Saugeen Sojourn

Our first spring paddling trip, and of course the excitement starts about three days before (when you have finally made your decision on when and where you are going).  First thing you do is check the weather (of course it really does not matter), and then you change your winter sleeping bags to your summer ones, get all your gear ( love doing this of course) out and organized ready to go.  Oh and of course the little one has organized her menu for us for the weekend. Yummy!

Charge up our batteries, the cameras I mean, so they are in order and ready for any wild life movies or pictures we might have the opportunity to see.  Check list always starts: paddles, PFD's, knee pads, etc, etc., have we forgotten anything?  Compass, maps, headlamps, temperature gauge, matches, rain gear (just in case), tevas or hiking boots, extra socks, of yeh tent, poles, stakes, yips am I forgetting anything?

We are off to Walkerton Ontario, our starting point for our two day trip.  A nice gentle way to get more rust out from our winter layover.  Our trip up the Credit just got us excited about this trip.  On our drive north we enjoy the country and the farm communities and thoughts of how enjoyable it must be to live in these small places. 

Our put-in in Walkerton is a small park beside the Saugeen River; you can unload and then park your car there. We have done the Saugeen a number of times and the car has been safe and sound when we got back to it.  The water in early spring can be very high; we are a bit late (from ice break up) but the water is still high and moving fast (this means a little paddling and a lot more steering).  We load up and make sure the Kicking Frog is balanced properly- it makes for easier paddling, I mean better steering ya hoo!

Right away you feel like you are in the wilds of Ontario; we daydream and talk as we move in the fast current.  And we know we are only a kilometer or so away from the roads but to us it does not matter- we are free and alone.  We approach several sets of rapids, just enough of a rush to make sure you have watched the "V" in the water (the right way to go through) and also to have the canoe in the right position when going through the rapids.  Sideways does not work because the canoe can take on lots of water and even turn over.

One turn in the river and the noise of Canada Geese starts.  The honking by each pair is loud and scary; you do not know what they might do.  We know they are nesting at this time of year, as most birds do, so we are cautious not to get too close to disrupt them.  The number of pairs of geese is  incredible, perhaps 50 pairs.  We see many turkey vultures soaring in the wind, and I am sure eyeing us, in case we make a bad move through a set of rapids,-- but we fool them.

The best parts of our trips are enjoying the wildlife.  A real treat for the little one is all  the kingfishers, and the one that surprises us (actually scares us) is, as we paddle by the river bank Kathleen says, "Watch a kingfisher will fly out of one of the holes".  As soon as she finishes saying this, one flies out right at us and then swerves away.  I have to check my undies after that.  But what joy to see these, as well as blue jays, pairs of mallards, bufflehead ducks, swallows, a lonely cormorant, robins, a huge ground hog sunning itself on a rock and a swiftly swimming muskrat.  And of course a cow on the bank of the river staring at us like we are a couple of--well who knows what, as we paddle by staring back at it.

We stop on a sandy bank, have some fluids and treats, and enjoy the sun out of the wind.  We contemplate our time, solve a few of the worlds problems and set off again for our camp site.  About 5 hours after our trip began, we arrive at the McBeath Conservation Area.  A great spot to stop and camp.   A local group of enthusiasts have donated their time and efforts to keep this area clean for anyone who wants to enjoy it for an overnight stay or just for a day.  We recommend it.

Once in camp the little one sets up her kitchen, and I say HER kitchen.  Gets the stove going with some hot soup and hot chocolate.  A nice way to start your overnight when you are tired and just getting off of the water.  Of course I am busy setting up our sleeping quarters.  This is MY job.  A little humour here of course, 'cause she won't let me into HER kitchen. 

Then something happens that always concerns us.  A group of kayakers, 6 boats-7 people arrive just after our set up and snack.  No spray skirts, all inexperienced, 4 of them their first time, all of them are soaking wet from paddling with no protection from the spray of the paddles.  And 2 of them flip getting out of the boat  while landing.  Of course all of them have cotton jeans and t-shirts on.  Cotton can be very dangerous in cold weather and wind- it takes a lot of body heat and energy, plus a long time to dry the cold wet jeans. And of course the temperature is falling quickly;  it is 6:15, getting dark, 2  degrees C, with a very strong wind.  Makes for scary thoughts about hypothermia, and dehydration (no visible water bottles).  Kathleen offers them hot chocolate and with chattering teeth it is readily accepted with thanks.   They move down from us, light a fire and try to get as warm as they can in the short time they have at the site.  They say as they leave they are going to put out at Paisley, which is another hour for them.  We wish them good luck and safe paddling.  There is always a lesson in all that we experience- we hope they have learned, because I know we certainly have from watching what had happened. I hope the turkey vultures don't get another meal!

Another great evening with the little one, supper, a little wine, desert, hot chocolate, nice fire, sharing your day's excitement and having a wonderful conversation with the one you love.  And let's not forget the night's sound sleep that you just do not get in the city.

Breakfast comes early- blueberry pancakes, real maple syrup, crisp bacon, great coffee, (my responsibility), breaking camp, loading up and setting off for the last few kms.  We arrive in Paisley all refreshed and feeling good about our trip.  We go to the local outfitters for a shuttle ride back to the car.  I usually hitch hike back but Kathleen said to give something to the community; she is always right- the people were courteous and friendly and we highly recommend a visit with them if your in the area.  

 Can hardly wait for our next adventure,

  David and Kathleen

groundhog.jpg (16679 bytes)             canoe and river.JPG (22081 bytes)          goodgeese.JPG (20820 bytes)            kath and paddle.jpg (19528 bytes)                cow.JPG (17764 bytes)

Groundhog Heaven                         Shore Lunch                      Geese In Flight                             River Sojourn                            Moo! Moo!