the rest of the group arrived it appeared that to our horror we were
under the Newfoundland expedition curse. In the ‘90s, Brandon
Knapp and Johnny Kern made a spring journey to Newfoundland and got
skunked by low flows their whole trip. After a five dry days it seemed
that we were under the same curse, and started following their
footsteps for guaranteed flows. Looking through Brandon’s
website I had seen a picture labeled “Johnny
Humber” and with this clue plugged into our local contact we
got directions for the falls just out of our current location in Deer
new arrivals finish loading the
rental and are ready to get it.
Fired up with the arrival of more paddlers, we
spent a few
driving, backtracking, four wheeling and dealing with general
logistical problems. We couldn’t find the falls we were
looking for, but made it to “Big Falls” a six foot
ledge on the Humber River. Optimism was still high, and after we
weighed options we were off to “Star Pond” where a
high gradient brook had our hopes set high. With over fifty kilometers
of dirt roads and over four hours of driving behind us, we found our
brook. The gradient was there, but where was the water? Newfoundland
isn’t shy of using hydro projects to supply electricity to
the island, and we were on the road again.
Dry weather prevailed another night as we camped
Black Brook. Upon arrival we found access to be good, a nice bridge to
lake run, and flows were low but in the upper section the river looked
to hold its (lack of) water well. Stoked to be on the water we had to
scrape over a few rocky spots
before the river turned to bedrock, where it dropped over a nice series
of ledges and slides that would be beautiful at high water.
I’d imagine at high flows sticky holes would rear up all over
in this section.
Stookesberry enjoying a little low
Making quick time down the low volume slides we were at a
bridge only too soon, and debated taking out there, or continuing down
through the rocky sections to a waterfall that was marked on the map.
Opting to push on down stream, the next several kilometers were torture
at our low flows, full gorilla boating over the wide stream bed filled
Numbed by all the scraping and bashing after only too long
we saw a
large horizon line and got out to scout. The river split into two
channels and dropped through either a sluice box, ledge, ledge rapid,
or a bouldery lead-in to a nice, somewhat clean slide. It looked like
it would be easy enough to run the right side sluice, ferry across and
hike back up for the left slide.
Troutman has a nice clean line
down through the sluice into the
Nick again with an equally nice line for the final boof.
The whole group fired off the right slide, with some
results, four pitons and a few missed boofs, but no carnage of
consequence. Switching over to the right side of the island we found
the clean slide to have a questionable depth lead-in boof. After some
inspection Ben fired it off first and with a boof, it was plenty deep.
Jackson straightens it out for
Jackson throwing some style out
on the slide.
The rest of our lines went without anything remarkable happening, and
we resumed another two kilometers of low water boulder torture down to
a small lake. Paddling across didn’t take long, and soon
enough a few of the boys ran the shuttle while we dried out by a fire
and looked forward to our next mission.
With low flows, Black Brook was too low in between the bedrock sections
and in general IV-IV+ character, but at higher flows this would be a
rocking IV-V run that we would love to get back on, and has every right
of becoming a local classic.