Trip Reports

Barron River July 2023

2023 07 29 14 52 37Barron River July 2023

Saturday July 29, 2023, eight club members travelling in four canoes spent a lovely day paddling the Barron River. All but one met at the boathouse just before 8:00am. We quickly loaded two cars with three canoes and all the necessary essentials. After a pleasant, uneventful drive we arrived at the Squirrel Rapids parking lot around 10:30 where we met up with Karen, the eighth member of the group. Soon all four canoes were in the water and we readied ourselves for the day’s adventure. 

Under overcast skies, we glided easily in the calm waters. This part of the river is dotted with partially submerged logs, or deadheads. These are relics of a long ago logging industry that used rivers instead of roads to transport the valuable timber.  Avoiding the deadheads we made our way to our first destination, a 420m portage. 

The uneven path along the portage was muddy and slippery in places, but we were soon on the other side and on the water once again. We encountered many paddlers on this part of the journey. Many seemed to know Karen and seemed glad that she’d met up with the rest of the group. I wondered if she knew everyone on the river, and more importantly, how long she’d been waiting. Regardless of who knew who, the travellers greeted each other with a smile and a nod and glided toward their destinations.  

Eventually the landscape slowly changed and we were in sight of the canyon. We pulled over for a snack and rest. Paddling through the gorge with its 100m granite walls was awe-inspiring, as were the many enormous stone heaps dotting the riverside, evidence of long-ago rockslides. The river narrowed as we got closer to Bingham Chute. 

Upon our arrival, we tied up the canoes along the shore. There wasn’t enough room to pull them out  without blocking the portage route. Karen and Henry kindly volunteered to stay with the canoes while the rest of the group disembarked. Much of the group picnicked by the picturesque Brigham Chute. Once again, we saw many other travellers, this time they were portaging instead of paddling - stoically walking along the narrow, muddy, uneven path whilst carrying canoes on their shoulders or packing large amounts of gear. 

Eventually we headed back, untied the canoes, and started the return journey. As we meandered down river through the gorges, we talked about how the Barron Canyon came to be formed in the last ice age. We paddled lazily, enjoying the sun that occasionally poked through the clouds and we gazed at all the sights. We saw stunted trees bent by the wind, growing on rocky outcrops where it didn’t seem there could be enough soil to hold their roots. There were red and white pines growing straight and tall everywhere. Large and sweeping untamed cedars grew along the shore, so unlike their manicured city cousins. As we neared the portage, we once again saw fields of water lilies dotted with white and yellow flowers. The fiery red flowers of the Castilleja (paintbrush/prairie-fire) plants brightened the shoreline providing a striking contrast to the many shades of green. 

The portage was navigated without incident. The sun was fully out for this last leg of the journey. While Mark gave Gina an impromptu paddling stroke lesson, the rest of the group meandered slowly, chatting away, enjoying the sun’s warmth and watching its welcome rays sparkling on the water. 

Upon arriving at the parking lot, we quickly disembarked and loaded the cars, trying to avoid the devouring mosquitoes. We said our goodbyes to Karen and went to Pembroke to load up on gas and have a bite to eat. We arrived at the boathouse around 10:00 pm tired but pleased at a day well spent.

(by Roberta)

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