High Tension

I thought about writing a blog on surviving the Stakeout season in Canada since if there is anything I hate in kayaking, it is being cold, wet, and scared. But, I overthought, delayed too long, and instead, figured I would write about one wave that always makes cold and wet feel worth it: High Tension.

Located in Maniwaki, Quebec, on the Gatineau River, High Tension is by far one of my all-time favorite waves. Though I surfed HT on my first ever trip to the Gatineau over ten years ago, (well before I had any right to be on a wave of that caliber) I hadn’t had the opportunity to surf it again until this past spring. It was every bit as good as I remembered, and despite sneaking in a surf session this fall, I already can’t wait to go back.

Photo credit: Nouria Newman

High Tension is as smooth a wave as there is out there, and you can do anything from your first spin (me ten years ago) to pistol flips for days (Dane Jackson). Though it is located in the middle of the Gatineau River, there are only two significant rapids before-hand and a few after, all with accessible portage trails that make scouting and/or walking easy as. High Tension is marked by power lines crossing the river overhead. The wave is on the right-hand side of the rapid, with a small series of eddies next to it on river right. If you flush off the wave, you can scramble back into the eddy, or you can run down a fun, big volume grade III-IV rapid and catch the football-field-sized eddy below on river right. Try not to miss the eddy though, for the next rapid downstream is named ‘The Wall’ after a river-wide, frothing, standing wave-hole that. Either way, no need to panic as there are easy portage trails on river right.

Photo credit: Nouria Newman

My favorite levels are between 19-22 feet on the Gatineau gauge, which is located at the takeout of the river run, but technically the wave runs anywhere from 19-24. To check levels, visit www.bonnetrougerafting.com. The best place to put-in / take-out is via the Bonnet Rouge Rafting campground. Isabelle, the owner, is happy to help run a shuttle for a small fee, and her property is right at the take-out of the river. The put-in (also on her property) is a short, 15-minute drive away.

Photo credit: Lief Anderson

Though High Tension usually runs in the spring, sometimes you get lucky, and it will run over the summer or fall. I was lucky enough to get in a glorious, warm September afternoon a few weeks ago- an excellent way to end my Canada season.

Check out Bren Orton’s video on our cheeky mission- and try not to hate Dane Jackson too much.

See you next May at High Tension!

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