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Running late in Quebec

Saturday-Sunday Aug 12-13, 2017
Kayak: Adam, Culley, Jon, Greg, Mike
Organizer: Scattered thunderstorms
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: low boatable
Gauge (cfs): 1000
Author: Mike M

My normal summer paddling scheme is to spend every weekend (and a couple weekdays) in Quebec.  That never happens, but some summers I've still done pretty well.  This year a new job, moving and general life stuff had me occupied, and by the time I had a free weekend in July it looked like the water was gone - depressingly early.  A good shot of rain in early August fixed that and on the evening of Friday the 11th five New Englanders were headed north hoping to snag one last bit of summertime Quebec whitewater.  


On Saturday we did the Taureau.  It was at a lowish level (-7"), what felt like 400 on the New Haven.  The section down to the Launiere was a little bumpy but mostly fluid if you slowed down and picked clean lines, and all the main drops were great.  Below the Launiere things juiced up a little and it felt like good, classic Quebec whitewater.  Good fun but the low water definitely makes the lines tighter and opens up some real pinning hazards.


Still, the setting was unchanged from last year, or last century or last millenia, especially the deep canyons, massive wilderness and the thick black boreal forest that completely blocks out the outside world and leaves you with nothing but a river to paddle.  The whitewater here is definitely good, but the setting is what will make me go back for as long as I can.  


On Sunday we did the Valin.  This is another hour-plus north of the Taureau.  It always has water, even during a drought, and was at a good low-side-of-medium, about 20 cms or 700 cfs.  The first half is like the Bottom Moose with big bedrock rapids and a bit of flatwater, plus one fantastic 25-footer (class III).  Then there is a portage and then a great canyon with steep whitewater the rest of the way.  This lower section is about as good as it gets and ends in a huge, half-mile-long boulder garden.  It's not difficult but it's big - take a big one from the Big Branch and scale it up by three - and you'll have the last half-mile of the Valin.  


This in turn dumps you onto the Saguenay fjord, where we looked in vain for whales but settled for (much better) poutine.  Still haven't found tourtiere there yet - I think you have to go farther north up towards the Mistassibi, which we should do next year!


Here's to many more great weekends of Quebec paddling.

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