Date: Friday, April 17, 2015
Weather: Sunny. High of 19 degrees Celsius. Low of 0 degrees.
Holy cow did the day ever start early: Justin (Wild Adventures Canada) picked me up at 5:30AM. Nothing like meeting someone for the first time while groggy.
We made our way to Uxbridge to pick up a canoe trailer and then to north Whitby where Andrei and David met us with two canoes, a handful of paddles, and a bunch of gear. Next stop – the Port Hope ONroute for COFFEE! Always, coffee. We started our day too early to miss a caffeine hit. Once back on the 401 we had a few hours to chat and get to know one another. We never lacked for conversation, something I appreciate about outdoorsy people.
We reached our fifth paddler, Martin, at our take-out – the boat launch at Deerock Lake – about an hour later than we had intended. Fortunately cell service held out long enough to get a few messages back and forth to one another. We quickly loaded his solo canoe onto the trailer and headed for the put-in.
It took about another hour to reach the put-in – just beyond the line between Hastings and Lennox & Addington Counties. As we bumped along the dirt road, we learned that Martin had been thinking about this route for the better part of three or four years. He discovered it on a weekend closing of an in-law’s hunt camp. He did a ton of work to make sure we had good maps and a decent idea of what the conditions were like. I was starting to get excited to be a part of this. Once we arrived at our put-in spot, we all got to work unloading gear and canoes. We ran through what each of us brought to ensure we weren’t carrying unnecessary duplicates, loaded food into a dry barrel, and shuttled everything down the hill to the creek.
Within another hour, we had the canoes loaded, a few basic lessons in moving water skills, and we set out.
For four flat kilometers, we marveled at our luck. The sun shone warmly. Redwing blackbirds and spring peepers called from dried reeds. We cleared the winter cobwebs from our paddling brains and approached the first set of the day’s thirteen rapids. Over the course of the afternoon we scouted some rapids, spending time understanding how the water flowed, where the obstacles were, and making decisions on whether to run them or portage around them. And some rapids were little more than straight swifts that we ran without getting out of the canoes to scout. We encountered mini-canyons where ice shelves still sat in the corners of the creek and the rock walls rose for seven or eight feet. We even caught a section with a cable running the width of the creek. All elements that were considered carefully, talked about, and consensus made about how to approach.
By the time we reached Partridge Lake, shadows grew long and we navigated around the ice floes to settle in on the southeast shore of the lake.
We made camp, got a fire going (thank you, Justin), cooked dinner, and later enjoyed s’mores over the campfire (thank you, Andrei).
With a long day behind us, we headed off to bed early to recharge ahead of Saturday.
For the full trip report, click here.