Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Canada. Show all posts

Argentine Climber Rescued From Mt. Logan in Canada

An Argentine climber by the name of Natalia Martinez got more than she bargained for when she set out on a solo expedition to Canada's highest peak. Martinez began her trek on April 22, but two large earthquakes earlier this week caused avalanches that left her stranded on the mountain.

Martinez was climbing the 5959 meter (19,551 ft) peak on Monday when a 6.2 magnitude earthquake hit the Yukon less than 150 miles away from her campsite. This caused snow, rock, and lots of ice to come crashing down the slopes of Logan, creating an impassable barrier for either going up to the summit, or descending back down to the trail head. Natalia spent fours days trapped there until she was finally rescued yesterday. She has now reportedly been taken to Kluane Lake in southwest Yukon.

While the Argentine adventurer was stranded on the mountain, it is important to point out that she was uninjured and had plenty of food and fuel to stay safe for an extended period of time. Martinez is an experienced climber and was well prepared for her solo climb of the peak, which sees just 25 climbers on average each year.

The remote nature of the mountain, mixed with poor weather conditions, prevented a rescue from happening earlier in the week. Thankfully conditions improved yesterday however, and a SAR team was able to extract Natalia without incident. She's now enjoying some creature comforts in Kluane Lake before deciding her next move.

Martinez's story is a good reminder as to why we should always travel with plenty of gear and supplies when heading into the backcountry. From the sounds of things, she could have stayed safely on the mountain for awhile yet, thanks to the fact that she brought plenty of food and fuel along with her. Fortunately, that didn't have to happen and she's now safely off Mt. Logan.

Video: Alex Megos Completes First 5.15 Climb in Canada

Rising rock start Alex Megos has just completed an epic and historic first ascent in Canada. The German rock climber has completed a route that he calls Fight Club, which is rated as a 5.15b on the Yosemite Decimal System. For those that don't know, that's hard. Really, really, hard. In the video below, you'll learn more about this climb and what it took for Alex to complete it. It was quite an impressive accomplishment as you can probably imagine.

Arctic 2017: North Pole Teams Heading to Resolute Bay in Canada

We're on the brink of the start of the 2017 Arctic expedition season, with the planned departure of the two teams heading to the North Pole scheduled for next week. Those teams are now en route to their starting point in Canada, although as usual, their start dates will depend entirely on the weather. 

One of those teams is made up of Sebastian Copeland and Mark George, who have collectively called their expedition The Last Great March. According to the latest update from Copeland, the two men are setting out today for Resolute Bay in Canada, where they will first spend a few days sorting their gear and preparing for their departure, ahead of the a scheduled flight out to their starting point sometime next week. With any luck, they'll be in Resolute by tomorrow and have a bit of time to rest up and get their sleds packed ahead of the launch of the expedition. 

The other team that plans to travel the full distance to the North Pole this year is Martin Murray and this canine companion Sky. In an audio dispatch released last week, Murray says his sled is packed and his gear is ready to go and he'll leave for Resolute Bay on Friday of this week. His gear load tips the scales at 104 kg (229 pounds) and he expects to be out on the ice in the first week of March. 

Both teams will share the same pilot and plane, as it is now very difficult to find anyone who will fly support in the Arctic. A few years back, Kenn Borek Air pulled out of that duty, leaving North Pole teams scrambling to find anyone else who will take them. This year, that pilot is Dave Mathieson, who is an extremely experienced pilot who has flown all over the world. Mathieson will stay on standby in Resolute for 60 days in case either squad needs an emergency pick-up, which is highly likely considering the conditions they'll face as they head north. 

The current departure plan is to fly out to their starting point sometime after February 27. If the weather is good, they could head out as early as Tuesday of next week, but they'll watch the forecast very closely before deciding when to go. Their exact starting point isn't set yet either, as conditions will dictate that as well. But the plan is to either start at Ward Hunt Island or Cape Discovery, with Mathieson having the final say as to where he can safely land to drop them off. 

Of course, we'll be following the two expeditions closely as they head to the North Pole. As usual, it should be very interesting to follow their progress. Remember, no one has completed the full distance journey to the North Pole since 2014, and the Arctic has only gotten more unstable ever since. Good luck to Sebastian, Mark, Martin, and Sky as they set off on this perilous journey. 

Video: Take A Wild Ride on the GoPro Winning Mountain Bike Line of 2016

At the end of 2016, GoPro invited mountain bikers from across the globe to share their favorite rides from the past year, promising to pick a winner for their favorite line. The winner, which can be viewed below, was submitted by Stevey Storey and was filmed as he bombed down a trail in British Columbia. This first person ride is fast and wild with a little bit of everything, including narrow, twisty singletrack; obstacles to avoid, and even places to catch some air. This is pretty much a dream trail for most mountain bikers, so sit back and enjoy.

ExWeb Interviews North Pole Skiers Ahead of the Start of the Season

Traditionally, the end of February brings the start of the Arctic Expedition season, although over the past couple of years conditions at the top of the world have prevented anyone from covering the full distance to the North Pole. Not since Eric Larsen and Ryan Waters completed that journey back in 2014 no one else been able to repeat it. As climate change impacts that part of the world, the Arctic ice gets thinner, more challenging, or completely nonexistent. This year, there are two teams who will be attempting that very difficult journey, and over the course of the past week or so, ExWeb has interviewed members of both squads. 

Last week, the site posted an interview with Sebastian Copeland, who along with Mark George, will be one of the teams heading to the North Pole this year. During their chat, Copeland discussed the logistics of skiing to the top of the world, how long they expect to be out on the ice (50+ days), how he and George trained for the upcoming expedition, and his thoughts on the record breaking warmth that has hit the Arctic recently and how it will impact their journey. 

Similarly, the ExWeb interview with Martin Murray discusses his partner as well, who in this case happens to be a dog named Sky. The canine explorer will help Murray pull a sled and will provide companionship on the long days out on the ice. He also talks about logistics, when he'll start (after February 27) and potentially end (first week of May), how long he's been planning this expedition, and how a major expedition works when you have a dog along with you. 

Both interviews are very interesting for anyone who is interested not only in North Pole expeditions, but the logistics of exploration in general. The two teams will set off at the end of February and will begin at either Ward Hunt Island or Cape Discovery in Canada. We'll of course be following these journeys closely once they get underway. 

Video: Watch Wild Bison Being Reintroduced to Banff National Park

In an effort to improve the ecosystem of Banff National Park, the Canadian government has decided to reintroduce wild buffalo to that place. On February 1, 16 of the animals – which were relocated from Elk Island – were set free in the park, marking the return of those creatures for the first time in over a century. You can see this historic release as it took place in the video below. Hopefully in the years to come, the bison population in Banff will grow to large numbers and visitors will see them roaming the region as they once did.

Two Explorers Launch Arctic Extreme Expedition in Canada

Two ultrarunners are about to embark on a challenge expedition through the Canadian Arctic to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday. Today, ultrarunners Ray Zahab and Stefano Gregoretti set out on an adventure that will take them through three separate regions of the country, covering approximately 1000 km (621 miles) during the coldest, harshest conditions of the year.

Dubbed the Arctic Extreme Expedition, the two men will begin their journey in the Torngat Mountains of northern Labrador and Quebec, where they will traverse this amazing landscape – Canada's newest national park – on foot. The endurance runners will be running and fast packing their way through the wilderness, hauling all of their needed supplies behind them on sleds as they go. Along the way, they'll face Canada's brutal winter weather conditions, snow, winds, cold temperatures, and perhaps the occasional polar bear.

From here, Ray and Stefano will head to Unavut to traverse Baffin Island on skis. Once again, they'll carry their gear behind them on sleds, hauling all of their needed equipment and supplies with them as they go. During the heart of the winter, they'll face extreme weather once again, as well as very long nights and incredibly short days as they traverse one of the most remote and rugged places imaginable.

For stage three of the expedition, the two men will head to the Northwest Territories where they'll ride the length of the Arctic Ice Road on custom made fat bikes. During that stage of the journey they expect to face temperatures as cold at -60ºC/-76ºF as they travel along on a route covered in ice that will require studded tires just to keep them upright.

The expedition is set to get underway today – Feb 1 – with Ray and Stefano hitting the trail this morning. You'll be able to follow their progress – which will include live updates most days – on the team's official website for this adventure. If you like to follow challenging expeditions through extremely cold places, you won't want to miss this one.

Video: A Surreal Dive into a Frozen Lake

Free diving is always a fascinating activity to me, but it is taken to an entirely new level with this video, which follows Canadian diver Matthew Villegas as he plunges into the icy depths of Morrison Quarry in Quebec with his trusty GoPro camera in hand. The footage that he captures there is nothing short of eerie and surreal as you'll see in the clip below. Just looking at this makes me cold, but it is beautiful.

Video: Winter Climbing in Quebec

I've been fortunate enough to have visited the province of Quebec in Canada twice this year, both times traveling through the Saguenay Lac Saint-Jean region. This is a stunningly beautiful part of the world, as you'll see in this clip which takes us to that place to follow a group of climbers as they push new boundaries for winter climbing in the region. If it looks cold in this clip, it probably was. While I was there last February it was -45ºF/C at times. But, the spectacular landscapes made up for the it.

Directissima_ENG from Louis Rousseau on Vimeo.

Video: A Little Holiday Cheer Courtesy of WestJet

We're now just a little over a week away from Christmas, and while this isn't the type of video I normally share, I thought it was worth posting nonetheless. 2016 has been a challenging year for the citizens of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. A forest fire destroyed a large portion of the town, claiming many homes and consuming lots of valuables in the process. But, the holidays won't be quite so grim there thanks to Canadian airline WestJet, which has made a habit out of making Christmas miracles over the past couple of years. In this video, you'll see what they did for the people of Fort McMurray, and if it doesn't warm your heart heading into the holiday season, I don't know what will. Have a great weekend!

Video: Ice Climbing Helmcken Falls in Canada

At 140 meters (459 feet) in height, Helmcken Falls is the fourth tallest waterfall in Canada. During the winter, it doesn't freeze solid, but it creates enough of a spray to freeze the cliffs that surround it. In this video, we follow climber Klemen Premrl as he attempts to go up the ice walls along a route known as "Interstellar Spice." Along the way, he'll find out why this is considered one of the toughest mixed routes in the entire world.

Roald Amundsen's Ship Recovered From the Arctic Ocean

After resting at the bottom of the ocean for more then 85 years, Roald Amundsen's ship the Maud has been brought back to the surface, and is preparing to return to Norway. The ship, which was discovered off the coast of Cambridge Bay in Canada, helped to chart the Northeast Passage from 1918-1920, sunk in those waters back in 1930 after a short, but distinguished career in exploration.

A recovery team has spent the past six years working to bring the ship up from its watery grave. This past July, their efforts finally paid off, as the ship returned to the surface for the first time in more than eight decades. The crew first had to place a series of inflatable ballasts around the hull of the vessel, then slowly add air to them. Eventually this allowed them to place it on a barge and float it into harbor. Over the past two months, they have been been cleaning up the interior of the vessel in preparation for weathering the winter in the Arctic.

The recovery team says that the winter weather will actually help the ship, allowing its wooden hull to dry. This will help to reduce the ship's current weight, and will take some of the pressure off of the hull. That will help to stabilize it for the long journey back home to Norway, which is likely to take place next summer.

According to reports, the ship is in surprisingly good shape. The hull remains solid and strong, despite being at the bottom of the ocean for so long. The vessel was originally built back in 1917, and commissioned by Amundsen to accompany him on his exploration of the icy waters north of Russia. Amundsen is well know for is exploits in the cold places of our planet. He was the first person to reach the South Pole back in 1911, and was instrumental in exploring the Arctic as well, becoming the first person to full pass through the Northwest Passage.

The Maud was sold off in 1925, five years before she sank. But, she is considered an important piece of exploration history, and back home in Norway she'll be preserved for posterity. In that country, Amundsen is incredibly famous, and any relic left over from his expeditions is a valuable commodity.

This is quite a cool story. I'm glad this team was able to locate and recover the ship. Hopefully it makes it through the winter in one piece, and returns home next year as planned.

Video: Mountain Biking Revelstoke

Primarily known as a ski destination, Revelstoke has quickly become a great place to mountain bike too. In this video, we travel to British Columbia with our friends from Teton Gravity Research to explore the possibilities of riding the many trails that can be found at the mountain resort, and beyond. If you love beautiful scenery and great mountain biking, you'll certainly appreciate this clip. And remember, it's not winter yet. There is still time to ride Revelstoke this season.

168 Years After Sinking in the Arctic the HMS Terror has Been Found

After years of searching in the Arctic, the missing ship of explorer Sir John Franklin has been found at long last. Earlier this week it was announced that the HMS Terror, a vessel that Franklin was using to explore the icy waters of the Northwest Passage, had been found after 168 years.

Franklin and his crew had been exploring the Arctic Ocean north of Canada back in 1848 when they ran into thick pack ice that prevented them from continuing their voyage. Both the Terror and its sister-ship, the HMS Erebus became trapped, forcing everyone onboard to abandon the two vessels. Eventually, all 129 members of the crew perished in the Arctic, and what became of the ships remained a mystery.

A few years back the Erebus was discovered by a search crew, but the location of the Terror remained a mystery. Now, thanks to a tip from a local Inuit tribesman, that mystery has been solved. The Terror  was found in – of all places – Terror Bay, where its mast was spotted sticking out of the ice by passing hunters a few years back. That tip led to an archeological team going to the site to check out the area, only to discover the very vessel they had been searching for.

According to early reports, it seems that the ship is in relatively good condition, and may contain most of the things that were left onboard when it was abandoned by Franklin and his crew. In comparison, the Erebus has suffered hull damage, and Arctic currents had spread out its contents over a wide area. It'll be some time before salvage crews can truly get a look at the Terror however, so just what might be on the ship remains a mystery.

As for Franklin and his men, it seems that after they abandoned their ships, they began a long and perilous march across the Arctic with the hopes of reaching the Hudson Bay Company – a fur trading outpost far to the south. None of the men made it to the safety of that place however, vanishing in desolate white expanse of the north. Inuit oral histories talk about the foreigners passing through their area, but their ultimate fate has never been fully told.

The disaster that beset the Franklin crew is one of the worst in British naval history. It was quite a blow to that country, which ruled the seas and was pushing the boundaries of exploration at the time. Now, after more than a century and a half, at least part of the mystery has been solved.

Canadian Adventures: Paddling the Saguenay Fjord

As I mentioned in a previous piece about my recent trip to Quebec, Canada, the theme of the visit was "Must Love Water." As such, many of the activities that we took part in involved paddling a boat of some type. That included a stand-up paddleboard, a whitewater raft, and a canoe. But perhaps the best experience of the entire trip saw us loading up on sea kayaks and heading out onto the breathtaking Saguenay Fjord, a place of such natural beauty that it literally had to be seen to be believed.

After spending the better part of the week on waterways of one kind or another in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region of Quebec I was beginning to think I had seen most of what there wast to experience there. After all, our whitewater run was a thrilling, adrenaline inducing affair, and even our canoe trip mixed in a taste of whitewater to keep things interesting as well. Both of those experiences took place in lovely settings with thick forests lining the shores of the rivers we were on, and scenic settings to pass through. As lovely as those settings were however, they couldn't compare with kayaking on the fjord.

On the day we were scheduled to go kayaking we spent the better part of the morning driving to the Parc National du Fjord-du-Sagueny (the Sagueny Fjord National Park) where we would eventually join our guide from OrganisAction, a local outfitter that organizes kayaking excursions there. The park itself has a lot to offer in addition to paddling. For instance, there are several self-guided hikes to take, each of which offers some great views of the surrounding landscape. But for the truly bold, there is also an impressive Via Ferrata that takes visitors high up onto the rocky cliffs on a trek that is is both beautiful and heart-stopping for entirely different reasons. Unfortunately, we weren't there to make that hike, so after a quick lunch it was off to find our guide and begin our waterborne adventure instead.

As usual with any guided kayaking excursion we had to first go through an orientation on how to paddle most efficiently, the best ways to enter and exit the boat, and how to steer the long sea kayaks that we would use on the fjord. I've had plenty of experience in this department and was more than ready to go, so thankfully it didn't take too long before we were dropping the kayaks into the water and setting out.


It didn't take long to figure out just why this region was declared a national park in Canada. A few paddles away from the dock and the impressive landscape began to take shape. High cliffs rose all around us, while tranquil water ran all the way from our put-in spot out into the middle of the fjord itself. On that day, with the sun shining high overhead and the clear blue water all around us, it was simply a magnificent place to be.

For those who don't know, a fjord is a long, narrow inlet that has typically been carved by a glacier, and has high, towering cliffs all around it. A true fjord is fed by salt water from the ocean, but in the case of the Saguenay Fjord, there is salt water underneath with a current of fresh water, fed from the Saguenay River, on top. This makes it a unique environment where both fresh and salt water fish and mammals can be found. In some parts of the fjord it is possible to spot whales or even Greenland sharks, while a variety of salmon and other fish from the river exist in the same space.

Our group paddled out into this aquatic wonderland with our jaws hanging open. Over the course of our week together we had seen some truly beautiful places, but this one the crowning jewel of the experience for sure. Paddling along the cool, but refreshing water was a relaxing affair, even when we took our boats out into the middle of the fjord itself. From there, we were afforded the best views of the waterway, able to look west towards the mouth of the river and east where the deep blue waters drifted off into the distance. I'm sure on a day where the weather isn't cooperative the fjord could be a harsh place to be, but on this day it was perfect.

One of the highlights of a kayak trip out onto the Saguenay Fjord is spotting the famous Virgin Mary Statue that adorns one of the cliff tops there. While not quite as large and imposing as the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, it is still a memorable sight to behold. The state was placed there by a local trader named Charles Napoleon Robitaille back in 1881. A few years prior to that, Robitaille was traveling across the frozen ice when it gave way beneath him. As he was pulled into the freezing cold water, he prayed to the Virgin Mary to save him, and somehow he found himself alive, out of the fjord, and on solid ice. After that, he vowed to do something to both commemorate the experience and thank the higher powers that he had lived. He made good on his promise and later had the statue installed.

Even from the water below the tall cliffs, the white statue of the Virgin Mary stands out against the lush green trees. The monument was another unique element to a place that was already amazing to look upon, and the story of how it got there only adds to the mystique of the place.

After spending several hours paddling the fjord it was time to head back to the shore, but not before making a detour along the opposite shore to catch a glimpse of a beautiful waterfall that tumbled down the rock face there. As we paddled we could see several such waterfalls in the distance, so it was nice to see one up close too. It was a brief stop over however, and before long we were steaming our way across the open water once again.

While we were out on the water, the tide had obviously come in. The dock that we had used as a put in earlier in the day had been sitting high and dry on the beach, allowing us to wade in a short distance before setting out. Now however, it was floating on the surface of the fjord, and the water had risen up to our waists. That made for a soggier exit, but the water felt good after a warm afternoon.

After dragging our boats back up on shore, it was time to say goodbye to our guide and the fjord. It was certainly a memorable day in the kayaks however, and one that I would love to do again. In fact, our guide mentioned that there are some primitive campsites along the shore of the fjord that stretch for miles. He said that adventurous kayakers like to paddle down the fjord and stay at those campsites as they go. With a good kayak, plenty of supplies and gear, it would be possible to go for days in this remote, and pristine wilderness. That sounds like the kind of trip I would enjoy doing.

If you're in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region in the summer, a visit to the national park is a must-do adventure. Even if you can't get out on the water in a kayak – which I HIGHLY recommend you do – at least go for a hike and take in the surrounding landscape. It is a place that will definitely leave a lasting impression.

Gear Closet: Kyocera Hydro Shore Waterproof Android Phone

Now days, most of us carry our smartphones with us wherever we go, including into the backcountry when we go hiking, camping, or backpacking. That's because those devices have proven invaluable just about anywhere we might travel, including places where cell network connections are at a premium. The problem is, most smartphones are also incredibly fragile, which means taking them with us on these adventures means putting our precious gadget in jeopardy, or shelling out extra cash for a case that is waterproof and rugged. But what if you could have a smartphone that is already designed to survive in that type of environment? Better yet, what if that device was also very affordable? That's exactly what you get with the Kyocera Hydro Shore, a budget phone designed to run on AT&T's GoPhone network.

First things first, it is important to note that in terms of onboard technology, the Hydro Shore features components that won't compete with high-end, flagship phones from competitors including the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S7. It's 5" high-def display is bright and colorful, but not on par with those found in more expensive phones, and its 1.1 GHz Snapdragon processor is under powered at this point of its lifecycle. Additionally, the Hydro Shore's 5-megapixel main camera won't win any awards either and lags behind the competition in performance as well. On top of that, the device comes with just 8GB of onboard storage and 1GB of RAM, which is underwhelming when compared to other smartphones too. As if that wasn't enough, the device runs the Android 5.1 (Lollipop) operating system, which is two full versions out of date at this point, with no clear upgrade path moving forward. Taken as a whole, that makes this a fairly average Android device to say the least, and well behind much of the competition in what has become an increasingly crowded market.

So what exactly does the Hydro Shore have going for it? For starters, it is very affordable. The device carries a price tag of just $79.99, which puts it amongst the least expensive smartphones on the market at the moment. It also has expandable storage capacity through the use of memory cards (up to 64GB), and it features a design that makes it easy to grip and use with one hand – something that we shouldn't take for granted in an era where smartphones continue to expand in size. Plus, the phone has solid battery life – up to 13 hours of talk time – which is better than most of the competition too.


But best of all, the Hydro Shore also happens to be waterproof, which is certainly not something you find at the $80 price point all that often. In fact, the device is certified IP57 waterproof, which means that it can be fully immersed in up to 1 meter (3-feet) of water for 30 minutes without harm. That means that it should survive rainstorms, kayaking trips, and accidental dunkings, which is not something you can say about most other smartphones on the market regardless of price point.

And since the Hydro Shore was built for use around water (hence the name!), its 5" screen was made to be interacted with even when you have wet hands. That means you can snap photos, make a call, or send a text no matter the conditions. I personally appreciate this feature after a long run, which is when my sweaty hands can sometimes make it a challenge to interact with my iPhone too.

The Hydro Shore's case is made from a soft, easy-to-grip material that provides a measure of protection from accidental drops, but isn't as durable as some other ruggedized phones that I've seen, including the Samsung Galaxy S7 Active.  Samsung's offering is bulkier, heavier, and costs more, but includes better waterproofing, a shatter-resistant screen, and a host of other tech features, such as wireless charging. That said, the Hydro Shore feels like it can survive quite a bit of punishment, although you may still want to add a case for a bit of extra protection.

In addition to its waterproof design and great pice, the Hydro Shore's other best feature may be that it connects to AT&T's GoPhone network, which is available through Walmart. Not only does this give consumers an option to purchase phones and services without a yearly contract, it offers affordable voice, text, and damage usage too. Plans start as low as $30 a month, although the top-end option runs $60 and includes unlimited talk and texts from the U.S. and Canada, as well as voice, text, and data usage while in those countries as well. That makes GoPhone and the Hydro Shore an intriguing and affordable option for anyone who frequents those destinations, even if they happen to own another smartphone.

As a self-confessed tech nerd, I have to say that there isn't a lot to get too excited about technology wise with this device. Its specs clearly lags behind the competition in nearly every way. But, as someone who travels a lot, and often visits remote places, the fact that they Hydro Shore is waterproof is certainly a major benefit as is the GoPhone options for use in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. If you happen to visit those places on a regular basis, and want a solid, reliable phone for use while traveling, this is a great option. It is tough, dependable, and has great battery life. Additionally, it is also so affordable that you can actually keep your high end phone and this one too.

Find out more at the Hydro Shore official website.

Canadian Adventures: Whitewater Rafting on the Métabetchouan River in Quebec

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to travel back to Quebec, Canada for some summer time adventures. If you're a regular reader of The Adventure Blog, you may recall that I had visited the province in February of this year when I not only had an unbelievable encounter with wolves, I also went dogsledding and snowshoeing in the breathtaking Valley of the Phantoms. But during that visit it was extremely cold (-40ºF/C) in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region so I was anxious to return to see the area for some warm weather exploration too. I did not come away disappointed.

The theme of our trip was "Much Love Water" as many of the activities revolved around exploring the region by some kind of watercraft. In fact, on our first morning in Quebec we decided to get things started by stand-up paddleboarding on lovely lake near La Cooperative O' Soleil – a rural destination about an hours drive from our starting location in the town of Chicoutimi.

Most of the folks I was traveling with had paddleboarded before, so after a brief get acquainted session with our SUP gear, we set off down a placid river that fed out into a large lake. The morning was quickly warming up, but a nice breeze coming off the water kept us cool as we spent about an hour or so getting a morning workout. For those who haven't been on a SUP before, it is a good way to not only test your balance, but also work your core.

Unfortunately, our stand-up paddleboarding experience was an all too brief one, and we were forced to come off the water sooner than we would like. But, there was a good reason for that, as we had to grab a quick lunch before launching into our true adventure for the day – whitewater rafting on the Métabetchouan River.

After turning in our SUP boards we headed over to Microbrasserie du Lac Saint-Jean, a local microbrewery where we had a chance to enjoy a tasty lunch and a flight of beers that are brewed right at the establishment. Both the food and the frothy beverages were delicious, surprising us with their rich and complex flavors. If you're in the area, and you're looking for a great place to grab a bite to eat, this is a spot that comes highly recommended.

Once we had our fill, it was off to H20 Expeditions for our whitewater experience. The company has been leading travelers on whitewater excursions for years, and the level of professionalism and experience showed. Not only were the guides personable and knowledgeable, they did everything they could to get us ready for our river adventure in as short of time as possible. That included safety demonstrations, training us on the best way to paddle, and what to do should you be thrown from the raft at some point.


We had signed up for their three-hour rafting trip down the Métabetchouan, which was still running surprisingly fast even late in the summer. The river passes through a hydroelectric dam which controls its flow, and while we certainly weren't visiting during a major release, the water levels were still at good levels and the rapids were plentiful. After donning our wetsuits and pfd's, gathering our rafting paddles, and completing our orientation, we were all eager to get started.

The Métabetchouan rafting tour with H20 Expeditions covers about 7 km (4.3 miles) of distance, passing through some beautiful landscapes along the way. All around you are towering hills and lush forests that help convey the sense of paddling through a remote region, even though you aren't necessarily all that far from town. This particular stretch of the river includes 12 major rapids, and a couple of smaller ones just to keep you on your toes.

Unfortunately, the put-in for the river isn't particularly easy to reach. We hopped a shuttle over to the starting point, only to discover that we had to actually carry the raft about 500 meters down a hill just to reach the river itself. The path was easy to follow, and there were wooden stairs at the steeper sections, but lugging a bulky raft through the forest while wearing a neoprene suit in the middle of summer has a way of getting you warm very quickly. Thankfully, it didn't take us too long to cover the distance, and once you hit the water you cooled off quickly.

It didn't take long to realize why wetsuits are needed, even in August. The Métabetchouan runs cold and stepping into it was quite refreshing following the warm descent while carrying the raft. Once our boat was in the water our guide ran us through a series of drills on how to paddle forward and backwards that helped get everyone on board operating like a team. Once that was out of the way, we were free to begin our descent of the river, which started with a wild rapid right out of the gate.

I was one of the lucky members of the crew who was chosen to sit up at the front of the raft, which is not always an enviable place to be. Anyone who has been in that spot will tell you that the bulk of the big splashes hit that section of the boat, dousing the paddlers who are there. That would be my experience throughout the afternoon as big rapid after big rapid deposited hundreds of gallons of water into the raft. Fortunately, its self-bailing floor whisked it out again quite quickly as we all had a rollicking good time on our aquatic adventure.

The first rapid of the day was actually one of the biggest, and it set the tone for the rest of the trip. By the time we passed through, most of us were already soaked as the cold water washed away all memories of the sweaty hike through the woods that we made on the way to the put-in. And once we had run that bubbling cauldron of whitewater, were able to turn our rafts around, paddle back into the rushing river, and actually surf the rapids for a bit. This had the effect of dumping even more water into the boat, but by then no one cared any longer.

Over the course of the three-hour trip, H20 Expeditions had a few nice surprises planned for us. The first of those was the option to leap out of the raft and body surf the second rapid on the river, a challenge that I eagerly accepted.

Upon rolling off the side of the raft, I was quickly caught up by the rushing river. Quickly I moved into the safest position to proceed down river, which involved going down feet-first while in a seated position. My pfd helped keep me afloat has I – and a number of my companions – bobbed through the water. It was a thrilling way to run the rapids, and a good reminder of just how powerful the forces of nature can be. Had that particular rapid been much stronger, it would have been difficult to fight your way out of it.

At other points of the excursion we would also stop to allow brave members of the team to leap off a high cliff and plunge into the refreshing waters below, and to body surf some other rapids that we passed along the way. Each of those were exhilarating experiences and a lot of fun. Each time I was thankful I was wearing a wetsuit though, as the water remained chilly the entire time we were paddling.

Each of the 12 rapids has its own name – such as The Dungeon, The Sphinx's Eye, the Great Wall, and so on. This helped us to remember them as we passed through, as they all had their own unique characteristics and personalities. Some were fast and wild, inducing an adrenaline rush. Others caused you to have to work harder to avoid rocks which threatened to stall progress or up-end the boat altogether. Some were a bit tamer, while others provided massive waves that would splash the entire raft from stem to stern. They ranged from Class I to Class III in terms of intensity, but they were all a lot of fun and helped make the rafting trip a true highlight of my second visit to Quebec.

After running all 12 of those rapids our raft was deposited out into a wide stretch of river that was positively serene. We spent the last 20 minutes or so leisurely paddling towards our take-out point and enjoying the lovely scenery that surrounded us. It had been a truly epic day out on the water, and one that none of us would soon forget. We were all happy to get out of the raft when we were done, but the excitement of the day remained a topic of conversation for some time to come.

As a travel writer, I occasionally get access to some amazing places and experiences that not everyone else can do. But, I'm happy to say that this is definitely one experience that you can take part in as well. H20 Expeditions operates throughout the summer and heads out on the water several times a day. If you'd like to experience a run down the Métabetchouan River yourself, I would highly recommend joining them. The entire staff was highly professional and the experience was great from beginning to end. You can find out more on the company's website.

For me and my traveling companions this was just the first of several waterborne adventures to come. But, it was a great start to a fun trip that reminded me of just how wild and beautiful Quebec can be. I'll share more from those adventures in future posts that will hopefully give you some idea of what to expect when in this part of Canada, and possibly plan a few adventures for yourself there too.

Canadian Adventurer Completes Solo Atlantic Crossing in a Rowboat

Back in June I wrote about Laval St. Germain, a Canadian adventurer who was preparing to embark on a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. He was using his ocean crossing as a platform to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and set out from the coast of Nova Scotia back on June 15. This past weekend, he wrapped up the journey at long last, reaching the shores of France on Saturday.

It took St. Germain 53 days to complete the Atlantic crossing, which he said he was able to do thanks to the good weather he had throughout the voyage. He told the Canadian media that he had plenty of time to become accustomed to his boat and the daily grind of rowing before bad weather and difficult seas set in. By that point, he was much better prepared to deal with the conditions, which were expected even during the summer months when the North Atlantic is at its calmest.

All told, St. Germain covered approximately 4500 km (2796 miles) on his aquatic journey, which began along the eastern coast of Canada and ended in Brest, France. That is the opposite direction of most Atlantic rowers, who tend to start in Europe or at the Canary Islands, and head west to the Caribbean.

Laval says that he is happy to have completed the journey, but he is disappointed in his fund raising efforts. He had hoped to bring in $200,000 to support the Cancer Foundation, but has raised just $51,000 to date. That is still an impressive number, but far short of the goal that he had set for himself. He promises to continue with those efforts even though the ocean crossing is now complete.

Despite not raising as many funds as he would have liked, this was still a fantastic effort. Rowing an ocean as part of a team is a heck of a challenge, and doing it solo even more so. Congratulations to Laval for completing this undertaking and doing so for a worthy cause at the same time. He should be very proud of what he has accomplished on both fronts.

Canadian Adventurer To Row Across the Atlantic Solo

A Canadian adventurer who was the first person from that country to summit Everest without the use of oxygen is now preparing to embark on his next big challenge – a 4500 km (2796 mile) solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to raise funds to fight cancer.

This month, Laval St. Germain will set out from Halifax Habor on what he calls the Confront Cancer Ocean Row. His hope is to arrive in France in a few months time, braving big waves, hundreds of miles of open water, and potentially dangerous storms along the way. Traveling west to east across the turbulent North Atlantic will test his stamina and determination with cold water and icy seas as well.

St. Germain is making this solo Atlantic crossing to raise funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. He hope to pull in $200,000 in donations to help support that organizations cause, which is to work towards the cause of curing cancer and bringing an end to the disease which 43 Albertans are diagnosed with on a daily basis.

But Laval has another inspiration for rowing across the Atlantic too. In July of 2014, his oldest son drowned in a canoe accident on the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territory of Canada. He was 21-years old at the time, and had been attempting to lend assistance to a girl who was panicking while swimming in those waters. The young man lost his life, which as you can imagine had a dramatic impact on his family's life.

According to his Twitter feed, Laval will launch his epic crossing starting tomorrow – Wednesday, June 15. His specially designed rowboat has been placed in the water, and has been stocked with supplies, and the weather looks good for the start of the journey.

If you want to follow this adventure as it unfolds, it looks like Laval's Twitter is the best way to go. I wish him godspeed on this expedition. It should be a challenge unlike any other.

Japanese Polar Explorer Yasu Ogita Completes Canada to Greenland Expedition

Way back in March I told you about Japanese polar explorer Yasunaga Ogita's plans to ski from northern Canada to Greenland across the frozen sea ice of the Arctic Ocean. At the time, he was just preparing to set out, but now, two months later, he's finished the journey at long last, covering more than 830 km (515 miles) in the process.

Yasu initially set out from Grise Fjord on Ellesmere Island back on March 30. He then spent the next 48 days skiing to Greenland, crossing the frozen expanse of the Arctic Ocean along the way. He told ExWeb that his biggest challenge while en route was the fast moving arctic ice that was pushed along by a strong current. Crossing those moving floes can be difficult unless you're traveling at high speed, which isn't possible on foot when dragging a heavy sled behind.

Along the way, the Japanese polar veteran also encountered plenty of polar bears and even an arctic wolf who took an interest in his travels. He also saw seals, musk ox, caribou, and other creatures as well, proving that this part of the world isn't quite so empty as some would think.

To prepare for the crossing Yasu spoke to other explorers who had traveled in the region before, as well as locals in both Canada and Greenland. But much of the path was completely unknown, with very few people ever crossing through this part of the world. The crossing isn't completely unknown, but it is a very rare occurrence to say the least.

Yeas wrapped up his journey on May 16 and just recently traveled home to Japan. He is no doubt already thinking about his next adventure.