Sunday, August 2, 2009

Final Thoughts

Gear and food 3,OOO dollars,  Kayak Rental 6OO dollars, Lock Pass,  80 dollars, 15 days on the water in the most picturesque landscape imaginable, PRICELESS!

Funny how at no point was I ever more than 2 hours from my house or 3 hours from where I started and yet, a different world.  

Having grown up on the trent waterway and georgian bay area, can only imagine what seeing this for the first time would be like for other people. Stunning in every way.   I missed so much zooming by in a speed boat all these years and now have a new appreciation for the beautiful area where I grew up.

I would recommend this trip to anyone regardless of skill level, it will not disappoint, add another 5 days to truly appreciate, with 30k a day you are paddling almost all day, stop and smell the roses so to speak.    I don't regret a single thing with the way I did it,  would add a few days if doing it again.

A few thank you comments are required and deserved.  The scenery and challenge only makes up half the memories, the people along the way are just as important.

To all the family, friends and co-workers for all their support, was great having you along and was a great feeling, you were there for every moment.  

To all the amazing people I met along the way,  may the wind be at your back and clear skies on all your future journeys.

To the dedicated people who work at the locks, job well done and you helped make this trip a success.  

To the Hillier family,  for the cold beer, great conversation, dinner and just being a familiar face on my long trip.

To the Elkie family, for the much needed day off when it was needed most, was amazing and the hospitality was incredible.  Will never forget.

To all the inconsiderate boaters who swamped and sprayed and just generally had no respect for the little guy, you have given me a new appreciation for respecting kayaks and canoes.

There are a few questions I get  asked the most...

What do you think about being alone that long? Nothing actually, it's kind of weird, 90% of the time my mind is blank and just take it all in, very refreshing actually, don't worry about going solo and being bored, you won't be. 

Would I do it differently?  Not one thing, I spent months planning this trip, didn't forget anything, need anything, want anything or felt as though I was "roughing" it.   Planning pays off, I've included a lot of info on this blog related to the planning side. Hope it helps. 

Would I do it again?  Absolutely, was fantastic, next time I'm bringing a date though, would be nice to have someone else to enjoy it with, no offense Kyle, you were great company and an amazing Nephew, blast to have along even if just for the last few days. 

What's the next trip?  Ah, the big question, you will have to wait and see, I will be doing one yes and will be just a little bit more extreme and remote, had time to think about it once I determined I was enjoying so much, time to step it up a notch and you will be like wtf? Are you nuts? Already planning. 

My final thank you goes to four people I have never met.  The "spanish donkey" team from Elliot Lake Retirement home.  You inspired me to do this trip in the first place and I only hope that one day you read this blog and/or we meet, the first of many adventures to come and I owe you a debt of gratitude for that.    If you don't know who the "spanish donkey" team is or why this trip was dedicated to them, go back and read my introduction.  

Hope you have found this blog useful and at times mildly amusing. 

Until  next time......

Swift Canoe/Kayak

To all the staff at Swift Canoe/Kayak in Georgian Bay.  Thank you for all the assistance in making this a memorable trip, it was very much appreciated.  

If you are looking to rent or buy a Kayak, I recommend this place with 5 stars.

Real cutie behind the counter too, ok me being me I had to throw that comment in. No offence intended and not looking for any discounts.

Post Review - Navigation

You literally do not require maps, compass or  gps for this trip.  Bring them if you like but wasn't required.  The trent map fold out you can get from any lock was more than enough.

Trent waterway for the most part is clearly marked and there are only a few spots where you have to stop and think about it. 

I did have gps on my blackberry and it was helpful, used it to gauge where I was not really for navigation.  If travelling at night, recommend gps of some sort, on water in familiar area at night is fine but in areas you have never been, everything is different, not a time to get lost or disorriented.   I also had a handheld gps which showed speed and distance traveled, either don't bring or stowe and don't look.  Found myself constantly checking it, how fast am I going, how far have I gone, turned mine off after day and a half.

Here are some tips.

Simcoe, when you come out of the Orillia Narrows and follow to the left, you will  jump a few points and then will just see horizon line in the distance, looking straight across you will see what looks like a point in the distance (barely) wasn't sure if I had to go around it, it's an island and the channel is to the left of the island. Just head for it and when you get close enough to make out the island head to the point on the shore to the left and keep following shore to channel.  Needless to say, if weather is up and Simcoe can pick up quickly I might suggest hugging the short instead of being 5km from shore in bad weather.

Canal lake, the lake splits around a big island on the opposite side, stay on right side, you will see a bridge with like a half moon tunnel, just go under it.

Balsam lake, when you come out of canal, just head to 12 o'clock and you will hit the island, depending on wind either go right and around point, way the markers go, or go left and around the long way.  Rosedale is on opposite end of island at the far left.  Update: Best to go left and around the island and not right, where the waterway goes, shorter and easier in the wind, learned that in the 2010 Trip.

Cameron lake, almost no markers so at first hard to tell if you should go down left or right side.  Fenelon Falls is down the end on the left, look for white buildings on shore and head for them,  when you get to Fenelon Falls make sure you enter lock between the two markers (red triangle and black square) there are rock walls that line channel on both sides, can't cross over if you miss and will have to circle back.

Bobcaygeon, when you leave and come out of channel, it looks like you go straight towards the left, don't. Go right and follow the big island on the left. Don't get discouraged, looks like a long way, channel is not that far down pigeon lake on the left.

Peterborough, when you come out of Ashburnham lock you will see markers leading into Peterborough on the right and will automatically head that way, at least I did.  The next lock is straight towards the bridge on the left not in Peterborough.

Bay of Quinte, when you come out of Trenton you will see markers heading towards the island on the left,  run parallel to the island and you will see the markers in the distance to the entrance to Murray Canal.  Red triangle.  At first you think you have to go down right shore because there aren't many markers past the island.

The above are the only spots where I had to think about where to go

Blogging

I started this blog as a resource site for other people, from the perspective of someone who has never done a kayak trip before.  

There were some unintended consequences though which I didn't fully realize at the time.

Great way at the end of the day to think back on everything and smile from everything that occurred that day, I looked forward to posting details and it also passed the time and gave me something to do at least once a day for an hour or so.

Was amazing to have people following along and it felt as though they were all doing the trip with me, comments were always a great motivation.

I read back and the memories flood in, feels like I am back on the water.   Highly recommend keeping a log of your trip, even if just handwritten notes, I didn't keep notes, just thought about the day later to remember things but whatever works for you.

I hope that those following along enjoyed my updates and for those that find this site later,  that it provides some useful information for your own trip, which was the intended purpose.

Souvenirs

Other than the pictures and memories which will last a lifetime, I picked up two souvenirs which I think are pretty cool.

On my day off in buckhorn, I was given a handmade wrist bracelet from the Elkie girls, cool reminder of my time at oak bay.  Thanks for making it for me girls, it is way cool, still look at it and go, hmm how do they get it to look like that, still wearing.

My brother while waiting for Kyle and I to show up found these two little polished rocks on the shore in lake ontario,  he gave us each one as a reminder of our trip together,  not like my brother to be sentimental and was very thoughtful, I put my rock on my mantle for now, he said I'm suppose to keep it in my pocket as a reminder when I get back to busy schedule, I will just end up throwing it at someone and don't need the lawsuits.   Thanks bro. 

Post Review - Trip Plan

Couldn't have planned it any better.  

Highly recommend doing the trent backwards, exactly for the reasons I mentioned in my original post. 

The current can be very strong, buoys were almost horizontal in some spots, this was especially the case in the home stretch where there are lots of power generator damns and they had the gates open.  I wouldn't have wanted to battle the current for that long.   Doing it backwards means over 2/3rds of the waterway you will be going with the current.

I may have fluked out, wind was my friend for almost the entire trip, this was extremely helpful on some of the bigger lakes like simcoe, balsalm and especially rice lake. I got a sense from locals and the lockmaster that the prevailing winds are typically in that direction, take advantage of it.   If that's not the case, don't blame me! 

The only negative would be that if you start from trenton side, the scenery starts out pretty crap and just gets better as you reach the kawarthas and just keeps getting better, going from port severn means that it starts gorgeous and gets pretty dull at the end.   In my opinion of course.

Post Review - "The Coffin"

Needless to say, after 15 days ii fell in love with my kayak, named it the "coffin" as a joke until I could figure out a better name and it just stuck,  never bothered to figure out a new one.

Went with a fiberglass 17 foot north sea with a rudder, rear and front hatch.  This thing was spectacular and rode the waves like a missile, at no point did I feel as though it was out of control, even in large waves and gale force winds.   I wouldn't get the third day hatch though, just takes up space and you are limited to how you can pack kayak.

For this trip I would recommend fiberglass or composite, plastic  is just too heavy, you are going to have to be lifting out of the water a couple times a day, lighter the better and you will appreciate the difference.  

While I paddled with the rudder up a bit, I preferred steering with feet,  especially in high winds, recommend having a rudder even if not going to use it all the time. 

If renting, double check that the seals from the cockpit to the hatches are properly sealed, silicone them good if they are leaking, mine wasn't too bad but my nephews basically had no silicone seal and any water made it's way into the hatches. Could be dangerous if capsized and the hatches fill with water.   The hatches on mine didn't let water in once. 

Bring a set of ropes and marine bumpers, lot of cement walls and while I rented mine, treated like it was my own, didn't want scratches and the bumpers really helped.  I tied mine to deck rigging when needed,  next time will use carabiners to make them easier to attach.  I stowed them on rear deck near rudder, out of the way and never noticed they were there. 

Recommend a paddle leash, didn't drop paddle but found that it made a great kayak anchor. Pull up to dock, lie paddle on dock and leash would hold kayak there, beats tying up all the time, works well on rock islands as well.

Get a good seat, mine was a little older kayak because I needed the extra space, they didn't have newer high capacity ones available at the time of my trip.   Pick up a padded cushion, I used my towel folded a bunch of times for extra support, was needed.

Had lots of day storage in the cockpit, in front of feet and behind seat, allowed me to carry extra stuff so I didn't have to get out and find it all the time, my umbrella and rain gear was stowed beside the seats, very convenient.

Post Review - Lock Camping

What can I say, phenomenal, the grounds are maintained by parks canada and the views are spectacular.  

They charge about 5 dollars for camping if you arrive by boat, didn't have one lock master ask for payment and would have paid instantly had they. Well worth it.

Some locks have firepits, though most don't  the few that do also provide firewood, nice.  

They all have ample picnic tables which make eating and relaxing so much better.

All have washroom access, while no showers they do have washrooms and sinks, much nicer for brushing teeth and cleaning up.  They all provide you with washroom lock code or key for after the lock closes. If you think you won't be at a lock by closing, any of the previous locks will call ahead and they will arrange to get washroom access ahead of time. 

The only downside, some are very difficult the get kayak out of the water, best to get out kayak and see where the best place to camp and take out is before locking through.  Ask the lockmaster, they have people going through all the time. They may even recommend the next lock.  Canoe docks are the best but very few locks have them, sometimes you have to get creative and you can count on a little work and sometimes a lot of frustration.  The lock staff were always willing to help if not busy.

There were almost always people around and very social, enjoyed very much.

Post Review - Items for next time

There are a few things that I would have brought if doing this again.  

Camera, only had my blackberry camera and quality is crap, so wish I had brought digital or even waterproof disposable ones, next time.

I would get a good waterproof deck bag to store stuff, didn't really need it but would have been handy. Saw one before I left and almost picked it up. Wish I did later.  Not a biggie.

Sail, oh yeah baby, I was in good wind and a sail would have been perfect and a lot of fun and a break from paddling.

Porable hammock, would have been sweet to setup and nap on a little island somewhere or at camp. 

There was room for the above items.

Post Review - Packing

Still surprised everything fit into that tiny little kayak. 

The key, smaller is better, easier to stuff small articles rather than large ones as they can fit to fill all available space.  When picking out your gear air on the side of compact, as an example, big bulky sleeping bag is just taking up space, get one that is compact ans can be compressed.
Have a specific packing plan and stick to it, know where everything is, pain to have to constantly go, now where is my stove now when you stop for lunch everyday.  I packed my kayak the exact same way every day and could easily find what I was looking for, also made packing kayak each day easier,  didn't have to think about where everything went.  Made all the difference. 

Once my nephew Kyle joined, I had to reorganize the gear across two kayaks, was annoying to have to go through 4 hatches just to find something and the next day I made sure I had a new packing plan for both. .

I carried a big canvas army bag, I used it to move gear from kayak to camp and back, meant I could make fewer trips, recommend carrying something similar, makes things easier and you don't have to walk back and forth a 100 times at the start and end of every day. 

Didn't pack too many things on the deck, rear deck I stored marine bumpers and spare paddle. Front deck I stored bilge pump and water bottles.  I also had a drypack bag I stored on front deck which contained electronics and wallet.   I would store hat and gloves on either deck with no rhyme or reason, just out of the way and I was fine.

Kept a little tuperware container in kayak which contained snacks for the day.

Post Review - Waterproof

Assume that everything at some point will get wet.  Make sure you have proper waterproofing for all gear, especially electronics, sleeping and clothing gear.  If you can afford it,  commercial dry bags are amazing and really provide good protection.   Double bag or ziplock everything that isn't. A little planning can save you a lot of hassle dealing with wet stuff

Bring a couple of white garbage bags to pack up wet or dirty laundry, don't mix with clean dry clothes, musty smell just sucks and doesn't go away unless you wash everything.

Waterproof paddlejacket is a must!  Rain and bad weather isn't an issue if you are dressed properly, dry and warm. Worth the cost.  

A good pair of water shoes, will be walking in water lots and a good pair of water shoes help. I went with water running shoes instead of sock type water shoes, they were perfect.

Do not forget a sponge, only way to get all the water out of kayak and hatches and good for cleaning your boat.

Get a mini umbrella and keep in kayak beside seat, great for those little storms that pass through or to get rain gear on without getting soaked, also good at camp when raining.

Post Review - Electronics

I had my ipod and 2 blackberry devices in a waterproof box. Worked great and never got wet, most times my cell phone was in my life jacket.    Having internet access and gps was great as was the ability to update this blog and keep in touch with people. Bring, just leave work at home, which I did.

Only used my ipod a few times paddling and not once at camp, could have done without. Definitely get waterproof headphones, got mine wet 4 times and glad they still work, for now. 

Vhf radio I only used to check weather forecast and typically did that in the morning and at night, didn't really check it during the day. Was nice to have.

Charging, the energizer mobile battery chargers are amazing, used them to charge devices for the entire 15 days and these things worked flawlessly.  Make sure you bring enough batteries but there are lots of places along the way to get more. I went through 20 or so.

Post Review - Clothing

Bring lots of quick drying shirts, long and short as well as quick drying shorts for paddling.  Be careful with anything cotton, stays wet for hours, doesn't dry easily and drains body heat when wet. 

Pack nice warm clothes for camp, you will want to be comfortable and after a long wet paddle, nothing feels better.  If you can, try and bring at least some respectable clothes for going out dinning, don't want stares sitting in nice restaurant.   Baseball cap works wonders. 

I found rolling clothing made them pack smaller and also helped with the wrinkle factor, don't mix dirty clothes with clean!  Everything will get musty. 

There are places along the way with coin operated laundry mats, I used the one at fenelon falls to make sure everything was clean. 

Bring a pair of paddle shoes and another pair for camp, wet shoes at night suck, I had sandles that I had for camp and paddled with them as well when other shoes were soaked, feet will prune up bad in wet shoes.  Get something with hard soles for paddling, you are pushing a lot with feet and without protection it's going to hurt after a bit.  Don't paddle barefoot, uncomfortable.

Bring one of those wide brim canvas hats like the guys on tv in the wild.  Wear while out on water, keeps the sun off and rain won't drip down neck or face,  drys quickly too.

I could take or leave paddle gloves, does offer protection but if wet then hands stay wet and they soften up and blister easier.   I rarely wore mine after the halfway point, keep hands dry as much as possible.

PFD was very comfortable and provides back support while kayaking, I only wish I got one with more and bigger pockets, when I buy my own, will make sure it has them.

Paddle jacket, paddle jacket, paddle jacket, it will rain and if you want to be dry and comfy, get one.  Worth it.  Make sure it had rubber wrist and neck clasps to keep the water out.

Post Review - General Stuff

Not specific enough to warrant it's own category so lumping these together. 

Sun Block, get it and use it, especially on overcast windy days where you don't notice how much sun you're getting. Paddled for two days feeling the effects of too much exposure to sun, not fun.

Lip balm, lips started to chap, have some available so you don't get cracked lips. 

Lighting, get a good headlamp, makes organizing in the tent at night so much easier, if you have to paddle at night you're going to need it anyway. Also had a handheld flashlight but rarely used it.   Bring solarcain just in case, helps if you need it.

First aid, thankfully only needed the bandaids, glad I had it with me though, only thing I added along the way was waterproof bandaids, helped with blisters that started to form,  prevented full on open blisters.   Whew.

Bugs, the only mosquito bite I got was dropping off the kayak at the end, bring good deet and pickup mosquito coils for the pesky ones that get into the tent.  Pick up a coil burner, like a little ashtray that you put the coil in the middle between two fireproof screens, worked wonders and you don't want to be burning tent down.   I didn't have an issue with mosquitoes, deer flies or blackflies, were almost non existent.   They were only out around dusk or early morning. 

Post Review - Lessons

If you have never been kayaking. Take a lesson, I was comfortable learning as I went without any lessons but wish I would have learned proper paddle usage first. 

Had to learn on the water and by the time I fugured it all out I had put a lot of  stress on my wrists and never really got better, had to battle through that the entire trip. 

I never did learn or attempt a self rescue, never had the need, wouldn't recommend that though, learn ahead of time.

Other than that I didn't find it overly challenging to pick up, pretty straight forward and skills progress quickly, kind of have to though.

Post Review - Sleeping

I slept like a baby, sure the outdoors and the workout had a lot to do with it but make sure you have the best and most comfortable sleeping gear you can manage. 

My biggest piece of gear was my sleeping pad, so glad I could fit it in, very comfortable and felt like I was sleeping on a bed. 

Don't underestimate the joy of a good pillow, there are lots of compression pillows and they are good, again sleep is your friend.

I have a synthetic mummy bag and a silk liner, I would probably preferred a standard bag because I like to stretch out, mummy bag was a little confining but managed just fine. 

Also make sure you pack your favorite sleeping gear, mine is cotton pjs with cotton tshirt and wool socks.  Was never cold, never wet, never uncomfortable.

At all costs, keep this gear dry no matter what you have to do.  Sleeping in anything wet is just not fun, thankfully I never had to.

Post Review - Tent

Love my tent,  easy to put up in any condition, lots of ventilation, folds up quickly and packs easily.  Held up to wind, rain and thunderstorms, didn't get wet once after tent was set up.

Recommend a 2-3 person tent if by yourself, the extra room was perfect for putting all the stuff in and not feeling confined. 

Having some pockets and gear loft is also very handy. nice, stored umbrella and flashlight in side pockets, have two,  and other things in gear loft.
The guy lines seemed to get in the way on sides of tent, ended up laying paddles across stakes to remind me not to walk into them. Get reflective tape on lines if you can to make easier to see at night.

My only real complaint would be that my tent is not fun to put up in rain, will get rain inside because it has a detached fly, rains inside before you get the fly on, then you have to mop up all the water inside. Make sure you have a tent footprint to protect from rain runoff and wet ground.

Post Review - Food/Cooking

I won't go into an itemized list of food I brought, bring what you want and there are places along the way where you can re-supply if needed.  Would stay away from perishables though.  Pick up a couple of the just add water food bags you can get at any camp store, they are a little pricey but a nice change here and there, really easy and very tasty.

I had two food bags, a soft insulated cooler bag which I put all canned good like soup, stews and fruit as well as all the snacks.  I stored this in the cockpit in front of the footpegs, still had plenty of room to stretch feet.   The other bag which was just one of those recycled bags from the grocery store which had everything else, pasta, sauces, breakfast, pancakes etc.  Took everything out of the packaging and stored in ziplock bags.  Worked perfectly. 

Never felt like I did without food, ate lots and have stuff left over, didn't have to resort to rating toothpaste or anything.  There are many restaurants along the way and I took a break now and again from cooking to eat there instead, usually just for dinner. 

My stove worked like a charm, once I got used to lighting it, was very quick.  Stove didn't simmer well though so had to keep an eye on it, wasn't an issue.   I also had an emergency stove from canadian tire that ran on hexamine tablets, found this great, could cook pasta on my stove and sauce on the other, I used this quite a bit and was sometimes easier for just boiling water or heating up soup.   Didn't cook as fast so I could start water boiling while setting up camp and come back later to get it.   Pick one up, very cheap and you will use it.   I brought 48 tablets and had plenty left over.  They can be a pain to get started in the wind but I managed. 

I brought two 32oz fuel bottles and only went through about 16oz in total, probably because I was using the hexamine tablets a bit.   Lots of fuel left over.  Could get away with 32oz bottle if one person but the extra bottle adds a little security and takes up almost no room.

Bring at least two pots,  I always had two going, one for dinner, one for water for coffee, or to cook sauce.  I could have left plate and bowl at home, ate out of the pots because I didn't want to clean a million dishes. Make sure you bring biodegradable soap and dishcloth of dome sort for cleaning. 

Make sure you have a wooden spoon or something to stir, spoon will work but didn't want to scratch the pots. 

Collapsing bucket was good for washing dishes but eventually I just went to the lock washroom to clean everything in a sink.   Would still bring one though. 

Bring a can opener,  most can goods I picked had tab pull openers but some didn't, need to be able to open food when hungry, I had one on my knife and worked fine.  

I wished I brought a strainer to drain pasta, improvised using a ziplock with holes cut in it, still would have been good to have. 

Stored all food secured in kayak overnight, didn't want critters coming into tent, I heard dryer sheets like bounce will keep them at bay, can't confirm though, will bring next time anyway.

Didn't have to resort to hanging food bags, wasn't a concern, check with lockmaster on the critter situation.  Lovesick and swift rapids are the only ones that had bear reports and raccoons I saw at a few. 

Post Review - Water Supply

I had my water filter but found I only used it on long water crossings where I couldn't fill up at a lock or marina.  Was nice to have for that purpose and recommend one even if only for peace of mind. 

I carried a 1000ml nalgene and 500ml sports bottle strapped to desk and usually a couple of water bottles or juice and gatorade behind the seat.  Typically went through a liter every couple to three hours and almost exclusively drank water with the odd gatorade when available.

The locks all have drinkable water and you can fill up at any one of them, I also found that a few had bottled water which they would give you if asked.  They were always willing to go fill bottle for you if needed.

I also carried a 2.5 gallon collapsible water carrier and filled it up at camp for cooking and drinking, didn't carry it filled in kayak, took up too much space and weight.

Never had an issue finding water, would recommend carrying extra on the otanabee, wouldn't even trust my water filter on this river and only a couple of spots to get along the way.

Work Pool!

I stopped into the office on Friday and had a pretty good laugh, they had a “Where’s Jeff” office pool going. They posted my trip itinerary and had this little picture of me that they would move along as I progressed through the trip.

There was a sign up sheet where people could bet on different things related to my trip, you know the standard stuff, which day am I going to pack it it, What day will I break down and just get a hotel and my personal favorite, which day will I lose my Blackberry.

Congratulations Cynthia on winning the pool and the certificate posted on your office window made me laugh pretty hard. Thanks for having confidence.



Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 15/3 - The finish line

Big day, today I finish the trip I started 14 days earlier, seems like a lifetime ago but I can vividly recall each day, amazing actually.

We have breakfast and start packing up camp for the last time. My travel companion is definitely not a morning person, takes some coaxing to get him fired up and I keep telling him I really don't want to pack up in the rain, we get the first kayak down the rocks without issue and the rain starts, I don't need to say anything to kyle at this point and I think he can tell by my sigh I wished we would have moved faster.

We left Sydney lock at around 10:30 and passed under the 401, Andrew said it best, there are points on the trent where worlds collide and you can almost miss it if you aren't looking, 401 is pretty innocuous as you pass under it. Few minutes later we arrive at lock 1, trenton, pretty much a let down after such beautiful journey, lots of vandalism and the chevy dealer across the street, once through the lock you pass the paper mill spewing some nasty odors into the air.

We get to the Bay of Quinte at around noon and it's flat like glass, perfect, weather has been perfect all day so far. The jets from the air force base are flying around and you can feel the vibration in the kayak as they fly close over us.

We cross in an hour and enter the murray canal, skies are still clear but there are storm clouds looming to the north west.

Minnow is slowing down and figure he is getting hungry. Stop for lunch at 1:30 and we are off again by 2:15. Second last time getting into kayak and last time cooking by little stove, really wanted those ravioli.

With only about an hour left in murray canal the rain sets in, we put on rain gear and keep moving, I get a text from my brother and he has arrived to pick us up.

We reach the end of the canal and I'm texting to figure out where to meet brother on the other side, kyle rushes past me and I'm like wow, fastest he had paddled in three days, then it dawns on me, he is trying to beat me into lake ontario. Oh no you don't, I kick it up a notch but he's got a big lead. It's a literal race to cross the end of the wall and we are both trash talking, it was a photo finish but hats off, he beat me by less than an inch according to the guys on the pier. Haven't lived it down since then.

Takes a few minutes to figure out where my brother is and we finally sync up and head in the general direction of gosport on the opposite shore, few k away. We stop at our navigation aid, a huge channel marker, great photo opportunity. Finally got word from my brother, he could see us and texted to tell us it was no time for a break.

Arrive at gosport just outside of brighton at exactly 5pm. Stepped out of kayak for the last time. Walked over and shook Kyles hand for a job well done. There wasn't much fanfare, I didn't expect ticker tape parade but is a tims coffee to much to ask? And where is my free toaster? Packed up all gear into truck and loaded kayaks.

While bro strapped down "coffin" I went for my first swim. Washed up with biodegradable soap and we were off, 5:30 and heading home.

Toronto at 7:30 and stopped for quick bite, we arrived at swift kayak at 9:30 and locked up the kayaks as we had arranged for after hours drop off. I give my little kayak a little pat on the way by and am rewarded with my fist mosquito bite of the trip, damn, let's get out of here.

I stop in at my mothers for a chat, let her know I'm back safe then hop in my truck for the few blocks to my brothers place, felt weird to be driving but the hot tub was calling me, did it feel good.

Now lying on couch watching tv and just relaxing, good to be home but miss my tent, open spaces and spectacular views.

The last few casual days (for me) really let my body heal up, I feel perfectly fine now, not bad considering what I did. I only lost about 10 pounds, surprising seeing as I feel heavier and was burning between 3,000-5,000 calories a day.

Tomorrow I will pack up and head for home and my bed!

I will be doing a few reviews and a final summary tomorrow then putting a nail in the coffin for this trip.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Heading home

All packed up

Gosover marina

In brighton, I did no further paddle strokes, just drifted to shore and got out.

My ride home

Thanks bro

Channel markers

A little bigger in lake ontario.  My destination is in the background 

Murray canal

Kyles big crossing

Bay of quinte

Gateway to trent/severn waterway

Vandals

Lots of vandalism in trenton. Sad.

Last lock!

20kish to go

Wow

Tallest police officer and woman I've ever seen. The other girl is my height, 5'9"

Heaven in a cup

Another great dinner view

Trenton

401

Walking down 401 to tim hortons and mcdonalds

Spanish guitar

By actual mexican dude. Sweet music

401

Glen miller

After long 25k paddle for first day. Way to go bud

Takin break

Gettin tired but havin fun

First day on water

Parents leave

Our camp

Two man trip now

Float the minnow

Kyle out for first paddle

Kyle shows up

Step lock above

My camground at healey falls

Had to carry and set everything up in the rain

Step lock

Dinner view - healey falls

After thunderstorm

Loopers

Day 14/2 - Trenton baby

We are sitting at lock 2 and 1km to the last lock in the trent severn waterway, 2.9k after that to the end of the trent severn waterway itself, also the point where I break the 400k mark on this little adventure. Short hop skip and a jump (about 3000 paddle strokes) across the bay of quinte, down murray canal, across the gap to the park in lake ontario and that's all folks.

Yesterday started off a little slow, I was up at 6 but my travel buddy slept in to about 8, teenagers, sigh. We had breakfast and just relaxed, took out time packing up camp and finally set off at 10:30. Absolutely gorgeous day and sun was out the entire trip, not a hint of rain nor a cloud in the sky. Wind on the other hand was back in full force.

Took kyle about a half hour to wake up and had to coax him along a little, that first hour or so is always the worst. He said he was glad the wind was with us again, I didn't have the heart to tell him yeah, but only for the next 2km then we are straight into it for the rest of the day.

Now at this point I was pretty sure no more lakes until trenton, wrong, opened up to an 8km lake that didn't appear on my tiny little map. She was tough going, wind howling and 1-2 foot whitecaps all the way, kyle is an expert now and I don't worry about him crossing. I ask anyway and he says he can't even feel the waves, minnow works just as good as the coffin, same kayak so it should.

We try and find shelter closer to shore but the weed beds are thick and get in the way of paddling, we go back out to the main channel and the wind. About 3/4 of the way there is a swimming dock offshore and we stop for a good rest. We finally make it across and get protection from the wind in the channel to the next lock.

About 1/2km to the lock there is a convenience store and I pull up and leave kyle tending the boats while I get us a chocolate bar sweet. As I'm coming back I see a cruiser coming down the channel almost on plane and throwing a big wave, can't make it in time to prevent, kyle from swamping a little, he was smart enough to let go of my kayak. Now I'm mad. Tell kyle to take his time and I'm going to go have a quick chat, I race to the lock ahead of him.

I politely ask the lockmaster if he minds that I have words with the people in the boat and he says, be my guest. Brilliant! The guy on the boat, driver, stays silent and I have a conversation with the wife in broken english, I tell her after 400km and 14 days they are the most inconsiderate boaters I have encountered, she said but we here doing the 10k max, I politely explain that the purpose is not speed but wake size to protect the shoreline and 14 year olds sitting in a rock lined 60 foot wide canal holding an empty kayak afloat. Husband wakes up and asks his wife what the problem is, she explains and he shrugs his shoulders. Well..... I smack the side of his expensive boat with my trusty paddle and wouldn't you know it, his english improves, go figure. At this point I thank my father, god bless him, for it is from him that I learned the 7 words you can't say on television, but in french.

Kyle paddles in and I say have a nice day, they went nice and slow to the next lock but we didn't have any nice weather conversations from that point on. As expected. It's now 1:30 and a few short locks to get through.

We get within 2km to our stop for the night and when we come out of glen miller lock the wind hits us like my paddle on buddies boat. Strongest wind so far and it's a tough paddle to say the least, we are both tired and just want to get out. At a few points kyle was moving backwards and still paddling forwards, I'm not moving at all. He finally chirps up, "I don't like wind", I concur. We finally get across and it's now just after 4.

One thing I won't miss about this trip is the lack of exit points for kayaks, this one is the worst. We figure our only bet is the rock lined 2 foot shoreline about 100 yards down, also lined with poison ivy, I could use the stuff as toilet paper but like his father, kyle breaks out from the stuff. We manage to get everything including kayaks out and over to camp. Much easier with two people that's for sure.

We are now on a mission, we were told there was a mcdonalds and tims just across from the lock, at the back of the lock there is a big hill you have to walk down and just as kyle says that's a big hill I, I slip and tumble down, great.

Normally you would walk under the 401 and up the road, there is construction so we have to walk about 2k in the ditch of the 401 and over the overpass. We are now in trenton proper. .

We see mcdonalds and have a big meal with all the fixings. I get two extra large coffee, one for walk back and one for at camp. As we get to the construction site kyle decides to tightrope walk the hay bails and slips, I dive to prevent the fall, with no success, my second cup of coffee is now on the ground, I turn around and ask kyle if he is ok.

We get back to camp and relax, I head off to the washroom and when I get back, no kyle, hmmm he says hi, I look up and he is on the third branch of this massive willow tree beside our tent, wtf, I explain we don't need a trip to emerg, wait till I cross the finish line, then if you want to, climb all the trees you find. Kyle crashes around 9.

Rain sets in around 11 and we get thunder and lightning, I'm the only one who hears it.

Looks overcast today and they are calling for rain, let's get this show on the road, breakfast, pack and paddle, then sleep.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Nephew in lock

One more lock to go for night

Hastings at night

Didn't come out but the view was very nice with all the lights, once I found it in the dark

Favorite moment

About an hour left to hastings, just finished rice lake, sun going down, dead silent and water like glass

Glen Ross

Kyle at glen ross after his 25k day one. High five

Kayakers

The only other kayakers I get to talk to on my trip,  they aren't friendly, dumb tree huggers

After rice lake

This is what my feet looked like, hard to walk.  No more 60k marathons

Three hours of rain

Dry and warm.  Get good rain gear

Ducks

These ducks followed me for awhile

1910 wood canoe

Canoe workshop

Goat island

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 13/1 - lucky number 13

Who said 13 is an unlucky number. Had breakfast and packed up both kayaks. By the time we set off the sun was shinning and clear skies for the majority of the day. Perfect.

Only problem was the silicone seal between the cockpit and rear hatch on the "minnow" was well... Not there, any water that got into cockpit was going into rear hatch. Had to shuffle all the stuff around so all my waterproofed gear was back there, Kyle didn't have much time to pack so his stuff would have been drenched, not good. Downside is I've perfected my packing system for myself and know where everything is, or was, now have no clue anymore, we just stuff things wherever they go, paying no attention to which kayak or hatch. Off we go just before 9.

Kyle struggles a bit at first but picks up quickly, not long into the trip I am playing catch up all the time, ok I stop to text message along the way but when I look up he's 200 yards ahead. Funny moment, at one point I'm up ahead and waiting, don't hear his paddle hitting the water and yell back, "I don't hear any paddling going on back there", his reply, "I don't hear any paddling going on up there either", pfft sarcasm? Wonder where he got that from.

I had originally planned to paddle to percy reach which is just over 7k then see how he is doing, we have to cross a lake (last one) and the next lock is 18+k away and he was tired or conditions bad, we would call it a day there. Made great time and go to percy reach at 11:30, seeing as we had done 3 locks which burned about an hour, we made great time.

Stop for lunch and at about 12:30 we head off down the 18k stretch to glen ross, skies are for the most part clear with a storm cloud off the the right. Wind was nice and behind us all the way, meant we didn't have to paddle hard to make good time. I keep an eye on the storm cloud to be safe.

Waves pick up a bit to about a foot and kyle is having fun riding them, I stopped worrying about him about an hour ago. Normally very talkative, kyle just paddles away and we chat now and again as needed. The lockmaster told us there was a bald eagle flying around somewhere and we spot him soaring above just as we finish the lake, how often do you get to see that. The fish are also jumping and there are lots of birds, cool that kyle gets to see some wildlife.

We have been resting along the way but with just over an hour left we get out and stretch and have a snack. Kyle no longer needs help getting in or out of the "minnow", he's an expert now. We set off and I can feel temp drop quick, he paddles over and I put up umbrella just as rain hits, we don't get wet.

While he never complained once, at this point he starts asking if the lock is just around the next bend, I say yes, opps maybe the next one, 3-4 times of that and he stops asking, I know he's getting tired but is a trooper. We finally see the lock, rain starts again, up with umbrella again, passes in about 15, sun up. We get to the lock at 4:30 and un-pack, won't miss the nowhere to pull kayak out syndrome. Lockmaster helps lift out with me. Thanks bud.

We setup camp then go for ice cream, relax for a bit then cook dinner, I start the stove but he has to cook his own food, gives him something to do. Why didn't I bring ravioli, looked good. We finish up dinner and as I type this he is fishing off the pier. Told him I would clean and cook what he caught, please be trout, please be trout!

Hats off to kyle, he did over 25k today and that is amazing, longest day he has, we do about 16 tomorrow. Only 22k to end of trenton then the last stretch across bay of quinte, down murray canal and into lake ontario on day 15 to make this official, at which point I'm going to go home have a shower, shave , sleep in a bed for a change, turn on tv and watch 2 1/2 men then put on my motocross gear and hit the track to burn some fuel and make some noise.

Day 12 - Cambelford

I've paddled in extreme heat, pouring rain, lightning, 40km winds on my back, at night, 60km days, big waves, strong current, mini rapids, you name it. I would take any of the above 10 times over not to have a repeat of yesterday (ever).

30-40km wind straight into my face all the way from healey falls to cambelford, it was exhausting and by far the toughest stretch so far. It was a short distance day, only around 10k but it took close to 5 hours to do it, painfully slow and felt every paddle stroke. Should have been and hour and half to 2 hours with good conditions.

I would go twice as fast if I didn't paddle but it was in the opposite direction, tough tough tough. Early on in the day I passed a fisherman and asked if the canal to cambelford was into the wind the whole way, he said I'm going to say no cause that's what you want to hear. Had a good laugh with that one.

Left healey falls just before 10 after having morning coffee with the lockmaster, these guys are great, got through cambelford between 2:30 and 3:00 and was thankful. The canal through cambelford is really cool, runs right through town. Hanney falls is another step lock and the view is spectacular, good place to stop, was going to go another 10k but had enough.

I literally got my camp setup and the thunderstorm rolled in, only lasted 10 minutes and the was extremely hot and sunny again for the rest of the day.

I now have a travel companion, my brother and sis-in-law showed up around 4:30 with kayak in tow to drop of my nephew for the rest of the trip. We unpacked everything, lockmaster was good enough to open the private road so we could drive down instead of carrying stuff down the 71 stairs, yup kyle and I counted em last night.

We then left into town to do a little shopping and get tims while kyle straightened up, you could tell he just wanted to get in and try his kayak, as good adults, we make him wait.

Get back and put the kayak in, exact replica of mine but in yellow, good boat. We name it "minnow", coffin II just didn't seem right. He start out for. First paddle in this kayak and does great job. I put mine in and paddle for a minute with him too. My brother then goes out in mine for a ride, sorry bro they don't make those cockpits any bigger. I should have known better though, going to have to be cleaning back hair out all morning now. Inside joke and couldn't resist.

Mel my sis-in-law also takes a few laps, I think she just wanted to see how stable because she is sending off her 14 year old in it.

We do a test pack and. Parents leave around 8, just us kids left. We make yummy dinner and then head into tent, we talk for awhile then kyle goes right to sleep. He snores! I ping my brother and tell him thanks for mentioning that up front.

Rained a little last night and a little overcast this morning, hold off rain. Having breakfast then we are packing and setup for day 13 for me and day one for kyle

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day 11 - Official

Took the morning off and just relaxed to get my energy back. Played a game of horseshoes with the mature people and let them win. Yeah right, all they do now is play this game, my partner after a few rounds just shook his head then started razing me, I can take you mister and I don't care if you were in the war, maybe even the first one to boot.

Now that all my stuff was dried out from the rain in peterborough and the swamping on rice lake, figured it was time to pack up and get mobile, itching to paddle, weird. Have lunch at a chip truck (yum) and I get underway at around 1:30.

I meet my first "loopers". They left miami in may, came up the coast, did rideau canal then trent, down through great lakes and then Mississippi. They hope to be in the gulf in november then off to bahamas for christmas before they head home. Way cool, they say the trent is one of their favorite spots, third time they have done it.

I get through the lock in hastings at 2 and they are calling for thunderstorms, sky is clear and only have 24k to healey falls. The first hour is rough but then again the first hour of every day is rough, then I settle into a rhythm and accept the fact it's going to be hours of paddling.

About the hour mark I come across hundreds of massive fish just swimming across the top with their heads out of water, mouth open and eating whatever is on top. At first I thing it's current because the water is circling so much and I'm like where would current come from here. Then they splash and dive as I get near, some hitting the kayak. Was way cool and I got some video. Found out later they are carp and I continue to see them all the way down trent river to hastings. Beautiful views by the way.

At about the two hour mark I hear a trumpet playing in the distance and man was this guy good, I detour and follow the beacon, I find him sitting on his desk just playing and I start clapping. He was amazing with that instrument.

At about the halfway point I turn the point and wind in my face, good cause I am overheating from the over exposure to sun the day before.

Ok, now note to the friends following my trip and texting to keep me company, please don't tell me about the insane thunderstorms in toronto, I'm not that far away now and I don't want to think about it. Now keeping an eye on the sky every two minutes.

With two hours left the rain starts, I put on rain gear and good to go, I don't mind paddling in the rain, I'm warm and dry so doesn't matter, cools me down nicely. Sky looking like it does when lightning is going to happen, I pick up pace.

As I get to Healey Falls, ok can see it but 45minutes away I hear my first thunder, pick up speed even more. I get to the lock at 630 and they let me through. The lock at Healey Falls is my favorite conventional lock, a series of two locks joined and it's like a step down. I'm in the second lock when the first lightning hits, 400meters to next lock and my destination. It becomes a sprint and I stick right to the shore.

I pull up at the landing spot at 650 and out of kayak really fast, it's pouring at this point. I walk over to lock station but not getting rained on because I'm using my umbrella, oh wait, probably not good to hold up steel in a lightning storm, I put it down.

Wait half hour and the rain isn't stopping, I go get my tent and set it up, now having tent with a separate fly has one disadvantage, takes 2 minutes to get tent up and 30 seconds to get fly on, that's a lot of rain in the tent. I mop it up with my shamwow, ok not really, but high absorbent towel. Get out of tent to get my stuff and rain stops. Thanks.

Gorgeous evening and I just relax and make dinner then get an early nights rest, no more rain the rest of the night. Was another great day

ok, it's almost 9 and they are calling for rain and thunderstorms this aft. Going to get my but in gear and see if I can beat it.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 10/11 - defining moments

If ever there was a day that tested every ounce of energy and determination I could muster, yesterday would have been it. I am writing this email sitting on a picnic table in Hastings. Yeah, I said it "HASTINGS". 12 hours 45 minutes and 60.5km after setting off from Peterborough at 9am.

It did come at a price though, my right hand is now pretty much useless, it's 10am and the first time I can actually hold my blackberry to type. Has been sore since day 1 cause I probably didn't know how to paddle correctly yet and now it's telling me enough already. Shut up hand, we are not stopping now, will tape up with duct tape today though, maybe that will help. I also sprained my middle finger days ago on the same hand and that isn't making matters any better, I can barely bend it but no swelling, last night I cut my ring finger on the same hand getting kayak out of water (it hates me now) "does this look infected?" Other than that I'm in great shape, yes tired of course but no issues other than the hands and wrists.

I can almost see the finish line, it's about 100km 17 locks thatta way --» and 5 days to do it. All major lakes have been conquered and it's basically canal paddling until the bay of quinte and lake ontario, childs play at this point. It's funny, I have this foldout pamphlet which shows the entire trent waterway, it folds open to a 7 by 2 section map, I no longer have to open it as the rest of the trip is on that last little page, amazing to look across the entire map and say, oh yeah, I did that.

My nephew may join me for the last 3 days and that would be cool, glad I'm a day ahead now, I won't have to push him and he can relax and enjoy, gives me company for the last leg of my journey.

I've also estimated that over the entire trip I will have made well in excess of a quarter million paddle strokes, somewhere north of 350,000. 32,000 of those puppies were yesterday. Here is how it went down.

At about 1:30 am the thunderstorm hit, was insane, wind howling and dropping buckets, I lie in my tent wondering if it's going over, felt like it, my tent holds up perfect and I stay completely dry, good tent worth the money, every last cent. I can hear the thunder clearly and the lightning makes it like daylight each time it goes off, I'm counting the time between and getting closer, perfect. Gets closer and all of a sudden a thunder crack like I've never heard, the hair on my arms and neck shoot straight up and my whole body shakes, now I'm nervous. Another half hour and the storm moves on, thankfully I get to sleep quickly. Next morning lock master says oh yeah we get hit by lightning all the time, thanks for warning, not sure if it did but that big one sounded and felt really close.

I wake up at 6 and it's overcast with dark clouds in the direction I'm paddling, have breakfast and take my time packing up, I set off around 9. This time I'm prepared for rain. Wearing wet shorts and a life jacket, rain jacket stored beside seat just in case.

About half an hour in all the rain clouds are now behind me and it's a gorgeous day for the the rest of the trip, couple of quick sun showers but nothing crazy and was refreshing.

I make my way down the otanabee river which is about 30k as it goes into rice lake, My intended destination for the end of day 10. The river is a nice paddle and I see the most wildlife than any other day, I have family of ducks who paddled right up to kayak and followed for awhile. didn't want to scare em off by getting camera out, did get a picture as they left.

Oh and I came across the most elusive creature you will find on the trent, to the best of my knowledge this can only be found in this specific region. The "island goat" ok wtf, island offshore with two goats, first, who put them there? Second, why would you want to? They walk along and follow me down the island and I'm about 5 feet away, goats are cool but don't want them jumping on my kayak, that's all I need. I don't get out to go for a ride. Fyi, to ride a goat you have to lie backwards, hold the tail and wrap legs around their neck, don't ask me how I know that, it's like the whole cow tipping thing.

Paddling down the otanabee I can hear that "deliverance" theme song again pretty much everywhere. Wish I would have brought my guitar but now I'm thinking banjo all the way.

I almost into rice lake at 3:30, 30km and 6 and 1/2 hours later. I pull up on shore and make some lunch/dinner, been paddling straight and now hungry. Plus I have to now find a place to sleep for the night, nearest lock is hastings 30km away. I set off and hit rice lake at 4, slight favorable breeze, clear skies and calm water. Rice lake can be the worst lake if the weather sucks and want to make it as far as I can down, it's still early, keeping eye out for camping spot.
I make it down the first half in good time and now thinking to myself, hmm could I make hastings? It might just be possible, but still a long way to go, it's about 6ish now. I see the end of rice lake in the distance, now the wind starts to pick up and with 20km of lake to gain speed it gets rough, helps my speed though. Only problem is that I notice sky getting dark and the wind/waves have come up quickly, I don't have time to get the paddle skirt back on and not about to take hands off the paddle. Waves are crashing over the back and taking on water. I've learned that when adrenaline kicks in and storm coming, it doesn't matter how tired or sore you are, paddle hard and fast.

I get through the end of rice lake in record time and stop at mckraken landing. The rain never comes and clear again. Can barely move and literally have to pry the fingers of my right hand off the paddle and struggle out onto dock. Once on the dock I almost can't stand on my feet, they have been in wet shoes with sand for about four hours and they look like they've been soaked in water for a month, they just don't look right. After about half hour everything but hands are back to normal, I put on birkenstocks now.

Pump out cockpit, water was up to bottom of my legs, get my headlamp out as I know I'm going to be paddling in the dark tonight, it's 7:30 and still 3 hours to hastings, thankfully in calm water. I'm pretty tired at this point but already done almost 50k, what's another 10 or so, about an hour and a half from hastings the sun goes down, probably my favorite moment of the trip, water like glass, not a sound and just enough light to see. I wanted to paddle at night at some point and going to get my chance. The view of hastings at night as I come into the harbor is pretty nice.

As I paddle under the bridge, I'm not sure where to go, my light isn't strong enough to reflect the buoy unless I'm almost on top of it, and I see sheet lightning in the sky. Thankfully, my co-pilot kicks in and directs me in the right direction, thanks Andrew. I'm exhausted at this point and can't wait to setup camp and sleep, it's about 9:45.

Now the lowest point of my trip, nowhere really to camp, weirdest lock in the trent, camp is on other side of lock, which is a long par 5 away and over a road, I'm not carrying my stuff that far. I eventually find a little patch of grass literally behind the macs milk store and it's only a par 3 away. Unpack and carry all my gear to my site and will tell you, 35pound kayak on your shoulder after you just paddled 60.5km and carried 250 pounds of gear 200 yards is not a pleasant reward for a hard days work. Andrew googles camping at this lock for me and can't find any info saying no

I get 2 double cheeseburgers and a coffee from macs and devour. I finally get the energy to take off life jacket and put on a shirt. Got a little too much sun during the day and prob should have put more sun screen on, arms and shoulders are a little tender. Ouch.

I crawl into tent and didn't even get to counting the 2 goats from earlier, I pass right out around 11:30. Storm never came or if it did I slept through it.

Woke up at 8 this morning which is sleeping in and was very stiff, took couple of hours to loosen up, hand not so much but better than last night.

There is a big carver yatch here who left the same area I did in georgian bay and we talk for awhile, they say they keep looking out for me cause the pretty much see me every day, it's like a game she said, where we going to find the kayaker today, she didn't expect to see me here though. Lol.

The lcbo is on the other side and they let the old folks from the legion next door use the grass for horseshoe tournaments. Watching them as I type, they say they are just waiting for 11 to start drinking. Old people are funny.

Going to start packing up now and head to heally falls for the night. Want something better to look at than the back of a macs store and if going to pack just to move to bottom of lock, might as well go to the next one. Only 20k away so should be a quick day, wind behind me too I think and sun is out.

Everybody I pass has had nothing but rain, I've had only one day so far and sunny every other day, amazing that the weather has been following me. Very thankful for that and has make the trip so much more pleasant. I guess it travels at 5kph too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Day 9 - Suck it up!

For those in the office pool who figured I would call it quits at the first sign of bad weather, you just lost your money. I figure there had to be a category for that one too. Was a good day all things considered.

Going to start off from where I ended last night, I get to the lock and one of my first questions to the lockmaster, "do you have a raccoon problem here?", reply... "Never seen one". Whew, I had to store food in tent because I couldn't easily get into kayak. Ok, so I just finish updating my blog when I hear the now all too familiar sound of fighting raccoons, they sound like screaming babies, very freaky. I slap on the headlamp and pop out to see what's up. There is a garbage can 50 feet away and I can see those eyes staring back at me when the light hits them.

I first try and scare the critter by running towards, stomping feet, waving arms and shouting, she looks at me like what are you, new? I must be getting crazy out here cause we talk for a bit and I think we've come to a mutual understanding and I head back into tent. Fast forward to 3am.

My tent has a fly attached which forms a dome over my tent shell , which is pretty much all mesh for ventilation. Perfect design to open eyes and stare into face of my new little friend, let's just say I was a little startled. I'm pissed now, she broke our previously agreed upon arrangement!

I debate giving her a shot with my bear banger flares but decide not to wake up the town of lakefield, I go put my food bag into the washroom so it's locked up, turn on my headlamp and leave it on pointing out, figure maybe she would stay away if the light was on. Don't know if she came back, was out like a light. Found out in the morning they were after the tbone steak scraps my boat neighbors threw out, thanks guys, all wrapped up nice in your cruiser.

Wake up around 6:30 and forecast calling for thundershowers in the afternoon, I walk to mcdonalds for egg mcmuffin and coffee, surprisingly the coffee is so good, I'm a die hard tims fan but I could switch now.

By the time I get back it has started to rain, I said I would paddle in any condition but lightning, I pack up all my gear in the rain then find a lower landing spot about 50 meters back behind the lock wall, carry all my stuff there and pack kayak, was better than navigating the four foot wall again. Empty water out of cockpit and foam seat it drenched from the rain overnight. Fun sitting in a puddle right off the bat. Hit first lock with my houseboat buddies from the day before. Wearing motocross jersey, shorts, paddling shoes, paddle jacket and shorts.

As I get thought lock at 9 the rains stops and I'm getting hot, take off jacket and store under deck. No sooner do I do that, it starts sprinkling again. Decide to leave jacket off, big mistake. I race the houseboat to next lock (did 8 locks today). He beats me, barely. I beat him to the next 3, I can get out of lock quicker, as soon as there is enough room. About 1/2 click to nassau mills lock rain pours, the kind where when it hits water the splash pops up about an inch. Now soaked.

There is a hold up at the lock and have to wait half hour, have my umbrella out to keep rain off, remembered to leave in kayak. Smart move. Getting a little cold now from sitting still. Once in lock I hop out of kayak, strip off jersey and put warm paddling jacket back on. All the difference in thew world. Next lock peterborough, 6km. The view wasn't all that spectacular on this section, compounded with torrential rain. Despite that, I'm actually enjoying the paddle, wind behind so no struggling and today is the shortest schedule distance day at 16km. I did 18 though. Lol.

Get to peterborough lift lock and there is half hour wait and raining hard. I'm now cold and fingers white and wrinkled. Lift lock is amazing but just a bigger version of kirkfield. I came from. The top so you don't see it in all it's splendor. Rain stops as I exit but wet, little paddling and I warm up. Go through next lock and totally miss the channel split marker, duh. I see the dock in peterborough and head there. Opposite way from lock direction. Get there and realize, turn around and head back. On the way I paddle through the big water fountain in the middle of lake, wet anyway.

Starts pouring again and sky looks black. Make it to the last lock where I'm camping around 2. Lockmaster tells me I can tale the canoe chute if I like. It's 45 degree cement with rollers and exits on dam side in rapids, I say no way am I riding that down, paid 80 bucks for lock pass, gonna use it, he says no, you walk canoe down not ride, we both laugh. I use the lock anyway.

I unpack clothes and strip down right on dock, don't care at this point, want warm clothes, fleece sweater and pants, warm instantly. Get camp setup and it starts to pour again with lightning this time. I go for a nap and wake up at 5 and all clear. Make dinner and relax.

Elkie family texts at 6 they are at movie in peterborough do I want a coffee, ah ya. They stop by for half hour then I'm alone again, thanks for stopping by, kind of depressing that they drove here in 20 minutes and took me 15 hours over two days.

This is the first lock where I'm the only one here. Sat outside most of the night looking at stars and relaxing.

Tomorrow is suppose to be more of the same, yeah, knew I would get rain and just happy the first half and the toughest parts were in great weather. Making the best of it and not discouraged in the least. Part of the experience

My issue tomorrow is that it's 60k to next lock with rice lake in between, going to have to find somewhere to camp along the way.

More people took pictures and waved today than any other day, they wanted for scrapbook. Look at the crazy Canadian in the rain. Especially when I had my umbrella up.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 8 - suprised I can still type

Made it to lakefield, barely! 35+km and over 10 hours to do it. Completely exhausted tonight but otherwise was a perfect day.

Today was one of the best days mixed with one of the worst, positive outweighed the negative so I have no complaints. Was bound to happen sooner or later. Going to start off with all the good stuff.

Woke up around 6 and went for a nature walk, was a raccoon sitting on a branch staring me down, I've seen bears you little pest, bring it on. He blinks first, that or just got bored with some guy staring at him and lost interest.

Was another beautiful day weather wise, sun shinning all day, the trip from buckhorn to youngs point was my favorite and most beautiful so far. All the little islands everywhere, stunning landscape and the cottages were a sight to see. Very much reminded me of where I grew up and for the fist time a little home sick. For a minute.

Was packed and headed off at 8, got to the lock a little early and talked with some nice people on a houseboat who offered me breakfast, little hung over still and couldn't fathom food at this point. Sat and gabbed with the lockmaster while he was getting ready to open. Through the first lock at 8:30 with my new friends in the houseboat. Didn't have the nerve to ask them to put my kayak on the back and almost wish I had by the end of the day, I exaggerate for effect.

Stopped on this little island for early lunch around 10:30, for some reason I kept looking over my shoulder for bears, yeah yeah, wimp. The most gorgeous houseboat (not one of those rental jobs that are everywhere up here) but a massive 40 footer and not pontoon style either, drove by and couldn't get camera quick enough to snap a picture, it was sweet, never seen one like that before.

Passed through lovesick and got to burleigh falls at around 12:30 and along the way found the little flat rock barely above water and decide to relax for a bit. Would have been cool had there been someone to take a picture, would have looked like I was sitting in the middle of the lake.

I see my first kayakers but they are going the opposite way into stoney lake, too bad would have been good to chat em up.

Round the bend into clear lake and there is a church sitting there, huh? Almost go in, shake my head, what was I thinking, with 7 days left to do the trent I can't spend half of them doing confession.

Stop on this cool little island for a break before heading down clear lake. Really high up and overlooking the bay. Like climbing a mountain.

On clear lake there is a small sailboat going by and we chat for a minute each time they pass, was funny. Where you going, ten minutes later, trenton, ten minutes later, where you coming from... You get the picture. As I get closer to the end of clear lake a seadoo drops by and asks if I'm coming from georgian bay, I say yeah, he tells me there is a guy looking for me at the locks, huh? I get to youngs point at 5pm and the most incredible yatch comes out of the lock, bikini on front didn't hurt.

Another guy says someone is looking for me? I go through lock and some people tell me there was a guy in a kayak asking if I had been through. Funny, was the guy from 2 days ago that gave me the beer in sturgeon lake, he was serious. I missed him by an hour. I have to decide if I stay there or goto lakefield, pretty tired at this point, go for it, only 10k more. I want out of big open lakes now and this is the last one for two days, plus it also means I only have to do 15k tomorrow into peterborough and they are calling for rain.

As I paddle along a big osprey dives into the water and catches a fish, not 20 feet from kayak, was a highlight. I get to lakefield at 6:30, camp setup by 7:30 and into town for dinner at a pub, pork chops. Yum. Didn't feel like cooking.

Now the bad parts.

Wind was in my face all day and felt like I was pushing 300lbs of gear with a rope all day long, it was slow and exhausting work, glad it's over.

Get to the lock and it's the first with no way out, end up having to lift everything 4 feet to the concrete above, was interesting to say the least, should be fun packing tomorrow.

Last, there are red ants everywhere and before I realized it, they were in everything. Going to be crawling all over me till morning the bastards.

Sleep time.