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East Branch Point Wolfe River, NB

Trying to add a bit more to the blog and with some friends who run fun rivers all over the place I am getting different stories added on here and there this is from some friends who are out in New Brunswick. Enjoy the read.

Exploring the East Branch Point Wolfe River, Fundy National Park New Brunswick

With over 200mm of rain falling in the Maritimes the rivers where swollen and it was time to explore some of the runs in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick.

Pourover drop

Beautiful place, Photo by Ian Campbell

Fundy is located in the southeastern corner of NB. The Park is one of only a few true wilderness areas in NB (it covers 207 square km along the Bay of Chignecto coast).The Fundy Highlands are the home to head waters of the best creeking in NB, if not the Maritimes. The Highlands drop roughly 400m in 12km and the average gradient of the rivers are 35m/km.

There are numerous runs, to name a few: Broad River class 4+, Forty Five River class 4, Quiddy River class 5, Point Wolfe River class 4, and many others that have yet to be explored.

On Saturday November 6th I got a call from Ian Campbell and Laurie Borwn 2 local legends that have explored more rivers and creeks then anyone else in NB. They said we should head to Fundy and check out the East Branch Point Wolfe River.

I had just arrived back to NB after a short stint in Ottawa with a girl that didn’t work out in my favour, so I was ready for an adventure. We made plans to meet in Alma NB at 10am, a town outside Fundy Park, and set up shuttle. As I drove over the bridge to the takeout,  my car broke down. On the way to the put in, I made arrangements for my dad to pick me up at around 4:30pm.

Ian, Laurie, Aaron Clark and I put-on the river at about 11:15ish, and started down the river….. at this point the rain was coming down in full force.

Things started with low volume boulder gardens and gradually picked up to continuous class 3. After some good boogie water, we came to our first drop, a 10ft falls landing on rock. If you charged up far left over a curler you miss the rock and land on a nice boil. All went well and more boulder gardens awaited below….. raining even harder now.

Things started to steepen up and eddies started to get smaller and within a few minutes we where at a 3 tier rapid with some challenging moves. After a quick scout,  Laurie and Aaron decided to portage the first 2 drops and run the last,  so they set safety for Ian and I. Ian went first and made a mistake on the entrance,  which turned out for the better because it lined him up to be hard left on the second drop. After hitting the small eddy, Ian ferried across and ran the last drop. Once Ian was safely at the bottom,  I hit my line the way I wanted and made it to the small eddy above the 3rd drop and ferried across and ran the final drop. Laurie and Aaron soon joined.

One of the Harder Drops

Running the guts, Photo by Ian Campbell

Around the next corner was another series of rapids into a 10ft slot. I was the farthest down stream and waved to the guys to come one at a time to where i was standing so we could portage the slot (pouring of the right wall and slamming into the left wall) Laurie came first and I grabbed his boat to make things easier for him, then Aaron came and hit an eddy higher up and on his way to Laurie and I got pushed to river right and I wasn’t able to get to him. He flipped and rolled, flipped again and went over the slot upside down. Laurie and I moved  along the shore quickly and luckily he was in the eddy with is boat giving us an OK sign…. without his paddle. Fortunately we had a breakdown. Ian some joined us and we finished the portage and got back on the river….. raining harder than ever at this point.

The river continued steep and light was fading fast, Laurie spotted Aaron’s paddle shortly down stream which Aaron was very happy about. Soon after we were above 2 stacked 15 footers with monster holes so we portaged. 100 metres down stream we came to the confluence of the East Branch Point Wolfe and the Point Wolfe. The only thing in the way of us getting on the Point Wolfe was a 30 foot falls. After a good look, I got in my boat and ran the hard left line and waited in the eddy at the bottom for Ian. Laurie and Aaron decided to portage.

The Point Wolfe was stomping! We came out at the base of the Point Wolfe canyon, at that level it seemed unrunnable. As the light was disappearing I could only think of my mom and dad at the takeout wondering what to do.

We started down stream and had to pull over and scout a short canyon. Ian ran it, and when he punched the reactionary his deck imploded but fortunately he made the eddy. Laurie, Aaron, and I put-in just below the reactionary and ran the last drop. Once regrouped we started moving again. Aaron punched a hole and imploded this deck and swam. After that swim we decided to get on the river and move until we had to scout. After 5 minutes or so we came to a big stretch and I was leading and moved hard right, punched a hole and travelled to the bottom of the rapid. When I got into the eddy I looked back up stream and didn’t see anyone, finally I saw Ian and Laurie and then Aaron upside down trying to roll…. and he ended up having to swim. Once we got everything together Ian and I got the boat and paddle back to Aaron and moved down stream but light stopped use at 5:45pm.

As we left the boats Laurie sent a SPOT message so there wives would be aware we were ok.  We collected all our food and warm clothes and started hiking. My parents didn’t get a call until 11:30pm, At least they got it…. right??

We started hiking at 6:00pm and stopped at 9:30pm. The rain was still coming down and we were able to get a fire going with fire starter that Laurie had and where able get warm, dry (when the rain finally stopped). We finally feel asleep or at least I did and keep the others up with my snoring…… oops.

At first light we were walking and Aaron came across a trail we decided to go left and it took us to the river…… so we back tracked which turned out perfect because we knew we were close to the car and this was re-enforced with a sign saying 3.4km to Point Wolfe Campsite. After 30 minutes of walking we arrived at our dry cotton clothes and got the first car that came to the parking lot to take Aaron to get his car at the put in. At this point I wasn’t sure what my parents had done and we were out of cell serves.

Night Out in NB, Photo by Ian Campbell

Aaron was back quickly and we where on our to get pizza and go call my family. Not 5 minutes later my Dad’s truck comes over the hill. They were happy to see us finally and were nice enough to buy a bunch of food that we where happy to see and also passed the message to use that a couple of fellow paddlers where in the area checking the way points the SPOT had sent out. Our buddies Dan and Paul soon come over the hill themselves and happy to see we had made it out.

Growing up on a blueberry farmer has had many perks and this being one. My dad drop the small float to Fundy to hall the car home so no tow truck bill! Thanks dad!

2 days later Tim Cox and I went into get the boats, the water was 7 feet lower and 12 feet away from the high water mark (horizontally) we got the boats out fine.

This was a good learning experience for use all, I know I’ve revamped my emergency kit! Another adventure down with more to come with planned overnights next time 🙂

Story by Ian Campbell and Max Fisher

  • ken - I always wondered about this river, thanks. I have heard many stories about Ian and his paddling adventures, and was fortunate to meet him once. Best of luck with your paddling adventures!

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