My friend Ethan emailed me on Tuesday suggesting we go on an adventure over the weekend. We bounced some ideas around, decided to go canoeing, and found a river that looked good.
Ethan went to check the water level and it looked very very low. Friday night we settled on a different river, and I think a theme for the trip was choosing things we knew nothing about, mostly because everything we knew more about seemed less appealing.
We had a typical “early start” on Saturday which meant pushing back the meet up time, messing around with lots of gear, driving a small car with a big canoe through remote logging roads, and finally getting the canoe in the water around 4pm.
Beautiful weather, blazing sun and blue sky and Bald Eagles. Also very low water. We commonly grounded out on clumps of weeds and spent as much time pushing out paddles as we did actually paddling. When the paddling was good it was really good, and when it was bad we had to get out and pull the boat through weeds or up and over downed trees that completely clogged the stream. A grand adventure but by no means easy.
By the end of the day we had covered about six miles over four hours. One great thing about canoeing in remote areas is that you can just pull over and camp any place you like, which we happily did, and then we rocked the stove free cooking with a large bag of pre-cooked tortellini, yum!
The next morning we woke to sprinkling rain, dark clouds, and much lower temps. Back in the boat we found the water to be deeper and swifter in general, but we also came across some big messes of fallen trees, and then afterwords the river widened it’s banks and consequently became much shallower. We had a lot of fun with some tiny rapids, but we were forced to line the boat along several other rapids because the water was too low. The thing with low water is that rocks which are normally submerged start to poke out everywhere and it can become impossible to navigate through them.
So, we spent a lot of time hopping out, lifting and pulling the boat over rocks, then hopping back in and paddling for two minutes only to hop back out again. This was insanely slow, Ethan cut up his foot on some rocks and I got pretty cold what with the over cast drizzle and spending most of the morning in knee deep water.
By noon we’d only made it a few more miles, so by 1pm we bailed. We where spending way more time hauling the boat along the rocks then actually paddling, and the terrible footing and cold conditions where beginning to feel sketchy. Fortunately the river passed under a road and we rearranged our pickup to this location.
One godsend with this trip was having parents who were happy to drop us off with our canoe and then pick us up again. Vehicle logistics is a huge drag on canoe trips so they really made the whole thing so much more manageable.
All in all it was a smashing success! We paddled ten miles instead of forty…and if we’d known what we were getting into we might not have done it, but we were super stoked to have done it so maybe it’s good we didn’t know what we were getting into. The first day was amazing, and the whole area was amazingly beautiful. As soon as we get a good window of time, with higher water, we’ll be right back there.