Thursday, August 1, 2013

Whitewater Rafting - Canada Falls, Maine - 7/27/13

What an insane day of whitewater rafting we had last weekend! Back again for another year of fun with Penobscot Adventures (PA), my friend Mike upped the ante and booked the Canada Falls trip. This weekend just happened to be the highest release of the summer at 900cfs, and Canada Falls is described as one of the most intense whitewater rafting trips in Maine with steep and technical drops. It is the longest class V rapid in Maine. After my first time whitewater rafting last year, I was really looking forward to this trip.

As with most rafting day trips offered in Maine, we got two runs down Canada Falls and an awesome lunch in between runs. From Millinocket, Canada Falls is nearly a two hour van ride from the headquarters, but I would say it was definitely worth it!

The Rapids of Canada Falls
The Gorge: Class III
Surprise: Class IV
Cabin: Class IV
Upper Split Decision: Class V
Lower Split Decision: Class V
Megahole: Class V

The whole length of the run is exciting, and each rapid has its unique technicality. As you can see they become more difficult as you go down the falls. Things went perfectly smooth as we made our way through the first half of the first run, however that would change drastically as we approached the split decision class V, the decision was....Canada Falls was going to kick our ass!

We made a real tough drop over the first rapid, and then it was the second drop where we obviously didn't hit it right. All seven people in my boat were ejected and sustained some sort of battering in the rocks before it was all said and done. At the moment I saw we were doomed, I realized I was in the worst position, and that was it. I went for the swim of my life down some of Maine toughest whitewater after having people and the boat land on top of me as I was slammed into the bottom of the river.

Even with the high release, this section of the river is shallow, and as you hear the guide in the video say, its a rocky rapid. On the same flip, the rest of the rafters on my boat endured their own battering on the rocks, and high intensity moments. Five were able to get back onto the overturned raft, and had their own adventure as Big Joe guided them with perfection over the rest of the rapids (See the second video below for this action). Big Joe is one of the best guides with PA, and had never flipped unintentionally in the Canada Falls Class V.

The third boat guided by Sebastian, which was filled with a different group on our trip, tossed the throw bag and rope and pulled me in textbook fashion with no time to spare as we dropped the last drop. About 10 minutes later I was reunited with my group at the end of the run showing off my bloody and bruised knee.

I threw a small ice pack on my knee during the portage van ride back to the beginning of the falls, and we were treated to a lunch of awesome sandwiches, chips, granola bars, and more! After lunch, we grabbed our rafts and headed into the river to dance with the devil. It was double up or quit, and you all know me. Not just me though, props to everyone on our boat for stepping up to take it on again. Everyone had their nerves going a little bit at the thought of possibly going through what we just went through again. At the same time, this trip is so much fun, and we all decided that there was no backing down!

After passing the Cabin rapid on the second run, all of us in the boat were ready to take on the madness once again, even Big Joe,  because we nailed it with perfection all getting to ride the gnarly waves that had beaten us the first time. It was super intense to re-live it above the water. It's hard to believe I went through it, but at the end of the day, what's life if you're not pushing it to the max with everything you do.

Enjoy the action and stayed tuned for more from The Outhouse! Ace of Spades and I Won't Back Down provide some musical motivation.

Here is the flip my point of view, swimming the rapids....

Here is my Brother's point of view from the flip, showing that everyone on our boat was pretty banged up. (Warning: lots of F-bombs due to super high intensity action)

Couldn't have asked for a better group of friends to go on this adventure with. TELL ME WHO IS READY FOR NEXT YEAR?


  1. Hi, Dan

    I could use this whitewater rafting experience for our September Nature Place Journal. All aspects of this journal are educational and non-profit. Let me know if I have your permission to use this.
    Shirley Flanagan

    1. Hi Shirley, thank you for reading and your interest in my trip. I've sent you an E-mail. Thanks,