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.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

There's Something About Fall...

From the desk of Philip Kompass - an eastern update.

Every sport has a primetime season. Hockey fans have spring playoffs, college ball has March Madness, and for boaters in Eastern Canada it has to be fall. The first few leaves have changed colour and the chill in the air brings our attention back to water levels and rainfall forecasts in this part of the country.

For sure, spring run off may get you a greater number of river options, and possibly even nicer weather - but there’s something about fall that gets people excited about creek boating again. You bump into old friends you haven’t seen since May, and maybe get around to hammering out the busted bow from an late spring ELF run or fiddling with the outfitting now that you’re down to your summertime fighting weight… you know what I mean.

Warm water and warm weather usually means low flows on the classics, and creek boating options literally dry up out east. There are some exceptions and occasional releases but for a lot of people summertime means playboating, or mountain biking, or climbing, or house repairs, weekend weddings and honey-do lists.

The official kick-off of fall creeking begins with the Labour Day weekend releases in upstate New York (Raquette Stone Valley, Beaver, Moshier, Eagle, Taylorville) and continues well past Moosefest in mid-October until the cold gets too much to bear or the roads get snowed in.

With the leaves off the trees, and sometimes the ground frozen, there is no longer a sponge to soak up any precipitation – snow, sleet, hail, rain and any combination of those – meaning river rise quickly often bringing runable levels again. Look for levels to rise following any major rain event and as it gets later into the year it takes less rain to maintain the flows meaning multiple options. And unlike the spring, you may have a much longer runable window. Keep an eye on the Grasse and Oswegatchie drainages for late-season boating as well as the Lake Placid / High Peaks region for autumnal action.

Beautiful fall colors on the Independance River.

Blazing yellow on the Grass - the peak of fall in 2007.

The main event of the Eagle section of the Beaver - NY fall classic.

Part II: The Seven Sisters

Working in exact opposition to all of the advice written above, the 7 Sisters of the Rouge River is a late-summer and early fall classic that runs on low flows.

The actual run is paddled at range of levels, typically below 200 cms and in playboats, with the caveat that 5 or 6 of the “sisters” are portaged. Only when you hit the late-summer flows of less than 50 cms do the 7 Sisters come into play. They have been run higher but for most paddlers that offers a good guideline. I’m not aware of a low limit on this section.

The 7 Sisters are a series of 6 waterfalls in very close proximity (the first Sister is earlier in the run). They are big water drops with big holes but are easily portaged and scouted. Good platforms for setting safety and the short pools are good for the confidence, and this section is suitable for introducing new creek boaters to waterfall running. The middle five Sisters section can be carried up on the river left shore for round two if you are so inclined.

I won’t go through them line by line, but it really is a great spot to shake off the rust on your boof stroke and get your head in the game for the rest of the fall season. Get out there now before it starts to rain. Here's the link to the beta.

Stop now! A warning of impending doom at the Sisters

A busy rapid above the 7 Sisters.

The 2/3 combo drop.

Philip Kompass running the boof line at 4.

The beatdown ledge at 6.

The grande finale of the Sisters.

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