Weekend with AM: My Crazy Canoe Adventure (Part I)

07/14/2010

(Photo Source)

I enjoy camping.  I enjoy those moments of connecting with nature and disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of the city.  I enjoy exchanging the beeping of my alarm clock to the chirps of wild birds or the rat-tat-tat of a woodpecker.  I enjoy the simple-ness of paddling, then eating, resting, and repeating the cycle.

This camping trip, the gang comprised of BF, C, B and myself.  C and B, are two of BF’s buddies, and we have gone camping together before.  B’s girlfriend was also to be joining us, but unfortunately couldn’t come along.

C did all the planning – picking a 45km paddling route along the Spanish River.  We would leave our car at the bottom or the river, and take a train north – starting at the “Forks” and ending up 45km downstream at the “Elbow”.  We took B’s fiberglass canoe and rented a plastic canoe.  There were to be some rapids to be expected, and some portaging, as well.  The plan was maybe a 3 to 4 hours of paddling a day, a rapid here and there, eat, play, sleep.

The Spanish River is a beautiful stretch of wildlife with a combination of both boreal and hardwood forests.  These diverse amount of trees offers an array of wildlife that is not seen elsewhere.  Much of the trees on the Spanish River have not been cleared and some trees are more than 120 to 150 years old!  In the olden days, trees would be cut for lumber upstream, and transferred downstream via the Spanish River.  (I love reading and sharing the history of places I visit!)

We met some park rangers on the train, and they informed us the water levels were pretty low this year.  There hasn’t been much snow or rain this winter/spring.  This is not good news, since we also looked out and saw some dry river beds.  Low water levels means that we may not be able to paddle through some parts that are too shallow.

We started the trip in high spirits.  After about 3 km of paddling, we decided to stop for lunch. 🙂  I was super happy with the pace of this trip :D.  Food, food, food.  BF also did the food planning and shopping – which guaranteed it would be great!

We get back on the river and paddle for another 3 km or so, and hit a portage sign.   The signs look like this, and it means that there are some rapids or difficult waters ahead, and there is a portage route on land to go around it.

We all scoped out the waters and traced a path.  BF and C were pretty confident that we could tackle this one.  We were off, with C and B going ahead.  We traversed the waters well, with me yelling out “Rocks” every two seconds.  After we finished the rapids, however, C & B’s canoe hit a rock just before the calm and bashed a hole in their canoe.

We did not bring a repair kit.  Or duct tape.  We did have a small tube of Super Glue, though.  We decided to wait around for the park rangers and see if they had a solution or repair items.

The park rangers gave us a latex glove, and suggested we plug the hole up with a veggie.  So we cut half of our sweet potato and stuffed in the latex glove and plugged most of our hole with that.  We also cut a small piece of plastic from our bailer and super glued that to the bottom of our canoe.

The park rangers suggested we either head back upstream to where we got off the train, and take the train back home, or head downstream until we hit Pogamasing (about another 10 km further downstream) and take the train home from that point.  After Pogamasing, the railway tracks and the river diverge and we wouldn’t be able to catch the train back.  They made it clear that they did not believe there was any our broken canoe would make it down “The Elbow.”

We had some options to consider before our next step in our adventure.  We decided to call it a night and decide what to do the next morning.

What do you think happens next?  Which option do you think we end up choosing?  And if you know me well enough, which option do you think I would choose? 😉

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