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A couple weeks ago I headed up to Canada to visit my buddy Charles Arsenault. I didn’t know what we were going to get into but I was told there was water and that’s all I needed to know. When I got in Charles told me he wanted to go on a “Ninja” mission to Sept-Chutes. Ninja’s and kayaking, excuse me? Charles explained that it is illegal to run the waterfalls at the Sept-Chutes park outside of Quebec City on the St. Anne du Nord but if you are super stealthy and ninja-like you can poach the run. Before I fell asleep I tried my best to channel my inner ninja whatever that means.

The next day Charles and I met up with Benjamin Gagnon, a professional photographer who lives about 15 minutes away from Sept-Chutes. Benjamin’s work has been featured in Rapid Magazine and elsewhere and Charles and I were stoked to have him join us for the mission. As you’ll see below he got some great shots. You can check out more of Benjamin’s work here,

Benjamin ready for a solid day of missioning


When we arrived at Sept-Chutes we stashed our boats as close to the gate as we dared to go without being seen. We then parked and entered pretending to be guests.


Text: Benjamin and Charles pretending to be tourists

While we were walking in Charles came up with the bright idea that if we got caught we would pretend that we were American tourists on vacation. Looking back on the plan Charles’ and Benjamin’s French accents may would have poked holes in our story but at the time it sounded good to me.

Once at our boats we proceeded to shwack(technical term) our way through the forest and some overgrown hillsides. It was slow going as we had to hide often to avoid detection by tourists and staff walking along the trails that run throughout the park

Holed up in a ninja squat as park staff pass by on the trail below us

After a solid dose of shwacking and hiding we reached the put-in undetected but ran into an unexpected obstacle. There was a park gardener working right by our put in point. At first we stashed our boats and walked around trying to wait him out, but you can only mill around for so long pointing at rocks pretending to find them interesting before you start to look weird. In the end we said F it and in our most ninja move of the day, we ran our boats across an open field when the gardener turned his back to us and we somehow made it to the river without being seen.

Charles keeping an eye on the gardener while we run by

All the ninja maneuvering was well worth it in my mind the second I got into the gorge and saw the run. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking but suffice it to say that once you make it in, you’re in for some fun.

The section starts with a bang, dropping down a huge slide that juts out at the bottom.

The first drop alone makes the difficult access worth it, Photo: Benjamin Gagnon

The second drop is a junky slide into a rock ledge boof off the right to avoid a pocket on river left that Charles told me they used to run but stopped since the pocket was about 50/50 for dishing out serious beatings. The drop has a nice creeky feel and the rockiness made me think fondly of New England

Headed down the slide on the second one towards a primo rock boof

The third drop has a very tight margin of error as you have to boof off a small flake in the middle of the drop to hit a reconnect in the right place while avoiding some nasty rocks to the left and right.

Charles looking good in black and white! Photo: Benjamin Gagnon

At the 4th drop the river makes its way down a slide into a perfect transition that leads off a 20 foot watery boof as you move from right to left. As an added bonus we had a group of tourists cheering us on from an overlook.

Charles in the middle of it right above the boof. Photo: Benjamin Gagnon

Getting my boof on! Photo: Benjamin Gagnon

We ended our mission by scouting the last chute which is a beautiful 40’ waterfall with a nice rolling lip. The drop is complicated by the fact that the entrance is a big manky slide that rolls right up to the lip of the drop. After looking at the slide Charles and I both decided that we’d had a great day and would wait to come back when there was a bit more water to clean up the slide. So we hiked our boats out and stashed them so that we could run shuttle. We made sure to keep our cover up by getting our tourist on in a kiddy waterpark.

Celebrating a successful mission with a little waterpark tomfoolery Photo: Benjamin Gagnon

After grabbing the truck we threw our boats in the back and for the first time all day got caught by the manager of the park. Clearly very confused she asked us how we pulled it off and if we had camped out in the park overnight. Charles grinning behind a pair of sunglasses simply said “We are professionals”, flashed her a smile and drove us away.