A CANOE IS A CANOE IS A CANOE…..!

Ha!  Hogwash!!  Sure they’ll all get you out on the water but will they do what you want them to do, will they be able to do what you’re capable of making them do, and will they make you happy?  As the Canoe Collector, I had some knowledge and gained much over in the scant year that I’ve been doing this.

The very first thing you need to decide is what you want to do…..yourself!  Do not allow any one to tell you what it is you need.  Flat lake, easy peasy paddling , perhaps the occasional portage, or perhaps you’re planning on a 2 month tour across the Yukon.  You’re certain not to satisfy the above with a single choice in canoes.

So with a new canoe in the crosshairs, and definitely a lighter one, we hooked up the trailer, added coffee and headed north to get together for a meeting with a canoe company we know of.  A test drive on new boats is not going to be done carte blanche at this time of year as oddly enough, while everyone states they are experts and with much colder water temps, it is not something to be toyed with!  Equipment checks were done and an itinerary was shared with an expected timeline and we were off.

The trailer was loaded with quality, obvious statement and affect from the looks heading through town, yet the trio offered so many different tangents for the canoeist.  On board we had a 16′ Prospector, a 16’6″Kipawa, and a 16″ Keewaydin.  I appreciate the fact there is nominal difference in the length but that is where the individual hulls come to life in their own capacity.

The day was heavily overcast and the breeze was strong with a smack of drizzle.  Just enough to make you say under your breath, “Why didn’t I bring wipes for my glasses?”  Toughen up sailor!  Steve flipped the Prospector into the lake and off he went into the stiff breeze to put the boat through the paces. He rocked and rolled and actually stated, “Hey, It’s only 2 -4 feet deep here!”  Oh great , and the water temp is…..?  Rest assured the inside did not get washed and the boat went to shore.

Next in was the Kipawa for Steve, while Karin and I put the Keewaydin in the water.  The Kipawa had been out for a bit as we turned the Keewaydin into the wind.  I’d many stories from many people about the Keewaydin

and when we applied some paddle pressure, this lady fair leapt out of the water in response; the track was true and in the face of a good wind the course was easily corrected while maintaining a strong forward speed.  All of the canoes were tested in a variance from bow and stern combinations and weight distributions.  Please keep in mind that these three hulls are large capacity trippers and we were just empty hull testing while keeping the end result in mind.

I’ll tell you what though, there is a time and a place for a bow sliding seat.  Karin found it and it was so delicately balanced that she noticed portaging the Keewaydin with the slider in two different positions…..seat forward….tail up!  Meanwhile at 6’4″ I found the Kipawa could have been better suited to have the bow slider.  Different strokes, right!

Stay tuned for further developments and enjoy your season because what we thought may have been over turned out to be a fun and informative day on the water while inside some of the Ontario Parks.  Research and exercise your buying decision…..it’s a matter of choice!

@Swift_Canoe @OntarioParks  #wegetoutside

 

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BY ANY OTHER NAME……

A campfire is such an amazing place to be, almost spiritual with the immense scope of the world just beyond the circle of light of the flames and the same flames dancing in the eyes of the children sitting around the fire.  Truly a remarkable place to tell stories about yourself to let your friends know a bit more about you.  Truly an ideal setting for the children to build memories, some that will last a life time.  That sparkle in the eyes of the kids’ just may be the reflection of something quite worthwhile from within!

This campfire was with a group of 22 people, four of which we know very well and two others that I had met once before, and was one I’ll never forget!  More than a fair share of strangers had banded together to enjoy a trip to Wolf Lake and can you imagine their surprise when they came to find the lake had another name.  Yes, being the eldest on this journey I came to know the lake by another name.  As the story of Chicken Lake  was told, I summoned a great deal of help from the kids and a good number of the adults and so with being on the lands of the Ancients, beneath the towering pines, while the great winds blew…..I laid an egg!  No, I mean an egg….!  Some of the eyes from the younger set were absolutely priceless and I successfully proved to myself, there isn’t a great deal of age difference from four to sixty-three!  I also hope they appreciate how carefully you have to walk for an hour and a half with a hard boiled egg in the cuff of your boot top in order to tell a campfire story.

It was around this same campfire that several of us expressed concerns with the winds and the return trip coming up the following morning. For two days the winds had kept a strong pace and Saturday the wind speed grew to the point where I had to change position twice while paddling our Swift Algonquin 16 to get the nose down in the water and weather vane the tail.  She was not a day to take lightly.

Sunday, the dawn broke and Karin whispered, “Can you hear that?”  I listened for a moment and replied, “Can I hear what?”  That’s when the sound became deafening!  The sound of the relentless wind not being there.  Time for a quick breakfast and get outta Dodge because there’s only one way for the weather to go……!

It’s funny to look at the different viewpoints offered from those that participated in this trip.  We truly had everything from soup to nuts, and it really had all the ingredients for a disaster except for one thing…. every body had a real desire to paddle in.  We had the catalyst by way of the crew from Paddle In, who put a whole new meaning to “jumping in” to help, plus some great people who were there to participate, enjoy, and help others to make this trip a huge success……..and so it was!

I going to fix an egg salad sandwich but not before saying thanks to……

@Paddle_In @Some_Eventful @luv2campingmom @Swift_Canoe @OutdoorsShawn @Man_Camping @OntarioParks #wegetoutside #canoeing #backcountry #tripping

 

“MAHEENGUN” means WOLF, OR SO THEY THOUGHT!

Well it had been a very long time; fifty years to be exact, and Shawn was quick enough to call me out on a comment I had made about putting together a trip to celebrate.  “Hey, weren’t you going to do something special this year?”   Well, special became a very different animal (more of that later) and the interest spread.  Actually it spread far and very quickly.  Some heard comments that it couldn’t be done successfully, and that it would have too far a reaching impact on the environment.  Was the individual’s experience level capable to perform a trip of this scope.  This trip, not unlike any other, suffered its’ share of fallout as it did, interest, so the target, exact date, members, and exact travel plans were kept to the confines of those committed to making this trip a lasting memory.

A meeting place and time were established and so we began; some with a campfire to prepare for the trip and others hitting the tarmac at an early time to satisfy the extended trip.  What a joy it was to flip on the windshield wipers in the pitch black morning on Hwy 400/69 at about the halfway point to Sudbury.  15 minutes into the rain, Karin looked at me and asked, “Didn’t you leave your boots in the back of the truck?”  With traffic being light, the sudden brake did nothing more than FULLY wake up Steve and get things back in attention.  I’d like to think it had something to do with Ram design, but I know someone was looking out for me and …….dry boots!  Onwards to pick up canoe #3

Via the world of electronics and media, it became evident that some had not fared the evening so well and that we were not the only travellers enjoying the weather.  So now we had a better understanding of timelines and expectations to hit the rendezvous.

Speaking of rendezvous’s , let’s back this up a smidge to a “planning evening” held not so long ago with a group of consorts to discuss the finer details of the trip such as beer, wings, veggie dips, and copious quantities of tales from former trips, and oh ya….”what time are we going to hit the water?”  The most outstanding question of the evening was, “…so, ya gonna be there?”  You’re likely to see me along the way!

“I need a coffee…..NOW!” and so we headed in towards the Tim’s on 17 and as I turned in I remarked about a good looking Swift canoe, in black, so here we are admiring the canoe as the owners are waving at us and voila,  pre coffee I realized I recognized these people. “Hot Damn!”,  we passed the audition and people, other people, were going to be on this trip.  This is where the excitement builds….!  We get to the cut off road and we see the black canoe again;  we see a red canoe, we see a green canoe we see canoes all over the place, and we see people shaking hands, nodding heads and hugging others.  It was all going just way too good right up to the point where Matt says, “This is an active mining road….and you’re really going to have fun with the trailer!”   OK, now I need another coffee……NOW!

The access road proved to be exciting but not a problem, and soon we were at our launch site.  Canoes down and packs loaded and the armada was soon to be released upon the wild.  Wind at out backs proved to be a boon to the trip and the fastest canoe soon became closely related to the slower boats by way of great communication and a close watch.  This is a testament to a successful trip when, with a group of 22 people, multiple dogs, and an age swing from 4 – 63 years of age, you still have to administer the portages to ensure flow!

So the flotilla continued on its’ chosen course, to the land of the Wolf, yet with any venture worth its’ weight, the trials and tribulations stand before those challenging the route.  It’s been said that the reward is only equal to the challenge, so child, pet, and combatant carried, and carried over several worthy obstacles.  Word came down from Matt and Chelsea that the next paddle would be “easy peasy” and there was just a small swift to champion and off we would be to the camp site.  A fitting spot for Matt to jump into the river and push canoes up the river.  Hope I spelled Easy Peasy correctly.

Camp was made and food packs hung while daylight stayed with us and the array of cook ware and menu prep was from A to Z, yet no man, woman, child, or dog went hungry.   The strong winds played with, and stayed with us through Saturday and this evening’s campfire brought a chance for us all to get together and talk about who we were and what is was that that brought us here!   What an incredible evening for sharing and an incredible evening for anyone of us to lay an egg, so to speak!

I had such a strong feeling about how this trip was coming together, and about all the people who had committed to this endeavour, I felt very good about the Sunday morning.  Red pines had bent over in the breeze for two days and on the Sunday, the wind was calm.  The lake was calm!  The portages would be the climax for the day, or so we thought!   So many times we see the road before us and calculate our trip based on that vision.  Then comes the road less travelled.  The road which offers the jewel of the trip; the offering to those who will spend the time as opposed to save time by hurrying along the path.  I very nearly lost it myself, so quick to get the gear and the canoes gone from one point to another and missing the entire reason for the portage.  You can only capture this effect once!

End result was a magnificent day with nominal winds and virtually a complete sunny day with temps at about 23’C.  By comparison, I’d love to talk about the alternative offered to us on a 10 km. paddle into a devastating headwind.

End result, in fact, is the creation of many new friendships, bonds in both camping and canoeing.  So many personal bests were created on this trip because “we didn’t know if we could do it.”  “We hadn’t been pushed this far before”.  Well guess what folks?  You didn’t get pushed…..you pushed yourselves!  You signed on by your own choice and we came back with the same number we left with so hat’s off to everyone.

To every single person on this trip, I can not thank you all enough!  Incredible is such an over used word, yet if it’s not within the realms……it’s incredible!  And I thank you for your part!

 

 

 

EMERALD, RUBY, AND A BOWL OF SOUP!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all and I hope you are taking advantage of the outdoors, or at least, taking the time to re-charge your personal batteries.

I spoke last of “Stone Soup”; the ability to make something spectacular from virtually, nothing, and share it with others.  Well that trip is well on its’ way to fruition and just the thought of soup, coupled with a stiff fall breeze and the heavy clouds over head, made me take to the kitchen to prepare……..a pot of soup!

My goodness, there is nothing like a ham bone and veggies with lentils to simmer on the stove top while outside work is being done.  The moment you walk in the house, the aroma carries a somewhat magical quality that stirs memories of Moms’ and Nanas’ who toiled to make certain the soup was just right.  Who could imagine there was such a delicate balance within a ham bone, carrots and celery, lentils, onions, and basil?  Yet there it sits, inside the deep bowl accompanied with a fresh bread stick and copious quantities of butter!

Oh, I’m sorry!  I’ve obviously become quite distracted!

A very special new addition may be arriving on the scene shortly and I’m undecided as to the stone of choice……ruby or emerald?  As expected with such gems, champagne will accompany the arrival!  The new potential addition has a fine line of distinction, a delicate flair, shows impeccable taste, and would be the defining line for any collector of gems.

I wonder, ruby, or emerald?

 

 

HAPPY 50TH ANNIVERSARY

50 years ago I answered the call to go on a fishing trip into the French River.  A river uncharted and known to only a few who had ventured so far north.  Or so we thought!

A huge river, rich with Canadian heritage and the blood, sweat, and tears of those who had plied the waters hundreds of years before us.  Tricks and trails that were shared and passed on from scant weeks before, to the time present.  With each trip in, the river seemed somewhat more manageable while retaining its intrigue, its magic, and its fascination!

Simple fact is that we never to continue riding our first bike.    In one week that is going to change in a very big way!

I made the comment that I’d love to do a special trip for my 50th this year and was reminded, and questioned  as to my intentions.  One thing lead to another which brings us to an amazing trip about to unfold into, yet another, prime canoeing territory of Canada; that being, Temagami!

So what would you add to a 50th anniversary outing?

Anyone remember reading “Stone Soup”?  This trip will offer a sprinkle of youth, seasoned with experience from trips before.  It will allow for the test of an ambition or a dream, or even a dare, flavoured by the eye of an elder.  This trip will enable thoughts to be achieved, it will instil a believe in a very young heart and mind that there is no limit or boundary to what we may achieve.  It may very well do the same to an older heart!  This trip will be rich from the experience of priors which is readily shared with anyone with the same appetite.

The stone was brought forward, the pot is going to be within Temagami, and I am in awe as to the ingredients available for this pot of soup!

I love what I do!!!