Date: Saturday, July 25, 2015
Weather: 27 degrees Celsius, 14 mm of rain then sun
Distance: ~5 kms
The good folks at the French River Supply Post Marina shuttled us, our gear, and our boats to our put-in at Wolseley Bay.
A morning downpour at the marina left us soaked as we organized our gear into the two shuttle trucks. The drive over allowed us to dry out a bit. But as we loaded boats, chatted about how the rest of the day would play out, and shoved off, the skies opened up again. With rain pouring into our eyes the six of us made our way out of the bay and into French River Provincial Park.
Jenny had run the route a few weeks earlier and made notes based on water levels at that time. She was curious to see how the dry weather impacted water levels at each of the rapids we would encounter. Gail was our whitewater expert and regaled us with stories from river trips in the Far North.
I caught up with my stern partner with whom I had paddled two years earlier in Wild Women Expedition’s whitewater canoe clinic but hadn’t seen since. We laughed about the rain and were grateful for the warm day. We marvelled at how exciting it was to be on the river the same week as Champlain 400 years later.
Within a couple of hours we had reached our first set of rapids and the sun had made its blazing appearance. We tied up the boats and ate a hearty picnic lunch of artichokes and hummus, cheese and hard salami, cucumber, olives and pitas, among other assorted yummies. Over lunch we decided we would camp at the base of the rapids over night and give ourselves time to play and learn at Little Pine Chute.
We portaged the gear to our prospective camp and then spent the time to scout the rapids, noting features of the chute, the direction the current would take us if we did nothing as paddlers, and decided on our line. One boat at a time ran the rapid so that the other four paddlers could stand on shore and watch and learn.
When it was our turn to go, my paddling partner and I decided I’d hop into the stern to steer the canoe through the chute. The view from the water is of course very different from shore and I missed the spot I wanted to start at by a hair. It made for a fun ride though and we exited the rapid on river right like we were supposed to and with a little flourish.
Thunder clouds were building north of us and we decided it prudent to get camp set up just in case a storm blew through. Gail and Jenny set up canoes as a wind block for the camp kitchen and Gail showed us some of her tricks for hanging tarps. We set up tents while they started dinner. We listened to thunder rumble in the distance, over plates of Thai noodles but eventually the storm blew past us without dumping any more rain.
As the sun set, the mosquitoes swarmed and we retreated to our tents to escape the relentless army of bloodsuckers.
For the rest of this trip report, click here.