Trip Reports

Petawawa River Trip  July 2010

Vince and Andrea run the Natch

Ten happy paddlers set off for the annual Petawawa River trip for what would be a great weekend, full of smiles, great camping and great river fun.

We drove through the rain to cloudy but dramatic and rain free skies at the put in on Traverse Lake, where a short paddle to lunch on the water with a fantastic view of the massive 46 m antenna of the Algonquin Radio Observatory looming out of the trees to the south. After lunch we made our way to the river and started on the first of the white water of the day at Big Thompson rapids. Following a group scout of the rapids with the first of several river reading lesson from the trip leader, Mark,  complete with a brief history of the rivers logging past with the remnants of the old weir visible we made our way down the fresh bubbling river. The warm weather left the river levels low, but recent rains kept the water high enough for some smooth runs without painting too many rocks the colours of our canoes throughout the day to the first camp above Crooked Chute.

A short downpour and delicious vegetarian chilli, thick with garden fresh veggies brought the group together under the shelter of our dining area tarp for a pleasant evening of conversation and p(h)unny humour before an early night in anticipation of the fun the following day. Saturday morning awoke to fantastic light through breaking fog and mist off the river, promising a warm and perfect paddling day. A great start down the bottom portion of the Crooked Chute rapids, after a short portage from camp got the day off to an exciting start. A harrowing run of rock dodging down Rollway rapids by all of the group (with the experienced paddlers kindly taking the stern for those of us fresh off the intro course), followed by great shoots through the upper and lower Natch made for a thrilling morning, with great smiles all round from the group. Rumour of an amazing camp kept us paddling through lunch in hopes of snagging the prime location.

The camp lived up to the hype and met all of the high expectations promised - a large, roomy site with views of 300 foot cliffs, fresh spring water. After lunch we had time to indulge in a great hike up the cliffs to spectacular views, plenty of swimming, fishing, and playboating upstream at the Lower Natch and a swift only minutes from camp, and some relaxing in the sunny and amazingly bug free weather for the Petawawa (or for many, all of the above). The river was exceptionally quiet, with only one other group passing as we played in the rapids, stopping for a brief conversation, leaving most of the river entirely to ourselves. Of the handfuls of fish caught by Bill and Vince, a bass started off dinner for those returning early from the afternoon activities, to accompany a mouth watering pesto pasta main course. The much anticipated desert: flambé crèpes suzettes à l’orange, brandy and Grand Marnier prepared by Mark, complete with a near eyebrow removing show of the desert prep, and plenty more p(h)unny humour made for a great show nad one of the more entertaining I’ve experienced yet.

An early start Sunday morning, from an enthusiastic and efficient group made for cool paddling before the mid day heat and loads of time swimming on the final descent Sunday. A swift run of Schooner and Five mile rapids, with plenty of eddy-outs and river playing along the way brought us to great lunch and swim locations throughout the day before a successful completion at McManus Lake. Smiles all round at the take-out were the sure sign of a great trip.