Monday, February 28, 2011

Olympian Sarah Boudens calls on MPP, company to halt Petawawa River project

I usually don't post news as some other blog's run on those.Or post other peoples writing and pictures. However this is great news for getting the word out on "our" river. Thanks Daily Observer and thanks hometown girl Sarah Boudens. Check out the link.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

DownMat 7 Pump review.

Due to global warming sleeping on a bed of moss or getting fancy with a floor of  boughs is not as good as it use to be (thats what I'm blaming it on). In fact where I once had some of the best sleeps as the cool night wind blew in my face; I have tossed and turned and was bloody exhausted by day 5.  Being a soldier I have slept in some of the most superb places. Including such places as getting ate alive by sand fleas, counting AK tracer rounds like sheep. A covert observation post dug deep into a hillside....deep enough that it turned into a functional well/ water bed the first rainfall. On the Croatian border sleeping in a bivysac during a huge snowfall in the mountains with a raging thunderstorm. I never seen snow and thunder before but it's the truth. Fact is as I advance in age this sleeping on the hard ground shit is getting real old.

My mattress I have been using on my trip to support my "lightweight" travel mentality had the thickness of toilet paper and the comfort of printer paper. I would awake every morning with my shoulders and neck killing me. Due to a ice covered obstacle course years ago I fell 16 feet onto concrete on my side.  My shoulder ended up on my chest as I screamed like a little girl before passing out. At 20 that pain went away....then slowly creeped back to remind me of the glory days. Every morning that shoulder was aching; not a great start to a great day of paddling.

This season my main focus is coming up with a better sleeping system based on size and comfort.

So I began my research.

As you all know I have a MEC fetish. What I like about their website is the honest feedback it presents with each product by real trippers like you or I. Not some dink dressed in Northface talking about sleeping in a Bivy in shark infested mountains. My favorite comment started  " I'm a overweight 40 plus woman." Sure bet if this product sucked she would be honest enough throw that out there. The Exped DownMat 7 Pump had 
nothing but raving reviews.

While a little out of my price range, I figured I'd spend the extra cash now and hopefully have some goodnight sleeps out there. Of course being in MEC I couldn't just walk out with the one thing I went in for. I can honestly sympathise with some women who just "neeeeeeedddd" shoes. I neeeeed kayaking gear. So I grabbed some Evo Tails for my MSR snowshoes. Which in my opinion should come with the snowshoes in the first place.
Taxes are not something to be celebrated. After bully's beating me up for my lunch money everyday, they decided at the end of the year to "buy me lunch". The Bittersweet tax return.

I was very impressed with the compressed size of the mat in it's carry sack. I figure this will actually save room in comparison to my old thin, yet ackward one. Stored inside my sleeping bag it will actually save me ton's space.

Hauling it out I got angry at how long it too to pump up. The internal pump just didn't seem to blow up to compress the air into the chambers. After pumping and looking it over my wife advised I should allow it to expand 24hr's as per the instructions. Smart ass.

**enter 80's video montage**

24 hours later the pump had expanded and worked like a charm pumping full in under a minute. Very very comfortable. Then came the moment of truth....Will I ever fit this huge comfortable pad back into that tiny storage sac. We've all tried to put a tent into carrying bag only to have it fit perfectly for two inches before having to remove it and re roll. First try success. Tons of room. Thumbs up.

The Exped has a pile of impressive values that really are great. However if your like me and about as technical as a earthworm, the proof is in its size and comfort. I agree with that "overweight 40 year old woman", its a wonderful piece of kit. Most comfortable thing I have ever lid on for outdoor use. Price is a little steep but with a field repair kit and a 5 year warranty I think it was a good use of money.

The real test will be march 17 when me and a couple other kayakers hit the northern parts of the Ottawa river for a few days.

DownMat 7 Pump. Expensive but worth every penny.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Circumnavigating Windsor Island

My tongue was dry and stuck to the inside of my cheek. Saturday night we had a party where we all pretended to be 20. Sunday morning I realised those days have passed. Sleeping a beautiful sunny day away ensuring my wife knew upon every trip from the bedroom to bathroom/ medicine cabinet "I was never drinking again".

This afternoon feeling full of energy from a days worth of rest; I crossed out onto the ice at Petawawa point under the watchful eye of gathering dog walkers. The wind howled in from he NW actually pushing my kayak sideways as I let go of it to fix my shoes. The ice has closed in since last week; and the usual flat entry into the water was a good foot drop down with it's new found height.

As the front of my kayak torpedoed into the water; a quick stern rudder turned me into the wind and current. Ice formed over my drysuit instantly from the launching splash. The view from the cockpit made the far off horizon appear void of ice. I immediately though of the confusion that may cause one paddling in the Arctic, And how landing on islands to look out over the ever moving ice to pick a route would be a requirement when available.

My paddle space quickly ended at Windsor island about a km or up stream. After100m of ice it reopened in the fast current of Chenal du Chebut and it appeared more open than this side of the islands.

Quickly seal landing on the ice I could feel it bowing around my hull then a solid slide onto the thicker snow covered shelf ice. Knowing the water well I knew to stay close to shore here, as the current bubbled up from a deep hole which would weaken the ice in places. Not to mention this area was mostly new ice since my last visit.

The other side wasn't much better. Where previously leads existed they had finally met and interlaced. The current has increased on this side and it was a work out paddling upstream to find the extent of travel.

Circumnavigation is a word that drives me batty. So many people use it to describe the smallest of trips. Jokingly I use it to describe everyday things like "circumnavigating the block Via automobile" "Circumnavigating the Tim Horton's " Etc Etc.....Today I circumnavigating Windsor Island.

Halfway through the "circumnavigation" I sat and rested after pulling my kayak an enormous distance (20m). I sat quietly hoping to get a picture of an otter, who's wet tracks dotted the ice. I really felt as If I was up north, a real dream of mine to live a simple life. My eye lashes froze as I waited at the opening to spot him. Life felt so right.

My short trip done I stopped for a coffee and a look at perfection. this time of the year left the river unmolested, uninhabited.

The shine of motorboat windscreens replaced with glistening ice.

Unlike most paddlers I'm not wishing the winter away just yet.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Inebriated Paddler

I have to be honest, even though I am a Baywop (derogatory term for people living in NL outports) I'm not much of a drinker. And  I certainly have no idea how to pick out wines....Going into the store looking at the billion bottles adorning the walls......I was lost. The customers (regulars I assume)  walked to their poison of choice and were out in 20 seconds. I decided that I would stick to what I know.

I love canoes

I love living next to the water.

I figure I cant go wrong....... right?

No paddling today as I had meetings and a social event tonight....Paddling in the maybe PM.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dam the Petawawa river....dam these stupid people.

Vandals have spray painted a big x on many save the Petawawa river signs here in town. Thankfully they used bright orange paint which actually attracts more attention! Imagine that people wishing to see the Petawawa dammed are dam dumb (say that three times quick!).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

kayaking year round in Ontario

Today was the milestone I had been shooting for this year. The completion of 12 months of kayaking in Ontario's freshwater lakes.  With minus 20 being the median temp over most of January, I didn't expect much paddling in February; and was slightly worried I wouldn't reach my goal. With some water open in the fast moving current at Petawawa point; I sat in my car drinking my coffee to try and make my lungs feel a little better. Getting up the drive and motivation to portage down. This dry hacking cough that makes me gyrate until I'm dizzy was annoying. The kind of flu that makes everything look funny and leaves you with that total lack of energy. While enjoying my coffee I had a fine discussion with a guy who lives down here near the point. Turns out he is an avid paddler as well and is looking forward to a paddle. He had been out paddling Christmas day on the Petawawa in his Canoe and was rearing to get back out. Of course we got on the topics of "have you been/ have you seen" and we both discovered another wreck from each other here in this little piece of river! More on that wreck after breakup!

Spring weather made the portage down warm. I took 2 breaks as my flu was just making me feel like I had no energy to continue.I'm sure normal people/ smart people stay home when they are this sick. However the ice rotting away a awesome sign to see; and well worth the pain.

I celebrated my milestone pulled up on a ice sheet much the same as I paddle. Quietly and solo.
Chenal du Chebut under deep snow accumulated over the past two weeks.
A drab of coffee to reflect on this small goal. 12 months CAN be done here in Ontario. And dare I say November to February has been a awesome paddling season.

Not having a huge piece of paddle space I relaxed on the ice with coffee in hand. Sounds of far of skidoo's hummed like the bush planes that would soon be flying over into the wilds of Quebec.
The warm manitou's pressed moisture out of the ice. Pieces were beginning to crack, drip, and float off.
Here's to a great 12 months paddling here in Ontario.
Now I have a few days of sickness to sit around at home and dream up the next goal........

Monday, February 7, 2011

Old and new

The things that propel me from humans. From their rules and bureaucracy. Old things that remind me of my forefathers fight for survival in this harsh northern land. Things that remind me that he thrived, and  production of new outdoor pursuit equipment shows how well they did.

Like most things in my life  I really don't judge anything as bad or good. I sometimes think Greenland paddling is getting too "cliquish" for me and I don't like drinking the "koolaide" with the other kids. Yet making something with your own hands that costs maybe 10 dollars that can compete with a 350 dollar carbon paddle; I'm in love. Then sometimes I like the extra grab of my carbon or wish I had it in huge surf.

Sliding back down a steep cliff in my Algonquin shoes as I attempted to reach the top; I vowed  I would buy a new pair.  Yet there are times in my new snowshoes I had wished for my Algonquins. Not to mention a jack shirt just don't seem to match the MSR Evo`s.

Usually I trip alone and my tools that I utilise are my existence. Old and new, I`m still here...or there. In the moment.

Maybe someday I will look back on my enthusiasm and adventurous brain and wish I had it back. Maybe I will look back and see how fullish and stubborn my young brain was.

Old and new.