Bikers and backpackers at Falling Creek Camp have been known during the normal camping sessions to go to Colorado, and mountain climbers to New Hampshire to brave the windy cliffs. These excursions are just a few of the trips that campers who have taken the right amount training at camp have been allowed to go on. But these expeditions pale in comparison to the almost 2-week epic adventure to Magpie River the FCC Paddlers returned from down by Quebec’s Northern coast.
Check out a different video that Rafa Ortiz edited from the HUCK Magpie Expedition
The contingent of campers, ranging in age between 14 to 17, found themselves in waters closer to Newfoundland’s national borders than the US’s. They championed the winding and remote river through Canada’s boreal forests, so remote in fact it took hours of driving, a ferry, and three floatplane shuttles to get them on location at Lake Magpie. They had trouble finding any trace of humanity down the 60 mile river that emptied into the Gulf of Saint-Lawrence.
“I think we were only 1 of like 4 or 5 other trips that kayaked down that river this year,” says Andrew Smith. Smith has paddled as a counselor at Falling Creek for the past 6 years where he learned paddling from none other than the trip’s co-leader Jez, a 3 time Australian World Cup champion kayaker and sponsored athlete. The two lead the campers down the river with Red-Bull and GoPro sponsored paddler Rafael Ortiz, the third FCC instructor.
Deep in the Canadian wilderness, the group lost track of the days, touring down pristine white-water they could scoop out with their hands and drink, eating meals some of them described as the best food they have ever had. Aside from the camping in nearly untouched environments and dodging local wildlife, seeing both wolf tracks and a bear, their chief priority never faltered from learning everything they could about paddling.
“Every morning of paddling began with a skill and technique session from Rafa; who is the premier waterfall kayaker in the world,” says camper Jon Krupnick in personal blog post he wrote during the trip. “On the river we had the guidance of Jez and Andrew to keep us safe, in control, and healthy.”
The river progressed from class 2 rapids during the first day, to class 4 by the final launch. Some parts included class 5 holes that required putting up a line— a system of using a guide rope— to navigate.
“The bigger rapids in the Magpie are just gigantic,” says Jez “No person would survive running them. Magpie Falls for example has a recirculating river hole big enough to munch two buses, without either of them touching each other.”
Every segment required the boys to do a bulk of the planning, finding the right approach to fit the needs of the rapids. Letting the boys take ownership of trip, in the eyes of the Jez and Andrew, prepared them for conducting any similar trip of their own they may have after camp.
“It was my first expedition,” says Baird Cotsakis, another regular camper of Falling Creek. “And it was really great to experience what it is like being away from civilization and technology. The trip really made me realize that there are not many places like the Magpie River left in the world. And we need to do what we can to conserve it.”