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whitewater play novice paddlers 2 days
Madawaska River
Saturday, June 21, 2003 to Sunday, June 22, 2003
length: 10.0km, 2 days
difficulty: novice

leader: Chris
organizer: Chris
participants: Carlo Drudi, Caroline Owen, Chris Mack, Karonne Lansel, Nicole Mack, Peter Farr, Stephen Farr, Tim Ulrick, Joe Amodeo, Zack, Raymond, Bonnie Bliss


I had a great time on and off the river, I cant remember the last time I paddled with so many VVCC members. We had everything from Prospectors to Phantoms, CUfly and a kayak in our floatilla. Everybody got a quick feel for the water as we ferried our way at piano rock with a stiff flow of about
115cms. We got away from the crowds by running the downstream section to the Bay a couple of times, catching numerous eddies along the way and were treated by a big boily section at the very bottom.

Joe and Karonne were playing at the top of the second set at Palmer's, missed a move and went for a nasty swim most of the way down. The rest of the gang watched in horrified glee as Karonne was slammed into large boulders and catapulted through the air like a dolphin-trainer at Seaworld. What amazed Karonne was that the force of the water was so strong, she couldn't even manage to shift herself over by the foot or so it would have taken to avoid the worst hits. Joe was right behind her, and since he's a lot stronger than Karonne, she was wondering why he didn't get out sooner. But after they dragged themselves up on the bank, Karonne asked him and he said he couldn't get out either!

The bay is a perfect spot for fun and games and we all tried some of the different boat designs before heading back to camp. Bonnie has been out to a few pool sessions last winter and after a few more practices Saturday in the Bay she succesfully performed 5 rolls in a row...YAY Bonnie.

Did I mention our original intention was to run the lower mad, well you know how plans change. We decided friday night at group meeting that we should warm up at palmers on the saturday and run snake on sunday. Because Carlo was to meet us at the putin sat am I drove to the snake putin to meet up
with Carlo and his son sat morning and brought them back to palmers for the
day, it also gave me the opportunity to stop for coffee and go for a short cruise. Well
at group sat night we changed plans again, we had heard that the middle mad was running so we voted on going there sunday. It usually is not running on the weekend so it was a great choice, and there is no flat water on that stretch so it would make for a shorter day.

We went to the restaurant in Palmers for breakfast and eventually figured out where the putin road was and we were soon all bobbing in our boats at the base of the dam. There are some nice rapids to warm up on as we made our way towards Staircase, a solid class 3 section with numerous canoe
eating holes to deal with. This rapid requires having a look at so we scouted it out from river left.

After figuring out there was no way down the left it became apparent I should have taken out on the right, because it looked like the route I wanted to take but I could not really see it, but I have taken it before in higher water. I asked Cline if she could see it but there were sections that you just could not make out clearly. Cline started the group lining their boats down the left side to an eddie below the ledges when I came upon my friend Gerry who was teaching at MKC that day. I asked him if he was running it and he gave me that puzzled look and said, yeah stay to the right and ferry below the last ledge.

That was all the info I needed as I got in my boat and took off from the top eddie with Gerry leading the way. I followed him most of the way down but then he screamed in behind a ledge, but it was not the last ledge, there was one more to contend with so I just held my route to the right until I was below the very last ledge. I still think he was trying to have some fun with me by tempting me into following him, but I have been 'tricked' before by some of his lines ;-)

Everybody made it through the rest of Staircase and we were soon off to scout Chalet, a great technical section of river scattered with about 22 gates. I was winding my way down when all of a sudden I saw Bonnie slowly drifting backwards out of an eddy on river left. That was not a good place to be because there are a series of holes from there downstream and all the
gates are from the middle over to the right. She hit the first hole and was
quickly sent swimming, this was not the place to learn to roll in current, I have never been down the left before so it was pretty exciting chasing her down, I took on a fair bit of water but as soon as I reached her and her boat I latched onto her boat and we all just floated down together to the
bottom recovery pool.

I remember seeing the others pulling of some impressive moves, Cline was all geared up and was paddling like it was race day, big smiles all around at the bottom.

Gravel Pit was our last rapid, there are usually bigger holes to contend with but not this time, it was more technical with some rocks to contend with, in and out of your boat. I was set up at the bottom to safety when I saw Carlo and Zach out of their boat about half way down the rapid. All of a sudden they kept going and their boat just stayed put, not a good sign. It was pinned but luckily by two rocks so it did not end up folding. Nicole and Cline performed one heck of a rescue by getting that boat off the rocks in one piece and I helped push it to shore at the bottom.

There is a nice foam pile that Nicole was spinning and low level cartwheeling in, I went in and found out it was very shallow, my wife Dorothy told me I had scraped the back of my shoulder for my attempt.

The move of the day involves Cline and Gerry, with the encouragement of the
crowd they maintained a front surf while Cline did a handstand in the bow!!

Things I learned:

NEVER send your daughter to buy beer for you Prospectors full of water are
impossible for me to rescue in my CUfly
2 words: Gin/Wink
Do not blindly follow Gerry
Robaxicet is cheaper in the bulk packs


posted by: Chris Mack

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