Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Earlier that summer Ian L had invited me to join him and a group of friends (Mark D, Doug, Martha W - I swear all boaters have the same names!!) on a trip to Canada. He was planning on taking a clinic with Liquid Skills. After weeks of planning we were ready to go over Labor Day weekend. I was a little sad at this point as I didn't want to miss out on fun adventures with Josh and Ian and of course wanted to see Mark again. But it was my first international boating trip! I was excited.

The thursday before Labor Day we drove up to Canada. We were going to stay at the Whitewater Bead and Breakfast, not far from Liquid Skills and the river. Our hostess was great and the family had several adorable pets. We spent the first night hanging out and relaxing.

Me and Tigger

The next day we ate breakfast (wonderfully prepared for us, bacon, eggs, fruit the whole thing) and headed of to meet our instructor, Chad Hitchins for our first day of boating. When we arrived we found out the plan for the first day. We were going to drive down to a midpoint on the river for a playboating clinic. We'd just driven 12 hours for park-n-play... great.

But the day turned out great indeed. We spent some time going over some basic skills and then headed down to a moderate play spot known as Push-Button. The wave was similar though slightl more powerful than MD Chute and it was great practice. After some time we carried our boats up river to Garberator, a world class playspot. It was incredible seeing it and after a few minutes of watching I got up the nerve to get in. It was awesome, a few rides and i was exhausted. Supper bouncy and way fast. I hope I get to go back again some day.

Mark D at Push-Button

Playing at Garberator

The evenings were spent hanging out at the kayak school lounge, watching video that Chad took of our playboating, and hanging out at the Ottawa River Fest which happend to be that weekend as well (LVM premiere etc).
Hanging out

The next two days we spent running the river. The Ottawa is huge. We spent both days on the Main. Big rapids followed by huge pools. I liked to call it lake-drop.

Put in

On the second day I elected to run the thread-the-needle line at McCoy's Chute. This was the more challenging of the two options but of lesser consequence. Chad explained that the other line required you to find a tongue which was blind from the top. If you lined up right and hit the tongue it was easy. However missing the line meant hitting the meatiest part of the hole (which Ian did). My choice required "threading-the-needle" between a hole at the top and the left side of Phil's. Seemed straight forward enough. Start off center, angle left and paddle hard as you hit the marker wave, and punch the left shoulder. Again the drop was blind from the top. We got out and scouted first.
Phil's Hole with 12 person raft

Ian in Phil's

I watched as Chad disappeared over the horizon line. He had said to catch the large eddy on river left after getting past Phil's. I followed, as I came over the marker wave I was expecting to have a decent amount of distance before I reached the hole....not so. I came over the drop paddling but was a good fifteen feet farther right. I let out a bit of a shriek (which i'm sure no one heard) and I looked into the face of the monster. It was huge the foam pile looked to be ten feet tall. I didn't really have time to be scared.

As I hit the foam pile I braced hard and immediately went into a side surf. It was the most powerful hole i'd been in. I was keeping the side surf fairly steady and tried to dig with my paddle for some purchase on greenwater. Of course there was none, it was all white as far as I could see downstream. I looked around. The hole was almost river wide and extended all the way to the river right shore. I was still a good fifteen feet or more from the left shoulder. For a moment I thougth that maybe I could surf my way over too it. But after a few attempts in which I managed some spins I was going nowhere. The only way I could think to get out was to turn my bow into the green water upstream in hopes that it would pull me out. I took a big breath and turned.

Me surfing Phil's

I was expecting the hole to hold me for a bit, but I flushed immediately and rolled up below. I was too far left and way too tired to make it to the big eddy Chad had instructed me to catch. Luckily though he had pealed out as soon as he saw me flush and was right in front of me yelling instructions on how to run the last rapid. The remainder or the run wasn't difficult but I was pretty worn out and flipped on a wave at the bottom. I missed a few rolls but it was only flat water at the bottom so i knew it wouldnt be hard to set up again and roll up. Before I could try again Chad had reached over and done the hands-of-god rescue. I wish i'd gotten up on my own but i was thinkful of being sparred the humiliation of having to swim across the "lake". We completed the rest of the run with more play at Garberator along the way.

After Phil's

We were lucky to have a photographer follow us on the 2nd day so we got some great shots at Phill's and Garb. On the fourth day only Ian ended up paddling. Our clinic with Chad was done and we'd had enough boating. Mark and Doug did some mountain biking while I headed to Ottawa City for some sight seeing. The next day we parted ways and I went to Toronto and then Niagara Falls before heading home.

Chad, Ian, Doug, Maggie

Doug, Maggie, Ian, Chad

I spent a day in Niagara doing the touristy Maid of the Mist tour and taking lots of pictures. I also got to walk down to the whitewater section below the falls. The Niagara Gorge is incredible. Huge waves and gorgeous blue water. I so wished that it wasn't illegal to run. At Niagra I crossed the border and headed home ready for my next adventure....

Niagara Gorge

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