Why this course?
Many of us aspire to paddle remote, wilderness rivers. Years of paddling around Algonquin, Killarney and other parks have honed our overall tripping and paddling skills. They also inspired us to dream about distant lands and rivers where portage signs don't exist and campsites are not marked. Lands more beautiful than words can explain and rivers pristine and clear you drink from them.
To go there safely, you may need to upgrade your skills. As beautiful as they are, far-away lands & rivers can be unforgiving and harsh. With no help close by, you need to rely on your own skills.
Canoeing the white-water in remote areas requires a different approach and skill-set than playing with empty, air-bag equipped boats at Palmer Rapids in the middle of July. It also assumes a very different mindset, where your decisions are more conservative and the risks you take are calculated differently. Your canoe is longer, heavier and overflowing with gear. Water is often freezing. Wind could be unyielding or bugs unbearable.
We at Paddler Co-op believe that the time to learn new skills is now, not when the float plane that dropped you off at the distant shore disappears beyond the horizon and the eerie silence blankets the world around you.
Who can come to this course?
YOU can come!
You are already comfortable in a canoe, you have paddled lakes and some rivers close to home. You may have even taken the white-water training before. Or, you want to refresh the excellent skills you already possess. Perhaps you have a group of friends that want to trip together, but some of you need to learn new tricks.
The course description:
This two-day course is split between teaching canoeing & wilderness river running techniques (50%) and sharing the wide array of skills & gear & strategies that you’ll find invaluable on any river (50%).
We want to cover a lot of ground here, so we'd like to get your attention early. Depending on the composition of the team, our goal is to start on Friday evening with the conversation around the campfire or in the Boathouse.
We will depart for the Snake Rapids on Lower Madawaska early Saturday and spend that night camping on the river. We will be back at the Paddler Co-op between 3pm-5pm on Sunday.
Skills we teach on this course cover a wide range of topics:
• Manoeuvring loaded canoe safely in white-water class 2-3 (we practice with fully loaded boats, covered with spray skirts)
• River running strategy: how to make the best use of the talent you have, establish the best boat order; how to communicate on the river effectively; understanding “High & Inside” move
• Scouting: How to identify plan “B” – often a more conservative line; linking runnable sections together with transition or collection zones
• Strategy - what to run and when to walk?
• Boat scouting: Using landscape to identify changes in gradient; maintaining clear sight lines, the key to safe river travel
• Running Braids: the secret to running braids in both high and low water; how to avoid danger zones
• Lining techniques, wading
• Trip planning, resources, online and offline
• Outfitting your canoe for the expedition
• Pakcanoe assembly, discussion on pros/ cons
• Expedition gear, boats, tents, tarps, packs, barrels, clothing, footwear, etc.
• Food - that most-important of all topics on any trip! We'll discuss and practice different setups using conventional gas stoves, firebox, Dutch ovens; what food to buy, where and what to dry yourself
• Water - we'll discuss various options for water filtration, in fact we'll drink the water we filter ourselves
• Bug strategies; how to protect & adapt
• Wildlife, how to avoid unpleasant encounters and maximize the chances of the memorable ones
• Maps, GPS, topography - we'll review the basics and share best practices
• Safety & Emergency management - Satellite phones, SPOT Satellite Messengers, strategy & backup at home
• Rescue techniques in fast moving current
• Digital video, audio & photography & social media in the paddling context; What to bring and why? Fitting GoPro HD camera on the canoe; strategy for sharing digital. content post- trip
• Portable solar solutions - types, pros/ cons; recommendations
• First Aid kit - what to pack, how to pack
• Leadership component of expedition: who makes the critical decisions and how?
• When things go wrong - discussion on strategies, evacuation procedures
• Choosing the right river to paddle for you
Two days is obviously not enough time to cover everything in the greatest detail. The primary purpose of this course is to expose you to many different skill sets that you need, in order to embark on the wilderness canoe trip. You likely won’t become an expert after this weekend, but your horizons will expand greatly! Collective experience of your instructors will provide you with many glimpses into best practices that were painstakingly gathered over many years. You will be able to identify where your strengths and weaknesses are, and what to focus on next.
• Expedition style, 17' canoes with spray skirts, including a Pakcanoe
• PFD, paddles, safety gear
• All shuttles to/from the river
• Camping fees
• Food, except snacks (bring your favorite gorp/bars); we cook on the river and in camp using the proven expedition-style kitchen gear (Sat breakfast/lunch/dinner, Sun breakfast/lunch); You're welcome to participate!; Advise us in advance of any food allergies
• All shared gear i.e. kitchen, communal tarp, large first aid kit, satellite communications including SPOT
What you need to bring (the idea is to bring whatever you are planning to wear on your planned trip; or, bring what you have and make any purchasing decisions after this course):
• Personal clothing & footwear items to cover a wide range of temps (see our recommendations, call us with questions); plan to bring two complete sets in the canoe, third to be left at the take- out
• Utensils (no styrofoam items), Water bottle
• Personal First Aid kit
• Camera (waterproof or in the pelican case)
• Bug repellant
• Waterproof pack or barrel (contact us if you don't have it, we can rent it to you )
• Tent for personal use (if you don't have a good, expedition style tent you can rent it from us)
• Sleeping bag & thermarest
A more comprehensive course outline will be provided to the participants after registration.
We at Paddler Co-op are developing longer (3 & 5 day) courses that will expand on the curriculum presented here. Please inquire with us if you’re interested.
2014 Dates: TBD - Please contact us with any interest
Cost: $399 + Membership $5.00 + HST
Location: Paddler Co-op, Palmer Rapids, Lower Madawaska
Maximum/minimum: 8 participants
Instructors: Aleks Gusev, Shawna Babcock
Click HERE to book