Monday, October 17, 2011

PAD4O Moving Water Weekend

October 14 - 16, 2011

The grade 12's had a great weekend of moving water canoeing at Palmers Rapids. Even with the cold temperatures and the rain, everyone made great strides in their paddling abilities.

Friday started a bit rough, with everyone swimming at some point, as we started practicing entering and exiting the current. We followed this with a run of the bottom rapid, which went fairly well until the very end, with Rhys and Cory running the last bit backwards and Alex going for the full on gunnel grab, with both canoes ending up full of water. At this point we decided to pack it in and head back to camp.

Saturday morning was quite chilly, although the rains had let up. The paddling didn't start off very successful, with Cory and Rhys flipping almost immediately in our warm up. Both seemed quite raddled and we decided to change around the partners. Hayden and Cory turned this into a great partnership and were off paddling, with Hayden quickly instilling confidence into Cory. This was not the case by Alex and Rhys who on their first run pinned their canoe in the bottom set of rapids. We decide to put everyone back on the horse (in their canoes) and run the bottom rapid again (slightly different partnerships), which was successful until the very end, when Alex and Steph's canoe swamped and slowly sank in the whirlpools at the very bottom. It was time for a lunch break.

The danger of stopping for lunch by a hot fire on a cold day is that people don't want to get back into their cold gear and go paddling. This is exactly what happened, but I wouldn't have it. We were there to paddle and we were glad we did go back, as we ran the bottom set of Palmer Rapids multiple times successfully. Each time getting more confident and trying new routes and manoeuvres. Rhys and I finished the session of with a great surf and flip at the very bottom.

On Sunday, the sun greeted us for our paddle. The amazing thing about paddling in the middle of October is that you have the place all to yourselves. Where in the spring time there must have been at least 150 people. We started the day like we finished the last, running the bottom set a couple of times with great success. This was preparation for the top set, which was a bit more challenging, with more power behind the water and bigger waves. We had a blast as we ran it many times and only Hayden and Cory flipped their canoe on the last run at the very bottom of the rapid. It was very impressive to see how far people came in such a short amount of time.

1 comment:

CWXflames said...

This trip can be explained in a few simple words: terrifying, life threatening, wet, but most of all: fun.

The focus and purpose of the trip was to teach us how to white water canoe, and everything that went along with it.

We first tried entering the rapids from a certain angle and then riding Down the current without flipping, let's just say that you have to get wet a few times before you get it right.

On the first day after I had flipped a few times, (Rhys asking me WTH I was doing, when he to was indeed at fault as well) I was shivering like mad and all I wanted to do was get out of these wet . At this time, my recollection of the trip is slightly blurry, but I do remember going down a set of rapids backwards with Rhys. I attempted to paddle up the cushion (which seemed to be working) after a few more seconds we fell down the rapids and didn't flip over... After we slowly sunk, due to the water that had accumulated In our canoe on the way down.

Brouwer started talking about going down an area of rapids without canoes, the only protection from rocks: our feet in front of us. All of us volunteered. Sucked into turmoil, we; mere rag dolls to the force and pure ferocity of the churning current forced underwater unable to catch a breath. My mind reeled as a thought occurred to me from a book I had once read: death by water, the soul condemned to wander the earth for eternity. As my head resurfaced I realized I was having fun, my head went under again and the force of the rapids turned me, causing me to come in contact with resistance: the rocks Brouwer had warned us about had earned me a nasty bruise and a small scar I still sport to this day. Once out of the rapids I couldn't stop panicking, filled with adrenaline from being tormented by the water, the motion of the rapids a reminder as my body and mind replayed the the events, feeling as if I was still in the rapids.

On an outdoor Ed trip into the unknown, the one thing you must never forget is food, that is the one thing that I forgot. stupid as it was, the others on the trip had brought an over abundance of food so I was not left for the wolves.

The days following were spent honing our skills on a track of rapids lower down the stream, preparing to tackle the rapids that we went down feet first on the first day. I was paired up with Hayden on the second day and for the remainder of the trip. we spent time learning about tongues in the water (where you want to be on your way down) obstacles and eddies (a place to get out of the rapids). Eddies are a calm area of water at the edge of rapids used to get out of abstract situations or to go down the rapids at a slower pace. This is called eddie hopping.

On the last day we tackled the toughest area of rapids...We were all doing great, no one had flipped yet. In my over confidence I unintentionally jinxed Hayden and I. Our three runs after were perfect, except the very last one, I lost my grip on the top of my paddle. At that point Hayden already knew it was all over, he resigned himself, preparing to take the plunge into the freezing cold water that flowed beneath us.