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

 

 

 

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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!