Sunday, April 25, 2010

Nexus

As most of you who read my blog know......my mind tends to wander in the outdoors. Most people hear or read the word nexus and head right for a dictionary. It''s one of my favorite words; as I believe there is a nexus between us all. A "tie between".

Today I continued on with my training for nijmegen march. I as per took my oldest son along, it kills two birds with one stone. I hate not spending time with them but really need to up my KM marching....win win!

After returning from a short 15km run/walk I was relaxing with some Java reading over other blogs I follow. Namely Tony's blog "My newfoundland Kayak experience" and Mackayak. After reading about Mackayak's trip she wrote: "From the water the view cannot have changed very much since the days of the Hudson Bay Company ships arriving and leaving and whaling ships setting off for the Nor' Wast."


Here is Tony Dutchman himself, and Mackayak making references to historic companies which are connected to her backyard, with historic sites that I have right here in my back yard!

Instant inspiration!

Here are three kayakers/ bloggers with three TOTALLY different life's, yet we don't have to look far to find a connection,a nexus between us. I think there is a connection between us all.

Anywho this whole thought process got me launched out the door for a paddle when I was actually exhausted from my run walk. I decided I would paddle over to Ft. William across the river here in my backyard.

I launched from another historic area, were copper Indians had rested 5000 years ago, and more recent Chevalier de Troyes camped in 1686 with 100 men in 30 canoes, en route to capture English trading posts at Hudson bay.Paddling this waterway early in the season such as today it is not hard to picture it as it was back then. Listening attentively one can still almost hear the songs sung to keep 50 strokes a minute, as the voyageurs carved north along the river.

Fort William, which began as the site of a French fort. In the late 18th century, it became the site of a trading post of the North West Company called Fort-des-Allumettes or Fort-Lac-des-Allumettes, serving over 100 travellers and voyageurs at a time along the Ottawa River. After the fusion of the NWC with the Hudson's Bay Company in 1821, the post was renamed in honour of William McGillivray (1764-1825), NWC director from 1804 to 1821.

Paddling past Chapman,Houston and Pearl Island if one can ignore a few summer cottages, you can be transported into a much simpler, beautiful time in our nations history.
View from the Deck of Ft. William. What a job this must have been to live here in solitude.


I was tempted to peek around a bit in this very old barn, as I can recall seeing a picture of this with a man holding a HBC canoe frame (I've read so many books I cant recall where I seen this at the moment!) However there was no one around to talk to, so I thought best to not go to jail!

After a quick look around I decided I would better research the area over the coming weeks and hopefully someone would be there next time I decide to drop by. A wonderful inspiring trip.



Ft. William and my baby.







Heading home.
Life is good.

And how does any kayaker end his paddling session??


video

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Guidebook....it's coming

Some of you already know I have been encouraged by quite a few people to start writing down the places to go along the Ottawa river and valley kayaking in the form of a guidebook. Problem being is I end up stumbling on books that expand my knowledge and add more info to my kayak trips.....thus pushing back any hope of EVER coming up with a awesome/comprehensive guidebook.......well in the near future anyway!


The Petawawa Library has become a HUGE resource to me as of late. "The upper Ottawa Valley, a glimpse of history" is a EXCELLENT resource if you want to paddle the river with a better understanding of the history, cultures that have occupied the area. Where names of islands are in reference to personal blunders hundreds of years ago!

Just when you taught your wife never lets you live stuff down...Imagine having a island named after you forgetting your matchsticks after a portage!


An older book that provides a vast amount of info on place names and geographical info. very interesting things in reference to place names from the past, and present and a bunch of local names of certain areas due to history. Some excellent references that I HAVE to paddle around just to soak in the local history and see some things described.....more on that at a later date!



I'm currently just starting " Ottawa valleyway gateway to a continent" and it is supplementing the first book very well.
The reason I'm bedded down with a few books is I have a huge head cold and cough. It's been lingering all week and has finally kicked in hard. Hoping that I will be good to go for this weekend.
Anyway my nose is leaking my head is pounding and I'm coughing. I may have tore something in my shoulder yesterday running...aggravated of course by rucksack running home from work this afternoon.
Time to curl up with a good book and go to bed.


Monday, April 19, 2010

My newest hobby.

Running long distances with a lot of weight on my back. Yet kayaking has never caused blisters I find it compliments one another perfectly! My other foot is slightly worse.
Maybe a 20km paddle and a 30km ruck run is in order for this weekend.....
What is wrong with me?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lower Barron Canyon

Finally after a few days I managed to balance work, homelife, sleep, and kayaking and got out for a few hours of paddling. After sleeping in and arriving a bit late we were on the water by 9h00 heading from Black bay into the Lower barron Canyon.

While there wasnt much in the way of waves on the bay the wind was about 15km/hr...just enough to be annoying. What I enjoy about black bay is the southern side of the bay has little development. And having a slight phobia of anything related to development, it's a nice relaxing spot.


Soon enough we were headed west along the lower Barron river. The Barron is famous for the upper section of the canyon in Algonquin park. While the upper limits are the most impressive the lower canyon is well worth checking out. The cliffs are still fairly large, the boat traffic very low (nil today) and it's free. The water levels are actually high on this river which was assuring to see. Many little streams trickled into the canyon.

Just past Spug island we were treated to two large Turkey Vultures who spooked very easily. Couldn't get a good shot, but nice to see.
While much of the huge elevations in the area is covered by large yellow cedar, there are some excellent rock faces along the route.

After our 20 degree Celsius plus weeks we were very surprised to see an abundance of ice still along the mountain streams. It had to be an impressive slab of ice a few weeks ago. The cedar shade has kept remnants of winter around. In retrospect mere weeks ago I didn't want to see ice ever again...yet today I'm posing for photo's in front of it. Humans are a strange animal.


Above: Troy in under the small stream.




The canyon is decorated in very large cedar which overhangs and makes for interesting paddling. Cedar was and still is used by the Algonquin people of our area in purification ceremonies where it is mixed with sweet grass and sage and burned.
http://www.commonlaw.uottawa.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2656&lang=en


video

Troy wanted to haul in for a snack so I took the time to practice rolling. Rolling really has to be the most relaxing thing in the world.







A few km's from first chute, the canyon turns into a small winding marsh stream. Plenty of ducks and fish here today. In the distance you can start to hear the awesome roar of the chute....which always ensures a faster paddle cadence!



Soon the foam on the water gives the sign of the powerful torrent ahead.

Between the large cedar, the view of a waterfall,and quietness....this is about as perfect of a day one can ask for.


Usually at this point during the summer months you must haul off on the southern side and use the portage to get up to see the chute. The water is usually too shallow to paddle within 100m...however today with a lot of effort....


Takin a breather.......


Contemplating the effort needed to get closer...

Ahhhhhhhh! So worth it!

video

Enjoying the free ride back down.




The portage around is well used and very visible. However unlike the rest of Algonquin park there are no signs. As per usual I noticed something new today above the falls. The arranged rocks must have been part of the log chute in the picture above. I had found old structures at the base of the chute last summer, but hadn't noticed this above. An excellent day of exploration!

View of rocks directing logs into where the log chute once stood.


As well just on the southern side of the portage trail we found a old thunderbox and a nice little campsite. While I think using the thunderbox would prove disastrous, it is a beautiful little site....and free! Zero dollars to sit on a beautiful site and drift off to sleep listening to first chute roaring a mere 20 meters away.
I'm sold!

I'm guessing by the site that it was once maintained by the park and no longer is.


Eating a lunch of strawberries and energy drinks.


Above: Troy launching out


Overall a wonderful trip of 26ish km in total. The whole way back eagles followed us and we had the wind to our backs and made great time.

Excellent day on the water......and I think Troy is turning into a kayaker. =0)

Hope you enjoyed.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What a day!



So we all have bad days at work. I had a doozy of one today. So bad in fact I wasn't even excited that my dry suit, gloves and hat showed up when I came home for lunch...yeah that kind of bad day.

Anyway I thought back to a trick my mom told me the day I left home at 17. Put a smile on even if it's fake. It tends to work as everyone around you tends to smile, and in turn make you happy(of happier anyway!).


So after supper I made use of some downtime and got out to the beach with my family. They played on the beach and I went rolling. I am very happy with my new kit, I'll post a review on it soon.

Anyway it was so nice to just paddle around again and do some practicing. My 8 dollar WRC Greenland paddle I made works like a charm and I'm becoming a big fan of em. Rolls great.

I got a tip from a WW kayaker I know reference the neoprene headgear earlier this week and I think I may do it. He cuts a "X" shape over where his ears go as he found (and I find now as well) the water gets trapped inside my ears. He said it sorted out that issue. I'll trust him I guess!



While I may have had a crappy day, when I look back right now......at least the day ended right!



video

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day dreaming at work.

Most people have screen savers or desktop pics of kayak's at their offices. I got sent a pic a while back of me day dreaming "at work" I thought I should share. Sitting in a hole in a Afghan "riverbed" thinking about cold north Atlantic water.



Also the reason I laugh when I read about "glamping". Hell a tent and 5 hours Uninterrupted sleep is glamping!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When to Stop Drop


Our plans were to visit oiseau rock today, however work schedules made that near impossible. We decided we would explore in around allumere lake specifically the Hudson bay post across the river in Sheenboro.

We launched at black bear beach at CFB Petawawa, to a strong cold westerly wind. On much of the Ottawa a east or west wind causes fairly large choppy waves for a lake, and today was no exception.

While the waves were only about 3 feet out of the sheltered bay, 3 foot waves on your 3rd kayak paddle can seem huge. After we rounded the break water I asked Troy if he was comfortable or not. After almost tipping a few times he apologised and said we should stop drop, which was fine by me.



As soon as new paddlers get a little concerned they tend to stiffen up...and end up upside down.

Instead we grabbed a coffee and ended up looking over a few history books of the area and discussed a few things we will do later that will build confidence. Mainly bracing and rolling and a few rescues.

Overall a bit of a bummer, but reaching thresholds in your skills and knowing your point for "stop drop" BEFORE it's too late is an important skill to learn. And we covered that today so overall great success!




Thursday, April 8, 2010

WHY WHY WHY????

I believe the words  "______ you Katie."slipped my mouth a few months ago as I paddled around some island in total relaxation in Quebec when on the pristine little island I saw Katie's spray painted name ruining the area.

In planning out a trip to oiseau rock I signed some books out from the library on recent and ancient history of the Ottawa valley, to broden both my knowledge when I visit the place and to better appreciate the history, customs, rituals and legends. To improve my kayak experience.

In doing so I stumbled on a video that will confirm my anger towards idiots with spray cans out in the wild.WHO BRINGS A SPRAY CAN TO A RELIGIOUS SITE AND DESECRATES IT?DESTROYING PICTOGRAPHS IN THE PROCESS?

Anyway I'll hold off on the history stuff to share with y'all until I get my pics on Saturday.

Until then here is a video of the area from a local news station.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Little things along the way.

Lately I've been doing a lot of stopping and hiking during my day paddles in my home area here on the Ottawa river. While I have been to one specific area many times; it took taking one of my buddies over and having a fresh set of eyes pluck this object from a squared off timber.










What is it? Our original though was a way to join logs together to make a crib to float downstream. however not being satisfied I took a few photo's and sent it out to my "peep's" (archaeologist buddies) who quickly wrote back confirming my thought.

Through the magic of Internet and passage from one grave digger to the next I got a quick response:

"I think it is for attaching beams together end to end, like a big "Paul Bunion-sized" staple. Sounds like he (referring to me) found a washed out cribwork used during log drives"

Thanks guys for the help. A great find on a relaxing day paddle!

Also on a unrelated topic, I was approached as of late and asked about doing up a guide book for certain areas. While it's in the works, I wouldnt expect it anytime in the near future. I have so much to photograph,research, and paddle.

ONE DAY!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ottawa river water levels.

A while back I was enjoying a few sustainable living shows and one theme kept repeating in each production. A closer connection with nature. Now there were extreme sides of that coin (I.E a woman named "windsparrow" who knew when it was raining as she lived in a open topped shelter in a tree) and others along my line of connectivity; urban gardeners who unlike their fellow city dwelling neighbours knew if it had rained while they were sleeping.

Many people pass the Ottawa and see water, all is normal to them. However after dropping into buy gas recently the gentleman working there asked if I was paddling around the Ottawa yet. Of course he owned a cottage on it, and remarked on the low water levels that I had noticed as well. While kayaking isnt so "footprint free" as "Windsparrows" life, I do have a closer connection with my surroundings. And I notice changes average non kayakers would never notice.

Residing in this area for the past few years I noticed that this year spring water levels are lower than the past fall. Usually in April I can paddle in little coves where the shrubs and shore side trees are underwater.Not this year.


The Ottawa river is a tightly controlled river due to the multitude of dams along it's length. Where low (or base flow) occurs between July to Oct. Max flow from what I have learned is usually not till mid April. Maybe it's my lack of late march early April paddling that has me wondering/worried about the low levels. Perhaps the water is always this low...just under the ice!


Here are some level comparison pics.

October 2009

March 2010

sept 09

march 2010
There are many sandbanks that are usually 3-4 feet in underwater which are high and dry. Fingers crossed that there is a abundance of water coming downstream soon....if not we may be in for very low levels by September.


I also have a buddy looking into something we found out on a trip this week. Trying to figure out what it is and how old (have an idea...but just need confirmation!!). I'll keep you posted!
Hoping to do a kayak trip to a old HBC post and Oiseau Rock this week/weekend.
Stay tuned!