Monday, September 21, 2015

A few miles upstream from Arnprior, the Ottawa River flows over a dam and then divides and redivides into a number of smaller channels. This section of the river offers many paddling possibilities depending on the current and the time of year. I had been there once before, but this spring, the water was much higher, the currents faster and consequently we were unable to paddle many of the same areas as we were able to the year before. That is, we would have been able to, but the return journey upstream would not have been much fun given we had not arranged a shuttle or anything.

So, this meant we went exploring into the drowned forests in bays along the river's edges. Lower water in other years had closed off these areas, so it was all new to us. What had been blocked channels were now open and new islands had appeared. Some gentle rips of previous years were now boiling white water rapids!

In the top photo we came across an Osprey setting up its nest for the season. In the lower photo, taken in one of the drowned forests, dozens of turtles were sunning themselves in the first warm days of spring.

It was a good time to be on the river. Hardly anyone else was there and we were able to enjoy four glorious warm days and crisp evenings. Of course, we had a bonfire!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Visiting Old Haunts and New Arrivals

Got out on the lake today after a long absence. It was good to check out the old haunts, nooks and crannies which I've been to so many times over the years. Checked Black Point and replaced the geocache I have hidden there. The tree root it was attached to ended up underwater when the tree tumbled into the lake during the spring.

Heading across the lake and then down north and over again to Hovey Manor, I paddled up the Glen Villa brook. All was in order including a family of Mallard ducks getting some training in boat avoidance by their mother. The old log off the point is still in place. It has been their since the Glen Villa hotel in the early 1900's, still looking for a shear-pin to break should a prop get too close. It's deeper in the water these days, but still there to catch the unsuspecting...

I also came across this Bonapart Gull on the lake. Not a common visitor, but not unknown either. Always good to see the lake being shared by those from far away.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Paddle Care

If you use a wooden Greenland style paddle, made either by yourself or someone else, do it a big favour and give it some care every now and then. What that means is giving it a light body rub with some fine sandpaper. Check its tips for cuticle repair. Again you can use sandpaper for this task. When you're done, do a final rub down with a cloth.

The next step is to apply body oil. In most cases this means tung oil. Some people have a favourite brand, but in my case I use whatever the local store carries. I use a cloth to liberally slop the oil on and rub it in a bit. The paddles then get to rest while the oil soaks in and dries. If it's been a while since you last did this, consider repeating the last few steps. Your paddle will love you for it!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ottawa River Weekend

There's a sweet spot on the Ottawa River west of the city of Ottawa. It's a spot above Arnprior where the river narrows and divides into several channels and bays. The current and the wildlife conspire to make for some very pleasant paddling.

While there recently, even the weekend didn't produce many boaters. Mostly it was a few fishers and some locals heading out to some quiet spot, perhaps to a sandy beach or a quiet bay to spend the day. Geese were gathering and trying out their wings for the coming journey south. A baby black bear frolicked in the woods along the shore and then tried it's swimming skills in a current rip between two islands. A brilliant red flower in a secluded bay turned out to be a Cardinal Flower, poisonous it turns out from root to flower. Pretty all the same.

Sadly we had no money for refreshments in Portage, but the barman was kind. Cokes were on the house, but we declined his offer. It wasn't easy to finally head back to camp at the end of the day.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lake Groton, Vermont

I had the chance today of paddling with a relatively new paddling group. It's called 'Sea Kayak Vermont!' and is slowly gaining more members as it becomes more well known. It's a low key, highly enthusiastic group of paddling folks who like to get out and explore some of the bigger and smaller lakes in Vermont. Today we had a look at Lake Groton located in the State Forest of the same name. We put in at Boulder Beach on the eastern shore, but there's also public access on the west side of the lake as well.

While it's definitely cottage country for large parts of the shore, there are some wilder sections, especially at the south end. There's a long stretch of shoreline cordoned off to allow the local loons to nest in seclusion. As if in return, they can be found everywhere on the lake often letting paddlers come up quite close to them, which is a rare treat on most lakes.

Just west of the dam at the south end is a little boulder strewn creek leading into a boggy area built by some beavers. Their dam is only about 10 inches high at the moment, but it has allowed a whole new area of marsh to exist behind it. They graciously constructed a turn-around pond just below the dam for us to retreat back out onto the main lake without having to back all the way out.

I'm looking forward to exploring more of Vermont's lakes in the coming months!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sandbanks Provincial Park, Ontario

On the recent holiday weekend some friends and I went to Sandbanks Provincial Park for a little paddle. Hoping for some serious surf action, I took along my paddling helmet. Well, it was dead calm, but at least warm and sunny. We paddled along the park beach, but the more interesting paddle turned out to the the little stream which connects East Lake to Lake Ontario.

The park end of the stream is full of wildlife including birds and turtles. I have paddled up to basking turtles many times, bu this was the first time one allowed me this close before sliding into the water. I got so close to the fellow in the photo that it allowed me give it a little pat on the back. It then grudgingly slid off the log and went into the water. I guess it wasn't happy with me ruining it's afternoon nap...

When we got down to the outlet of the stream, we suddenly ran out of water. The stream disappeared into the shoreline sandbar forcing us to exercise our portaging skills for a few meters. It appears the previous days of wave action had

Kayak Summer Warm-up

 Look to your right...
Look to your left...

Everywhere you look, paddlers are getting ready for another summer of paddling! Some are thinking about getting out evenings after work, some look forward to day paddles on the weekend and others are planning longer multi-day trips into the back-country.

No matter what your plans are, good paddlers are looking at their boats, their equipment and their skill levels. All need to be reviewed, checked and prepared to get the most out of the paddling days ahead.

To get ready, I went to Ontario Sea Kayak Center's Kayakpalooza last weekend. The event was the perfect way to warm-up and prepare by getting out on the water with some instructors who put us through a series of exercises to practice the safety aspects and the various other skills which together help us get the most out of the coming summer. Not only was the instruction well done, the chance to get together with a large group of like minded kayakers was a great kick-off to the season.

Happy, safe paddling everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Paddling in Arizona

When many paddlers think of Arizona as a paddling destination, the only river that readily comes to mind is the mighty Colorado, yet there are other places which offer much. One such river is the Salt River Canyon below the Roosevelt Lake reservoir. This river is a popular destination for weekenders in the Phoenix area looking for something wet and cool on their time off. While I didn't paddle the river, I did check it out and will return some day to sample its offerings.

The upper parts nearest the dam feature smooth water between rounded hills of assorted desert plants and terrain (see the top photo). There are sandy beaches on which to camp and plenty of cliffs and so on to delight almost any paddler.

Now here's the thing. Getting to the dam can be a challenge. The 30 mile road into the mountains is un-paved and mostly single track. On a good day it's only mildly rutted and wash-boarded. On a bad day, I recommend stopping in Tortilla Flats, the end of the pavement and enjoying something cold at the bar. You won't be sorry you did. The place is really something else...

If you make it to the put-in, you'll really enjoy the paddle. As the river drops, the hills rise, in places dramatically with vertical cliff faces towering high above the water. The other good news is, as far as I know, there's no need to book ahead, no camping fees and none of the crowded conditions one faces on the Colorado. I can't wait...!