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October 7, 2007

Our trip so far has been spent scouring the Island of Newfoundland for rivers that are high enough. There are few rivers with roads at the put-in or take out of the steep sections, so logistics are very hard. Spending a day hiking into a river and finding it too low isn’t something we want to do. Scouring the maps for total drainage area is our defense, but some of the lakes that feed the rivers have a dam on them somewhere, affecting flow. We have been unsuccessful in getting either a float plane or helicopter yet. The only helicopter available so far was a long distance one at $1,600/hr!

Yesterday, after getting skunked at the "Star Lake" river (near zero flows, must be a dam on it), we got to the Big Indian, which we found a tributary at "black brook" and ran into the Big Indian before Indian Lake. They do rafting on the Big Indian below the lake. We found some good stuff on this low water run. The put-in was at a small bridge, and easy. The take out was paddling across Indian Lake, and the shuttle was running, or hitch hiking.

On the river we had to scrape our way down to the first set of slides and drops, which weren’t epic but great warm up drops. Dane was paddling really well, as was Nick, Ben, Joel, and Darin. It was my first time paddling with Chris and he did well too. After dropping "most of the gradient" we got to the second small bridge on a dirt road and contiplated getting out there knowing that there was only one more drop on the river. It was a "marked falls" on the topo map, however. Finally we decided to scrape our way down to it, hoping it was channelized enough to make for a runnable falls. Sure enough, it delivered the goods!

The final falls was a tiered drop on river right that was about 8 feet wide and steep and tight! The top drop was an 8 footer that dropped onto shallow steep ledge that at first looked like a peton, to get the rapid started, but it ended up being a smooth enough transition for the Rocker to sail through it. Then the rapid really started with a series of 4 smaller drops about 1 boat length apart and picking up speed with a melt-down, force you on the right wall drop, that pushed you right into the next drop that was a major peton looking drop on the right. Flipping was a scary thought, so we decided not to do that! Out of the 7 of us, we had four petons, but no flips. Dane was the first to run it totally clean on the surface. After the peton drop the water drove you to the left overhanging wall and then off a small 3 foot drop that just has enough room for a boat before a 6 foot boof into the next pool. This was all one rapid run in sequence and was sweet! After the pool (short no rapid section about 40 feet long) the rapid wrapped around a 90 degree bend and dropped into a fan rock that you could just fit your boat right or left of and then off the final 5 foot drop into the pool. Awesome run! That was river right of a big island. We all then ferried to river left and carried back up for a run down a 6 foot slanted ledge drop into a really convincing peton situation. It was a rock outcropping at the landing that created a "hole/pillow" type of thing and it was hard to tell just how far under the surface or how far out it extended. Going around it was not a good option since the water ran into a %$%^% you rock on the right at the top of a 30 foot slide. Ben went first on this one and styled it, boofing straight downstream and running his Rocker right over the peton rock with confidence. Dane went second and tried to push harder right, still not liking the looks of the landing zone and his bow got right of the #%%$ you rock and it broached him, flipped him, but he rolled in less than a second and got himself turned around forwards again down the slide. He hiked up and did it right after that!

We all had good runs here and then headed downstream, scraping over rocks, until we got to the lake. We found an access point in the lake and got out there. Ben, Nick, and I ran up the road about 3 kms before getting a ride with a local to our car about 13 KMs upriver. After a camping night night, we came into Deer Lake for a night with a bed and hot food. Today, we’ll try a second time to find this 40 footer on the Humber river and after Jesse Coombs arrives at the Airport, we’ll head up to the Cloud River. This river was run by Andy Bridge and John Weld in the early 1990’s but they walked a lot of stuff by their account, being in glass boats. It looks like a gem, and has an 80 footer on it!

One thing at a time. We’ll need an airplane to get to the that river. Hiking here really is not easy. Marshes, thick pine underbrush that you can’t cut with a machete because it is tough windblown, winterized stuff. A 5 kilometer hike (on the map) could take 5 hours easy, and that is booking it.

Breakfast time!