Trip Reports

Petawawa River WW Trip July 6-8

Petawawa River WW Trip

On Tuesday, July 3rd our group of ten whitewater paddlers met at the RA centre to assemble our gear for our coming weekend trip. We found what we needed.
On Friday, July 6th we met again at the RA centre before 8 am. We packed our food into barrels, loaded our canoes onto vehicles and car-pooled our way to the Petawawa River. Only three of us had done this trip before. Mark Scott was our leader and he has been leading this trip for about 25 years! We stopped at Tim Hortons for breakfast. We left one car at Lake McManus on our way to Lake Traverse. It would be there when we finished paddling the river 50 km later. 
As we paddled Lake Traverse we enjoyed lunch on the water and a swim at a beach. Eden and Joshua had a broken seat so our "mechanics" set to work fixing it using parts contained in the YCCC first aid kit. Thanks to those club members whose foresight supplied the parts! Alec and Tina "motored" into the wind while some of us found the going slow. We spotted the Algonquin Radio Observatory. It is huge. Mark taught Katie, Jennifer and Rachel the American stroke... which resulted in an immediate cool down! The water levels were the lowest that Mark has seen since he has been leading the annual July trip. Due to the early spring and little rain there was less water in the Petawawa River than usual. This altered paddling conditions and meant we were always watching for rocks in unexpected places. For some of us Big Thompson and Little Thompson rapids provided the opportunity to practice skills which had not been used for a while. We were also learning to communicate with our canoeing partner and working out how that was best done. LOUDLY! It was best to yell. That was the only way the other person could hear you. After scouting and a guided discussion with Mark leading, we would run each section. We took turns hitting rocks. We all had a turn at getting out of the canoe in the middle of the rapids and tugging on the canoe to move it where it needed to be. We took turns doing ferries and catching eddies. 
By supper time we decided to stop and camp on an island just past Little Thompson Rapid. We had paddled about 13 km. The island had lots of room for our tents so we spread out. We had no fires because of the extreme fire risk. After a swim to cool off, tents were erected, supper made and dishes cleaned. It had been a very hot day. We were drinking water and swimming lots to keep cool. When the mosquitos came out after dark we all headed for bed.
On Saturday, July 7th we rose early to the promise of another beautiful day. Pancakes were made and camp was packed away. We paddled to Crooked Chute and portaged around it using the last take-out. At Rollway Rapid we debated the merits of running the rapid at length while scouting it. In the end we portaged it too. We watched a group of Kamp Kandalore teenagers go down it. There were many rocks scattered around making it almost impossible to miss them. We camped just below the Natch Rapids near a freshwater spring after 12 km of paddling. There were 100 m cliffs in sight and a hike to the top was enjoyed by the ambitious of our group.
On Sunday, July 8th we all arose at 6 am! Though admitting to not being a morning person, Mark was trying to keep us on schedule. We had a long day ahead of us but it was not too hot. We made our way through Schooner Rapids and Five Mile Rapids during the morning. Tyson decided to master "skateboarding" as he tried to keep the canoe from getting stuck on rocks just under the water surface. This new technique involved paddling while one foot was in the canoe and one was out in the water. Of course he also had to jump out regularly to move the canoe around rocks it was jammed against. He was pretty good at it. We took a break at the end of Whitson Lake for lunch on the beach. The wind came up and some of us needed jackets. 
After lunch we tried our hands at sailing 5 canoes on Smith Lake using a Siltarp and two of our spare paddles. It was hard work to hold the paddles but the rest of us enjoyed a break. Since our progress was slow we abandoned sailing and returned to paddling the canoes. The wind increased steadily throughout the afternoon and Karen and Jennifer returned to sailing by half way across Lake McManus. At that point the wind almost toppled their single canoe with a sail so a catamaran was constructed and four safely sailed into port. 
Our trip required no canoe over canoe rescues and there were no injuries. We had a few bug bites and bruises. Katie drove our "shuttle" back to Lake Traverse to get the other cars. We quickly loaded gear and canoes and headed for supper near Pembroke before returning to the city. Bedtime was after midnight. It was quite an adventure for those who had never done a whitewater trip. From all of us... THANKS MARK!