The Guidebook

To visit the LiquidLore Guidebook, click right here. It's the starting point for all kinds of whitewater beta and the main reason this site exists - be sure to check it out.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Waterfalls of Quebec, Part 2

Once again, the waterfalls of Quebec - although devoid of any major mountain range, Quebec has more than its share of fantastic waterfalls that you'd often associate with big hills and massive gradient. This is the second installment describing some of these beautys.

Like anywhere, eastern Canada has both a high season and a low season for whitewater boating. Here, when it's not winter, you can find rapids almost anywhere during the spring and again in the fall when the leaves are gone and it rains. On the other hand during the height of summer, barring some of the huge rivers and dam releases, rivers are typically dry right down to their rocky riverbeds. Last summer, after a particularly long spell with no rain we started looking for new and exciting places to go kayaking outside of the Ottawa and the dam release runs that are close to home.

The fall before that, Christy happened to be in Quebec City for a family vacation and came across the 7 Chutes of the St. Anne du Nord River. At the time the river was very high from fall rains, but the big waterfalls and the impressive gorge weren't forgotten. This river is close to Quebec City, laying just to the east and actually has a popular whitewater section below the 7 Chutes canyon as it runs towards the St. Lawerence River. As it wasn't really an option to try this thing at high water when this lower section is good, we reasoned that maybe a good time to go check it out would be in the summer when the run would be, as you would expect, low. A little detective work revealed low is good and it had been run a handful of times, but access is sensitive - just ask politely.

One weekend at the end of July we hatched a plan to load up the truck with a bike, fill it up with Christy, Bob (dragged from his rafting work on the Ottawa) and I and to go explore the 7 Chutes along with the Malbaie, which seemed to be running at a low but acceptable level. Both runs ended up being fantastic.

After the long drive to Quebec we crashed out in a park and got up ready to roll the next morning. We got the the 7 Chutes and just as we were ready to go another car rolled in with boats on the roof! It was a strange coincidence to see others there - they'd come for the 7 Chutes action too. As we ended up putting on before them, they observed us running and we had the chance to take some photos of them after we'd finished and they started.

The river itself ended up having 2 massive waterfalls, the first one and the last one - the last one didn't get run at all that day, but everyone tumbled down the first big slide to air, which was probably 50 feet tall. In between there were a handful of other runnable waterfalls which were all good and fun, but in the end the level was a little on the low side for some of the falls. It poured rain all day though, which set the stage for perfect flows on the Malbaie the next day

We managed to rally the other crew (Kelsey and Chris) to come with us to the Malbaie - it continued to rain all night - rather than sitting around in the rain, we spent the eveing driving around the woods trying to find the take out for the lower section of the Malbaie, with no success.

After a fitful sleep because of a terrorizing porcupine that kept sneaking into our campsite the night before, we woke to beautiful sunny blue skies and a rising flow on the river. After a short walk down to the water (the flow ended up somewhere between 40 and 45 cms) and a refreshing swim before getting geared up, we were shocked to see two Quebecers floating down the middle of the river in lifejackets stuffed with beer cans. At first we thought it might have been a canoe trip gone wrong, but no, they were out to drink some cold ones and swim down the river. After chatting for a while, they jumped in and continued on downriver - we didn't see them while boating - I guess they made it to wherever they were headed. Seeing things like that makes you realize that we (whitewater boaters) take ourselves a little too seriously sometimes...

The Malbaie was great - we didn't have to get out of our boats except for the famous/infamous? 30 foot drop. There was a lot of water thundering over the edge - to be honest, everyone was a little nervous - well almost everyone. Christy took one look, excitedly commented to everyone how good it seemed, jumped in his boat and probed away. After a successful run, our morale was boosted and we took turns running and re-running the falls. From there it was a short paddle to the bridge where we left the bike.

And so ended the 2007 weekend of Quebec waterfalls. Beautiful weather, good friends and some amazing rapids went down as one of the best on record. Have fun, but please remember to get proper permission if you want to run the 7 Chutes - ruining access would be a great loss here...

Click here for beta on the 7 Chutes, and check out some photos from our day there below.

Sliding into the first of the big rapids on the 7 Chutes. Photo by Christy Thompson.

The first drop in all its glory - you get going amazingly fast down this beast.

The second of the waterfalls in the 7 Chutes canyon.

Boofing down the 4th of the waterfalls. Photo by Christy Thompson.

The exact same moment, taken from the opposite bank of the river. Photo by Kelsey Thompson. Kelsey and Christy aren't related..

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