Kiss the rock

Novice whitewater training with the YCCC, June 19-21, 2004

Lawrence and Pippa head down the first chute.

Piano rock. Sunday morning. We had two beautiful paddling days.


Two bodily sensations capture how this weekend went for me. The first was Saturday night, when I went to bed. I could still feel the canoe bobbing under my thermarest and my PFD strapped tight across my chest.

The second occurred Sunday afternoon.

"Try pointing your elbow at the ceiling," Kelly said to me as we headed towards Renfrew down the gaggle of county roads leading from Palmers. I gasped as I took my hand off the stick shift and tried to raise my elbow.

"It's a good thing there's no part of my job that requires me to perform that motion on a repeated basis," she said.

Paul worked us. Oh yes. He did.

This is a short tale of my two day whitewater training weekend at Palmer Rapids with the National Capital Region Y Canoe Camping Club. Thanks to Paul Gallagher for instructing. Yes, I take the piss out of him a few times in these pages, but he's in his element out here and it shows. His enthusiasm for the sport pervades his teaching and gets underneath your neoprene skin faster than the Madawaska River. Thanks too, to Michael for co-ordinating, Jackie and Pippa for organizing dinner and to Kelly for paddling with me.


Whitewater paddling is dangerous. That river is an unstoppable force. And it's quite likely that even in a baby rapid like Palmers you could cause yourself great harm, indeed possibly even the kind you don't recover from, if you don't know what you're doing.