After all the driving of the last few days, we decided to take an easy day and check out the Tewkesbury section of the Jacque-Cartier. We were yet again slow to motivate despite continual prodding from the 6 legged inhabitants of our campsite. After making the 30 minute drive down to the Tewkesbury area, we got some info from the local raft guides on where to put in and take out (both at raft company set ups) and checked the gauge (about 0.5 ft., nice medium). We waited in the sunshine while the short shuttle was being run, delighted with the lack of bugs attacking us.
We hopped on, without much expectations as the river slowly got going. Soon enough we were bombing into the first big water rapid along an angled wall on the right. It was great, big waves, big curlers, and big holes. Things continued this way for a while with several nice long rapids before getting to meatgrinder, the largest rapid on the run. It wasn't really any more difficult than the others, just longer with less direct routes. A few more big water rapids, including several with some nice little gorge walls, and things were opening up and flattening out on the way to the takeout. Again, I'd have to say the Tewkesbury really exceeded expectations, and although short, was pretty classic for being nestled about 30 minutes from Quebec City.
Upon putting in at a little pull out on river left, about 3 miles upstream of the bridge, things were definitely lake like for awhile before reaching the first rapid. Just as the guidebook mentioned, when we got to the second drop there were islands and lots of choices. We started right, decided it looked scrapey and headed back to the left for some great big water curler moves. From the bottom, we saw a nice slide in a channel just to our right and wasted no time walking back up for a run. We then paddled over to the right channel and picked off a nice little boof at the end. After exploring all the channels, we booked it across the short lake to the next set. The right was supposedly the Bluet, a big time rapid named for a small tasty berry, so we checked out the left to find another high quality, steep rapid with few holes thrown before rounding to the right and crashing through more wave and holes. Good stuff. We were running out of light, so we didn't get to explore any of the right channel, although from downstream it appeared the lines ranged from a nice 10' waterfall to terminal hole bashing. Although nowhere near the classic the Tewkebury is, St. Catherine was an afternoon well spent. We grabbed some great pizza at Paquettes within a half mile of the take out before heading back to camp at the Sautauriski confluence.