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Ottawa River 2009

Friday-Monday Sep 4-7, 2009
Participants:
Kayak: RodW, DanB, JohnG and JimP
Open Canoe: BrockR
Organizer: JimP
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: JimP

Executive Summary

A typical Ottawa 3 day weekend. We arrive with huge expectations and excitement. We spend three marvelous days in warm, fluffy, big water under sunny Canadian skies. At the end we head home tired, sore, hung over and sunburned but with big smiles on our faces.

And now on to the details...

What is provided below is a mere highlight version of actual events. Please ask any of the participants for further details or any of the myriad of stories that I deemed "unfit to print".

Friday, September 4

The various participants arrive at River Run to set up camp. All arrive too late to head up to McCoys for a park and play. Jim and John, as usual, are the last to arrive. Sometime around 12:30am.

Saturday, September 5

River level is 1.25 on the Owl Gauge.

At first we are surprised by the number of paddlers in the campground. While it is a three day weekend for both the Canadians and the Yanks it does seem more crowded than usual. Read on to see why.

After a semi-leisurely breakfast our intrepid group of paddlers head on to up to the put in. We paddle the "warm up" section - in other words flat water to McCoys. Since this is Brock's first look at Phil's hole and because most of us have not paddled in a while we scout. It is always fun to see an Ottawa rookie when they first lay eyes on Phil's hole. Brock's OMG moment was just one of those looks you wish you could capture on film.

Baby Face was barely in at this level but we still managed to hang out for a couple of hours to surf and sun.

We then proceeded to run the Middle Channel as a warm up for the big water that was yet to come. Everyone did great and there may have been a fish counting incident or two. The Middle was quite busy given the level but that followed the observation that there were a number of paddlers around this weekend.

So why were there so many paddlers around you ask? Well let me tell you...

This weekend happened to be the first annual Ontario Paddling Club competition. There were four or five paddling clubs each with fifteen or twenty participants. Some were from close by Ottawa and others traveled from the Toronto area.

The competition was held on Saturday and consisted of seven events. Each paddling club scored points determined by the order of finish in each event. The winner was crowned King of the Ontario Paddling Clubs.

Here is a summary of the events:

McCoys Relay - Five paddlers on a team take turn running McCoys with the "baton" - actually a rubber chicken. When finished the paddler ran back to the top of the rapid with the baton and the second paddler negotiated the rapid. This goes on until all five have run. Shortest time wins.

Cardboard Boat Race - Each club builds a cardboard boat out of cardboard (obviously) and duct tape. The boat is paddled from the top of Upper Lauren rapid through Lower Lauren. This sounded more like controlled swimming with wet cardboard. Fastest time is the winner.

Advanced Boater Cross (aka where paddling meets X-Games) - Thirty paddlers take off in a mass start at the top of the Normans rapid. The race continues through Coliseum. Fastest time wins. This one produced much carnage and would have been fun to see!

Intermediate Boater Cross - same idea as above but running a more civilized course through Dog Leg and Blacks rapids.

Once the water events have been completed the team head back to camp for the land events. Before any land event takes place there is a mandatory warm up period. Something we call happy hour in the States. Makes the land events much more interesting!

Kayak Toss - pretty much exactly as it sounds. Huck a Riot kayak as far as you can. Amazingly some people can actually chuck these things forty or fifty feet!

Z-Drag - a team sets up a Z-Drag and pulls a pick up truck up a slight incline.

Shuttle Vehicle (aka how to trash a perfectly good car) - load as many boats and people in a car and drive it twenty feet. No worries about the dents and broken suspensions. Check out the pictures in Paddling Pix. The winner had an amazing 21 boats and people in the rig!

After all this entertainment you would think we didn't need any more. But you would be wrong! Another first for this group, River Run was hosting Yuk Yuks down at the pavilion. A full on comedy show with six different comedians. Very funny and led to many repeated lines for the rest of the weekend (he's a loser, TJ shut the F up).

Sunday, September 6

A major push by the team saw us at McCoys rapid at 8am! Not unexpectedly, we were not the first ones there. Even with a few other boaters we could not keep Babyface busy 100% of the time. We spent three hours there until the lines and the raft traffic began in earnest.

Three hours on Babyface can tucker a boater out so we went back to camp to recharge with Sunday brunch! Pancakes and sandwiches all around.

Around 2pm we came to a decision point. It was either time to run the Main or starting drinking. We felt the Main run to be a safer choice and off we went.

The river level was 1.0. This is the lowest the Ottawa has been all year! Even at this level there is plenty of excitement to be had.

It was a bit entertaining to see some of the locals waterskiing on the flat water about McCoys.

Brock worked on his triathlon skills - walk, paddle & swim. The latter two events sometimes being chosen by the river gods.

All the rapids were big and at this level the usually play spots (garb, pushbutton) were not quite right. We were in a pack of quite a few boaters and they provided a great show at Coliseum. We ran through Coliseum with varying degrees of success (no swims though).

We paddled the remaining river with dreams of dinner and beer in our heads.

It was late when we got back to camp and rustled up dinner just before it got dark. Then it was beers, guitars, drums, pig poems, groover stories, campfires and Canadian paddlers until midnight. How did we stay up so late?!?

We did make one easy decision that evening. A group of paddlers were headed out at 10pm for a moonlit run down the Main. We cracked another beer and wished them well!

Monday, September 7

Well, we had planned to be up at 7:30 and on the river early. So much for that plan...

Everyone was sore and tired. But a little Vitamin I and we were rarin' to go!

We headed down to Babyface for a few more surfs. We would like to say that the lines were so huge that we didn't stay long. I think it was more the multiple missed attempts to get on that thing that caused us to look downstream sooner than one would expect.

Today's poison was the Middle Channel. River level was holding at 1.0 and no one had the desire to test the Main channel again.

Everyone had a great run and the water was warm and fluffy as usual and the sun beat down on us and all that whitewater. We were treated to a raft decent of the middle tongue of Garvins. They made it look easy but there was a roped off raft guide at the bottom ready for a live bait rescue...

Got back to camp around 1:30 and packed it in. Everyone was on the road by 2:30.

Getting through the border for us was an easy Class I (5 minutes). The line up going north back into Canada was approaching Class V (more than a mile of stopped traffic).

I will leave you with the line of the weekend that was repeated more than once:

"I am going to F#@%&in' murder you in your sleep!"

With that the annual Ottawa trip is in the books. I look forward to you being part of next year's adventure!

jimp

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