Trip Reports

Petawawa July 2016

Petawawa River July 2016

The crew on Mark's annual Petawawa river was a mix of beginners and experienced white water paddlers, but everyone who came along was adept at canoe camping. This made for a great group who worked and paddled well together. I can confidently say that everyone had a great time, despite rainy weather, and hordes of angry mosquitoes.

The first day began at Lake Traverse, a large lake, which took somewhere between about hour to cross in loaded whitewater canoes. After leaving the lake and paddling down the Petawawa for a bit, we came to our first set of rapids.

As soon as we landed our boats to scout, I realized that the bugs were going to bad on this trip, which provided good incentive for my paddling partner (mentor really), Paula and I to scout quickly without too much chit chat.

If I remember correctly, the toughest rapids (that we actually ran) were on the first day, but even so, no canoes were flipped that day, or any other time during the trip.

The water level was somewhat low, so it was inevitable that our boats would scrape, or even get hung up on a shallow rock now and then.

Much knowledge transfer happened between experienced and beginner paddlers through out the weekend, which I think made the trip more enjoyable for everyone. For myself, I learned a lot about reading the water; like how to tell when smooth black water is really a pillow concealing a rock close to the surface.

The second day was buggy, and wet, but also warm and (thanks to bug nets) reasonably comfortable for most people. We ran the rapids we came to in the morning, but we portaged over the class 2/3 rapids of the later afternoon (the chute at Crooked Chute and Rollaway Rapids). I hope to get back to Rollaway rapids some day.

On the second evening we stayed at a beautiful camp site, overlooked by a cliff, which Mark guided half of the crew on a hike up, while the rest of us relaxed and/or made dinner in camp.

Day 3 was a beautiful, sunny and much less buggy day. We stopped to swim at two points during the day. Another high point was 5 mile rapids, a long stretch of swifts (gentle rapids), which provided plenty of opportunity to practice eddying out, ferrying, river scouting and reading the water in general. I learned a lot in that 'so called' 5 miles (which somehow has a 3.4 km portage running directly beside it).

The rest of day 3 was consisted of long lazy paddle home through a series of lakes, interspersed with swimming, and Mark's endless supply of jokes. These are, in his own words, the "least worst" of his jokes:

Q - Why doesn't Humpty Dumpty portage his canoe? A - He has a broken yoke.

Q - Why don't you see crime committed in canoes? A - It gets thwarted.

Q - Did you hear about the member of parliament with Lyme disease? A - She was bitten by a poli-tick.

There's more where those come from, but you'll have to take the trip next year to learn.

The trip was indisputably a success, a few things which I think helped contribute to this success:

- Communication: Mark made certain to be clear about the agenda for each day, what we could expect, and what decisions we would have to make

- Collaboration: When making camp, everyone found something to do. People prioritized working on communal tasks (like setting up the essential bug shelter), or getting dinner started, but were also quick to get their own tents set up. Same with the take down.

- Staying together: It took the first day to figure out how to load all the boats evenly, but once that was done, we made sure to keep the boats within shouting distance of one another. Thank you to Mark for leading the trip, and to everyone else for pitching in to make it great.


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