AN AWARD WINNING WEEKEND

“Let’s plan a shoulder season trip.”    “You’ll love the crisp morning air, plus you’ll sleep so much better at night!”  ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????

I had spoken of a trip into the fall and had been in touch with some I’ve travelled with before.  A target was put out along with an itinerary (rough) and away we went.  In the past I’ve bowed and bent with whatever seemed to be happening at the time but this trip was going to be different.  Different in the fact that it was going to happen.  Heck, the first time you went on a solo was due to the fact you were committed, yes?  And so it came to be that it was Thursday evening prior to a Friday departure……

For anyone who has done a trip/outing with me, the mainstay is that launch will be at T plus whatever time is necessary for me to finish packing.  Sorry, that’s just the way it happens.  “Dave” and ” Oh my God….he’s ready!”  is not likely to be heard in the same sentence around my place, however, I can pretty much assure you it will be an interesting and informative wait!

Canoes were loaded on the Thursday evening, including a gorgeous 12′ Pilot set up in a solo configuration, from Composite Creations, courtesy of Andy Phillips.  The combatants had spoken prior to the trip and it was determined it would not be a light weight, minimalist trip, right down to towing an extra canoe and carrying an 8 lb. lightweight (?) dutch oven to prepare cinnamon rolls for dessert!

Flexibility allowed for an 8:30 AM take off time from the planned 5:00 – 6:00 AM, which, quite frankly seems somewhat barbaric.   Next stop….Parry Sound!

The “Sound” was a breeze right down to the point where I made the U-turn to park and a car left out right in front of me providing a panoramic view of the Home Hardware store for those left in the truck.  Alban, here we come!  “You remembered to pack the TP, right?”  There’s no sense having soggy toilet paper, so $80.00 later I’ve got some Kirkland TP and some large freezer zip lock bags and we’re hot and heavy to the Pine Cove get off.

OK, let’s take a moment here to put some history down here.  It was 51 years ago that I took the same trip on worse roads and in a 14′ Thornes aluminum for my first trip into the French.  It’s about 22 years ago that Karin and I first went into the French in our cedar canvas and 2 years ago that we took our children into the French in a wind storm and rainy weekend for an overnight trip.  Overnight……really!  Their comment was that they’d go back if it wasn’t so windy and if we had more time!

Well, time we had, the weather offered the summer high temperature on the first day of fall and we had between one and a half and two feet below flood levels.  It was a glorious weekend and one that put out some great tests of personal growth, fantastic equipment (reviews will follow) and some testimonies from the kids that will stand the test of time.

Friday was a great day on the way in and it came to a group consensus as to whether we would continue on, or camp where we spoke.  Gear was shifted into place and camp was made!  Dinner consisted of some sore muscles, along with a salad of laughter, and dessert consisted of some wonderful memories covered in some delightful ambitions.  Good nights were said and we headed for bed in the sweltering heat that only a 40’C day can offer.

Heads on the pillows and Mom and Dad are listening for the bairns to be off for the night when Mom says, “There’s something wrong with the fire.”  The coals were checked and the light show continued.  Heat lightning came in for close to 2 hours, followed by a gentle rain until about 4:00.  We woke the kids so they could have a look at the sky and the multitude of stars it offered.

The looks on their faces absolutely made the trip!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHAT’S BETWEEN FRIENDS?

Liam’s away, Emma and Karin were off to shop and I stayed at home with an old friend. We’ve been through some real times together and today I helped out as best I could. It was a healing time and now as I sit looking at some photos, I wonder who got the real benefit from today.

We talked for a bit; actually I talked and my pal listened and took it all in. That’s what good friends do, right?  She’s been with us for a long time, almost 24 years, and she’s carried the whole family on her back, smiling all the while!  Well, today it was time for a bit of payback.  It was time for appreciation and a little bit of mental therapy.

We started out the other day as some damage and some time had begun to show that it was time for a rub down.  It started with a light polish at 180 and then we dropped to an 80 grit on the gunwales.  It may be just me, but I don’t like to go to virgin wood on a recondition, especially of this nature.  To me, it’s great to be protective but the old finish has to show through somewhere.  Just a hint of a reminder of where this beauty came from.  So from an 80, through 120, 180, and onto a 220 grit we went very slowly to ensure the matters of repair, finish, and character were not compromised.

Today she was oiled twice and rubbed briskly with a pile rag to make certain the oil was almost scored into the grain.  A time to soak in and then a second coat which I’ll allow to soak overnight.  “Red” will definitely require another overhaul down the road as like my own, her skin is cracking, and showing signs of age!  That’s a story for another day and hopefully one that I’ll be able to tell another day.  Until then, I’ve done my best to help her along so she can talk to our kids one day when one of them needs a listening ear!

SITTING HERE WITH A LOT ON MY MIND

Sitting in the examination room, the doctor came in and after introducing herself, she had a look at a spot on my cheek and announced, “Well, that will be coming off!”  I thought, OK, at least I’ll have some time to build myself up for it.  That idea didn’t fly either as the procedure will be done on Aug., 2nd.

So let’s back up a bit here and put things in perspective.  July 29th, I’ve registered in the Mattawa River Canoe Marathon and as I had the opportunity to preview quite a bit of the route; it promises to be a gruelling test.

This past weekend we had an opportunity to visit the Bruce Peninsula National Park with each of the kids having a guest along.  The park itself is beautiful and while the staff went way out of their way to maintain the status quo, it was obvious they were fighting an uphill battle.

I’ll come back to the park but I wanted to get Izzy in the canoe, in the water just for a few minutes as he did such a fine job on dry land.  Some of the kids appeared to be excited about canoeing and that almost faded as quick as the sun.  In fact, none of the three canoes even left the trailer.  It seemed there were stronger voices calling than those from the woods.

Upon registering at the office, the park staff informed us of strict rules regarding noise, alcohol consumption, and site etiquette.  Trail signs cautioned about trucking out your own garbage due to the fact there were no containers.  Upon arriving at the shoreline there was a posting warning about alcohol, cold water and its affects on the swimmer, and one that caught my eye regarding cliff jumping and how it was not only dangerous, it was illegal!  Along the trail, Izzy had to go and with baggie on leash, his efforts were collected.  It looked like I was the only one for the day to do so.  At the shore we witnessed one group receive numerous tickets for alcohol related offences from a park officer while three others were in the general area.  Entertaining to say the least was the fact that a steady line of thrill seekers were jumping off the cliffs in the background from various heights.  Beauty from a well known and frequented landmark or another in the wilderness enjoyed a more private setting?  Even Izzy showed enough with the constant parade of people and dogs.  He’s not the best with strange dogs while leashed but he did an amazing job over the weekend.

I don’t mean to appear negative as the Bruce was a great trip!  It’s just that I’m wondering what the biopsy will show as there is a history of issues within the family.  I’m wondering how to get Izzy out in the canoe and where would be the best place to try it out.  With a mandatory safety meeting for the canoe marathon at 5:00 on Friday and normal work hours beyond that, I’m wondering about the plausibility of meeting the requirements.  I think about whether I failed at introducing the kids to camping and canoeing or whether it’s just a stage of our lives.  That having been said, the kids combined to get the camp set up in record time and the big blue went together fantastically.  I see the guy who walked in front of me with his family to view over the harbour.  I see him jockey for position to capture his photo which is when he stepped on Izzy.  The man told me I should control my dog and  I told him my dog was on a short leash and possibly he should control his feet.

Few bugs, gentle breezes, and good food with a lot of laughs made the weekend a great trip with the shoreline at Indian Head Cove and the Grotto and one that won’t be forgotten.

In a while I hope to look back on this one and laugh at the mole hill I thought of as a mountain.  For tonight, it’s just that I’ve got a lot on my mind.

LET’S RUN SOME NUMBERS HERE!!!

The trip is over and it was a whirlwind at best description.  Friday night to Saturday night there was 634 kilometres driven by two vehicles for a paddle of approximately four hours.  The route we enjoyed today dates back to the sixteen hundreds and was a major development route for the exploration and commerce of that time.  That may explain why some of the rocks seemed to take on faces of concern over the paddlers on this route.

So a straight forward A to B trip comes together with two paddlers of different strengths in two canoes and then you apply the numbers of timing over distance.  All of a sudden you’ve got a race on your hands with some contributing aspects.  One being an experienced solo and distance paddler and the other being one who is not so fond of the solo element and has not had any measure of success at it!  Gentlemen, start your engines!

The main impetus here was to see what the portages could deliver!  We should have just stuck with reading the reports….”they are not friendly and caution should be exercised.”

Portage One comes up and I’m looking for the phone number to a cab company! Honestly, if it wasn’t straight up, it was straight down with trees and rocks strategically placed to remove your fore and aft decks, depending on your height.  At 6’4″, I was trimming the overheads!  This one was marked as being an ankle biter and it showed its teeth on occasion. At almost 300 metres this baby showed her rattle!

As with any waterway, care and concern should be addressed to approaching or leaving a dam or spillway or a rapid for any matter.  When the power of hydraulics can change a 40 pound canoe into a ton of force, should you be on the wrong side, you need to have a lot of respect for the river!

I need to interject that my paddling partner today had an extremely focused agenda.  I was on the same page but in the fuzzy style print!  At the end of the first portage I watched the white Sawyer disappear around a corner.  What I didn’t realize was the Sawyer would be gone for some time.  OK, let’s rewind a long time to my first attempt at a solo.  It didn’t go well!  Really!  So here I am checking everywhere for my map!  Thanks God, I’ve got it.  Second portage on my own and all’s good.  Third portage looks great and the canoe is in the water but I don’t feel right.  Of course not, dumb ass, you’ve still got your day pack on!  OK, pack stored and map read but what is that over there?  Oh ya, it’s the 2nd rapid coming up because I misjudged reading the map and took the shorter of the two portages.  Playing numbers, right?  A solid back paddle and a small ferry in the head pond to line things up and off we go.  There is nothing that compares to lining a run properly followed by that little dance a canoe performs right to the strokes that power your way through the eddy line.

So overall I believe we were close to 28  kilometres travelled with  7 portages totalling 1505 metres plus two swifts and one that approached a class I all within a four hour span.  Absolutely over the top for me!

While the portages showed difficulty in a modern day sense, what caught my attention was the heigh of the gorge walls.  The rock walls looked over me today in more than one way.  I’ve always been a firm believer that respect is earned and not always due!  These canyon walls knew that they had a new player coming by.  There was a spiritual contact here and thank goodness for the breeze in the trees and the noise it offered.  I felt stronger here, as if I was picking up energy from around me.  The numbers of people who have travelled this very route is beyond count and here I was on my own.

Checking my map I verified my position and eyed on oncoming swift. The wind at this point was going to be on my right side and the river was going to curve right on the approach.  I shifted forward and dropped to my knees to bring the bow down after choosing my line.  When the the river, the canoe and the canoeist align, the feeling of exhilaration is second to none.  Quickly the rocks glide behind you and you realize your speed of travel.  There is a great feeling of pride when your line travelled is a match for the line you picked.  To say I was feeling pretty good about my effort would have been the least to say.  I was thinking it was going to be pretty tough to top  things from here until I glanced over and saw the white Sawyer on the shore.  In fact, I wasn’t doing too bad after all.  I was about 45 minutes back so Jay had decided to take a break and a swim.

Back into the swing of things with only one more portage of 160 meters over the remaining 4 kilometres.  With the take out all but hidden this portage turned out to be the prime test of the trip.  It was easy to see the rivers past water levels as the rocks took on a different look.  I’m willing to say that the fish wouldn’t have enjoyed being here when the water levels provided a home for them.  The put in was an equal joy with a boulder on one side and a fallen tree sticking into the river.  A truly joyous spot it must be when wet.

When rivers connect, our final take out was in sight.  Travel upstream was a real test with the flow and both of us front ferried our way across for a bit, then the down river run started to where we could ferry out to the shore.

Canoes on the ground and the road beneath us, we decided we’d walk to the truck and come back to trailer the canoes.  The only trick with our plan was that we walked the wrong way.  Two guys, two maps, one guy who clearly stated, “I’ve been here before!” .  There’s a measure of irony in successfully navigating your way through the backcountry only to become disoriented on the pavement in a park.  I’ve often said if you can’t laugh at your self, you shouldn’t laugh at others.

This trip was totally a new experience for me and I quite enjoyed it so this is something I’d definitely look at doing over.  The final numbers here are contained in my aching muscles and joints, however, they are far too many to count.  Get out there and have fun while being safe and please, don’t be afraid to ask for directions…..even if you’ve been there before!

I’M ON MY WAY AGAIN – “The coming and going of a canoe”

As a collector, of sorts, when the ad states, “SAWYER CANOE”, the scramble starts!  Over the past two years I’ve bought, paddled, repaired, and sold a good number of canoes.  I’ve answered all kinds of questions in addition to asking a larger number of questions as I believe that to be good at something; you need to know!  The answer to, “How do you know that?” is to get into something and ask the people with the correct information.

So the trailer was hooked up and off I dashed to Orillia after speaking with the vendor of the canoe.  First order of business was to use the tape measure and when this 17’9″ Sawyer Cruiser came in at 17’6″…..well, it just seemed to be a good time to scratch my head!  As with a visit to the doctor, you are able to go for the second opinion and I turned her over to see the interior.  That’s when the picture came right back into focus.  This gal just screamed of having a Swift canoe interior.  The seat webbing and the contour of the kneeling thwart grabbed my attention until….yup, the deep dish Teal yoke!

Look at a photo and some things are instantly recognized and known.  With Swift Canoe and Kayak it’s the laser line to the trees.  With Langford, it’s the thin line to the beaver with the canoe model in written font.  With Scott, the original Scott canoes, all you needed to do was look at the seat braces for that warm and gentle curve featuring the vinyl seat cover.   So, while I wasn’t looking at a Cruiser, I was looking at a really nice canoe that needed a hug.

That hug she got and saw a considerable amount of water while in the stable.  A trip to the Chiniguchi Waterway was the major test and she excelled…..well, with the exception of being a wonderful portage partner.  I’ll put the blame on my 63 year old knees.  Such a nimble and quick canoe, she surprised us with her sprints from the nose to the toes of our group and she danced on the turns.  Our daughter and I were the constant paddlers for the Winisk and we all had a lot of fun with her.  This girl shunned the wind with her low deck profiles and provided good stability even empty.

As with any good book, the next chapter will reveal a new character, provide more intrigue or provide more information.  That’s what I was after and while the Winisk was a beauty, there were other voices calling.  That desire created the ad for sale and quite frankly; I was not prepared for what was about to unfold!

Interest was evident very soon after posting the ad, as was the standard host of experts on a well known forum for sales of various items.  The ad and this writing have mentioned Swift and the canoe was offered as a Swift Winisk.  Why, you ask?  Good question!  The reason is simple.  The canoe had the measurements, the interior, and the overall appearance of a Swift.  The thing it was missing was a visible HIN; Hull Identification Number.  In short order the canoe was loaded and home she came.

I had two showings of the canoe on the day she went up for sale and one very interesting email which opened by stating, “Oh there’s a marking” and proceeded to tell me where to look.  Had the marking been there, then there was “a serious problem” as if it weren’t there, “no one with brains would touch it.”  It came from, “M” and what “M” didn’t allow for was the fact that earlier builds had a written paper badge with the HIN that was epoxied on one of the flotation chambers; not an impressed number by mold or even a badge that was riveted to the hull……leaving traces of rivet holes.

Ad was up, canoe had been shown, and interest and a timeline was put forward.  That’s when it got very, very interesting.  A good friend sent me a note regarding the fact it looked like I had so and so’s canoe up for sale.  “I beg your pardon!”

Well several exchanges and a few calls later we establish the fact that this Winisk was sold by someone known to me and the owner was known, as was the original colour and the subsequent re-paint colour.

So in closing, I propose a question to you, the reader.  Would you be happy to purchase a canoe that you saw good value in plus a good fit for your future plans in getting your family outside?  Would your purchase be somewhat more rewarding or fulfilling in knowing that you’ve purchased a canoe, designed and built, by one of Canada’s premier canoe companies, still in existence today?  Would you appreciate knowing that the canoe you just bought was one of the fastest, most responsive designs prior to modifications?  Would you feel a bit more secure with this information as opposed to having just bought a canoe from a guy!

I’m wondering what it was as a deciding factor to sell her?  Oh well, you can’t go on with regrets so cheers to the new owner and may you have much enjoyment knowing her, just a bit better!

 

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