Monday, August 18, 2014

Quebec First Impressions

Well it's been about a month I've lived in Shannon, a small town just outside Quebec City now, and after running out of food, clean clothes and having the garbage pile up enough I figure it's time to take a day off paddling to take care of some things and do some writing.

I was lucky enough in British Columbia to know a great many paddlers including Raphael Boudreault-Simard of the Quebec Connection who hooked me up with tons of people and beta before I made my trip East. After a great trip in which I got to fire up a couple things in Minnesota, Michigan, and the Ottawa and Petawawa rivers in Ontario with some old friends I finally made it here.

I've been really lucky since arriving as we've had more rain than normal leading to above average summer water levels for a good sustained amount of time, wich has been sick! This has allowed to me get on a huge number of classics in the area including the Rouge, Tourilli, Neilson, Valin, Mistissibi, Malbaie, Jacques Cartier, and Montmorency rivers as well as the opportunity to hit many more if I wasn't working so much at my new job. The highlight so far has to have been discovering our way down the Valin with Simon Roy, who I'd paddled with in BC, without a guide. Also the Malbaie waterfall, which is amazing and my second favourite after Liumchen. Work has been the only thing stopping me from getting out on the rest of the goods each day, but this will come!

I have a great milk run less than half hour from my house called the Tewksbury section on the Jacques Cartier which has nice class IV and runs even when everything else is too low. I've got in my playboat way more times than I ever had in BC. I've got a feel for bigger water and stuck some good waterfalls as well. The people here are amazing, there are many more paddlers it seems and it's much easier to find people for runs than it typically was in the Fraser Valley.

The culture and food of the area can't be beat, much better than BC in my opinion.

The water is warm and brown, and looks like it has soap in it with bubbles everywhere, it's a bit weird, a definite departure from the clear blue/green hues found around the Pacific Northwest. I find though the warm water makes it really easy to roll and maintain confidence underwater. I can definitely see how it would be much easier to learn to paddle here and progress to become a better paddler. There are also massive pools everywhere in rivers, which adds a degree (sometimes false) of security. Things are often easily walked and to set safety. It definitely makes it favourable when wanting to run larger drops. There is a lot less gravel and a lot more large cutaway slabs of rock here and little beaches on rivers too. Most rocks are smooth but some are like cheesegraders.

There are sometimes access issues similar to BC or different types as well, which is unfortunate. Either way I am really looking forward to continuing to explore this beautiful area for the next unknown amount of time and take it all in, hopefully getting on some rivers up north and some exploration as well! I also can't wait to paddle in the Eastern US and Gaspe areas...stoked! It's really good to feel good about paddling again, I haven't felt this great since my second year in 2012!

I also got to get out with some of the Quebec Connection boys, those guys are a blast and such good paddlers with a great vibe on the river, can't wait to get out with them more!

Also a huge shout out to Wally at Quebec Raft in St. Stanislas on the Mistassibi who made Simon and I feel right at home, Simon for about a week! ...and Yann Vanasse from Eau Vive Rafting on the Rouge near Montreal who helped get me out on the Rouge and feel at home at the rafting base there, great places both of them!

Here are some photos, although I've been lazy with the camera for a few months now:

Valin slide. By Simon Roy

Valin Falls. By Simon Roy

Best rapid on the Valin. By Simon Roy

Malbaie falls, my soft 45 I've been trying to perfect. By Marie-Julie Clement

Simon on Valin Falls. By Simon Roy

Simon on a neat Valin rapid

Simon airing out the Valin

Some perspective. By Simon Roy

A beautiful place.

Valin has an unrunnable series that takes a little portage.

Simon in the middle of the really good Valin rapid.

Emrick and Marie-Julie relaxing before the Malbaie.

Emrick airing out the Malbaie

Fred with a nice boof

Quebec or BC?
Off line a bit on the courtesy Quebec Raft