The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Saturday Jul 9, 2005
Kayak: Doug Piatt, Bobby Miller
C1: Alden Bird
Organizer: Alden Bird
Difficulty: advanced WW
Level: medium
Gauge (cfs): 28 cms
Author: Alden Bird

This past weekend we ran the Neilsen and Taureau rivers in Quebec. Both were very long and hard, and in the middle of nowhere - especially the Taureau. I think the Taureau has well over 100 rapids. It was absolutely remarkable. I got redemption this year - having for a year imagined the corrections that I would make in each painfully memorable rapid. This year I vowed things would be different - and they were. In the whole 8-hour day, I failed to flip over even once! For me, this was a great accomplishment.

The most memorable rapid was Logjam. We made a marathon scout along the right bank, swimming out to rocks to scout and assuaging the curiosity that had been nagging me for a year. Bobby and I dropped into the rapid together and solved the problem of the pillow move at the bottom. As we shook off the spray from the big waves and descended into the correct chute (which last year had been denied to me) I experienced a wonderful feeling - of teamwork, and of - peace.

Yet at the same time, this trip converted me into a Taureau expert and burned into my memory with clarity scores of rapids which had hitherto been merely haunting sketches - like when there is a great song that you can barely remember, yet which is that much more intriguing for each note you cannot recapture. The Taureau is less of a myth now and less fascinating, but it has already lifted me to great heights and thrown me for great losses. Maybe it is more intriguing now as a place to journey to every now and then to get what I want, again and again. Now that I know what is there, I can pass through with an eye towards pure enjoyment, rather than with fear and obsession.

On the paddle out (through long class III and IV rapids that seemed suspiciously now like rests) we saw two moose in the river. The Laurentians Mountains are the most spectacular when viewed from within, preferably while in a mellow, afternoon mood at the end of an 8-hour epic whose riddle one has solved, and while watching the mist rise above the high peaks that clump into formations above as if just for this, your victory lap at the end.

The next day we returned to Vermont and ran the New Haven and Middlebury rivers, with great crowds of sunbathing people at Toaster Falls. It was a far cry from the deep, tense isolation and the same two other faces I saw in the Taureau, but it was wonderful. The Middlebury in particular was at a juicy level and was indeed impressive to my out-of-town friends.

All in all, it was a enchanted time.

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