Select Page

October 9, 2007

Yesterday, we found the “40 footer” on the Humber River after scouring for a very small trail that is longer than the take out trail of the Gauley and just as steep, but very difficult to follow without paying close attention. The falls was not 40 feet, but more like 30. Still it delivered plenty to look at and plenty of excitement since it was not vertical but about 60 degrees and dove straight into a beefy hole with a wall backing it up causing 2 foot strong boils to push back to the hole. We hiked in without out boats to make sure we could find it, and then hiked out, got suited up, and then hiked back in. Jesse Coombs was schedule to arrive on this day so we wanted to get in and out in time to pick him up. Luckily, this waterfall is right near Dear Lake.

After scouting one more time, I asked Darrin if he wanted to go first or watch someone. He didn’t want to watch anyone, so offered to go first. He got on his full face helmet and put in above the next lead in rapid which caught him off guard and flipped him. He rolled up and caught the eddy in time to stop before running the falls. Nick Dane, Ben, and Joel all had video cameras ready. Darrin pealed out and was right on line. He opted for the under the hole approach and got hit really hard by the foampile and the paddle got ripped from his hands and he got pushed on the back deck while under water for a few seconds; enough time to wonder. He popped up without a paddle and tried about 10 hand rolls up against the wall, etc. before swimming. His line was fine, he just needed a better hand roll and to hold on to the paddle! His friend Chris went next and tried to boof it but hit with too much angle and got corkscrewed into the rocks on the left bloodying up his knuckles on both hands and getting stuck upside down for a few seconds. After seeing both lines that didn’t really sell a line yet, Dane decided he wanted to go next.

Dane did the lead in rapid super smooth and eddied out. He was supposed to decide whether to boof or plug before he got in the water but put the decision off until he got in the eddy at the lip. He was so focused on the diagonal hole/boil that forces you right and getting that right that he forgot to decide. He peeled out and nailed the lead in putting himself in good position for either and only then did he decide to boof and he nailed it without getting his hair wet! I went next and had a clean boofing line and everyone followed suit after that. Dropping 30 feet at 60 degrees into an ugly hole with the goal being to keep the bow dry, where there is not kicker or anything to help bring the bow up, is an example of where the Rocker excels. The high volume bow just wants to lift and carry you out through the holes. It was a lot less scary knowing that the boof was most likely to go.

We hiked up the trail (the hard part) and got back to the car and were all ready bring Jesse Coombs into the mix. After picking Jesse up we spent the next 11 hours (until 2am) driving and scouting, and driving some more. We found a 200+ foot slide that looked incredible on the river we were after, but it had been dewatered by another small dam. We are seeing a trend here. Great water, gone. American whitewater could do a lot of good in Newfoundland!

We set up camp in the rain, on a Lake that is 10 kilometers long with what looks like a great run on the far side of the lake feeding in. The majority of the gradient is just before the lake so we would paddle across, hike up, run it, and then most likely camp there, and paddle back in the morning. When we arrived it 30+ mile an hour winds, big waves, all coming in from the starboard bow. We would not have made the 6 mile paddle in less than 6 hours. We tried to find a boat that was willing to take us over but the only guy in a boat was heading out due to wind and time. Ultimately after getting skunked at trying to get into this one, we started heading North to Labrador. On the way we were checking out small creeks and the water just kept getting higher the further north we went. Finally we crossed Doctors Creek and WOW! Tons of water, a big slide in sight of the road and it flows straight into the ocean on our left. We suited up and started hiking. After three hours of very strenuous hiking, where Dane couldn’t keep up, so we had to help him with his boat. (Jesse Coombs actually played rock, paper, sizzors to see who “gets” to carry his boat) and he won and happily dragged Dane’s boat while shouldering his. The hike was a combination of steep hills and underbrush made of manky pines that are so thick that often there was not way to get an 8’6” boat through without major detours. It was slow, hard going. Ben decided that we would continue to hike until 4pm and then hit the water. We were looking for a major gradient section, but instead found a continuous section at about 200 feet/mile. With the biggest rapid being the one we saw near the road. The run was awesome. It was colder water, which felt good after the hike. My dry suit easily had a quart of sweat in it.

We started booking down the choppy run with a series of slides, lots of holes, and horizon lines, but nothing super hard. Nick and Joel were high fiving, hooting and hollering about the quantity of water and the fact that our luck was changing and we were on a beefy run with deep water. Dane was taking it very seriously offering hand signals, scouting, and directions. Everyone felt very excited and relieved that we finally found medium/high water somewhere. North is where the rains fell. We are near the top of the Northern Peninsula, only 20 Kilometers from the ferry to it, the next bridge over the river north of Eddie’s Cove. The final big slide went really well, and that is all that we filmed. It was about a 30 foot gradient slide at a 45 degree angle, followed by two more good drops with big holes in it. We all styled the lines and no flips. Suddenly it occurred to us that we would all do something we had never done before, paddle out to the ocean from a run. We booked downstream only about .5 Ks until we hit the surf for a short while under grey skies and heavy winds, and rain. A final short hike back to the car and we got back into dry clothes. Time for a motel tonight to dry gear, and get a hot meal.

Our luck improved again tonight when I got a phone call from a float plane guy with a Beaver. He is available tomorrow afternoon to take us to the river we wanted more than any other, the Cloud. It is a little pricey at $600 per trip and a minimum of 2 trips, but he has a cabin another 10 miles upstream of Twin Lakes which has only airplane access, and below it is 5 miles of first descent and solid gradient. A 6 mile paddle across twin lakes and that puts us at the top of the section of the Cloud that was described as “Waterfall wonderland” by Andy Bridge in 1994, with a gorge that was also described as spectacular and un-run. We don’t know just what they ran but by their account, in glass boats, they had to portage a lot. We do know that there is an 80 footer by their account on it. I will try to find out when I return from either one of them. So we’ll pack tomorrow for at least a two day run, maybe two nights on the river, since we are getting a ride in the afternoon. I’ll be bringing a tent for Dane and I, since the weather is quite nasty for sleeping otherwise.

We have all morning and early afternoon to go check out this other creek (Eddie’s Cove), which has a waterfall that a guy said “is bigger than Niagara” but we also heard it was 50 feet. We hope to get a short run on this creek and still get to the lake where the airplane will pick us up in time.

Off to sleep!