Saturday, December 01, 2007

Summary of JK River Exploration

I'm sure everyone who reads this site knows that a crew of Jackson Kayak paddlers were poking around on the west coast of the island this fall. The expedition team consisted of Ben Stookesberry, Eric Jackson and his son Dane, Jesse Coombs, Darin McQuoid, Chris Korbulic, Nick Troutman, and Joel Kowalski. These intrepid paddlers made great inroads on a list of rivers that needed to be explored on the island and found a couple of unknown rivers along the way.

I just wanted to put up a list of rivers that these guys explored as part of my efforts to inventory what rivers have been explored in the province and by whom. Darin McQuoid and Eric Jackson both documented information about these rivers on their respective websites and for the time being I will simply link to their information. All of the basic information about these rivers has been added to my database and their locations will be included in an updated Google Earth file when I get around to generating one. Updated PDF files will also be added to the webpages

New rivers the JK team explored in 2007 and links to the beta:

Leg Pond Feeder (V-V+) Darin McQuoid Jackson Kayak (Castors Feeder)
Doctors Brook (IV-V) Darin McQoid Jackson Kayak
Cloud River (IV-V; V+) Darin McQuoid Jackson Kayak
Steady Brook (IV-V) Darin McQuoid Jackson Kayak
Little Harbour River (V) Darin McQuoid Chris Korbulic
Black Brook (IV-V) Darin McQuoid Jackson Kayak
Bluey Brook (V) Darin McQuoid Chris Korbulic

These guys also ran a few other classics on the west coast as well:

Upper Humber River Darin McQuoid Jackson Kayak
Torrent River Darin McQuoid
Jackson Kayak

In addition a couple of the team members have posted reflections about their trip to the island on various Websites:

Ben Stookesberry
Chris Korbulic
Nick Troutman
Dane Jackson

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Crazy hikes and the drops that make it worthwhile

I first saw Little Harbour Falls in a photograph book by Brian Bursey. It took a while, but eventually Steve Arns and I got around to hiking into the falls and checking them out. We didn't chose the best day, -6 and frozen sprayskirts discouraged us from running the drop, but, it always stuck in the back of our minds as being possible.

This week Dave MacDonald and I took the opportunity to show this waterfall to the remnants of the Jackson Kayak Expedition team. Darin McQuoid and Chris Korbulic were able to notch another Newfoundland and Labrador first descent onto their belts, finishing their trip on a high note. The bonus was that Dave and I got tag along on this adventure and run Little Harbour Falls too.

Little Harbour River is really all about the beauty of the gorge through which it flows. It has to be about the beauty, because the hike in is one of the worst on the island and there are only two rapids on the whole river. Some day I'll put a proper trail into the falls, but until then you'll just have to trust me that is worth the blood, sweat, and mud to hike into the falls.

I'll update the trip report for this river soon, but until then here is a couple of pictures so you can see what all this fuss was about:

Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer Flings

After four weeks of doing battle with zillions of stouts in Labrador it was nice to come home and find a few local rivers running. The best part was being able to paddle in our shirt sleeves, an experience so rare in this province that I felt positively naked floating down the river.

On Saturday, July 21, Darren, Cody, and I were able to get on Bay Bulls River. Cody assures us it was higher on Friday, but we still had a decent amount of water. Enough to float our boats. We ran a new section of the river, from the upper dam, that had some nice technical class III whitewater and a short class IV section that consisted of three back-to-back ledges. This section has classy whitewater and makes a nice addition to Bay Bulls River. Bay Bulls Waterfall was at a perfect level. Cody and I both had to roll after the manky entrance ledge, but Darren stomped the double drop on his first run of the waterfall. This was also the highest water level at which the falls have been run. What a great way to start a break from the field.

Darren just called me to say that today was a great day on Pipers Hole River today. Apparently, all the little streams that feed Pipers Hole River were pumping. A good indication that the river will flow for a few days this week. Lots of other rivers are flowing too. Locally North Arm River is running, the Northwest River in Terra Nova is rising, Terra Nova River is probably rising a bit too, and of course Pipers Hole River is at a good playboating level, which means Granite Brook is probably optimal. A list like that adds up to a good day, or a few days, off work. Sieze the moment and enjoy the rare warm-water paddling in NL.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Northwest River is Wood Free

Last Friday a group of four paddlers took on the Northwest River for the first time this spring. We caught the river at 18.8 cms, which is a nice medium - low flow for this run. Apart from some confusion on meeting times, which was my fault, it was an awesome day. Sunshine, sorta warm water, and lots of good lines.

Last fall the rapid known as "Right to Left," in the first canyon, was blocked by a river wide log. I'm pleased to announce that this rapid is once again wood free. As well, there is no wood in "Pinball" around Northwest Falls.

For anyone interested in the nomenclature used for rapids on the Northwest River I would like to add a new name to the list. Below "Fish Hook" there is a small double ledge drop that I have always referred to as the "Double Ledge Drop." Many paddlers are familiar with the sticky hole at the bottom of the second ledge because many of us have been stuck in this hole. Cody Neal is the latest member of the kayaking community to become intimately acquainted its sticky nature. Cody informs me "a swim out of this hole doesn't count because you can put your feet on bottom, walk out of the hole, and into the eddy." I propose that the name of this rapid be formally changed to "Doesn't Count Rapid." If you're aware of any previous names that take precedent here please let me know.

Dave MacDonald will be pleased to hear the Cody doesn't just offer crazy advice, but he actually practises what he preaches. Cody was seen in the eddy dragging both his boat and paddle onto shore. His selfless action of hanging onto his gear made it much easier for Paul Rose, the better paddle in this case, to help Cody rescue himself. In this era of irresponsible, selfish behaviour by drug-enhanced professional athletes Cody's actions are commendable and he makes a fine role model for younger paddlers in the crowd.

I've thrown in a link to a slide show of pictures we took on Friday. I hope you enjoy.

Northwest River Slide Show

Pipers Hole Festival and Northwest River Updates

Hi folks,

The Pipers Hole River Festival took place on April 28, 2007. Seven brave souls turned up to take on the low flows on Pipers. The river hasn't been above 1.4 m this spring. The rodeo was held as a river running play event due to the lack of distinct features. Paul Rose was definitely styling the river. He managed to find several small cartwheel seams and was hitting multi-point cartwheels all over the place. Dave Ennis is pleased to announce that he relenquished the "Best Swim Award" this year and headed home with a dry boat. Thanks everyone that popped out for the day and to the Outfitters for supplying a few prizes.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Important Pipers Hole Rodeo Update


I've had a "luck of the Irish" type day. Essentially my vehicle is
out of commission until sometime next week. Which leaves me in a
pickle about the festival this weekend. My executive decision is to
delay the festival to Saturday, April 28, 2007. I'm terribly sorry
about the short notice of this schedule change, but unfortunately we
can't choose when our cars are going to break down.

I was able to change my Kilmory reservation and I hope that the resort
is understanding of anyone else that needs to do this too. On the
other hand the water levels and weather are still forecast to be good
this weekend, so hopefully people will still go and enjoy the river.
I'll be humping my boat over to Rennies Mill for sure.

Thanks for your understanding

Chris Buchanan

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Northwest River Levels

I've noticed that the NL government gauge is not being updated at the moment. It has been this way for a while and I'm not sure when it will get fixed. However, the environment Canada gauge is still working fine and can be found at

Unfortunately this data is given as the head of the gauge (m), as opposed to the NL graph, which is converted to CMS. A few years ago I monitored the websites and came up with a fairly accurate conversion for the environment Canada data. This allows us to judge the water levels using numbers we're familiar with for the Northwest River. Listed below are a few touchstone levels for each gauge. I hope this helps you out.

Environment Canada (m) = NL Government (CMS) River Level
1.1 m = 10.7 cms Low
1.3 m = 15.8 cms Low
1.44 m = 20.1 cms Medium
1.6 m = 25.8 cms Medium
1.7 m = 29.8 cms High
1.8 m = 34.1 cms High
1.9 m = 38.8 cms High
2.0 m = 43.7 cms High
2.5 m = 73.3 cms Really High
3.0 m = 110.8 cms Really High

My conversion is an estimate, but is very accurate between 2 cms and 50 cms. Above 50 cms it becomes less accurate. Really though, if you're on Northwest River above 50 cms you know what you're about and you don't need a lousy gauge.

I hope this helps you out a bit. The Northwest is at about 20 cms today. In otherwords it is perfect. Judging by the weather forecast it will stay in a good window for a few days. So, get out there and paddle.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Pipers Hole Festival News

I think I have the final touches on the Pipers Hole Festival. Here are all of the pertinent details.

Date: Saturday, April 14, 2007
10:00 am in the parking lot. The rodeo will likely start around 12:30 pm.
Location: Pipers Hole River is located just south of Swift Current, NL. Follow the TCH west from St. John's. Just past the Iriving station in Goobies there is a left hand turn onto highway #210, there are signs for the Burin Peninnsula and Marystown. Swift Current is located 21 km west of Goobies. THe entrance to the park is a further 4.5 km west of the edge of town. If you miss the park entrance you will pass over a bridge and start heading up a large hill. This is too far, turn around and look for the park on the east side of the bridge.
Cost: No Cost, just come and have fun. At past festivals there have been t-shirts for the participants, but not this year. As a departure from the clothing market there will be NL Rodeo Series Decals available for $4 or $5 each, I'm still sorting that out.
Format: The festival is really just about getting out with a large group of paddlers and enjoying an amazing little play run. It is a good opportunity for beginner boaters to paddle with more experienced whitewater kayakers. This is also a day to invite your friends who may be passingly interested in taking up the sport, but don't know much about kayaking.

The main event of the day is the rodeo. This year the format will be based on elimination heats. Heats of four kayakers will have exclusive access to the wave for 10 minutes. The top two paddlers, as decided by the spectators, will advance to the next round. I estimate that there will be four rounds. Although if it is really cold the third round may be used as the championship round and the four paddlers in the heat will be ranked after their session.

Safety Note:
In the event of a swim during the competition all paddlers in the heat are expected to participate in the rescue. The clock will be held until the rescue is completed and the paddlers are ready to continue. Any paddler that fails to leave the eddy and help the swimmer will be disqualified.

Apres Paddle Pizza: A supper will be available at the end of the day, around 5:30 pm. It will be a pizza party held at Kilmory Lodge (cabin TBA). The charge is $7 at the door and will hopefully be all you can eat. This is open to anyone and everyone, including spectators and any sea kayakers in the area, that want to join us for some hot food and warm-up at the end of the day. In order to make sure we have enough pizza to feed everyone it would be nice if you could email me by Thursday and let me know if you plan on attending. The supper is BYOB, but soft drinks will be available.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

New Trip Report - Upper Lomond River

This the third and final installment on trio of awesome creeks in and around Gros Morne National Park. These three runs alone are worth traveling to the west coast of Newfoundland. Add an amazing National Park, lobster (in season) and Moose to the mixture for a great spring holiday.

Whites River, Upper Lomond River, and Bakers Brook make a perfect long weekend trip. If you have a longer trip in mind there are several other rivers in the area and they would also make a nice stop on your way up to St. Anthony or Labrador.

I have one more update left from this trip. A few new pictures of One Second Falls on Leech Brook. I'll also post more about the Pipers Hole River Festival early next week.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Pipers Hole River Festival 2007


After a hiatus the Pipers Hole River Festival will be back in 2007. On Saturday, April 14, 2007 to be specific. So, mark this off on your calendar and come out to play on the waves with a group of paddling enthusiasts. Following the day of paddling an apres paddle party will be held Saturday evening. The details for the party are still coming together, but I'll be able to announce them as soon as it is finalized.

The general format of the rodeo will be a jam session on one of the waves and in the hole. Hopefully we'll also get a down river race of some kind organized. This year the rodeo itself will be free for all participants. Festival t-shirts will be for sale to all participants and any spectators that would like to join us. As in the past the kind folks at The Outfitters are supporting the festival and we'll have a few fun things for the top jammers. I'd like to thank The Outfitters for their continuing support of the Pipers Hole River Festival.

Unlike previous editions of the festival there will be a semi-official second day of river celebrations. There are several top notch creeks in the vicinity of Pipers Hole River. On Sunday I will be organizing a group to tackle one of these creeks. The particular creek chosen will be dependent on water levels. As forewarning, both creeks that I have in mind are full-on Class IV+\V; paddlers joining these trips will require advanced whitewater skills and creek boats. I will also try to arrange for an intermediate\beginner level trip on Pipers Hole River too. However, if anyone would like to watch the creeking you're welcome to venture out with us. March Brook and Granite Brook are both beautiful places to hike and have a picnic.

That is pretty much as far as I have gotten with the organization of the rodeo. There will be more to come in the near future. Check back later this week and I'll have the final the bits of organization ready to be announced. Also, I don't know much about the sea kayaking in the area, but our ocean bound brethren are welcome to join us for the weekend.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Trip Report - Bakers Brook, 2006

I just posted a new trip report for Bakers Brook in Gros Morne National Park. There are several pictures of these great waterfalls included in the report.


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Trip Report -Whites River, 2006

Just a quick note to let you know that there is now an updated trip report for Whites River online. It is from May, 2006 and contains a few photos of this elusive river.


Friday, January 26, 2007

Google Earth Files

Hi folks,

I have a new toy to pass along to you. I've been playing with Google Earth for a couple of years, but more recently have found it to be quite useful for work type stuff. In the past I've used the software to assess a few rivers in Labrador and refine some of my UTM locations on the island. New software lets me now transfer data between Google Earth and MapInfo, which means I can get locations in my database and view them on Google Earth. A recent thread at Boatwerks has highlighted that this type of information is useful to the paddling community at large. I don't have the skills to go overboard with this idea, but it should help people find our rivers and then reference the descriptions stored on the kayaking beta website.

So, without further ado here is the file. It is a .kml file, simply download and open using Google Earth. The file contains about 55 rivers from my database and I'll gradually start adding more river locations as I find the time.

Goto Google Earth Community Posting

This should waste a few of your hours this week. If you haven't been to Google Earth for a while the amount of new high resolution imagery added since Christmas will be a pleasant surprise; including St. John's. Look for updates on a few west coast rivers and news about the Pipers Hole River Festival soon.