Sunday, October 7, 2012

PAD4O Palmer Rapids Moving Water Clinic

This past week, the grade 12's went to Palmer Rapids to test their canoeing skills on moving water. It was an excellent 3 days, with great weather, warm water, a wonderful instructor (Stef) from MKC and some great manoeuvres made by the students.

The water was quite low for this time of year, but that didn't stop our crew. The first day we started with a few eddy turns, followed by some s-turns, ferries, a blast down the lower set and finally a swim through the rapids. This was followed by some great meals around the fire. The tone was set for the next two days.

On Tuesday morning the crew was officially welcomed to the whitewater paddling community when they got to put their cold and wet wetsuits back on. Always a pleasant experience. With some water put down into the wetsuit booties and a couple of running around games, we were first on the water to practice the skills learned on the previous day. The students really started to push their skills, with good results and only a few tipped canoes. This set us up for a detailed scout of the lower set of rapids, as the students started to plan their own routes through the rapids. This was followed by a very successful run.

After lunch, the afternoon was spent learning how to rescue a swimmer (of course there had to be some swimming done) and surfing in the lower set. The surfing at times became a battle of the fittest, until it became a Cirque de Soleil with people switching canoes while on the wave. At the end of the day, when all other groups had already packed it in, our group took on the challenge of the technical upper set of rapids. Another fantastic day.

On the final morning, we were on the water first once again. This time to build on our skills with the back ferry. After a quick warm up, we headed down to the lower set to challenge ourselves with the back ferry in the middle of the rapid. We followed this up with a very difficult manoeuvre, as we caught an eddy in between to very nasty rocks. This was mostly completed with perfection. There a few canoes that ran it a few times to get perfection. That was until the last run down, when the boys loaded a canoe with 5 people and made a successful run down until they flipped (with help) in the eddy at the bottom. This was only topped by the discovery that Colonel By had amazingly wrapped one of their canoes in the upper set of rapids.

The ride home summed up the 3 days perfectly, as the Madawaska Highlands provided us with a magical display of Fall colours. By far the best I have seen in years.


MCarter said...

Palmer Rapids Trip Reflection Matt Carter

In my opinion, our white water paddling trip to Palmer Rapids was, overall, a huge success. Even though there were some things we could have improved on, I really enjoyed myself the entire time. While we were planning our menu, we kept a strong emphasis on simplicity. We did our best to avoid difficult clean ups after meals and kept the meals themselves quick and easy. Looking back on it now, we could have used a bit more variety in our menu. There were three sandwich-like meals which tasted excellent but still seemed very repetitive. We were too focused on difficulty to attempt more interesting things.
Something else to improve on for next time is our camp clean up time. After we had finished paddling on our last day, we had about an hour and a half to make lunch, eat, clean up, pack, and take all of our tents down. We worked hard to meet this time limit, but our campsite was still a mess when we had to leave. In the future, there are a few things that we could do to make sure that this does not happen again. We could remind everyone to begin packing right after waking up and to be finished before it was time to get on the water. Then, during lunch, split into groups. One group would make lunch, one would take down tents and any tarps and another group doing anything else that might need to be done around the campsite.
In the end, I found that we worked very well as a group. We worked separately from the others (other than when we occasionally exchanged food) and had a great time. I truly enjoyed this trip and I hope that it is not my last one like it.

brieski said...

Palmer Rapids Reflection By Brianna Champagne

I for one thoroughly enjoyed my trip to Palmer Rapids on October 1st. The weather forecast wasn't promising at the beginning of the week, but it turned out to be wonderful! Although it had been looking chilling, with a slight over cast, the rain held off, and the sun was shining through!
We started off the first day at the first set of rapids, I was with Megan, and we were feeling pretty confident going in, since we had learned most of the manoeuvres and strokes ahead of time! The first move we learned was an O turn. Mr. Brouwer and Stef made it look so simple. When Meg and I were about to go into the current for the first time, my adrenaline was pumping. I was so nervous, but then we did it! We made it back to the eddy, and it was so much fun. From that point on, we improved the more we did it, and I personally feel much more confident with it, and would love to further my experiences with white water.
All the strokes and moves we learned from there on out, were getting better and better! I was really pleased with it, and personally found it to be an excellent introduction to white water canoeing. I came on the trip not wanting to go in the water (tipping over). So I took all the necessary precautions by not grabbing the gunnels, and doing my best at low braces whenever the canoe would begin to tip. It turned out successful because Meg and I didn't flip over at all! I still found myself being the first to volunteer to jump into the rapid, and allow my peers to practice their throw bag tosses and rescue skills. It was chilly, but well worth it! We learnt so many things like how to swim through rapids safely, scout rapids, the terminology, surfing, ferrying, S turns, and more! Not to mention getting comfortable in both the bow and the stern. It was awesome to apply it as we were scouting and going down rapids on our own towards the second and third day!
Our meals were delicious! They included egg McMuffins and pancakes for breakfast, grilled cheese and chicken wings for our lunches. Pasta with chicken, and then grilled salmon and rice for our dinners! They all worked very well, and kept us energized throughout our days. We had a huge advantage on what we could bring since we were car camping and didn't have to worry about the transportation.
I was personally very well prepared for this trip. I brought more than enough clothes, so I always had something warm and dry to change into, and had dressed in the layer system throughout my day. I was never cold on the water because of the layers I wore, but I truly found that the wet suit neoprene socks I brought kept my feet warm, and made for a comfortable body temperature all day long.
I loved this trip, and found it to be an excellent way to finish off my grade 12 camping experience. I have learned so much and it has made me consider furthering my outdoor education in the future. We went at the perfect time, and all the fall colours were beautiful! The obly thing to improve on for my next trip was our time management. Just making sure we are all able to do the necessary clean up, and tasks so we are always on schedule. All in all this was an excellent experience and I am so glad I shared it with the greatest people, and took back so many wonderful memories that I will carry with me.

MeganF said...

Before going on last weeks trip, I had a humble amount of knowledge about moving water paddling techniques after class lessons and doing the homework sheet highlighting a long list of moving water terms. When it came time to use the techniques on whitewater, I drew a blank. Getting the hang of maneuvering the canoe through the main flow was harder at first than expected.

The concept of ‘titling’ was new to me, which is ironic as it was one of the most important techniques learned and was consistently repeated over the 3-day trip. It was my first time using almost all of the techniques to get from one eddy to another. Getting the right angles when entering the eddy line to be able to ferry across the moving water was tough at first. I am most comfortable paddling form the stern, and on this trip I was nervous as I felt the pressure was on the stern to ensure a safe route was taken. My partner was Brie and we came to a mutual decision not to tip the canoe the entire trip. Our goal was reached as we both were very cautious and never grabbed the gunwales!

It was nice to be able to switch form bow to stern on a few different runs. This made me realize how important it is to practice in both the stern and bow as my paddling in the bow was weak. I really struggled with back ferrying while I was in the bow and began to get the hang of it but wasn’t extremely successful. I hope to get back on moving water to perfect it. I really liked Stef, the instructor we met, because she was very encouraging and gave me positive feedback even when I thought I’d failed.

The upper set of rapids was exciting but I enjoyed the lower set of rapids more as it was a longer distance to cover with more rocks to maneuver around. The water was very low which made scouting hard, as there were lots of rocks not easy to spot on the lower set. I also really enjoyed attempting to surf and swimming the rapids and practicing what I knew about rescuing with throw bags.

There are a few things I would change about the experience. Firstly, I would have liked to be more ambitious. Some groups got 3-4 runs in before my canoe got 1. We were so cautious about what other canoes were doing that it was often hard for us to find a time slot to fit in. Secondly, the food my cooking group made was really good (including pasta and salmon for dinner, pizzas and grilled cheese for lunch, and pancakes with egg cheese and bacon sandwiches for breakfast) but we didn’t plan to pack fruits and vegetables, we had apples as a snack and a salad one night but not the suggested amount per day or meal. Lastly, It took me a while to get going in the morning as I dreaded putting on my wetsuit both mornings, but playing warm up games and pouring warm water into my socks helped. I was dressed in the proper layering system while on the water and found myself taking off most layers only after 30 minutes of paddling.

I’m really happy with my development as a paddler over the past three years and specifically on this trip. The weather on this trip was better than expected, the water was warmer then expected and the company was good as expected. It was a beautiful time of year for the trip and the small group of us made memorable moments.

Ryan Best said...

Palmer Rapids Reflection by Ryan Best

In my opinion, this grade 12 moving water clinic was the best outdoor ed field trip I had been on in my entire high school life. There were many learning opportunities I was faced with throughout the trip; from learning a basic eddy turn, to scouting and finally running an actual rapid. Even though the weather was forecasted to be rainy and cold, Mother Nature seemed to sympathize with me when I pleaded for sunshine. The water was relatively warm as well (as I soon found out first hand on numerous occasions).

What I enjoyed the most was running the rapids. It felt exhilarating to feel your somewhat small canoe maneuver in between various obstacles at relatively high speeds. And of course the food. Nothing gets you through a cold day on the water like knowing a hot, delicious meal is waiting to be prepared for you back at camp. In my opinion, our cooking group had the best meals of the entire class, surpassing those of even Mr. Brouwer, who was forced to eat vegetables and no carbs. YUCK. My favorite meal would have to have been grilled cheese and chicken wings. It's not everyday that you can say you cooked and ate either over an open fire.

My least favorite part of the trip was the sleep I hardly got. Being in a cold tent when at one moment you're too cold, and another you're too hot, can really put a damper on your trip, since sleep really determines how you'll feel the next day. Another part of my trip that I could have done without would have been our groups first canoe dump. Shannon and I had actually said that we were going to be the first group to tip, and lo and behold, we were. Nothing could compare to the sheer embarrassment and freezing cold temperature that accompanied falling into the lake simply trying to turn our canoe.

Something I probably would have done differently would be to try and steer the canoe a bit more, especially during the rapids. I felt a bit timid knowing that for the most part, it was my sole responsibility for where our canoe would end up, and I didn't want to see my partner fail based on my actions. However, when she was in the stern, I made sure to give her all the encouragement she needed for us to succeed.

Overall, I considered this trip to be both exciting and educational, with a lot of fun thrown in for good measure (rapping around the campfire) and I would definitely go again if I were given the chance.

katherine95 said...

Palmer Rapids Trip Reflection By Katherine Vander Pluym

Overall, I very much enjoyed the Palmer Rapids white water canoe trip. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember the strokes and such, but that all worked out fine. I think this might have been my favourite trip of the Hiking trip, Canoe trip, and this one. My paddling skills have definitely improved throughout the last three years, and a lot since last year.

On the first day I started off being in a canoe with Jessie, and after we switched so that we were both with a teacher: Jessie with Stef, and Me with Mr. Brouwer. Although I had finished the sheet with the moving water terms ahead of time, I was still nervous to use them in the actual situation. I liked being in the canoe with Mr. Brouwer for the first day because he would tell me when to do what, and I learned how to do the strokes this way. At the beginning of the trip, I felt more comfortable in the stern but after the first day, I felt that I would be better in the bow. I found that I learned a lot on the first day.

Our menu was very simple, but somewhat repetitive. There were three meals that were all sandwich like. They were all quite good, but I did wish that we had more variety in our meals. We also brought a lot of food. This was good because we definitely all had enough to eat, but there was a lot of food left over that we had to throw in the fire. I also noticed that we did not have any sides with our main meals. For example, we had burgers, but that was it. We did not have anything else with the burgers. I think we should have brought other food too, instead of more of what we had already.

During the day I had no problems with being too cold or too warm. I had brought the right amount and kind of clothes for that. I had even brought some neoprene socks for when we were on the water, and they really helped. I was quite cold during the night though. The first night I was really cold. The second night I wore a bunch more layers, but I was still cold. I even wore a tuque. I had only brought one sweater; it was a warm sweater, but not as warm as I would have liked. I should have brought a warmer sweater and other warmer clothes for bed.

On the last day, we did not do a good job at being prepared and ready for when we needed to go. We should have started packing when we got up in the morning, but we thought that we would have enough time at lunch. When we got up in the morning we should have had some people making the breakfast, and some people packing and such. And then the same for lunch, except some people could have taken down the tents.

I really enjoyed this trip, it was a lot of fun and the weather was very kind to us. It was a great Outdoor Ed trip for my last year of high school. I think that my canoeing skills have improved a lot. My food group worked very well together, as well as Jessie and I paddling together on the water. I look forward to future trips like this one.

Jspice said...

Out of three Outdoor Ed trips that I have participated in, the white water trip was definitely the one that I was the most nervous for. I could not grasp an idea of what to expect, and I was unsure whether or not I was ready for it. Nonetheless, I was excited as usual.

Luckily for me, I got to share a canoe with the instructor on the first day. This made me feel a lot more comfortable. After entering the current for the first time, I immediately felt better about it; though with each new manoeuvre we learned I felt nervous once again. When we were done practising the basic strokes, we got to do a run down the rapids. Of course, again, I was nervous, but it turned out to be a blast. That evening as we were cooking and organizing our campsite, I was very pleased to realize that those who were in my cooking/tent group weren't lazy and were all very helpful. Many times on these trips there are some who do not carry their weight or help others, but this year I did not experience frustration due to this. I enjoyed learning how to play poker using jellybeans with them.

On the second (and only full) day, I got to share a canoe with Katherine. This made all of my nerves come back, as I did not feel as safe – not that I didn't trust Katherine, but I did not really trust myself, and was fairly uncertain of my capabilities. When we were on the water I was hesitant to try many of the new manoeuvres; though looking back on it now I realize that I should have been more confident, as the consequences to trying and failing were usually simply getting wet (which I really should not be afraid of)... Katherine and I did not even come close to falling out of our canoe.

At the end of that day, we had the opportunity to try canoeing down the bigger rapids. I spent a long time trying to decide whether or not to try it; regrettably I chose not to, as I did not feel like I was prepared for it. I now wish that I had done it – it would have probably been my favourite part of the trip if I had.

Back at the campsite, we had another great night. We spent a great deal of time talking, and I got to know the people who I did not know very well. The campfire talks are one of my favourite parts of the trips. I don't think that there are any other times when you can have conversations like those, especially with people who aren't even your closest friends.

When the third day finally came, I had very mixed emotions. I felt that the trip was much too short, but at the same time I was not looking forward to canoeing that day. Reluctantly I put my wetsuit on and got on the water, and I am very glad that I did: that day was definitely the best one. Sharing a canoe with Mr. Brouwer not only made me feel safe again, but it also allowed me to try everything that I was hesitant to try before and get better feedback on whether or not I was doing things properly. It was an excellent run to finish with.

Aside from my nerves and the awful wetsuits, it was a great trip. We had an abundance of tasty food, fun times on the water, and most importantly some very great people. I'm so glad that I got to experience white water canoeing, and am very sad that it was the last camping trip. I wish I could do it again!

Treasure said...

This years Outdoor ed Trip was a definite success. After only being white water canoeing one other time in my life, I was very excited to be experiencing it again.

A lot of our group had never been white water canoeing and were a bit nervous, but we all got comfortable very quickly once we started doing fun stuff like C-turns and S-turns. We finished the first day off with a chilly swim down the rapid. After we all got dried off and warmed up, we enjoyed the evening with great meals and stories.

Getting our wetsuit on the next morning was a definite low on this trip. Obviously it’s no fun, but sometimes you just have to suck it up because its all part of the experience. But when its early morning and you’re already cold and tired it wasn’t pleasant. Warm up games helped with that though and we were soon ready to face the rapids once again! The second day everyone seemed a lot more confident and more adventurous in facing rapids and pushing their limits. After learning how to scout rapids, we were ready to run the rapid, and we all did it successfully.

The afternoon was spent swimming, rescuing and surfing. We all got a little wet and learned some new skills like how to throw a throw rope. I particularly enjoyed surfing and having our bow paddlers switch spots with another canoe. It took skill from everyone and it was a lot of fun.

After getting off the water, we started making supper and what not. I think the big thing I will take away from this trip will be to not forget main ingredients to a meal you’re trying to prepare. After bribing Mr. Brouwer for strawberries, and using half of our next days breakfast of pancake mix as flour, Will and I finally made an extremely tasty strawberry shortcake. But not without hearing complaints from the rest of the group for using the pancake mix.

On the final day we were on the water quickly and eager to start paddling again. Excited to see what today was going to bring, we all started running rapids and our skills had visibly increased after only two days on the water. We had a few challenges like back ferrying and our final descent through the rapid, with 5 people in the canoe! It was a fun last experience and the run went pretty well.

All in all, for my very last Outdoor ed trip, I learned some new skills, some very important lessons about food and not to make other people unhappy, and most importantly, had an enjoyable time with lots o great people!

Shannon Vezina said...

his year for our final out door ed canoe trip we spent over the course of two nights and three days at Palmer Rapids. Personally this trip was a huge success and there were plenty of lessons learned and plenty of simple mistakes that would have to be improved if we were to do this trip again.

Things that went well during the trip included out meal plan, not including the pancake mix up, the amount of effort that people put in. Even though we did do something well, there are major improvements that need to be fixed. One improvement I would have made is that I personally needed more experience in the canoe, so prior to the trip I should have practice the techniques more. Also, I should have chosen a partner prior to the trip so we would have at least practiced with each other once in the canoe together so we would know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Over all I wish I was more confident in my canoeing skills, I believe if I was more confident we would have been more stable in the canoe and would have been able to execute the techniques with more accuracy.

One part of the trip that I felt was extremely intimidating was being stern for Stef, I felt like I should have been more prepared, but it was a good thing that she knew how to control the boat from the bow or else we probably would have been in the water ever two minutes due to my lack of skill. It wasn’t the fact that I didn’t know how to do the maneuvers but the fact that my execution could have been smoother.

If we were to do this trip again, I would focus more on the preparation more of the trip then trying to learn all new things while on the trip. Over the entire trip was delightful and I would do it again any day.

KJ said...

The trip to Palmer Rapids was very successful. Without a doubt it was the best outdoor trip I have been in the past three years I have been in the class. My strokes have definitely improved over the last three years.

The first day on the small rapid I felt like a total beginner again. The instructor (Steph) was really helpful. Every time we tried a new turn on the rapids I felt like we would flip, my mind would go blank. One of them was an “O Turn”, when we hit the rapids the second time we managed the grab the eddy. It was all much harder than I expected. Getting the right angle and momentum proved to be a challenge, but by the end of the day I felt confident. Each new maneuver we learned had me nervous all over again. Then we decided to take a run down the full rapids and it was incredible.

Our menu was simple so cleanup was easy. Everyone ate plenty, and everyone in my tent/cooking group was very helpful and nobody brought us down. Everyone did their part and it was a very enjoyable evening. There is just something about being around a campfire with great people.

On the second day I shared a canoe with Nick and I was actually very confident with our abilities as he had been my partner many times before.... However 15 minutes after first getting onto the water we flipped. An important rule that I learned that day, don't grab the gunnel! We spent the rest of the day practicing throwing safety rope and surfing on a rapid. Surfing by far was my favorite part of the trip.

The second evening was great. We all ate enough and cleanup was a breeze. We made sure everyone was fed and our menu plan was simple but excellent. Never did anyone go hungry.

On the third day I felt exhausted from the previous days. It was only half a day and then it was time to pack up and go. If I could change anything about the trip it would have been packing up faster as we had to do it very quickly! Other than that this trip was incredible and I learned alot of great things.

Will said...

I'm glad that the last trip I'll have with this Outdoor Ed class was so much fun. I've gone white water canoeing many times before however I learned a lot more from these three days than any other time I've been in white water.

I was very optimistic about how the trip will go from the very start. We got to the camp grounds in warm sunny weather which stayed clear for the rest of the day. We started doing games like tag and working on communicating with our partner(s). We eventually started doing C-turns and S-turns which was a lot of fun. We finished the day with great food and some good campfire stories.

After a very comfortable sleep we quickly got eggs on the pan and had some delicious breakfast sandwiches. After breakfast we had to put our wet suits on which was nothing close to being pleasant but had to be done. We did some fun games to warm us up and got in the canoes as quickly as possible. We started that morning with me at stern while Trevor was at the bow and we did some S-Turns. After a couple of mistakes and a flip I finally got the S-turn down. We quickly started ferrying across the rapid and surfing as well. Ferrying was simple while learning to surf took a bit longer. The problem I had trouble with was finding the right angle to get into the rapid. Keeping the angle came a lot easier to me though.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the lower rapids learning to toss the throw bag and learning how to read rapids (worms). The game which the bow paddler would switch canoes while the stern paddler would keep the canoes angle mid-surf. To end the day off we went to the top rapids and went down it. A couple bumps here and there but as a whole, the students who were up to the challenge made it out with a tip. That nights dinner was interesting with the fact that Trevor and I made Strawberry Shortcake with pancake mix was definitely the highlight of the night (for Trevor and I at least). I learned that I should take better care with putting the menu together because of the forgotten Strawberries and cake mix.

The final day sadly came but we finished with style. We started the morning by going straight to the bottom rapids. We learned how to back ferry and to show off the skills we learned by doing one final descent down the bottom rapids. It took Trevor and I two tries to get this one part of the rapid right. I was in the stern and I'd have to get us the perfect angle between these two big rocks while Trevor needed the perfect timing with the cross-bow draw. It was very rewarding to see the work and skills I learned during the past two days put to the test during that run. To finish off the morning Trevor, Matt, Dusty, Ryan and I went down the rapid all in one canoe.

Things I learned during this experience was S-turning, ferry/back ferry , how to read a rapid and to NOT gunnel grab. Steph did an amazing job teaching us and I'm glad the whole group enjoyed it as much as I did.

matt mackay said...

Moving water reflection

By:Matt Mackay

The moving water canoe trip has to be one of my favourite outdoor ed trip i have ever been on. It was a great experience with many good laughs and fun times. From cold wet suits to warm meals it was definitely a struggle some mornings to get going but once I looked at the water i knew we were in store for another great day on the water. Stef, our instructor was great, giving us the techniques and skills needed to safely execute s turns to scoping out potential lines on the shores of the rapids. The forecast was not so good but everyday we opened our tents to great sunny skies. Overall it was an amazing experience with many highlights and learning experience.

My favourite parts and most memorable art of the trip has to be when me and Matt perfectly executed a line that even the other schools' teacher couldn’t do without tipping, we manoeuvred the perfect way through the line and eddied out with a great sense of accomplishment, as the line was the hardest one on the rapids. It was definitely an experience I won''t forget. I thought the water was freezing cold my first day out with minimal clothing I;m glad I didn’t go in that day as some others found the water was a bit cold. On the second day i was determined not to be cold so I borrowed some top of the line gear from our instructor Stef which has to have been the best idea I had that entire trip. The gear kept me warm in the cold water as I found my self jumping in over and over again to practice our throw rope skills to rescue wet souls such as myself out of the cold water. The water didn’t have much of an effect on me as I found myself standing in the middle of the rapids with canoes flying by. The food was great but a bit repetitive with many sandwich meals, but after a cold ,hard day on the water it was definitely nice just to have warm food to heat up our bodies.

My least favourite parts of the trip had to be waking up and putting on my freezing cold clothing and wetsuit from the day before. Even with wetsuits, the water was still very cold ,something I experienced each day. I learned a lot from this experience that I'm going to use in the future as this wont be my last time white water canoeing. I learned about manoeuvring in and out of eddies and how to properly and safely execute advance turns and scouting whitewater to find the safest and most fun line possible.
All and all it was an amazing time that I will remember for a long time with many great memories and new skills under my belt that I'm sure I'll be using in the future.