Monday, April 25, 2011

Rideau falls, the hill, and paddling Ottawas downtown waterfront

"It's almost like there are only 200 people in the world and the rest are just not real people."
And I had to agree with Mike. Sometimes it seems we always know of another person through other people, and that the rest of the people we see in passing could almost be perceived as holograms in the Matrix (enter "dude there is no spoon comment!).  We had launched from the Quebec city of Hull which twins our nations capital. Normally I'm a solo paddler however there have been a few guys with the club who share the same passion as myself towards outdoor travel who I get the honour of paddling with from time to time.

I had never paddled on this portion of the river and was quite amazed with it's beauty. not what I was expecting for a Urban paddle. The city skyline actually looked appealing as a backdrop to towering cliffs.

Having Mike along was great for pointing out things like the PM's house.  One of the many "modest" government homes along the river which developed this great country.

Rideau falls thundered into the Ottawa. The cool mist on the face was refreshing in the hot spring day. The amount of water coming down persuaded me from going in under the falls. I was certain it would crack my yak in half. Then I would have the pleasure of 100 photo snapping tourist watching me in an embarrassing moment.

Mike checking out the falls.

The upstream section of the falls was a little more approachable.

Checking out a place no tourist like myself would normally see. Behind Rideau falls.
Mike also pointed out Champlain's statue adorning the cliffs. A true hero of mine regardless of British vs French colonial B/S. A great explorer and founder of our country. Posed with his astrolabe taking his Latitude; I couldn't help putting my own twist on this history in my mind. The history never spoken of..but knowing human nature...I usually put my own spin on things. A enraged french explorer trowing sticks and  kicking rocks while looking for his lost astrolabe around what is now Cobden Ontario. Yelling "Tabernack!!" through the quiet forest.  I guess this current statue reflects him better I guess.

Alexandria bridge spanning the width of the Ottawa joining Quebec and Ontario for over 110 years.

Parliament where our democracy takes place.

View of "The Hill" from the museum of civilisation.

One of my good friends works here at the museum of civilisation which has a awesome northern display. Due to its cool architecture I'm certain it will also be used as "Star fleet academy" sometime in the future!
The current pretty strong me and Mike drifted back to the launch. Catching up on things and enjoying the awesome day. We threw around idea's for paddles we wanted to do this year and our shared love for Georgian bay. We discussed a possible camping trip soon as well; which will be great to get away for a few days. I will be home in Newfoundland in 6 days to find a house to buy so life is kinda hectic at the moment. It was great to get a respite along the Ottawa. Thanks for the company Mike!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cycles, death, snowstorms.

Winter storms rolled through southern Ontario a few days back delivering 10 cm of snow.  Of course human conversation quickly condoned the act of mother nature; yet I couldn't get over it's beauty. Unexpected and wild. After a lazy day of vegatative existance; I finished up supper and forced myself onto upper Allumere lake.


 I followed the clouds for a while, cutting towards the north in the fading light to enjoy some coffee and the sunset.

The mild bay breeze was eliminated behind Houston island. After a very long work week it was the first silence I've had to listen to my surroundings. My energy tanks had worn quite low and I was glad to be out here to try and put things back together. The spring sun has really been a welcome change from the previous seasons chill. Warming my face.

Looking down looking up. After landing I found nature projecting my image back to me. How this must have amazed our ancestors. Natures mirror showing ourselves. It's hard to look into a puddle, seeing a perfect reflection and not feel part of this great place we inhabit. The clouds reflected itself upon it's condenced state.

After taking a short  10m swim over to the next island I quickly discovered both boot's in my new kotatak Expedition gortex dry suit was leaking slightly. Luckily my wool socks contained the moisture and warmed my feet. Maybe a grain of sand worked it's way through after rubbing in my sneakers durin portage. Reminding me of what really remains here on this planet, nothing we build will combats natures effects forever. I take some peace out of my wet feet.

I walk along the rocky ledges when suddenly a mother goose flies off out into the lake. Leaving her egg's to save her life.

Five chances at life. I think of how pleased I would be right now if this was a different time. Food for my stomach and down to use in my clothing. Yet here I sit with a full belly and warm clothing. Admiring the warm nest of down, and the fragility of life. I leave mom to get back to her nest. Dad follows me swinging his neck like a Nirvana fan from my teenage years.

Ice although scarce hangs to the shores at sunset.

And taking it's place; foam now decorates the shores.

All a cycle that I'm currently in on this earth.. So many beautiful accidents combining energy over the Millenia; to have me right here right now.

Life is good.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Going out for supper

With at least a dozen restaurants in town, heading out for supper is pretty easy. Yet none have the views, tastes of supper on the Ottawa river. With the road to black bear beach finally open after it's winter transformation into a ski route, the short no traffic drive to my launch was a welcomed benefit of spring.

Storms had been ripping through all day with blizzard like conditions and high winds. A true Shelia's Brush.

I took my opportunity to get out and headed to the islands.

The blue sky darkened under another band of approaching waves of a season past.

High wind pounded the island as my coleman stove roared hidden behind a large red pine. I pulled up my dry suit hood and took cover in a small water carved trench. This is my idea of supper.

Wave after wave rolled through the valley and made for a great supper atmosphere.

And then stillness.  I sat eating my chicken fajitas watching two mallards hiding from the now again gusting wind. 
Mid April snow storms passed into the foothills as I explored the island after a great meal.

The warm sun made it's appearance at sunset.

A pause in the waves of winter passing through. I headed home.

No restaurant can compare.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Life and death...and something I hate the most

Hey folks. Just a quick post before I hit the hay. It's been the week I had thought it was going to be and I only managed to get out on the water after supper today. I had been thinking about a certain family of geese; and a plan came to me to see if I could gain the trust of the parents. I wanted to see if presenting myself (prepared for attack!) every time I paddle out and dropping off some old bread could gain trust. To see what would happen if the young were use to me being around. A selfish endeavour to get hopefully some good up close shots of the young, and be somewhat like Grey Owl lol.

Paddling out to the nest I was greeted with mother natures balance.
The spring levels have really increased over this week and two eggs lay now below 2 feet of water. The panic they must have felt not being able to push the eggs out of the quickly rising water must have been something else. Alas they move on and continue. The fish feed, life goes on.

My plan meeting a fatal end I spread my old bread crusts around the island, and took in the scenery.

Tonight my wife agreed to drop me off to go kayaking while she went in to find me dress shoes and new dress pants for a formal affair I have to attend tomorrow. Formal affairs and me just don`t mix...I really hate the clothing and ...well ...the formal stuff. Either way my wife sacrificed her spare time. Must keep that in mind this week. She was fully in my thoughts as I relaxed out here.

Another wild thing was out today......there back!!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The dance

The ceramic handle on my freshly pour coffee cup remained held in my grasp as it cracked in half on the sink; spraying me and the room in a sea of steaming hot coffee. I stood there for a minute still grasping my morning cup of java.... looking at the mess. I go to grab a towel to clean up the brown nectar which slowly worked it's way across the floor...... to the wonderful morning question from my wife...."whats the matter with you?"
" Nothing" I reply as I headed into the basement.

Mess cleaned up I began disassembling my "home gym" which has seated more plastic bins than my butt. Someone was coming by later today to purchase it, so I figured I would get it taken apart and brought outside. Half apart I grab it ahold lining it up for the doorway. Things are going smoothly till my brain registers about 100 lbs on my toenail. "FUCCCCCCKKKKKKKK!" I exclaim as red plasma leaks through a hole in my toenail which still has a home gym sticking out of it.

Suddenly a 5 year old is stood beside me bent down looking at my bleeding foot. "Oh that's why you screamed fuck daddy."

Today just wasn't going to match my tranquil trip of yesterday.

Yesterday started off great. A nice sleep in till 10 am. My wife made Monte Kristos for lunch and I was on the water by 13h00.

The snow nearly gone I had to portage the kayak down to the melting shore ice and launch under the watchful eyes of what seemed like half of the town. Quickly I put the town, the people and my horrendous work week behind me. With no plan I just paddled around looking. Stopping to walk around some of the islands along my way.The water was glass and only interrupted by my wake; and the ever alert waterfowl taking off in a panic.

I stopped maybe 1km into the trip to look around a little island. The shore ice made for a nice easy landing.

Quartz decorated the island's black rock. I walked around taking pictures of it, not really paying attention to much else. HSSSSSSSSSSS....uh-oh. Had I stepped on a snake? I look up from my downward gaze to come eye to eye with a very angry animal.
Mommy goose had sat perfectly quiet as I paddled past her, blending into the grey shrubs of spring. She remained so still, low and quiet I had walked right upon her. She now stood ready to defend her two large white eggs, calling out loudly and hissing.

As I backed away daddy landed and with head bopping was quite content to get between me and the mom. I backed away under the deafening honking. Dad took to the water trowing his head around and flapping his wings to make himself a target and distract me from his family. Not to disturb them more than I already had I slid off the ice and headed between the rocks of Chebut channel.

The islands so close together make for beautiful small channels and bays that can really transport you far into the back bush, with only being a few kilometers from town. The evergreen trees and thick yellow cedar seem to block out the sounds and views of civilisation.

I sat on this island looking around with a coffee in hand for a good hour. Walking in the woods, sitting on the shore. I noticed a nice tree the local beavers were having their way with. Their need to chew to keep their ever growing teeth short had really done the job along the shoreline. Their requirement to dam and build constantly is amazing. A nexus between us really. If I don't kayak my stomach tends to grow more...maybe I should use it as a gauge to point out my necessity to kayak to my wife in the future. I'm sure she would remind me that cleaning up the basement was good hard work as well....and good for the gauge.

Paddling on I of course went back to that little bay where I had sat among all the animals in the bay before as a equal. A great experience. 

Today however my approach in the calm silence sent various breeds of ducks and geese to flight. A lone beaver slapped his tail in warning as he slipped beneath the water. I paddled to a nearby point paddling passed two geese quietly sitting in the bushes alone. Not moving a inch. I pretended I hadn't seen them on their nest and carried on.

The midday sun was hot as I pulled onto the point. I stripped off my thermals and into shorts and a tshirt. I sat on this point for two hours. Occasionally walking up the rocky shoreline to take pictures of things along the way.
A large chain lies still on the shore anchored by a large eye bolt drilled into the cliff. The plant life has taken to this iron chain and over the years what once anchored mighty log booms would be nothing more than a brown stain on the rock.

I found the longer I remained the more normalised the pattern of life became. It's not that the animals were afraid of my presence but alerted by my noise of approach.

Soon the ducks and geese came back and presumed what I had interrupted. A beaver came out of the water and walked around mother goose on the bank, she walked to the water to eat leaving the beaver and her eggs alone. Do geese know that these large hairy beasts don't eat eggs? Perhaps not. Perhaps it's the pattern animals get into and that beaver has displayed nothing more than his desire for twigs over the past few weeks. Perhaps the first day he was driven back into the water by a team of angry geese and slowly the have become aware that his whole pattern is coming to eat twigs and leaving peacefully.

Which of course got me thinking as I watched these animals. As I watched animals landing beside me without a care for my brightly coloured drysuit and kayak. Trust was a dance of sorts out here. A dance I usually paddle through as the wildlife remains still, and quiet. Waiting my my dance to exit stage left.

The sun was starting to go down as I launched back into the water; heading upstream to watch the end of my day set.

I had a prefect time to reflect on this new dance of trust; how maybe kilometers were less important.

.....Oh....and after I STOPPED MY BLEEDING they called to say the didn't want the home gym.