Paddler Co-op - Palmer River Fest 2017

Palmer River Fest - 2017

We are starting to incorporate whitewater into more and more of our camping trips each year. Noah and I do not have too much experience or training when it comes to whitewater. Most of what we know comes from watching hours of youtube videos and having a natural sense of maneuvering the canoe. One of the very first videos we watched in relation to whitewater was Bill Mason's, Path of the Paddle.  Seeing as we are hitting whitewater more frequently now, it was about time one of us got some additional training.

I arrived late on Friday evening of the May long weekend. I had bailed on a large group of friends who were all camping together that weekend, to come to this festival on my own. I must say I was interested to see what all the hype was about! The first night was primarily a night to meet new people and have some drinks while looking forward to what the next day had to offer. 

Saturday morning came rather quickly after a late first night. Many were up early to ensure time to have some coffee and breakfast before starting the day. I had opted to bring my own food for the weekend, but brought some cash with me in the event that I wanted to buy something. All the food looked great but a specific shoutout to the honey glazed donuts that you could buy. They were too good.

I had signed up for the Intermediate Tandem Canoe course for the first day, and for the second day I signed up to do a full run of the lower Madawaska River. Our day was split into 2 parts to allow some time to warm up. The morning we stayed on flat water working on our paddling strokes and technique. After a short break for lunch it was time to get into the whitewater. We spent the afternoon working on our C turns and S turns and at the end of the day did a run of a short section of the river leading back to the camp. The rest of the night was spent socializing while listening to live bands play in the background. 

I was up early on Sunday morning as the weather had been calling for rain and I was hoping to pack up before it hit us. Many people were tearing down their camp so that they could leave directly from the take out after the run of the river. Apparently there were many people who did not make their classes on Sunday after the late night they had Saturday.

Once we were fully packed we shuttled all the cars and boats down towards the lower Madawaska River.  The first few sets of rapids were nice warm ups and did not have anything too difficult. Many sets were very good to practice eddying out, as well as C turns and S turns. We also had a number of opportunities to work on ferrying across the river. 

Halfway down the run of the river, we took a stop for a quick lunch at one of the larger sets on the run. This gave people the opportunity to run the set a few times for practice. There were a number of boats that were flipping due to the high waves that were featured at this set. Once everyone had had a few chances at the rapid we continued on down the river. There are still a number of fun sets of rapids to hit beyond the lunch spot.

After arriving back at the takeout spot, I returned my gear, and loaded up into my car to drive home. I believe I have officially been converted to be a regular at this festival. I would highly recommend to those who are looking for a fun weekend filled with excellent instruction.

Alex