Best part of the last trip was watching all the exchange students discover a love of canoeing. Many talks and few laughs centred around that aspect of their experience in Algonquin. With only one small water/canoe related soaking it was definitely a positive experience for them, at least I think so anyway. Having our Swift Canoe & Kayak t-formex prospector was fantastic. It rides extremely well and could take any abuse they threw at it. I’ll have a more in depth write up about that canoe shortly.
Hope everyone’s having a great week. It’s a short one for many with the upcoming long weekend. We normally try to steer clear of any canoeing/camping areas during the long weekend. But, you never know I may be on the water or I may be in the garden.
If anyone was wondering what the water levels we’re like on the east side of Algonquin right now. They’re up! Portages and campsites were all a little smaller when we were there this past weekend. But it was well worth it to get out and enjoy some time paddling and sitting around the fire with friends. Just remember even though the ice is gone the water is still insanely cold. So be safe when you’re out there.
We had good weather , okay weather and on our way out horrible weather combining hail, wind , rain and a temperature of zero degrees. But it was totally worth it as the trip was filled a ton of laughs , nothing a little freezing rain and hail could stop. Here’s a little highlight
-met some new folks who were on their first backcountry canoe trip
-threw out enough 80’s movies references to sink a ship
-discovered peppered pistachios
-got to see a few loons combatting for space on the lakes
-first moose of the season
-discovered someone other than me knows what “Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors” is.
-tried out some new gear that performed extremely well.
-got extremely wind burnt
And with that the first of many overnights is in the bag. While this weekend trip was exactly what I needed, it’s time to look to other places and longer trips. The season for us is just beginning.
Continuing on with the turtle theme you may asking yourself how you can get in on the action and help out your fellow heroes in a half shell. If you’d like to make an impact and help injured turtles I’d suggest heading over to Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre and go to their shop. They have a bunch of great items and the proceeds go on to help fund this organization which helps a lot of injured turtles. They aren’t the only one either many groups have formed over the years to help transport or care for injured turtles or the eggs of deceased turtles. As I said go have a peek at their page if you’re half as passionate about turtles as I am you’ll enjoy seeing the photos and reading the stories. Or head over to their website https://ontarioturtle.ca
Time for more turtle info. Do you want to get serious about your ability to identify all eight of our native Ontario turtle species? If you said said yes head on over to here http://www.torontozoo.com/adoptapond/turtle_curriculum/unit1a1.pdf. If you said no you may need to reevaluate your stance on just how awesome turtles are.
Did you know that April 17- April 23 is international turtle and tortoise week? While we don’t have any tortoises here in Ontario we do have an amazing variety of turtles. I also need very little excuse to post pictures of turtles, talk turtles or just think about 🐢 so because of that we’ll be bringing you all kinds of turtle related info this week!
So how many species of turtles have you seen on your paddling trips? We found this surly fellow making his way across a beach for a bit of a stretch he didn’t seem to impressed with the impromptu photo shoot which you can totally tell from his frown.
You’ve been asleep, it feels like months have gone by in a frozen murky blur. A dense fog has fallen on your normal routine and you feel helpless inside it. You’ve tried to break free, hell you’ve even convinced yourself that sleeping out in the snow at -35 would help, what were you thinking? Let’s be honest, you weren’t. You were just biding your time. But then, a sliver of hope, a break in the fog, a light at the end of the tunnel. The temps begin to rise and spring bursts on to the scene. The birds sing, the sun shines down, the rain washes away the last signs of winter and then ,the rivers and lakes of southern Ontario begin to open. But don’t get to excited…it just gets worse from here. That’s when it really starts, this weird feeling, small and almost unnoticeable at first, it creeps into your life. It sits there in the back of your mind and try as you may you can’t get rid of it. You take the canoe out of storage and it goes away, for a bit. Then you go through gear or maybe even replace a few things and it goes away again but this time it’s even shorter. You find yourself looking through old trip photos, calling friends up north to talk about old times…but really to see how the conditions are. It’s the itch, we all experience it. We’re surrounded by perfect paddling conditions yet we know our favourite lakes and rivers are still locked beneath a sheet of ice up north. We check each day to see if maybe through some miraculous event the 24 inches of ice that was reported yesterday has vanished. But it doesn’t does it? In fact it never does, each year we go through the same feelings the same scenarios . But still we hope. Paddle in hand and canoe at the ready, we sit and we wait. Because when that day comes, when that paddle slices through the water, the first loon of the season calls across the lake, the first Trout pulls your line tight, you relax , you settle in and forget all about the itch that had you scratching all winter.
Thanks for reading
It’s a different experience paddling along the Grand but it does have its own beauty and intrigue. It’s not all urban landscape and it’s not pure wilderness but it’s important and (at least we think) extremely interesting. We often take local areas like this for granted and spend our time focusing on our favourite northern paddling destinations.
My kids were asking me a million questions about the river and as I was rattling off info to them I thought you guys might be interested as well. So here are a few interesting facts about the Grand River Watershed
– The largest watershed in Southern Ontario at 6800 square kilometres
-90 species of fish, 250 species of birds and over 80 species at risk call the watershed home.
– If you were to line up all the rivers,streams and creeks it would total around 11000 kilometres (that’s one hell of a paddle)
There’s loads of other interesting facts and I’d recommend checking out http://www.grandriver.ca for more info. The Grand River Conservation Authority does a great job managing the system and you can find out more via the website posted above.
As I was mentioning earlier we plan on paddling the length of the river in the next few weeks from Elora to Lake Erie. We’d love to hear from any of you who live along or near the Grand. To meet up or at least wave to as we go by. Hope everyone is having a great week.
Ontario took a large step forward in conservation this week by banning the hunting of snapping turtles. Snapping turtles are considered to be a species of “special concern” which means while they are not on the endangered or threatened list, yet there are a series of factors which are leading them towards those lists. Such as habitat destruction, car mortality and the harvest (of up to two a day) . The main issue being because snapping turtles take so long to mature, with females laying their first clutch around the age of 17-20, even a small amount of adult deaths can have a big impact o the species.
But Matt why are you talking about snapping turtles? Well those of you who know me know that I have a special place in my heart for any and all turtles. As a family we’ve easily helped 100’s of turtles cross roads and highways across Ontario. Our truck is emblazoned with “I brake for turtles” magnets and I’ve always had a interest in photographing turtles of all species. I travel to a variety of areas in Ontario during the spring to photograph and record turtle species laying their eggs.
If there is one thing any canoeist should pass down to his/her children it’s a sense of conservation. When you teach your child to “leave no trace” you’re teaching them to respect their surroundings. While keeping a clean campsite is good , go one step further and teach them about the many amazing animals who share the backcountry with us. Lucky for us those surroundings in the backcountry will still have the common snapping turtle. Slowly plodding along the bottom of the lake, or laying eggs on one of the sandy beaches we paddle up to, or as most often seen slowly crossing the road. Speaking of crossing the road if you do plan on helping a turtle cross please remember the following
-Check to make sure it’s safe to stop. It’s all well and great to help a turtle but only if you’re not causing danger to others
-Note which way the turtle is crossing. Help them cross the same way they are pointed. If you bring them back the opposite way they may just cross again.
-Don’t want to touch the turtle? Easy take an example from my wife and carry a small plastic shovel. She scoops them up and places them on the other side.
Hope everyone has a great week!
Paddle In’s 12 days of Christmas
Day 4: The Canoe Collector
Where do I start with Dave? That’s a hard question. Our first meeting was in a little watering hole in Orangeville. First impression? He was way taller than I expected. Gigantism aside though we had an exceptional time. Dave is a passionate outdoors man who seems to be rediscovering his love for everything canoeing. We’ve tripped ,with both him and his family, on a few occasions and he’s a great guy to have on a trip (providing he leaves his concrete core canoes at home). His quick wit leaves me chuckling and smiling any time I’m within ear shot of him. He had the kids (as well as Duane and me) enthralled on the Temagami trip as he expertly wove a tale of the infamous chicken lake. So all that being said go check out his page The Canoe Collector and read his musings and stories it’s well worth your time. His passion for this pasttime/hobby/WAY OF LIFE that we all adore is contagious. I’m excited to see what this next year is bringing for the The Canoe Collector so pop on over there and give the page a like and tag along with us. Be assured you will hear more about him here as we work together on new trips and projects for 2017.
In closing I asked Dave to shoot me a quote the other day and this is what he responded with…
“Great friendships arise from adventures taken not necessarily from where you think you’d like to go, but rather, where you need to be”
Nail on the head Dave! So from all of us here at the Paddle In ranch Merry Christmas! To you, Karin and kids. It’s been a blast getting to know you guys and it feels like we’ve known each other for years. Here’s to more adventure……….I smell a winter camp trip brewing.