Hell or High Water has been a tradition for me for 3 years now but it has been around for much longer than that. Hell or High Water was started in 2009 to create awareness about the importance of the Petawawa River and to save it from being dammed. We can now celebrate, as of this past December, the Petawawa River will remain a free flowing river thanks to the community.
The Petawawa River is one of the few remaining whitewater rivers in Southern Ontario that is free of major dams, allowing it to flow freely from the heart of Algonquin Park into the historic waterways of the Ottawa River.
Although their mission was accomplished and the Petawawa River has been saved from being dammed, the event Hell or High Water continues as a way to promote and support recreation and tourism within the Ottawa Valley.
It is now Canada’s largest whitewater race as well as the largest single whitewater race in North America with over 400 participants. I am proud to be one of the many participants.
If you don’t want to race, Hell or High Water has many activities you can enjoy while staying dry throughout the day.
Did I mention there’s Beaver tails?
This was my 3rd year rafting at Hell or High Water and this year had the highest water levels. I was quite thankful for my Level Six dry suit after flipping at Lovers and having to swim through the cold water to get to shore.
We didn’t get any pictures of us flipping but if you look at Robert Fauberts website he got some amazing photos of our friend Luke and Megan’s raft flipping through the last rapid.
Watching the rafts go by is exciting but watching the kayakers go by can be just as exciting. I enjoy being a spectator at HOHW just as much as a participant.
My fiancé likes to punch Windigo every year whereas I would try my hardest to avoid this hole in a kayak.
As a participant and a spectator I make sure to have water friendly and comfortable footwear for the day. It really makes a difference when jumping from rock to rock to try and get the best spot for photographing.
My spectating shoes this year were Class 5 KEEN Sandals.
My rafting shoes were KEEN Clearwater CNXs.
No matter what your interest is, there is a bit of everything at Hell or High Water from racing through whitewater to shopping, or from eating beaver tails to stand up paddle boarding. It’s a great way to spend a weekend outside with friends and family.
HOHW has grown from 50 people in 2009 to over 1000 in 2013. They have also raised over $35,000 for community causes.
Hell or High Water changed my life, literally. I wouldn’t be with my fiancé today if I hadn’t gone to raft there 3 years ago.