WATER, WATER, EVERYWHERE…….!

So here we are…..less than a week away from heading to one of the mecca’s of paddling in Ontario.  We go there to join the cunning creators of composite canoes, the pinnacle of paddlers, the supreme surfers, the carving creators for waves, the elite for performing the niceties of nautical ballet, and us.  Steve and I!  In a Canyon.  In water, the likes of which I haven’t seen before.

After our son helped with backing the truck into the trailer last night, the day broke with ominous skies and away I went to head off and drop the canoe so the magicians could do the makeover.  Odd that the day would dawn with rain clouds after what we’ve gone through.  Soon the evidence was right in front!  Crossing Hwy 35 on Monck Rd. the water level and damage was immediately evident.  Fishing boats turned turtle sat with only the keels and a small section of hull out of the water.  The dam at Kinmount flushed with the emergency of releasing the necessary overflow.  The bogs breached beaver dams and the water flow was everywhere.  Furnace Falls was spectacular although the entrance was blocked by construction.  The Mississsippi offered a set of falls that was amazing but the weather, traffic, and road side access will leave that to personal memory as opposed to photo journal history.

My final turn in the trip came up almost three hours on the nose and I was greeted by orange markers and the sign stating, “Road Flooded.  Use at own risk!”  How’s that for a welcome to town…..?  I took a bunch of photos and they will not be released as there is such a delicate balance here.  From the highway I saw so many sand bags placed to protect so many homes.  I find it amazing that water can bring forward the thrill of getting on it when it’s big and yet the same water brings so much trial to the home owners adjacent to it.  The same water, today, made me think, what the Hell was I thinking when I signed on for this.

I arrived at my destination and the young lady that greeted me went to great lengths to get the Canyon inside and safe.  “Looks pretty clean”, she said, and I agreed that this was my new baby and thanked her very much for her attention.  I chuckled to myself on the way home thinking when I said I was dropping off a virtually new Esquif and I’d be back on Friday; her look was if to say, “Damn, you’re the 14th person to do that today.”  The Canyon was left indoors from her effort and I really appreciate that!

So home, I am, and the trailer is empty, yet my mind is full.  This came from following a dream or a goal.  I wanted to do something with whitewater.  The canoe was purchased and the downstream line was chosen.  I made the call to Johno Foster, he suggested attending a function, I asked about a few things and the rest will unfold into a story that makes me, so happy, apart from the mental image of the water flowing under the bridge on Renfrew 515;

a flow with massive rollers and countless eddies and whirlpools, a river fully capable of….. well, I’m really not quite sure.

End result may be as soft as going back up to pick up my canoe but I think there is a whole bunch more in store.  Oh, by the way.  Did you know that Palmer Rapids has an L.C.B.O.  Thanks God for small mercies and so many like minded people willing to lend a helping hand.

So next Friday, it’s off to the Madawaska and with the benefit of good guidance, I’ll be able to put up another post.

See you on the river!

@MythicGear @PaddlerCoop @WatershedSales @CompletePaddler @PasionatePadler #drysuit #whitewater

 

 

 

MADMAN ACROSS THE WATER!

Reviewing my list for things to accomplish, I came across whitewater canoeing.  So the first thing would be to acquire a whitewater canoe and off I went to purchase an ’07 Esquif Canyon….a much celebrated and sought after whitewater canoe.  Now what do I do?

“Let’s take the Canyon on a trip!”, says us, and Holy smokes, did we ever see some water..top side, bottom side, and pretty much all the edges!  Ok, so don’t shoot the messenger but first comes the intent and then follows the knowledge; or so we hope!  Two trips and five dumps definitely calls for a judges opinion and this came down to some common sense.  We needed a second opinion!

Training became the focus, not withstanding weather forecasts, and so it was booked.  A two day extravaganza on some primo whitewater in Ontario and we went over the edge on preparation.  The Canyon would get outfitted, we’d be trained, and we’d meet all kinds of whitewater aficionados, and the rain….well someone apparently forget to shut off the rain valve and….well, we got a bunch of rain.  So much rain fell that when I phoned up today, Trevor told me that they’d never seen levels like this before and that Class 11 rapids had 12′ (twelve foot) wave trains in them.  Now, I’ll admit to wanting to get some first hand experience in moving water, but moving water that is twice my height…!

Jack reassured me that at my age…(what?) that I could either stand back or jump in and get my feet wet.  FOOTNOTE: Jack, at 12′ you want to get on with the “feet wet” thing?………jump in!…..”our boats are standing by in Ottawa and Gaspe”.  All kidding aside, from Jack, through Melissa and Trevor, the folks at Paddler Co-op are top notch and do more than their share to accommodate.

Now we pack…for what?  For a trip that we have no idea what it may yield!  For paddling a canoe that we couldn’t conquer and it will become a totally different animal….overnight.  For a paddle on a river, the likes of which we’ve very likely never seen?

I’m not going to finish with a corn ball saying apart from the fact that if you want to do it….get up off of your backside and get it done!

See you on the river!

#esquifcanoes @PaddlerCoop @MythicGear @WatershedSales

 

 

 

What a crazy weekend with regard to the weather and the water. Everyone has been busting a gut to get outside to either hike, camp, or paddle.  Thing is that Mother Nature has been giving us a bit of her best and without the proper training and experience plus the proper gear, you might be headed down a slippery slope.

A bunch of us got together last weekend and we were discussing various places to paddle in this general area. One thing after another with plans going awry, the talk drifted to the Mad River.

I’ve recently acquired an Esquif Canyon and it has not been outfitted…..at all!  The slippery nature of the Royalex hull is mirrored on the interior and when you need to apply body english without knee pads or straps that boat can completely alter your opinion of your capabilities. This canoe features a 4″ rocker bow and stern so if you sneeze violently the canoe will spin 360′.  A slight exaggeration but you get the drift. Now couple that responsive nature and nothing to bind you to the canoe and you have the explanation for some of our swimming lessons.  Now kick in a double dose of “let’s get out there” with a race horse and no saddle in flood level rivers without adequate experience in swift water rescue and …..yup, I’ll bet you can hear the sirens in the background.

So, I could sit here and moan and groan about missing a weekend or I could, and did, take steps to correct the situation. I went to Sojourn today to see all their sale goodies (open tomorrow also) and met Johno Foster from Watershed Sales and he endorsed getting the Canyon outfitted. One of the great points he mentioned was the variety of knee pads and the fact that for a dedicated white water canoe you’d be likely to go for the deep cup and for a tripping canoe you may want to go with a flatter style to allow for added movement under way. Another step towards a goal.

From there I figured maybe I didn’t really know as much as I thought I did so I booked a course for whitewater training….on one of Ontario’s premier whitewater rivers….oh ya! Why, you ask? The reason is simple but it does have a couple of points.

I have the interest to get into white water but that interest also holds a measure of responsibility. My family needs to know I have more than an interest to go. I also have to have the skills to get back safe and sound. I have a responsibility to my partner in the canoe so it is coursed down stream in a fun, yet controlled manner with safety out front. To this community I’ve taken an interest in, I need to be a contributor, not a taker. I have to be able to answer the phone and say, without doubt, “sounds good, how can I help?”. Likewise, others in the community need to be able to have a level of confidence in me before making the call. I have to have comfort in the knowledge that I know how to handle both ends of the throw bag, I have to be able to 200% control any move on the water to avert a danger situation.  In short, I have to get in control and get properly trained.

So all things considered, the Canyon is going to get some help, I’m going to pick up some training and it’s going to be on the Madawaska River which is some of Ontario’s prime white water.  It’s going to be May which will likely be chilly and I’ve still got some work to do with regard to getting video coverage from a variety of angles.

This year has been tremendous for me and my paddle.  April 1st was the first run and two more followed before the end of the month.  In May I’m looking for major inroads and accomplishments.  To all that have been in touch, I thank you, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

See you on the water!

@MythicGear @WatershedSales @PaddlerCoop #esquifcanoes #whitewater #getoutside

GOLD FROM A “NO TRESPASSING” SIGN

This past weekend a group of us decided to check out what the Black River had to offer.  Most conscientious paddlers are well aware of the fact that the closer to home they paddle, the closer the restrictions of land use.  Sure the water is free use, but when you have to portage that dam and someone owns that land adjacent to the dam…you are trespassing!

We picked our route in advance and had the put in and take out spots mapped from a variety of sources available to us, none of which offering the head’s up regarding private property to be avoided.

The day came, and magnificent it was!  The river was run, twice, and we all had a blast including a stop over on an island.  The island offered three choices of travel.  One of which offered a potential head wound, the second, a definite wash and rinse cycle if you mis-planted a paddle, and the third, yielded yet, a further selection of two different routes down stream.

The canoeists I was with ran the rapids ( we kind of agreed to say C2 Tech) three times in tandem and in a variety of paddlers, Ben ran it once solo, and Ben also ran it solo but he forgot the canoe….we’re working with him on that one…..!  This was a day trip only so there was no camping  as we only wanted a taste of the river.  I ran some photos along with a write-up of the day and it came to my attention that we may have trespassed on someones land.

Well after the alarm bells went off, I started to think about what potential could could come of my post heralding the merits of this river.  Let me eliminate some conjecture here!  My Angel wings will be hard fought for and well earned, I hope, however, in my advancing years there are some things I still hold true.  If you take it in, take it out, if someone else takes it in and forgets, take it out.  If the sign says “Private Property” and you don’t live there, it’s not your sign and it’s not your property!

I immediately contacted the Chippewas of Rama First Nation as there are two problems here.  The first being trespassing and the second being the broadcasting of such a great area and potentially increasing the offence.  The gentleman I spoke with was of great assistance and understood exactly where I was coming from.  An email was forwarded and he said he’d be in touch.  What a relief when I received his call this morning informing me that we had not been on their property.  An invaluable lesson has been learned this day.  If you want the benefit of proximity, balance it with the value and appreciation of land ownership and access.  The only foolish question is the one not asked……Excuse me, may I use this for the purpose of…….?

Remember I mentioned Gold?  The gentleman I spoke with, his Brother hand built a birchbark canoe many years ago and it was featured as a display at Casino Rama.  With some alterations planned the canoe was on it’s way out when the Council asked for it back.  The gentleman I spoke with noticed my signature as the Canoe Collector and extended an invitation to the Chippewas of Rama First Nation museum to see the canoe.  Truly, an incredible honour and one I will not take lightly.

If you take this route of travel, please pay the respect it is due!

 

I’VE GOT A QUESTION!!!

Let’s take a brief moment and discuss questions. Some have questions and never ask them for reasons unknown. Others don’t ask questions as they may not like the response.

Me, I ask questions because I want an answer!  So I sent a message out to David Lee aka the Passionate Paddler and simply stated I was thinking about hitting a section of the Black River and would he be interested in having a look.  OK, in honesty, this is one of those questions you put forward to an incredibly busy, focused, dedicated and pre-planned guy so when the response came in basically as…..what section, what time, I did what any calm, cool, and collected guy would do; I started dancing around the computer shouting out suggested responses for my good wife to type in.

So the day dawned (which at my age is a really good thing) and off we went to tackle whatever the Black River could offer us.  Tucked neatly in between Hwy. 169 and Hwy 11 is where the Black River flows and the sharing of information before the canoes hit the water indicated this may just be a very good day.

The shuttle was put into place and with gear stowed we were quickly under way as everyone was itching to get at this one.  Upon putting the canoes into the water, the flow was noticed immediately and off we went.  Just under the first bridge, the rump rocks loomed out of the water and David stated, “If the rocks are out of the water then we are going to see some definition!”  Definition it was; a series of islands intermingle throughout the river and offer a variety of course.  At the same time, they offer a series of challenges as the paddler encounters cross currents from the same islands and the up force of the current is almost enough to strip a paddle from you if you’re not paying attention.

Signals for running the rapids were quickly established and running orders were agreed upon for the sets and that’s just about where the smiles started appearing.  This is a, no the starting point for success.  There was a variety of talent and equipment so establishing communication and listening to experience was a group PFD…..safety!

 

This river offers a number of channels and levels of difficulty while remaining to be an overall fantastic spot to test!  When we realized the length of the run we immediately thought about testing it a second time, which is exactly what we did.

After a lunch break at the Log Cabin Restaurant in Washago we took off back to the river.    It was great to have the equipment we did as we were able to give a lift to one fellow with an Esquif L’edge and another kayaker to the same put in spot we were using.

The second run came on full blast.  This section of river with its current flow level will yield anything from a swift, through C1 and right up to C2tech and it didn’t take more than a moment for David and Ben to lead the charge downstream to the header drop just prior to the take out.  As I stood with an impressive C2 behind me, I looked back up stream and saw the two streams pouring into the intersection of the river.  An alternate choice offered a further downstream option with another two escapes.  Truly a place to offer respect as it could do as much damage as it could offer tranquility.

Would I ask another such question……you can bet your paddle…..!

 

@PasionatePadler @MythicGear

A NEW YEAR, A NEW CHAPTER

To say the last few days have been exciting is a huge understatement.
When the Canoe Collector started it was a result of looking for another canoe for the family and very quickly escalated into something much bigger. New adventures were tried and tested and the entire outdoors thing for me became much wider in scope. With the new adventures came a new circle of friends and influence and subsequently, I’ve enjoyed a new feeling of self satisfaction in helping others while expanding my own horizons.
Tonight, it is with great pleasure I am announcing my affiliation with Mythic Gear – high value drysuits that allow you to paddle comfortably and safely in cold water! Mythic Gear is sponsoring myself with a drysuit so you can be sure it will get a work out and I’ll keep you all posted of every adventure.  I encourage you to check them out, as I did, at their website, https://www.mythicdrysuits.com and follow on Facebook Mythic Gear and Twitter @Mythic Gear.
In speaking with Robert Holtzman, President of Mythic Gear, I gained the confidence this is a Company that will deliver the goods and stand behind their product. So, I am definitely looking forward to some “fresh” adventures.

Feel free to drop me a line regarding your travel plans because you never know when I may be in your area.

Be good, be safe!

@MythicGear #getoutside #canoe #backcountry

Gettin’ The Itch!!!

So many phone calls and texts and tweets going back and forth about this trip and that event, Did this and you have to do that.  My God!  Here I am going this way and the other; I should have been a twin and not a parent of twins.  Actually two sets of twins, but that’s another story.

Way back before the snow started flying in earnest, I mentioned I was putting whitewater canoeing on this years drawing board.  Well, talking about it and getting right at it are two distinctly different animals.  First off is the equipment starting with the canoe.  Let me see!  I’ve got seven, at the moment, so one of them has to fit the bill.

As the Canoe Collector, I’ve paddled a great number of hull designs and canoes of various materials.  I’ve got lightweight with my Nova Craft Prospector 16′ in kevlar and she will definitely take the load and keep you dry.  The Swift Algonquin 16′ in fibreglas is a jewel to paddle on lake and river but I don’t know how comfortable I’d be taking her through the rapids.  More concern for her than a doubt about my capabilities, mind you.  So which way to go?  I wanted a canoe that will be nimble in the splash zone and not afraid to run with the flow.  Bow and stern rocker need to be sufficient to handle a 16′ solo and get out quick when I need to.

Next is the target.  I’ve been pouring over my maps and talking to those who would listen about this trip and that trip so after all having been said, it will be a French River trip in the early season.  Why the French?  Good and fair question and the answer is familiarity. I know a section of that river very well and I know what kind of a ride it can offer.

The only major thing now is personal protective equipment in the form of a dry suit and helmet.  Gone, for me, are the days of running up and down the French in construction boots and jeans (remember please, most of you weren’t born when I started up there and yes times have changed drastically).  A spill hours away from the closest help can mean getting out and being carried out!

Oh ya…..the canoe!  I almost forgot to tell you.  The baby I bought is an ’07 Esquif Canyon and as Esquif has built their name on whitewater boats I’m confident this canoe will be more than able to handle anything I can put in front of her.

As for the rest, it’s a shopping I will go.  If you have any recommendations feel free to through me a line by comment here, on Twitter @canoe_collector or on my Facebook page @canoecollector.

Thanks for your time and here’s to you for planning and achieving that milestone that is special to you.

@frenchriverpp  #PaddleOn  #canoe  #backcountry  @OntarioParks

 

JUST CAN’T FIGURE WHY GUYS DON’T LIKE SHOPPING!!!

OK, so I shot you a false header because I agree, I’m not fussy on stretching my neck out to answer that famous question, “How do I look in this one?”  Luckily today, I got to do that guy thing and go shopping with Izzy.  Now mind you Izzy is not much of a canoe dog, yet, but he’s a ripper for getting out of the house and go for a ride in the truck.  Throw in a plain Timbit and he is one appreciative dog.

So trailer hooked up last night and fuelled and gone by 7:30 headed for the London, ON area.  I was amazed to see so many people going to new jobs today because it appeared they hadn’t a clue as to where they were going.  However, no harm, no foul, no insurance claim, and no assault charges…..!  The day was shaping up just fine.

Since the very second I said, “So I’ll see your Dad on Thursday morning.” the thought that this purchase was going to go south haunted me and gnawed away at the back of my mind. The back?  Are you kidding?  I thought I heard Izzy say, “Relax Dude, this is going to come together and if not, I’m enjoying the day.  How about you?”  We are so fortunate to have an understanding dog.

Alrighty then…..the shopping list!  I was looking for something sporty!  Something sassy and splashy in red perhaps with a hint of yellow, yes yellow highlights.  Something that was strong enough  to get the job done, yet gentle enough to have a fun time doing it!  It needed the warmth of wood and the curl in the lip to say, “Bring it on!”

So bring it on, we will, right after we brought her home.  Esquif has been regarded as the primo white water canoe and I’m now fortunate enough to get into the owners circle with this beautiful Canyon model.  Watch for me this spring……it’s likely to be a red hull coming down river!

So in closing, gentlemen, just get out there and shop, shop, shop, …..for canoes and such and when the Ladies ask for assistance please be flattering, complimentary, and considerate.  Bottom line here is that it’s still winter so smarten up a bit and sleep indoors.  “Oh my goodness, that colour looks radiant…..as you’re standing beside my new canoe……..lol!

 

So after a tough day of shopping, there’s nothing like relaxing with a Scotch and water….whitewater, and I like it stirred and shaken!!!!

HOW YOU SEE THINGS

The auctioneer started the bid on an old cylindrical grater at $15. and with no bids he dropped to $10. and then to $5. The audience was very still and no bid was forthcoming so the auctioneer made like he covered the mike and said to his helper’s, “You know guys, with a simple tea light these make a fantastic table decoration and they give off some fantastic shadow effects. The grater ended up selling for $27; well above the starting offer of $15.
Moral, and more importantly, the reason behind the story is that a paddling and camping couple friends of ours, Marion and Duane, suggested something from the winter ski season may be of benefit for the summer paddling season.
Goes to show you, it’s not always what you’re looking at….but rather, how you see it!
Thanks to @luv2campingmom

REFLECTING ON ACCOMPLISHMENTS…

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt.
I was looking through some different things today and laughed out loud at some of the accomplishments made this year. Did I get everything done that I’d planned? Not even close, but year over year, I got a lot more done this year and with a greater variety. Cold tenting in January, Mad River run in the Spring, multiple trips with friends and family, a 50th anniversary trip with a cast of 22 people, three dogs and 8 canoes, and followed up with a mid November tour through several lakes in the south of Algonquin.  Best thing is that this one isn’t close to being over…..!
So a word of caution to 2017…..you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…!

I would never take sole credit for any of this as it’s just more fun to share the outdoors with others, so thanks to my family, the Millers, for testing most of my limits and still making us smile, @Paddle_In @Some_Eventful @OutdoorsShawn @luv2campingmom @Man_Camping @Swift_Canoe @Canoe_In @christinascheu and special thanks to Izzy, who is just as happy to see me when I come home from work as he is when I come off a trip away.