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.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
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.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
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
Monday, July 27, 2009
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Was neat, there was this tiny rock in the middle of the lake. I hereby christen thee jeff rock. Sat on the thing for awhile and relaxed in the sun. If the kayak wasn't there you would have thought I was sitting in the middle of the lake. Wish there was someone to take a pic.