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Ottawa River

Friday-Monday Aug 31-Sep 3, 2012
Kayak: JimP, DawnD, JohnA, BrockR, KenE, LeanneE, JonathanG, PaulC, SueS, SilasP
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium low
Author: Jim Poulin

Friday, August 31

At various times during the day, all ten of our weekend participants head north. Destination: River Run in Beachburg Ontario.

Jim and Dawn take the route through Montreal which turns out to be a mistake. Construction on the west side of town ties things up in knots. Those coming through Cornwall do not run into such hassles.

Even so, Jim and Dawn are the first in camp. A quick set up and Jim is headed off to park and play at Baby Face. I have been going up to the Ottawa for going on twenty five years now, but there is always room for a first. I got to Baby Face and I was the only one there! Never happened before. It was a tad eerie.

On the paddle out I run into John, Brock, Silas and sunset. Even though it is pretty dark, they are headed out for a quick tour. Luckily the almost-full moon guided them back to the put in.

Meanwhile, back at camp everyone starts arriving - Ken and Leanne, Paul and Sue and last but not least, Jonathon. Just as Paul and Jim muster the search party for our wayward park and players, John, Brock and Silas get to camp.

Campfires and big inflated Ottawa tales rule the evening.

Saturday, September 1

We awoke to a glorious Canadian morning. Clear with nary a cloud in the sky.

The group was not in a big hurry but there were three Ottawa rookies that want to get going to see what they had signed up for!

The levels for the weekend were hovering around -2.75. But even at that level McCoys does more for your morning guts than coffee!

Some of the stories of last evening included the sneak around McCoys called the Zoom Flume. Sue had dreams in the night about Zoom Zoom complete with huge crashing waves and boat eating holes. Much to her surprise (and relief), the Zoom Flume is barely class I and is a good lesson in hydrology - on one side of the island is a massive rapid with no less than a dozen named features looking to violently separate you from your boat. On the other side lies Zoom Flume. A trickle of water that would not even get the VPC novice class worried.

The group split with some running Zoom Flume and others running the normal lines through McCoys.

The usual Ottawa crowds had assembled at the bottom of McCoys so our intrepid group continued downstream. Today's menu choice - the Middle Channel.

First up was Iron Ring, which at these levels is pretty straightforward. Then came S-Turn and a lunch break. The play boaters in the group exhausted themselves and put on quite a show!

Next was Butterfly, which is always a fun drop - especially when run without scouting! John decided to head back up for a second run down the right channel. He ended up getting caught in a hole and the subsequent roll tweaked his already injured left shoulder. Ouch!

A "quick" walk around Garvens led us to the next couple of rapids - Little No Name and Big No Name. The surf wave in Little No Name was small but still in. A couple of paddlers gave it a go. Various lines were taken through Big No Name - all successful - with Jim and Paul taking multiple runs.

The last rapid of the day was Velvet (a.k.a Waterfall of Death!). At lower levels it actually is a rapid! In the past when water levels were a bit higher this rapid is a short ledge drop.

It was a quick run and we were back at camp by 2:30. Some sort of Ottawa record for us! There was all sorts of talk about another run, a park and play, something, anything since it was so early. But then that common sound of de-motivation came through loud and clear - pfsst. And that was all she wrote.

Dawn did her magic on John's shoulder and Brock's calf and both announced that they were ready to paddle tomorrow! As a bunch of grey beards paddlers (sans 16 year old Silas of course), it's nice having a camp massage therapist!

Various dinner plans came together before we all hung out around the campfire and marveled at the full Canadian moon. There seemed to be much debate about the best way to build and maintain the campfire. If anyone offered an opposing view the refrain from the crowd was f...f...f...Feel Free!

Tomorrow: The Main Channel!

Sunday, September 2

Something that always sounds better the night before - the early morning park and play. We did manage to get up and be out the door (OK, there are no doors but you get the drift) by 8am. Paul and Jonathon opted for the early morning run through McCoys. The more sane, came around the bottom side of the rapid. We were the first ones at Baby Face. Not sure if that was a benefit or a curse. Within a couple of hours the crowd starting building. First the King of Clubs competition and then the rafts finally drove us out.

Back to camp for Brunch!

Around the crack of noon everyone started to get antsy. The King of Clubs were holding their cardboard boat race through the Laurens and we all thought that could be a humorous debacle to watch. By the time we got there, the race was over so we just headed to the put in.

The Main run has its classic rapids - The Laurens (Upper and Lower), Pushbutton, Butcher's Knife, The Swirlies (a.k.a. Brain Douche), Normans, Coliseum, Dog Leg and Blacks. The group had various degrees of success through all of these - most run blind without even a scout! These guys really put their trust in the trip leader. Pure foolishness, I say...

On the flat water paddle between McCoys and Upper Lauren we were joined by a couple of boaters. One, Scott, had a hearty British accent - for a minute I thought Simon had once again joined us! When asked where he was from he proudly stated "Buffalo"! Hmmm.

Well, Scott and Rob were indeed from Buffalo and had never run the Ottawa and were looking to join us. Now, I would like to say that when they saw us style our way through McCoys and then rip it up on Baby Face , Rob and Scott proclaimed "those are the guys we want to paddle with!". But that would be a lie.

What Rob and Scott saw was a multi-swim run of McCoys followed by a few feeble attempts to surf Baby Face. Then they declared "those are the guys we want to paddle with!".

Dawn, Leanne and Sue waited for us at Upper Lauren and cheered our (mostly) successful lines. They even captured a video which has gone wildly viral on YouTube! They then hoofed it back to camp to await our arrival.

The Normans has the ability to provide excitement - for those upright and those not. Unlike all other Ottawa rapids The Normans is followed pretty quickly by Coliseum. Any yard sales need to be cleaned up post haste. Nine boaters started the run upright. Six made it through upright (not saying there weren't any rolls for this group however). So the tally was Boaters 6; The Normans 3. Could have easily been 0 to 9! We managed to get boaters and boats back together before a lengthy scout of Coliseum. Jim ran a probe boat run to demonstrate one of the lines. Brock, the newly minted kayaker, then led the entire group through the run. I need to point out this was Brock's first dry run of Coliseum! Nice job!

We again needed to reacquaint a couple of boaters with their boats and then it was on to Dog Leg. A fun little drop that includes a blind screaming left turn, a quick line up and a narrow slot over a three footer. Good fun.

By the time we hit Blacks most were done, but a few of the play boaters needed to get their loops on. So arrival time at camp was elongated between the first arrival and the last. But we all had smiles on our faces!

Last year you may remember the Pasta Feed debacle. Well this year we scaled the expectations way back and did a much better job of communication. This year: community apps! And everyone jumped it with vigor. There were so many and varied apps that the idea of dinner was setting about as rapidly as the sun. Or maybe it was due to the visit of el jimador and his three cousins: patron, el charo and el sauza.

We watched the kayak tossing competition (one of the final events of the King of Clubs) and again spent some quality hours around the campfire exaggerating the events of the day. We ALL agreed that boaters do not average 132 outings per year (or at least that's how I remember it). Finally, once everyone decided to pack it in, Paul and Jim did their best imitation of Smokey the Bear and made sure the campfire was extinguished.

Monday, September 3

On Labor Day we awoke to yet another sunny and glorious morning. After copious amounts of coffee and Ibuprofen we were ready to face the day. Ken decided his close encounter with Phil the previous day was enough fun for two entire days and decided to opt out of the Monday paddle. Jonathon felt that an hour on Pushbutton was about all the time and energy he had left in the tank.

We did not spend much time (OK, none) at McCoys and blasted down to the Laurens. Brock had his first completely dry run of these two rapids and decided he would end his long weekend on that note. We ran into Jonathon as he was wrapping up his play session. One more round of goodbyes and the remaining paddlers (John, Paul, Silas and Jim) headed downstream.

The Normans decided to mess with Paul. After launching him airborne it held his paddle for a good ten minutes. Long enough to begin the consideration of Paul's hand paddling skills through Coliseum.

Another thing to point out about this daring duo of rapids; only one boater made it upright through both Normans and Coliseum. And it wasn't Paul, Jim or John. Nice job Silas showing the old guys how it's done!

Then it was the long slog back to camp (after Dog Leg, Blacks and Waterfall of Death II). Pack it up and hit the road. There were goodbyes and promises of repeating this again next year. And as always, thoughts of more than one trip up here in 2013. Yeah, we always say that and never "git 'er done"! Maybe we can pull it off? Who knows. Until then, happy fluffy whitewater dreams all!

jimp (a.k.a. el jimador)

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