Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Quebec Day 5 - Taureau et Cachee

This was the day I had been waiting for all trip. The Taureau had been one of my main motivations in coming to Quebec, and it was coming together. With the rain earlier in the week, it was higher than we had hoped as none of us had done it before. Unfortunately, that meant that only Brandon and I would be going the next morning, but it meant we had one essential for a Taureau trip, a shuttle driver. We woke early and ate a quick breakfast before hopping in the truck with Steve and heading out of the park for the epic shuttle (big thanks Steve). A long time later, we were along the upper Jacque-Cartier, pretty sure we were at the put in, but unsure where the gauge rock was. After some searching and comparing to photos, we found the spot and eventually concluded that the rock of interest was about 6” under water. A little more than we were hoping for, but not enough to have us thinking about backing out.

Again, we quickly geared up due to the savage black flies and mosquitoes and by 9 am we were cranking flatwater with head nets on to weather the swarms. Soon, the river started to pick up until we were bombing splashy class IV, forcing the head nets to come off. About 1 minute later we launched off a riverwide ledge above the first real rapid, double drop, confirmed by the remain of a wire bridge overhead. When we hopped out to scout, a pile of broken paddles greeted us, casting a bit of an ominous tone. A quick scout revealed a juicy lead in to a great boof followed by more juiciness. Shortly downstream we reached the first triple drop, consisting of a scarey planing boof followed by a juicy boof onto a nice slide. A theme for the day was building that would carry on for quite a while, nice juicy boofs everywhere.

We continued through more great rapids until portaging the waterfall slot, which didn't look at all appealing. Eventually we reached La Luniere confuence, bringing in a lot of extra water. The section below here had great scenery, with lots of big cliff walls. We kept making good time, knowing that we had most of the big stuff still to go. Another wire bridge signaled the sieve rapid, and while the sieve itself didn't look bad, it was shooting up a monster rooster tail and featured a terrible looking hole just downstream. After a quick lunch, we both portaged quickly, launching into the steepest and rowdiest part of the run. A huge big water slide shot us directly into a long class IV runout. Then hump and pump, a great s-turn into a rowdy hole. Next was logjam, which took us about 30 minute to get a good look at the bottom. It's amazing how close together the trees grow up there. Then razor rock, which features an extremely aesthetic drive away from the right cliff wall, which harbors a couple nasty holes, before continuing left for the final drop through a big hole. After that, things relatively chilled out, although we did nearly bomb into a disgusting ledge hole, until reaching the finale, Coming Home Muhammad. At this point the sky opened up and we took a look at Muhammad. This rapid looked huge and great, but the sneak looked worse the main line, which was big time with the extra flow, so we tucked our tales between our legs and hit the small portage trail. Below here things continued with plenty of great class IV as the river mellowed toward the confluence of the Jacque-Cartier Nord-Ouest and Nord-Est. From here out things moved quickly and the scenery was incredible with huge walls emerging everywhere. We pulled into camp 3 a little before 3:30 followed shortly thereafter by our shuttle driver Jeff, who decided to pick us up while everyone else repeated the Tewksberry (big thanks Jeff). Sorry no Taureau photos, we didn't even bring a camera.

People like to compare the Taureau to the Linville Gorge in North Carolina, and it's a pretty fair comparison. The lengths are similar and they are certainly the two most impressive gorges in Eastern North America. Linville has a lot more scarey rapids than the Taureau and probably more hard rapids overall (but I'm more comfy on big water than sievey stuff), as most of the in between on the Taureau is fun class IV. The other nice thing is most of the hard rapids on the Taureau occur just after wire bridges. The Taureau is definitely more committing, with a huge shuttle and no trails anywhere in the meat of the run (I imagine losing a boat would ensure at least a night spent in the woods), while Linville has many trails in and out as well as a trail along the river. Regardless, they are both two of the most classic runs in Eastern North America.

After driving out of the park, we met the Tewkberry crowd for some dinner. On the way out of the park, we had noted that the Cachee was brown and much higher than the last few days. After we enhaled some burgers, we decided to head back and take a quick look at the Cachee again. It had come up some more while we were at dinner, but still looked pretty low. Ah what the hell, I'll probably never be here again when it' running and the slides looked covered up enough.

After a quick gearing up in the twilight, Tony, Alex, and I headed down behind the guard shack to the put in. After some quick boulder mank and a few small slides we came to the big drop. After some brief scouting Alex and I both committed, finding it friendly despite the thin coverage. Another boof and a nice boulder drop and we were back into some fierce boulder mank, with more wood now. We just kept charging downhill despite the bumpiness until we hit the final slides above the take out bridge. Below here was a little more boulder garbage in the encroaching darkness before we hit the take out. Despite the extreme low flow, the bedrock sections of the creek were still high quality and super fun. I'd guess this run has a small window between when the boulder rapids fill in and when things get rowdy, although it probably gets rowdy in a good way.

Alex Blasting Through an Early Cachee Slide (Photo: Jeff Moore)

JJ Landing the Big One (Photo: JM)

JJ Boofing the Drop Below the Big One (Photo: JM)

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