The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Ottawa River

Saturday Sep 4, 2010
Kayak: PaulC, JohnA, GraysonK, MattS, JimP
Open Canoe: BrockR
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: intermediate WW
Level: medium low
Author: Jim Poulin

The Bet: Even before we start packing for the weekend the trash talking begins! This comes from a discussion with Brock and Jim on which way is the best route to the river. Jim maintains sucking it up and drive right through Montreal at rush hour. Brock wanted to experiment with the northern New York route slipping by lakes and casinos. Jim and Brock formulate a bet that whichever vehicle arrives last, the loser will fetch beers for the winner for the entire weekend. As it was, Jim and Paul did arrive after Brock and John. But after much arguing, negotiating and a few beers, it was determined that both routes took five and a half hours. Stay tuned for a rematch.

Weather: The weekend was not your usual hot and sunny Ottawa weekends. It was generally cool and rainy. The temps during the day struggled to 60 unless the sun popped out for more than a few minutes (not a common occurrence). Night temperatures were right around 50. The rain came and went all weekend. On a positive note, the weather gods did allow for periods of non-rainy dryness for breakfast, cocktail hour, dinner and evening festivities focusing the rain on sleeping and river time.

Where are my friggin' tent poles: Upon arrival Paul realizes he has a tent. And tent poles. Nice. The only problem they were not a matching set. Not so nice. After some pondering (and another beer or two), the engineering skills of this group came out. Up went the folding canopy (the ones used to protect picnic tables). Then came a whole bunch of rope. The pole-less tent was hung from the bottom of the canopy and was good to go. The canopy even doubled as a fly! The only thing that could have made this better (or more of a kludge) would have been to use a throw rope. See visual evidence in the Paddle Pix section.

River levels: All three days had the gauge at -2.75. This is a fun level but could have been a bit higher to make Baby Face and Garburator reach their full potential. Otherwise all river features and rapids were full on fun!

Day 1: As a warm up the group ran the Middle channel on our first day. Of course this also includes running (or not) McCoys. To give scale, only in Canada do the rapids have so many named features within the rapid! McCoys rapid contains Phils Hole, Sattlers, Corner Wave, Horseshoe (two of 'em) and of course, Baby Face. Extra points goes to paddlers that manage to hit all of them in a single run! After some time on Baby Face our trusty group headed down the Middle. Sucessful runs of Iron Ring, S-Turn, Butterfly, a walk around Garvins, Upper No Name, Lower No Name and Black Velvet. (see John, it does have a name!)

Day 1B: Not joining us for the daytime fun, Grayson and Matt roll into town late in the day. A quick set up of camp and they were off to park & play at McCoys/Baby Face. They come back tired, hungry and happy well after dark.

Day 2: Up and at 'em early today! At the put in before 8am (yup, you read that right). We went straight to Baby Face and surfed until we puked (OK, just shy of that ugly mark). At about 9:30 the rafts and paddlers started showing up in force so we headed back to camp for a nice leisurely brunch! After a good feeding and relaxing session we headed back to the put in for a full run of the Main channel. This run included less time on Baby Face but more on Garburator, Push Button and Brain Douche. We scouted most of the big stuff so that everyone knew what they were getting into. Everybody ran everything with various degrees of success. There were a few swims, but none of consequence and everyone had a grand time.

King of Clubs: This year the second annual battle of the Ontario paddling clubs was happening while we were there. We camped right in the middle of these clubs so had a firsthand view of the goings on. While we missed most of the on river events (McCoy Relay, Cardboard Boat Race, Boater Cross and Tug of War) we had a front row seat for the land events (Boat Toss, Zed Drag and Rope Throw) plus a friendly water balloon war. Of course then it kicked into a campfire party with most of the 125 participants ringing the fire. We met many good Ontario friends. They were strongly encouraging us to field a Vermont team next year (we are considering it). One particularly notable character was our buddy Clive. He had a wonderful weekend. While Clive did not once dip his paddle in the Ottawa whitewater, he did manage to consume a creek boat's volume worth of fine Canadian suds!

Day 3: Split up day. Matt and Grayson decided on a park & play at Pushbutton and heading back early. Brock ran through McCoys and then headed back to his truck to start his journey to Kansas (I did not check MapQuest but I did not realize the fastest way to Kansas from Vermont was through the Ottawa whitewater region). Paul, John and Jim took on another trip down the Middle channel. Since we were all veterans of this run, there was no scouting, just running. There was one side trip to scramble around the rocks that form Little Trickle. At these levels it is dry but comes into play at higher spring levels.

Ottawa Biathlon: The astute VPC trip report reader will remember that last year's trip included a Triathlon for Brock - Run, Walk & Swim. This year Brock upgraded to a Biathlon - Run and Swim. He did not walk any rapids this year on the Middle or the Main. Way to go Brock!

Best(?) Swim: Ottawa rapids are big and a swim usually ends up in the large flat water pools at the end of the rapid. For Brock's run through McCoys we set up safety mid way. He was pulled in right after a Phil's Hole swim, repackaged in his boat and sent downstream only to get munched by Horseshoe. Two swims in one Ottawa rapid, now that's a feat!

Wildlife Sightings: A Bald Eagle, a few deer and countless fish viewings! And this list does not include the crazy Canadians around the campfire on Sunday night.

Vitamin I: The person who invented Ibuprofen should get a Nobel prize in medicine.

Where's John gonna fit: With Brock off to Kansas it was up to Paul and Jim to find room for John and his gear for the ride back to Vermont. After seriously considering tying John on the roof rack we found ways to stuff as much gear as possible into our boats and make a small bit of room for John in the back of the Magnum. He didn't complain too loudly. (or at least we didn't hear him over the road noise)

%$#@ Sunday drivers: After three days of paddling the last thing one wants to encounter on the ride home is a 90 minute traffic jam! But so it was from pretty much the time we turned east on 17 until we cleared Arnprior.

Home again: As always these three day weekends go too fast and there are too many memories to put into these few words. Why don't you consider joining us next year? Same time (Labor Day Weekend), same channel (River Run on the Ottawa River). We'll save ya a camping spot...

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