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A pleasant surprise on the Tourilli

Sunday May 22, 2016
Kayak: Jordan, Culley, Scott, Ben, Mike
Organizer: Late-season Quebec snowmelt
Difficulty: flatwater
Level: medium
Gauge (cfs): 1000
Author: Mike M

On Sunday morning we awoke high up in the Sainte-Anne watershed.  We were pretty beat from the previous day's adventure, but we were in the middle of the Quebec whitewater vortex and it appeared everything was at a perfect level and we had all day to paddle.  Did I mention the previous day's adventure had us kinda beat?


The most appealing option seemed to be the Neilson - a classic run that was at a great juicy medium level.  But as it turned out, we were really close to the Tourilli, none of us had run it, and the whole purpose of the trip was to run some new things.  So we grudgingly sacrificed a great Neilson day in the name of exploration on a run that was described as "less steep than the Dryway".  Oh well... at least days like that strengthen your resolve to get back up there and run something good.


Truth be told, Alden describes the Tourilli as recommended... but somehow the description is just not that inspiring.  Maybe it's because it's accompanied by a story about a hideous waterfall beating.  Or maybe it's that the picture shows riffly class II-III leading up to a drop that looks a little to scary to be fun.  Regardless, it was warm and sunny - perfect for napping and drying gear at the put-in while shuttle is being set.  And there sure were a lot of locals around and they all seemed pretty stoked about the run and the level.  Once on the water we saw why.


Juicy class III started just out of sight of the road, and quickly built into fun, very continuous class III+.  This went on a ways, and in a few spots pinched down or steepened into a little class IV.  There were a few holes or rocks to dodge, but nothing particularly worrisome - just continuous and big enough that I didn't want to swim.  It was classic Quebec whitewater too:  juicy boat-scoutable rapids, impeccable water quality, clear blue sky above and the river twisting between steep spruce-covered valley walls a long way from civilization.  This is why Quebec whitewater is awesome


There was a group right in front of us that we followed so we knew we weren't going to accidentally drop into something nasty.  After about 3 miles things widened out into the aforementioned riffly class II-III for a couple hundred feet and we hopped out to portage the U-Hole.  One of the locals said he ran it earlier that week, but everyone seemed pretty wary, so we followed them off a great seal launch into some solid class IV with a couple real holes to avoid.  Another mile or so and we got out to portage the waterfall.


With all due respect to Alden, no wonder he got a beating in there.  It looks like while it wouldn't hold you forever, it would happily rip off your skirt, shorts, eyelids or shoulder connective tissues and probably fill your stomache with uncomfortable amounts of river water.  Just below here was a great final stretch with some friendly but very rowdy class IV.


At the take-out we seriously considered another run, but enough soreness was creeping back into our muscles to hold us back from a second run on this Quebec classic.


The Tourilli is one of the finest sections of class III-IV whitewater in the northeast.  It usually runs into June, is just 4 hours from Burlington and has a ton of other great stuff around.  Do it!

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