger used it before since I was not cleared) and I was breaking in my new paddle I picked up the day before. Bernard (my father) was joining us as part of training for our planned Nahanni trip in 2023 as well as Seb and Burger.
We met up at Burger’s place around 7:30 to load up the Canyon, Seb had loaded his canoe already. We headed out with both cars and made the drive down the the put-in point. Our usual put-in is pretty good but we were originally parking on land that became private and the owner did not want us there so we decided to scout a bit and see if there was a better spot to park. Burger had looked at google maps and saw an asphalt business just up the road we presumed may have room and would not be used on a weekend. We found a spot where we could put the canoes in and a decent spot to park on the side of the road and began unloading. While we were taking the canoes down, the owner of the business actually stopped by and gave us permission to park on the side of his property instead of the road (Merci!). A bit of peace of mind knowing we aren’t in the way. We positioned a car at the takeout and got ready to roll (or paddle?).
Canoe pairings were Bernard at the front and Seb at the back while I was in the front and Burger in the back in our Canyon. We started off reviewing some strokes so Bernard could get back in it and paddled our way to the first RI. It is rated as RI but has a pretty decent drop if you take it to one side. Our main goal was not to bail here as the next rapid (RII-RIII) goes around a small island and is sometimes unpassable due to fallen trees.
Success for both canoes, we disembarked and scouted the upcoming RII-RIII which goes around a small island (after which there is an alternate put-in) and then ends in a pool. This year, there were no obstructions so we decided to run it top to bottom. I had 2 cameras running so the next 3 videos are of the same thing essentially, the first is both cameras together, and then one video for each camera. On smaller screens you may want to skip the first one but be sure to take a look at the last few seconds of the helmet cam one to see how much water we picked up!
I have no idea how we successfully finished that run and got back to shore without bailing. The canoe was quite literally below water (and we were quite full before the last drop, hence all the panic screams).
Unfortunately, Seb & Bernard bailed on the early section of this rapid, just around the island. We got up to our vantage point just as they were floating by, we instructed Bernard to let go of the overturned canoe and Burg managed to toss his throw rope just right but it looked like it was about to choke Bernard. Just as Burg was about to release Bernard grabbed hold and somehow Burg (after running a few feet and getting a better footing) managed to hold on and pull him just before the last drop. Seb continued on a few meters behind the canoe while I ran throught he woods to try and assist with ours. I wasn’t much help though, Seb made it to shore before I even got to my canoe, I helped fish out a few things while he emptied and we paddled back to meet the others.
The funniest thing was, when Bernard saw Seb (walking on the hiking trail), the first thing he asked wasn’t “are you ok?” but “What did I do wrong?”. So focused on improving! That’s a good thing :).
Next up is a small RII which is typically just a straight run through. It’s pretty fun and ends in a pool. We even spotted what looked like a large log that had jammed up the rapid around the island the year before.
Seb and Bernard decided to go scout the rapids after having run them to help with river reading while Burg and I decided to practice front and back ferries for a little bit. We don’t often get to use them the way we run things but improving skills is always important!
Next up is a bit of smaller rapids before we get to “Les portes de l’enfer” (Hell’s Gates) a RII-RIII which is a fun rapid. We scouted this one a little bit as well but knew it well enough to go for it fairly quickly.
Afterwards, there’s a nice set of RIs and at this water level, enough room to pick wherever you want to go without scraping on rocks. It’s an enjoyable section but the videos never really do it justice and aren’t all that interesting on their own.
We wrapped up the day went to fetch the car we left at the put-in and loaded up the canoes and had a nice lunch at le Café du Bistrot in St-André-Avelin (the food is always good!).
A super fun day, good memories and excited for our next trip down this river!