Whitewater Expedition 2009Recently I had the privilege to take a 5-day white-water rafting expedition that took me down through rivers in Quebec and into Maine, hitting Quebec’s Rouge River (it is actually red), the Jacques Cartier River in Quebec, Maine’s Kennebec River, and the Penobscot River, also in Maine. There were 50 of us, so we crammed our gear and us into a coach liner provided by Foley Bus Lines and a van for our boats and equipment provided by Wilderness tours and headed to white-water land.


Our first river adventure on the Upper Rouge River was unfortunately pathetic as the water levels were low at the end of the summer. The Upper Rouge consisted of one class 3 rapid and the rest were small rock beds that we constantly got our rafts stuck on. The Lower Rouge was a bit better, we actually had some fun as a boat flipped going down one rapid. Between the Rouges we stayed at New World Rafting Center while it was closed for the winter. The next river we headed for was the Jacques Cartier in the small town of Tewkesbury, Quebec.  We tented in a field that was owned by Les Glissades de Tewkesbury which is a small-town rafting and snow tubing company. The Jacques Cartier was a pretty amazing river; it is really continuous current and towards the end of the river there is a professional white-water kayaking course.


Harris Dam - Kennebec RiverWe crossed the Canadian border into Maine and we stayed at an awesome resort called the Northern Outdoors, basically the Donald Trump of outdoors in Maine. This was by far the best place we stayed at, the lodge and facilities were pretty cool and the rivers we hit there were kick-ass. The first river, the Kennebec, was the group’s favourite almost unanimously. We drove to the Harris Dam, right at the base of the dam. At ten o’clock the dam opened the overflow for the dam, creating the river experience. The water rose 10ft in five minutes. What we rafted was basically a huge wave train (like ACDC’s Rock N Roll Train -from the Toronto concert I attended) all the way down the river. We had three boats flip and have to save themselves (unflip and reload) because of the lack of eddies. Unfortunately because of the dam controls, the trip was only an hour long so we did a high ropes course for the afternoon, but what a ride!!  I’m afraid of heights a little bit so that made the experience a lot more exhilarating. The last day became really boring because it was a four hour ride to and from the Penobscot river. After the thrill of the Kennebec , the only really good feature about the Penobscot was the one class five rapid that we hit, and it was really cool because we had a perfect line through the rapids.


Overall I would give the trip an 8 out of 10. Part of learnings for us in expedition travel is learning and managing things when they go wrong. With this adventure, there were circumstances beyond our control that affected the overall experience, but what a fun trip it was. Until next time!


photo credits by permission: Whitewater Expedition and Harris Dam by Andru Brown


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