Tuesday, May 31, 2011

3000ish photo's

Hey all. Just experimenting around with a few things, figured I'd post a rough copy of 3000ish photo's stuck together.

Here it is!

Been a busy week here with work...still been kayaking everynight! Some more photo's to share later in the week.

Let me know what you think!

Friday, May 27, 2011

May 24th weekend trip: FInal day

Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling. -Henry David Thoreau

Somehow I was the first ready on our last day on the river. Which is really quite unorthodox and statistically impossible improbable. In hindsight maybe Charles was getting bored of being the first on the water =0).  I pulled out of the launch to allow him space to wade out into what was once the beach to finish packing up his gear.   

Being ready first gave me some time to "scout" ahead. And by scout I mean one paddle stroke every 5 minutes whether I needed to or not! Spiderwebs laden with dew decorated the forest floor and entertained me as I floated along waiting for Charles to finish up.

Every depression of shield rock now supported a tumbling brook. Miniature versions of the Jocko and the Kipawa every few feet.

My internal compass was dragging me north as we both began our morning paddle. Pushing back south just felt wrong. 4 days just isn't enough for me anymore;  I sometimes wonder if a lifetime would suffice my hunger for out here.  I sometimes wonder if I should find the point where I wish to return to suburbia....if that feeling exists inside.

However the paddle south opened my eyes to a beautiful shoreline and the longing for more further subsided into excitement to hear what my two boys had gotten into over the weekend. An army family my wife is use to me disappearing for months on end coming home for a week to disappear for another 8 months. That's life for us that we have made into a great success. After spending months on end in country X, Y ,Z (Z really sucked!!) as a combat arms soldier...she doesnt give much grief (or worry too much) for a 4 day camping trip!

Signs of the past were not hard to find. Looped into signs for the future this once strong pine may have been cut out in preparations for the final damming and flooding of over 13km of land. Cut and dragged into the rapids to send down stream. Days or maybe weeks before the rapids turned silent. Not forever; but for now.

Charles had finished up a BCU course with Steve Maynard since we had gotten together last. So inbetween exploring, taking breaks and relaxing I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could from him. Learning on a multiday trip is a great way to pass some time on occasion. And what better place to practice. Thanks a ton for the skills passed on Charles.

Steam poured out of my coffee as tree's dumped large drops randomly over my kayak. Here's a toast to my river, my friend , my true home.

His father passed away leaving the cabin to a son who long ago moved away. He returns for sickness, holidays and death but is more of a outsider now. As his memory fades from the collective memory of the area this wharf a father a grandfather built slowly decays back into the lake. The cabin home to more of nature than people slowly decays along the shoreline. Rumours of a small cabin on a far away lake echo among the older memories of the family but the will has been long forgotten and lost...... As a child I ofter saw old boats and Wharfs that some knew little about other than hearsay. Rumoured stories. I couldn't help but to dream of one for this dock.

Rivers into rivers. Deafening roars from such small streams here in the calm silence of the fog.

Charles and I separated about 5km from the take out. I fell into my normal mindfulness paddling. It wasn't long before Charles in his 18 foot boat was pulled far ahead on the opposite shoreline. It gave me some great reflection time to myself to try to put the whole trip into perspective.  A very slow relaxing trip of 90km spread out over 4 days with every cove a discovery; and a wonder of what was around each point, each fog bank, each tree. I never do measure my trips in silly YTD km's anymore. I find it akin to "my dad can beat up your dad" conversations. And in the end really doesn't display a personal improvement or folly. Just numbers.

My arms paddled second nature as my eyes unfocused looking strait ahead. The warm wind on my right cheek as cold water dripped onto my right hand. The last km I wasn't in control per se. I let myself become a passenger in this vessel much as I do as a passenger in this vessel of skin and flesh. I was in one place. Each second lasting  a lifetime. Life is good.

Charles was unpacking his kayak by the time I floated in; relaxed and quite at peace. " Bit of bad news" he said.

At first glance we automatically thought of all the dirt roads we drove on to get to this launch on day 1. A flat is not a huge deal, but a bit of a bummer to end a trip. As Charles finished tying down the kayaks I dropped his spare tire down and got her ready to switch out. I'm sure you all can remember my journey on sand lake road in Algonquin park. Since then I continually carry a full sized good jack, air compressor, patch kit and proper sockets. Looking at Charles spare we were not confident on the thing working. Mounted onto the bottom of the chassis and rusted on; and took me "persuading it" to even come down. The thing had barely enough air but would do the trick to get us into Mattawa to find a pump; and maybe somewhere to repair the tire. We lucked out and a gas station in town did repairs. Fortunately or unfortunately depending on your view point there was nothing wrong with the tire. The older gentleman pumped her up and checked her over and over. Someone took the time to flatten the tire in our 4 day absence. Some person had sat there letting the air out of the tire until the rim touched the ground.Unbelieveable to me honestly........ Old tire back on we were off.

Us "out of towners" getting angry over a flattened tire is the response they expected I'm sure. Charles was laughing about it and honestly my life experience has put me in a "couple" worse situations...which tends to leave me pretty calm anyway. Maybe it was a act of revenge, random mischief, who knows. While a very disturbed person sabotaged us; I fully believe he sabotaged himself in a worse way. To stoop to such a thing has to stay on their minds. Had that been a highlight in their life that weekend? I feel bad for the guy or gal who done it. I hope you find yourself and happiness. I'm certain their potential is much above their actions.

What a beautiful trip to start my camping season.

Time to plan the next.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

May 24 weekend Day: 3

When I awoke at 06h00 the water was up near my kayak. Care should be taken on this river when picking camps as in retrospect a good wind could have placed waves into the basement of my luxury beach house.

Checking out my last pole mark which was about 20 inches long I found it fully submerged about 6 feet out. Clearly displayed in that far bottom corner is my morning addition to the lake. =0)
Charles was still asleep so I figured seeming it was so early I would head back to bed..."When in doubt rack out." I was quickly back into lucid dreaming.

"Hey Lee, if you don't get up soon we'll have to start supper" I heard coming from the water. "Why what time is it?" "12h30" I heard as the rain pounded my tent. "Ah fuck buddy... you can head off and I'll catch up before next camp" I said. Quickly packing up my gear. I felt horrible. "No worries dude don't rush yourself". "You gotta stop burning the candle at so many ends man, your one tired dude." ...He couldn't be more right I thought. Multi-tasking I brewed up my coffee as I packed my tent away.
He couldn't be more right.

Within 5 minutes I was on the water still groggy but moving forward non the less.

First stop was the Jocko river, the largest river along this section of the Ottawa. Created into a provincial park in 1999 the park does not extend to the confluence with the Ottawa; providing free camping along here. However there is only one good spot on the downstream side of the Ottawa right next to the Jocko.

We took our sweet time heading back downstream as we had decided we would use the same camp as the first night. While we hadn't explored the Ontario side per se; however we could see the cliffs and rough landings as we paddled up.

It was sinking in that this was my last night out on the river and honestly it was kinda depressing. I really gotta get some longer trips planned. We took a few breaks under the hanging cedars from the heavy rain to drink back a coffee or two in our boats. Charles had given me a Cliff bar and I have to say I will be picking these up for future trips. It's such a light convenient lunch when hauling into shore would be a pain, or you just feel like chillin' in your boat.

As the heavy rain subsided the fog began to rise in wisps. The tree`s full of life.

I watched the top end of the fog banks in awe of the movements it was taking. One can really imagine some cool things while watching them.

Back in our first camp by midday, the rain only off and on showers. Charles asked if I wanted to go out and paddle around. I declined and decided to stick around in camp.

I took some time walking around the fresh and soaked bush. The fog hung in the trees; illuminated by the beams of the now setting sun.

The lush forest floor seemed alive as drops of water rolled off the plants; which shook like a dog out of water from the release of the weight.

I heard Charles calling my name from down the coast. "Yeah" I yelled back.  "OK just wanted to see how much further you were upstream, I can't see shit in this fog!" The cool evening air and lack of wind had  huge banks of fog lingering about in the coves.

It wasn't log after Charles got back I emerged from the woods carrying a pile of birch bark I had ripped off some dead fall. A couple young guys in a canoe had left a pile of garbage lying about that I intended on burning before I left the camp. I figure ensuring a camp is better when I leave is a doable thing; and also reflects better on kayakers in the long run. Who knows who (if anyone) owns this piece of property. Maybe they are just kind people who allow it. Being good stewards of the environment and of the community is paramount when kayak camping. ``Now theres a ambitious idea! Charles said as he seen me setting up a fire. A little dash of naphtha and a fireball ignited. Charles laughed at my sudden explosive roaring fire. I scrounged around the forest floor for the driest wood  I could find and piled up some bigger stuff to dry around the already huge roaring flames.

Charles hauled out one of his survival knifes and went to work on splitting up some of the larger stuff.

Fire roaring in a soaking forest I walked to the point to watch a pretty neat sunset through the mist.

Soon aside from the fire there was not much to see. The fire provided some great heat after a cool wet day, and I even managed to sleep after all my rest from the morning sleep in.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May 24 weekend trip Day:2

09h00 I awoke to the sound of Charles MSR stove firing up his breakfast. It was sunny and already warm outside. Quite the difference compared to the foggy rainy morning at 06h00; when I walked barefoot into the bush to drain my bladder I had tried to ignore most of the night.  I walked over the small rocky hill to check my kayak tied up on the beach. I was surprised to see a kayak floating...the water level had come up at least 10 feet overnight! I kept this to myself at the time as I've never seen water levels change that dramatically on the Ottawa in such a short time.

My healthy breakfast of boiled coffee grinds we were back over to the Quebec side of the river among the cliff's. The heat made me lazy as we followed the Laurentians towards Beauchamp QC.

We spotted a good beach around noon and took the opportunity to haul in for lunch. Good take outs are hard to find on both sides of this section so finding a gem like this dictates when your gonna have lunch!

The beaver on this beach picked a pretty neat spot for a lodge.

Charles pointed out this plant that tastes like mint. Neither of us could remember the name of it. It was great to be shown again as I had forgot which plant this was after being shown years ago....I am not a fan of tasting leafs until I find the right one again!

We began scouting out campsites around 18h00. Being close to Beauchamp we were running into more and more people. Watching boats leave and exit the harbour just up in the distance we figured we would backtrack and start looking for camps.

Thought these birch trees were pretty neat. Being overshadowed on the southern shoreline the adapted and grew into a pretty neat piece of survival. We arrived back at one camp Charles though had good potential and it truly did. However the boulder strewn landing bog at the rear of the site...I have to admit I'm overly picky when it comes to picking a camp. Charles got up to check it out...but I had honestly seen enough to know I wasn't feeling it.

 Not being the greatest tripping partner at the moment I suggested we head back to the Jocko river which we had seen as we passed earlier; to try and find a place. Paddling down we stopped to talk to some unsuccessful fishermen who pointed us in the direction of the Jocko and told us about a camp spot there. We thanked them and were on our way. Then I seen it.

 just around the corner was a perfect camp. Fire pitt set up, nice beach and level land for the tents. This is a place I like to camp!

The sand told the tales of recent visits. Fox prints, bear tracks, birds and birds walking the waterlines....hey!! Maybe I wasn't imagining a 10 foot water change!!! I kept watch throughout the afternoon and sure enough the water slipped down foot by foot. Charles going down for some water said "look its gone down another foot!" "CSI Miami is on" I replied. Everyone in their homes with the AC roaring and CSI Miami fired up on massive flat screens was putting the dam into it's peak hours. Eating supper I decided to mark it with a stick and move it down as the power was used during the night. This also gave me an excuse to walk around to escape the swarms of black flies. Luckily at dusk the black flies succumbed to the cold and abated.

I sat back shooting the breeze with Charles watching the levels drop. I ended up dubbing each foot a television show that was drawing power in far off cities. We stayed up pretty late that night till maybe 12h00 enjoying the aspect of caveman television and not being swarmed by black flies or in a torrent of rain. Food bags hung and off to slumber. Life is good.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

May 24 weekend trip Day 1: La Cave Rapids

 " We have reached Portage de la cave where there is a fall of 5 feet 9 inches in the stream. The water makes a tremendous rush through a narrow part not more than 100 yds wide, but it is tossed into great breakers it meets with no rocks" - William E Logan 15 October 1845

After the construction of the Holden dam in 1952 water levels were raised 22.9 meters flooding long sault rapids, mountain rapids,rapides des erables and la cave rapids. Forming la cave lake.

"We could shoot for just north of Temiscaming. That would run us about 170km" I wrote on our clubs email group. "We'll play it by ear" Charles replied. We departed for Mattawa the next day with the solid plan to turn left once we hit the put in. Truly my kind of trip planning.

Finding the launch site was more difficult than expected. We had started at the dam however the marked Portage road also had a “no authorised vehicle” sign. I called the workers inside and they didn’t have anyone handy to send out. I told the friendly lady we would check further up the road and come back if we didn’t find a public launch. After trying a few dirt roads that ended in rows of cottages and no access we finally went back to the Holden dam

Picking up the receiver a man said he would be right out. He came and told us we could just drive on up there and gave us Ontario dam safety and portage information. He followed us up and showed us the best place to park so we wouldn't get blocked in and wished us a good trip.

......We turned left.

23 degrees and a light breeze was a little warm in the drysuit; but a quick feel of the 5 degree water was a quick reminder of why I was wearing it.

Sandy beaches decorated by budding birch and flowering bushes hid the active rail line behind it. Water snake sunning himself  in the midday sun along the log strewn beach.

Golden sand soon turned to the shields reality of rugged shoreline with looming pine and cedar. Towering cliffs pushing warm fragrant air in pockets across my nose. Sweet smell’s of thousands of opening flowers and heats effect on the cedars made every breathy enjoyable. Snake river tumbled into a foam making the air cool 'neath the cedars.

The weather changed quickly pushing in from the north. We both discussed earlier as we watched cumulonimbus rise that we had a hour tops before....

-photo credit Charles Brazeau

Downpour! Honestly it made for a nice paddle. After a few claps of thunder the lightning subsided and the cool rain provided a nice cool down from the heat of the drysuits. At this point I didn't have to ask Charles if he was still good to go. I didn't have to worry about some bitter person wet cold and complaining at camp later. Having tripped with him many times before I knew he was as crazy as I am.

The rain didn't last long as we paddled along the shoreline. it had a more meditative trace on me as I paddled along listening to the tune of the rain on my hood. As quickly as it had came it passed on. Fog began to raise from the cold waters of La cave lake; smoke from the battlefield of seasons changing. 

We could have paddled strait up the river pushing the physical limits with kilometer goals; we didn't. Paddling along the shores watching for wildlife and taking it all in. I have no idea what would have caused such cool patterns in the rock face but I assume it's some form of sedimentary rock. Sites like this is why I kayak.

25 km in we decided to start looking for a camp along the shores. Charles stayed on the Quebec side as I swung across river to scout out that side. From previous trips along the river the best scenery is always on the Quebec side yet the best camps always lay on the Ontario shore.  I found a grassy field atop a small elevation with a nice sandy beach to land on. A quick blast of my fox whistle prompted a response about 2km across as paddles now turned my way flashed in the last light of the day. The sandstone was carved out all along the shore by some eager animals. Some half done; some quite deep inside.

Supper cooking under a few small showers.

I settled in early to my cosy tent overlooking the beautiful river. Charles stayed up a little later hanging the food from the bears and taking it all in. Before the sunset I was asleep.