Surfing big waves meets exploring new areas. First Descent: MANIFLOWBA
Early in the summer my friend Joel Kowalski mentioned to me that he was planning an exploratory trip into the province of Northern Manitoba (Canada) in search of the new monster sized surf able river waves. I was interested immediately as I couldn't recall ever hearing of anyone doing too much kayaking in Manitoba. As he continued to tell me more about it and show me images from google earth combined with his daring plan I could not help but be excited by the trip.
His plan is to travel a 130km section of the Nelson river, starting at Cross Lake, Manitoba (three to five hours north of Winnipeg). In theory this river should be very similar to the Ottawa in terms of elevation drop and style (pool drop), but in terms of size the river looks like it is much more spread out so it stands to reason that this wave could have bus eater or even gladiator sized waves which the Ottawa boasts but they could be pretty spread out. So our 8 man team (Joel Kowalski, Nick Troutman, Dane Jackson, Kalob Grady, LP Rivest, Ben Marr, David Jackson and myself) will used motorised rafts to travel from rapid to rapid, setting up camp at rapids which offer epic surfs or super fun bog volume lines. The motors flip up to allow us to paddle the rapids or even portage if required.
To the best of our knowledge no other kayakers have paddled down the rapids of this section of the Nelson river, probably due to poor access. That being said the route from Cross Lake to Hudson’s Bay is a popular canoe trip for experienced Canoeists, keen to spend around 30 days in the wilderness. The canoeists typically portage the rapids so whilst the river itself is not a first descent many of the larger rapids likely will be.
Some of the main troubles we expect to encounter are cold conditions, average daily high for that time of year is 6 degrees Celcius with overnight lows going much lower. Originally this trip was planned for early September when temps were warmer, but for a number of reasons that timeframe had to be delayed. The problems that we can predict will be limited daylight, because the section of river is 55 degrees north the days become very short at that time of year.
Overall I am fairly optimistic about the adventure we are about to embark on, hopefully we find the big waves we are looking for.
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