Though the rush of doom lay behind us, two enormous sets of rapids still waited.
The river picked up speed as more and more islands populated it. We descended between the islands, and the water continued to move faster. Large rocks ahead snaked into what might have been a kayak trap, easy going in and near impossible coming out.
Erin climbed up on one to get a view and try to figure out which way would be safest. We went around the small archipelago to the right. The kayak trap had an outlet, but the water poured out there too shallow, too fast, and too steep.
At the bottom of the lagoon, the water swung around and we took the chanel to the left of the largest island, Ile D’herbomez, coming up fast.
We moved too fast, and it looked like a shelf lay ahead. I motioned to Erin for us to stop at a flat boulder that I thought we could land at. I got there first, came in hard and fast, and climbed onto the rock just as the current tried to pull my boat away. I pulled my kayak up. A moment later Erin landed. She did not try to stop next to the island and climb out. She didn’t slow down at all, and slid her boat right up onto the rock. The speed and volume of the river scared us.
We looked at the shelf below. A larger boulder ahead obstructed much of our view. We decided to walk and portage the boats down the left edge of the river. The forest grew too thick to take out, but we could portage over islands where that seemed safer than walking in the current.
Getting off our island would be hard. If we didn’t go upstream at all, we could easily be pulled into one of the towering boulders, clumps of rocks, or over the shelf. But paddling upstream against this current would take everything we had, and maybe more.
With the best sprint I could manage, I paddled up a tiny shelf, and then let the current whip my bow around as I shifted over to the side where I could stop. Erin tried a different route that took her dangerously close to the towering boulder and a short drop, but faired better not having to climb the shelf.
We walked our boats down the edge of the river, climbed over and down a couple small islands, fearfully walking across the current to get there, until we found some smaller streams separated from the terror of the main current. We came out the bottom of those streams and the river calmed for a bit, until the waterfall.
A large shelf lay ahead, we scouted by climbing up to a thick shrub plain on the left side of the river, and decided we could probably portage most easily on the right. Back in our boats, we crossed the current fearfully, but without any trouble, and climbed up the stone edge of the island. We were able to bring the boats over and down the cliff on the other side without unloading them. Supplies ran low, which made for lighter boats. We paddled across a small lagoon off the side of the rapids, and then portaged again over the next island.
The river widened just a bit before it hit the Canyon of Terror and Life Ending Soul Sucking Horror. We paddled across the rapids and climbed up to the large expanse of rocks that passed between the canyon and the forest.
Lakes and small streams flowed down into the roaring canyon, and the large flat rocks made for an easy if long portage.
Below the first heavy set of rapids, we launched into the canyon, cliffs rose on either side but the deep water made the rapids here just passable. The cliffs abated on the left, and we swung around into an enormous eddy, just before the canyon tightened up again into more terrifying force.
We scouted, and found, past the great flat rocks, an enormous expanse of shallow lakes, grass, and easy walking rocks. Raspberries grew thick, and we ate while we explored. We took the boats onto the expanse, paddled one of the shallow lakes, and then portaged across a line of flat rocks standing above the spread of grass and raspberries.
We descended to the top of the rapids delta, where the water emerged from the end of the canyon and spread out, wildly flying down the side of a rocky hill to smoother waters below.
We made camp on the last of the great flat rocks, and enjoyed our dinner no longer so frustrated by the swarms of mosquitoes. Perhaps there were fewer as the weather grew colder, or maybe we were stronger. More likely the former.
Filling up water from one of the streams coming off the grassy expanse, I lost the black water-bag cap. It floated away and was gone before I could snatch it. We searched the rocks below, but experimenting with the other waterbag cap, figured out it should have floated.
With some detective work, I found it in a sieve of sticks and brush some seven meters downstream. We would finish in a day or two depending on the weather.
Check out pictures here!
GPS coordinates: 51.084542, -78.777645