In the spring, the melting snow makes hiking unpleasant. In addition, it often rains. And it’s raining a lot. But for some outdoor enthusiasts, it’s downright bliss: the more the snow melts, the more it rains…and the happier the whitewater paddlers.
“It’s great,” enthuses a sports enthusiast, Julie Paquette. We kayakers like spring because there are plenty of beautiful rivers that we can just paddle during this season because afterwards, during the summer, there is almost no water left. »
Obviously, we are not talking here about catastrophic floods like those that hit Charlevoix and Lanaudière. Kayakers, who know the power of water, are the first to be upset.
It is mainly the snowmelt that swells waterways that are not very navigable in summer, such as the Bonniebrook stream in Saint-Canut, the West river in Brownsburg-Chatham or the Doncaster river in the corner of Saint-Sauveur. . Other rivers are accessible all summer, such as the Rouge River and the Jacques-Cartier River, but they take on a very different character with the melting snow.
Spring rain also contributes to the swelling of waterways. “We want to have as much water as possible!” says Julie Paquette.
She explains that whitewater kayaking is an activity that can be practiced even in the pouring rain, unlike her other favorite sport, rock climbing. However, you must be well equipped because it can be cold.
“It may be too chilly to go climbing, but in a kayak, with a drysuit, big mitts and a neoprene hood, you don’t feel the cold at all,” says Julie Paquette. It’s really nice, this sport, because you can practice it even if the weather is not perfect. »
Whitewater enthusiasts carefully follow the evolution of waterways by consulting official sites, such as that of the Center d’expertise hydrique du Québec and that of Hydro-Québec, which report the flow in cubic meters per second. recorded by gauges.
“There are so many rivers in Quebec that there can’t be gauges everywhere,” notes Trevor L’Heureux. The community has therefore installed unofficial gauges, which can be referred to for water levels. »
These can be gauges installed here or there, or drawn on bridges. “We’re in Canada, so it might be in meters, it might be in feet, or it might be just arrows,” L’Heureux said.
Julie Paquette trained in canoe-camping at CEGEP, but it was at university, while studying engineering, that she really got a taste of white water. “During his lessons, to explain the hydraulic jumps, the professor of hydrology showed us videos of people in rafting who were flying everywhere and who were surfing in the rapids. »
The prof also owned a rafting business. He therefore invited his students to become guides if they so wished. Julie Paquette jumped at the chance. Then, friends from the Montreal Whitewater Canoe-Kayak Club converted her to kayaking. She has taken various training courses to learn how to descend rivers, slalom, jump waterfalls, do rescue operations, etc.
“Like in climbing, there are a lot of technical aspects to it, which I really like. You have to learn to make stops against the current, to read the river, to see the dangers. You can’t just go down like a log. »
Fellowship between practitioners is essential. “We create chemistry because your survival depends on others. »
Given these technical aspects, Trevor L’Heureux insists on the importance of doing business with certified instructors or guides.
Julie Paquette has another reason to love whitewater river rafting: the ability to see beautiful spots that are not otherwise accessible. And of course, there is the simple pleasure of playing in the water.
“When we were young, we went to the water slides or the wave pool, says Julie Paquette. Now that I’m an adult, going to the rapids is like going to the wave pool. »
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