Day Two: Partridge Lake to Hydro Field (ish)

Date: Saturday, April 18, 2015

Weather: Sunny. Light breeze. High of 14 degrees Celsius. Low of -3 degrees.

Distance: ~18km

Our main day of paddling brought everything from quiet contemplation over a strong cup of coffee to being thankful for my drysuit to laughing with new friends over a ridiculous dinner and a cozy campfire to end the day.

All five of us started stirring in the pre-dawn light. By 6:15 David, Martin, and I had cameras out shooting the last of the sunrise:

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We spent time tearing down tents and packing up most of our camp before firing up the stoves and boiling water for oatmeal and coffee. After breakfast we made a move to get into our paddling gear. David found a new friend on his drysuit:

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We loaded up the canoes and shoved off at 8:56 – 4 minutes ahead of schedule! The morning ran similarly to the previous day – long stretches of flatwater interspersed with scouting and running or portaging rapids. I hopped into the bow for the day to give Justin, at 6’2″, some space to stretch his legs in the stern.

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We hit a more technical rapid late in the morning and after spending some time scouting it, Justin and I decided to follow David and Andrei’s lead and run it. Our bow got caught on a rock on river left partway down, ended up broadside to the current, tipped, and I slid out of the bow while Justin was able to right the boat and send it down the remainder of the rapid. I got my feet up and faced forward, floating gently with the current into David and Andrei’s boat and then half-swam to shore along their canoe. I had my PFD, helmet and drysuit on but due to the warmth of the morning, I had taken off my Neoprene gloves. Boy were my hands cold when I got out of the water so back on they went and within minutes I had warmed up. Hooray for Neoprene! Thank goodness for drysuits.

We paddled on and broke for lunch in early afternoon. I sat in the sun to warm up some more. We contemplated the rest of the day’s route, talked about paddling beyond the hydro field, and drank lots of water to rehydrate.

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We continued on, slowing ourselves as we heard the sounds of big water around the bend. We hopped out of the canoes, quickly realized we wouldn’t be running these falls, and started portaging our gear. When we hopped back in and shot some photos of the falls:

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As we paddled away we heard, “BEAR!” from Martin, paddled back, and watched a mother bear and her three cubs climb the trees on river right. We stressed her out a bit by shooting some photos but didn’t stay long.

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We hit the hydro field and realized it was no way to spend our last night so we decided to push on. After scouting the rapids, we all ran the first set and all hit a rock at the bottom causing some of us…ahem…to grab the gunnels. The second set ran under a narrow bridge and we spent A LONG time deciding whether they were runnable. The general consensus was no for under the bridge. The beams at the bottom at bolts sticking out by a couple of inches. But there was an eddy at river right after the bridge that David and Justin decided to put-in and give the rest of the rapid a go. They did pretty well until an abrupt stop by a rock at the bottom of the rapid halted their forward progress. Martin, Andrei, and I got the rest of the gear portaged. As the shadows were getting long again, we loaded up the canoes and quickly set out to find camp.

We didn’t have to look too long, finding a great spot with flat ground and plenty of room for two tents and a hammock. After traveling together for only a day, we already had figured out how each other worked and in no time camp was set up. We were in dry clothes and multiple layers to protect us from the wind that would not die down. Justin got the fire going again and we cooked up far more food than five of us should have eaten, chatting as we ate about dream river trips, summer 2015 adventures planned, and our usual travel partners.

I started the train to bed well-before 10pm. My eyes were so heavy I couldn’t sit up much longer. We all fell asleep to a beaver happily splashing past our campsite and the spring peepers singing their heart out.

For the full trip report, click here.

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