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Petawawa River

Friday-Sunday May 17-19, 2013
Kayak: John Atherton, Chris Weed, Jamie Dolan
OC2: Brock Richardson, Eric Bishop
Inflatable: Tina Sharf (Ducky)
Organizer: Brock Richardson
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium high

With the Batiscan River too high We were scrambling to find a different river to run . After a talk with an outfitter We decided on the Petawawa. Located in the Algonquin Park near Pembroke Ontario about a 6 hour drive from Burlington. We Left Winooski at 6:00 AM after a few wrong turns and a stop at the Outfitter we got our gear loaded and put In around 4:00 pm.

Lake Traverse was our put in. We paddled a couple of miles into a stiff wind to our fist nights campsite. Tina fighting wind and feelings of abandonment, from the rest of us, managed to secure a ride on a john boat for about half the trip. I was suprised and heartened to see her pull up about 30 seconds after we did . I was thinking we would unload the canoe,paddle back, and give her a tow and I was really glad not to have to.

Tina and I the two Birders were really excited to hear a Whipporwill calling . They have been declining and it is becoming rare to hear them. Dinner of salmon and Veggies and we were ready for bed.

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful.Our first stop was big and Little Thompson Rapids. These are fairly easy class III rapids. Everyone helped portage the gear from the canoe as we scouted and everyone ran them without incident.

Our next stop was Crooked Chute Rapid. After looking at it we all elected to Portage. It is labeled class IV but at this level it looked more like a V . There did not appear to be a make-able line. the Kayaks were able to Run all but the corner chute with a short drag through an old sluice-way. We all portaged the gear over a really rough path wondering how we would do with the canoe. Luckily we found we were on a side path and the main path was much better. A half mile portage with the canoe and we were ready to go again. I would love to see someone run this rapid at this level.

Our last rapid of the day was Rollway. This is a really long class III plus boulder hopping run. Nothing very tricky but a nasty swim and few eddy's to empty out. The kayaks ran it with Jamie running the Ducky for Tina. Eric and I elected to carry after paddling a good portion of the easier entrance section.

We got to the beginning of Natch Rapids and decided to camp and run them Sunday.

Sunday dawned cloudy and sprinkles soon started. We scouted Natch Rapids and found them runnable by everyone. Two nice pool drops big enough to be challenging and a nice big pool to collect the pieces if things went wrong. John practiced his roll after getting stopped in a meaty wave but he was up like a pro. We then headed into the canyon section and were really impressed.. It is short but shear cliffs rise several hundred feet above both sides of the river making for spectacular views. This combined with the rapids above was my favorite part of the trip.

The remainder of the trip was long stretches of easy class II interspersed with flat water. followed by a lake paddle to the take out. We elected to end the trip a day early as it was raining and no one was eager to set up a camp in the rain.

A good time with great people.

My impressions are as follows:

This river gets a lot of traffic. We saw two other groups of canoes in early May. If you are looking for wilderness Algonquin park is probably not the best choice, too close to major population centers. I would imagine in summer that all the campsites would be full.

The rapids are fun but it's not a fabulous whitewater river. Quite a bit of flat water and the end rapids while long are not too interesting.

Portage trails are good. most portages can be shortened with scouting.

Brock Richardson

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