Friday, April 23, 2010

Presentation Update

Just a small part of the Romaine River experience!

Just a quick update on the upcoming presentation at The Complete Paddler.
They have asked that you call ahead to the store to make reservations. Not so much that you have to reserve a seat, but rather so they know how many people to expect and have appropriate number of seats and refreshments. The number for The Complete Paddler is 416 255 6905.

To sweeten the experience that evening, The Complete Paddler has generously offered a Salus Eddy (PFD) as a prize! And only for those who are attending the presentation, all in-store accessories/merchandise will be on sale as an added incentive if you decide to buy anything.
Wow, it keeps getting better! What's not to like!

Well, hope to see many of you there. If you've already attended a previous presentation, please pass the word around!


Here's the presentation announcement below to The Complete Paddler's website:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First Canoe Trip of the Year

Taking a break during a portage to enjoy some of the
beautiful falls found on the Big East River

Normally when you head off on a canoe trip, at least the first one of the year, its not a cause for a major celebration. (Unless it's me!) It would have to be a milestone of some sort, which as you'd expect is probably why I'm posting this blog. For argument sake, I could technically canoe trip on the West Don River next to my house (Toronto) in probably early March, but I'd have to be crazy. Floating in questionable murky brown water tainted by urban waste and garbage, I'd be gawking at homes and apartments and wondering where a safe place would be to overnight! No, I'd have to be pretty desperate!

So, what's the big hoopla for the inaugural trip this year? Well, those of us in Ontario know that we've been having extremely warm weather recently. So much so that ice in northern lakes are going out in record time. For example, Canoe Lake in Algonquin had the ice go out on Apr 3! That's almost 2 weeks earlier than the earliest recorded ice-out in 1953!! It didn't just beat the record but literally blew it out of the water!

The pull of the paddle and the flow of moving water
after a 'long' winter is "music to the ears"!

So with these conditions, you can probably guess my head was swirling with thoughts of a very early canoe trip. With the approach of the Easter long weekend, my girlfriend and I had our hearts firmly set on paddling the Big East River that starts in the park and flows westward to Lake Vernon. My earliest canoe trip to date in Algonquin was on Apr 21 2007, so if successful it would be the earliest trip ever by a huge margin. Yes, some of you may say its a river, but it starts from Canoe Lake and has several more along its route. Ice would have to be out in order to finish the trip.

We came across the largest burl we'd ever seen on a tree!... large in fact that I could actually sit on it!
Photo: Lisa Riverin-Thomas

Well as it turned out, the trip was partially successful. We headed out on April 1st except Canoe Lake was still iced over, despite similar lakes in the vicinity to be free of ice. Luckily we had a Plan B, but that got thwarted when we couldn't get access to Finlayson Lake due to the really rough road that definitely needed a 4X4. We then resorted to Plan C which meant trying to get access to Distress Lake, - how fitting as that's what we started feeling at that point! Thankfully this road wasn't as bad, but it still was nerve-racking driving through huge pools of water, ice, snow, and muck. Thank goodness we didn't get stuck! Phew!

We scaled a sheer cliff that suddenly presented itself along
the river. The view from atop was spectacular!

Relieved to be at the put-in, all the building anxiety finally melted away as we pushed off from shore to begin the inaugural trip. If I wasn't already beside myself, I still couldn't believe I was tripping on April 1st! By all accounts it probably should have been an April Fool's joke, but it wasn't. There was still some ice on the lake and snow under the forest canopy, but for the most part you wouldn't know it was early spring. The temperature that weekend was so hot that Lisa and I were actually paddling in tank tops! I can't say I would necessarily be happy if this was the weather trend due to our own doing, but for those next 4 days I admit I was totally immersed in enjoying my earliest trip ever! Now that's a cause for a major celebration!
Hope you get to head out on your own trip soon!

t (very happy) PP

Like "two peas in a pod", all you have to do is send these
two paddlers on a canoe trip and you are
guaranteed to get smiles!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Upcoming Presentation

Hey Everyone,

Just want to make a quick announcement regarding an upcoming presentation. As you are well aware, I've been busy presenting on our Romaine River trip in the last little while. I've been pleasantly surprised both by the presentation requests and the audience's feedback. Well as it stands, it's still not over yet.

There has been two formats to the presentations I've been giving. One that involves another group that we met on the trip, while the other one is specifically about our group's adventures on the Romaine. Like the one given at Nova Craft in London following the latter format, I will be presenting with members of our group here in Toronto. (since I'm sure most of you weren't in London!) This is being hosted by one of my sponsors, The Complete Paddler at their downtown retail shop.

If you need a boat, look no further! They have the biggest
selection of boats in the country!

Although there are definitely some elements that do carry over from one presentation to the other, there are many that don't. This is an 'all boys' group/trip presentation that is guaranteed to be very different in nature from the other one. You're sure to be entertained by the comical interactions of our group, humorous incidents, shocking events, and spectacular photos on a remote, wild and infrequently traveled river. It promises to be a evening of high adventure that will leave you immediately wanting to head out on your own trip! (well,...maybe) Secondly, Johnson Outdoors/Eureka is providing a Chrysalis Hammock as a door prize! This slick unit is now my choice of shelter when I head out on solo canoe trips as it has provided me with the most comfortable sleep ever! I guarantee you'll want to win this one!

The ultimate solo tripping shelter! Once you try it, you
might not want to go back! One of these will
be up for grabs!

So if you are not doing anything, come on out on Friday April 30th at 7:00PM and join us. There is no charge for the event, parking is free and The Complete Paddler will even provide some light refreshments. Also, if you've never been there, feel free to come by early to see the huge selection of canoes, kayaks and accessories. If you are even compelled to buy a boat, I'll convince Kelly (the owner) to give you a deal!

Information regarding the store's address and location is on their website under "Contact Us". Hope to see you all there,- whether you paddle or not!


This group of clowns at the presentation are known as
RRC- The Romaine River Crew!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Heartfelt Thanks

It was awesome seeing so many people taking their time out
that evening to attend our presentation on the Romaine.
Photo: Aleks Gusev

The Romaine River presentation last Tuesday at MEC went pretty well after dealing with some technical issues at the beginning of the show. Judging from the feedback, I think people enjoyed it. (Phew!) A heartfelt thanks to all of you that attended my presentation with David Robinson, especially to some of my friends that came out to support me. I was pleasantly surprised and ecstatic to see you all there! (Apologies to those of you I didn't have time to chat with after the show, - sorry!)

The presentation touched on the experiences of two concurring
trips and their fateful encounter including
the river's demise
Photo: Ben Albert

Big thanks to Michael Conner from MEC for inviting David Robinson and I to share our story and especially Rob Dale for 'sowing the seeds'. Thanks also to Aleks Gusev for putting the word out and being supportive of our presentation. Not forgetting my trip sponsors, Salus, The Original Bug Shirt, Roadpost, and especially Eureka and The Complete Paddler who also provided prizes to hand out after the presentation. I had a great evening, - relived some good memories, inspired others to get out paddling, and met some really nice people. It couldn't have been a better way to close out the show. Now that it's over, its time to head out for a canoe trip! (with the amazing weather recently how can you not!)

Be in touch soon!

Handing out prizes after the presentation is always lots of fun
Photo: Ben Albert

Always nice to get feedback and answer
questions after the show
Photo: Ben Albert

Celebrating St Patrick's Day - In A Canoe!

A few years back I saw a news post on a St Patrick's day celebration in Chicago. What made it unique was what they did - they put green dye in the river. (apparently harmless to aquatic wildlife) And what really caught my eye was the canoes and kayaks paddling through it. How cool! Apparently its been a tradition for 40 years. What a novel way to celebrate St Pat's. Like when was the last time you've paddled on a green river? I wish I was there to paddle!

As much as Lake Vernon was open, most of it was still
iced over. We paddled to the most north-
easterly point to celebrate.

Of course I couldn't help start thinking about how I could celebrate St Patrick's Day, - in a canoe! And no, before you jump to conclusions I didn't purchase a barrel of green food colouring. (but yes I admit, the thought did come to mind) Around Toronto at this time of year, the rivers are usually open and Lake Ontario tends to be open in spots. My problem was that over St Patrick's, I would be in Huntsville visiting my girlfriend Lisa. All the lakes on the way up were still frozen over despite the extremely warm weather so the possibility seemed slim. However Lake Vernon, where my girlfriend's home is located was actually open in the middle so the reality of celebrating St Patrick's on the water definitely seemed feasible. (See previous post on "First paddle of 2010".)

Lisa was most understandably shy at first, but....

After some discussion, we decided to purchase some St Patrick's Day paraphernalia including some local brew. (What's St Paddy's without beer!) We also wanted to purchase some green food colouring for the beer, but if you believe, the grocery store actually sold out of them! I was a little disappointed but in the end it didn't matter as our mugs were green. I also would have loved to paddle out in a green canoe but unfortunately there wasn't one available, otherwise we were pretty much set to go.

...she came around and was a good sport for the camera! Yes,
I owe her big time! Especially looking like that! Lol!

So on St Patrick's we headed out in a canoe on possibly the only open lake in the vicinity (which frankly was still mostly covered in ice) to celebrate. After paddling to the furthest point, which also involved breaking some ice, we finally rammed the canoe on top of the ice. (Thank goodness for skid plates!) We then adorned ourselves in appropriate wear and cracked open a cold one to toast St Paddy's. I'm sure any observant eyes would be shaking their heads, but hey, we were out to celebrate St Patrick's Day in the most fitting way a passionate paddler would, - in a canoe!

Since when did you ever have a coaster that keeps your
beer cold as well! (And no it didn't tip over, - I
just knew you would ask!)

So how did you celebrate St Patrick's this year?!