Running Montreal, Quebec’s, St. Lawrence River Rapids In A Kayak

If you would like to see the actual video clip that  I shot and that the pictures in this post were taken from hit the link below.

lone kayaker in the middle of the river

As I walked in the Parc des Rapids I was gazing out into the St Lawrence river when I spotted him a lone kayaker bobbing in the water near an island at the bottom of the rapids which was in the middle of the river.  He looked to be stuck in the current trying to paddle his way up river. He would make it a little ways and then it looked like the current would just push him back to where he started again.

I watched taking pictures and video not quite sure what I could do besides make a 911 call even if the kayaker was in trouble, because he was too far out in the river to reach without a boat and he was in the white water; there would be no swimming to him.  I continued to watch, but I did not sense any panic in him and his movements  were more like he was practicing a stroke or series of strokes and he was close to a small island  that he could climb on if he were in trouble, so I kept an eye on him and kept right on taking pictures and videos for my next post on the mighty St. Lawrence River and its white water.

When I lost sight of him as the roll of a wave seemed to swallow him up I panicked, but he would bob up into view again and again

The water was rougher than usual that day and although I had seen many a rubber raft negotiate the rapids I had never seen a kayaker do it and so instead of looking up river I assumed that he entered from below me and was trying to get up river and kept getting pulled back because of the currents and fast-moving water. I was wrong.  In the rubber rafts there are as many as 12 people rowing with supervisors and licensed and experienced guides in the craft.  There is always someone there to help out in case of serious danger, but that would not be the case for a lone kayaker.

It is funny you can visit a place a thousand times see and read about the history of a place and when you see something like a kayaker alone near the rapids you forget what you learned and read.  I had read a thousand times about the First Nations People of Canada braving the rapids where they could in their canoes, but all this slipped my mind as I watched this man out in the white water with his kayak paddling and going nowhere.   The island has many pictorial signs that explain how the First Nations People used the island that  I was standing on as a resting spot and a hunting and fishing place, but all of that seemed to slip my mind and so it did not occur to me that he was just waiting or resting.

Lone kayaker between two islands

Then he did the unexpected and let himself be pulled around the little island and into a quiet spot in between 2 islands where controlling the craft took no effort at all or a whole lot less effort to stay in one place.  I had just bought a tripod and was trying it out and getting a sense of how it worked and decided to let my tripod hold the video camera taking video of him while I took pictures of other things, like the water birds too far out to see good with the naked eye.  I do not take great pictures, or videos but I try and I am getting better at it, but it seems like sacrilege to come away from nature walking without a picture to remember your visit with.

lone kayaker standing on hidden ledge

The video camera picks up what I can not see and will not see until I take photos from the actual video footage of that day.  The guy is able to stand on a rock of sorts a ledge just below the top of the water. Here he takes the time to rest as well as empty the water that has gotten into his kayak by holding the kayak over is head.  I am realizing just how light that kayak is and how much of an expert you have to be to negotiate the white water and rapids in it and come out in one piece at the other end.

two more kayakers running the rapids

It was while looking a little up river directly into the rapids that I spotted, not one other kayaker but two kayakers paddling and negotiating the rocks and fast water.  Bobbing up and down in the waves, the white water foam seeming to cover their water craft, holding it under water for a while before letting it go to bob on the surface, like a ball that children play with in the swimming pool or at the beach.  They did all kinds of different things with their paddles that turned their kayaks side ways slowing them down and turning them the right way enabling them to negotiate the currents with the smallest amount of effort.  I watched as they neared the island, stopping precisely at the island one getting out and helping the other onto the island.

resting and changing gear

While I watched as one guy stripped off his protective gear and started to put on another I realized that this was a waiting spot and a changing spot where the operator of the craft could rest before continuing  on down river, or paddle to shore in the bays and inlets in the quiet waters.  The guy who was waiting in the calm waters did paddle over to the other two and they seemed to be planning their journey.  Realising that all was in order I decided to stop intruding on their privacy and turned my camera back up river.

It was not until I had returned home that I realised that I needed to be more aware of what I read about the parks that I visit.  I would have known for example that this feat of running the rapids in this way in this type of craft was part of the St. Lawrence River’s rich history and would have been able to just enjoy the adventure along with the operator of the craft instead of worrying so much for his safety. I would like to say that I  was both thrilled and delighted to watch these people navigate the rapids and white water, with such courage and grace. Knowing that this was eco-friendly just made the whole thing even nicer for me.  I would like to say bravo and thank you for all that your sport and hobby bring to all of us looking on from the safety of the shore. May you enjoy many great times on the waters and rivers of the world and may God keep you safe.

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If you would like to see the actual video clip that  I shot and that the pictures in this post were taken from hit the link below.

About archemdis

I try to say what is on my mind and not hurt others, but some things need to be said whether they hurt or not and I do just that. I try to listen as well as talk, but my opinion is just that mine. You need not take it as your own, just respect the fact that I am entitled to it, as you are yours. I do read all comments, but will only answer, or allow to be displayed those which adress me by name, refer to the post by name in the comment, or that have been sent through the proper channels. In this manner I can tell whether the comment was meant for me and that it is not just spam.
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