Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas 2009

Tis the season for a new canoe!

Wow, I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner. Time really does fly! I still haven't packed all my gear away for the season. (no, I don't still have a trip in mind, - sheesh, I'm not that crazy!) From a season of navigating around boulders and trying to find portages, I now have to resort to navigating around throngs of people and trying to find parking! Sigh! I definitely prefer the former!

Despite the craziness of the season, it really is a nice time to connect with family and friends. Just like sitting around that campfire sharing stories, having fun and enjoying the moment. I've already started my rounds of Christmas get togethers and have the big one on the 25th. Just like myself, I hope all of you have a wonderful time this Christmas as you eat and be merry! (btw, just so that you know, calories don't count this time of year! wahoo!!) And of course, if you've been "nice", maybe you'll find a canoe, paddle, trip or even a paddling partner under that tree!!!

I've already got a paddle so far! What about you? The possibility
of a canoe is pretty slim based on the size of the
rest of the gifts! Shucks!
Photo: Lisa Riverin-Thomas

To you and all of your family, friends and loved one, Season's Greetings, Merry Christmas and all the best during the 2009 holiday season!


Friday, December 11, 2009

The Last Trip of 2009

Looking out over Canisbay Lake, which was freezing over

I'm always filled with a bit of sadness (and even despair!) when the paddling season comes to an end. I mean really, who'd want the paddling season to end!?!! (better not hear a squeak!) But reality is that we live in a 4 season country and 3 out of 4 isn't bad. I shouldn't complain but given the choice, I'd be paddling all year long!

Hint: Pack in a small shovel on a canoe trip this time of year
That is, of course if you go!

I've always tended to push the season as far as I could go. Of course I've occasionally run into problems, but what's a trip without a little drama? I also tend to find it easier to accept the finality to the season when I experience snow and ice. Just something about it. Besides, ever paddle when its snowing? Its absolutely gorgeous. I'd definitely recommend it!

It snowed a (cough) wee bit

So with this last 3 day outing in Algonquin, I've accepted my fate. (like I really had a choice?) When the lake freezes in around you, its time to get out, or else you'll be breaking ice (if feasible) or walking out. We didn't do the latter, but we did have to do some of the former. No big deal.

Lisa testing out the other "form" of water

Not surprisingly, our initial plans were changed dramatically by the park staff due to the concern of being iced in. He basically wanted us to have a way to "walk out" if that happened. I understood the risk and saw where he was coming from, but we couldn't see eye to eye on some things. The park staff vs my opinion/experience unfortunately varied widely, but ultimately since he issues the permit, I was at his mercy. However on our drive out, I was a little annoyed when the lakes I wanted to head out on were ice free, - go figure!

I don't know why, but I kind of feel like Hansel and
Gretel leaving a trail of crumbs

Despite the fiasco, Lisa and I still thoroughly enjoyed the trip. We got lots of snow, lots of ice, and really cold temperatures. All the hallmarks to ensure a trip of complete solitude in a typically very busy place. (yes, there was no cars at the put-in or park gate!) Lisa also got to experience her first winter snow/ice paddle and I got to share it with someone who enjoyed it as much as I did! How's that for a great partner! Couldn't have asked for a better way to end an amazing season of paddling! Now to start dreaming, planning and oh yeah, writing too!

Au revoir mon ami le canoe!

Quite simply a gorgeous day for a paddle!
Note: Its not all water!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Minesing Swamp

Heather and I patiently wait at the put-in as the rest
the group shuttle the vehicles

I don't often find myself on paddling day trips. Usually because I tend to compile days off to head out on trips or else use those days to get stuff done around home. However, when Andrea baited me with an offer to go on a day paddle to the Minesing Swamp, I couldn't refuse. I've heard of this paddling local frequently but since I've never been there I was immediately interested. The other benefit was that it was being organized and led by a WCA (Wilderness Canoe Association: member and all I had to do was come along and paddle with Andrea. (pretty tough order, huh?)

This swamp really captivated me with all its colours, textures,
and layers. (yes, it's my "artsy" side! sheesh!)

Minesing Swamp is located just northwest of Barrie and is a vast 6000 hectare wetland. It is classed as a Provincially Significant Wetland and an Area of Natural And Scientific Interest (ANSI) due to its importance in flood control as well as being a haven for endless birds. All I could imagine was this big bird cage atop a massive sponge so I was eager to paddle into the heart of this massive swamp and see it for myself. (wait!, doesn't Shrek live there?!) We put-in at Willow Creek and headed west until we hit the Nottawasaga River where we then paddled north and ended up at Edenvale. It was a mixed group of canoes and kayaks that came out that day. The entire route took approximately 5 hours of leisurely paddle including a stopover for lunch.

Kim quietly paddling her kayak in "stealth mode"
through the swamp

It was a great way to spend the day and I was grateful to Andrea for the invitation as I thoroughly enjoyed the outing. The weather for one thing co-operated as it wasn't too cold and the grey cover soon parted to reveal blue skies. The company was great including Ray our fearless leader and guide who got us through safely and unscathed. Then there was the swamp which was quite amazing. It was mind-boggling to see how big it was with the vast expanse of marsh grass and dead trees providing vertical relief. Despite the size, I still found it beautiful and enchanting. I now understand why this place is so popular to paddle.

Apparently the swamp looks totally different in the spring when it is flooded, (and even more difficult to navigate) so I have already decided to come back then and join Ray & company on yet another day paddling excursion. Now I'm hooked!
Thanks Andrea & Ray for an awesome day!


Exiting the swamp in the last section of the route brought a
change in the shoreline and resulting canopy
(I get a headache looking at this picture!)

PS: The paddling season for all intensive purposes is finished, right? Well,... except I just can't let the season end without one more kick at the can. You got it! I'm heading back out! Details when I get back! Brrrr! Its going to be cold!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

St. Nora - Sherbourne Lake Loop

Trying to pack in the pitch black shores of St. Nora Lake
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

Our group of guys from the Romaine River trip wanted to end the paddling season with a final trip together. After some discussion and our first failed attempt in October, we finally agreed on a weekend in November. Everything was set to go until Rob had to bail out at the last minute due to the requirements of a new job. After some quick calls we salvaged the outing by finding a replacement partner in Ben's dog Igloo so that no one would actually paddle "solo"! We weren't going to stay home, especially considering how nice the weather was recently.

Our most trusted guard dog and protector of our
canoe gear and (usually) food, - Igloo!

The short weekend trip was up in the Leslie Frost area, so immediately after work Friday we headed north out of the city with the rest of the traffic. Our only issue was that we were going to be paddling in the dark due to the shorter daylight hours and the recent change in time. Good fortune had it that when we got there the water was calm, the stars were out and it wasn't really all that cold! We purposely planned to travel only a short distance to the first campsite due to the lack of light, but since it was so amazing paddling under the stars, we opted to continue further on down the lake. It really was a cool way to start the trip!

The boys portaging back to Sherbourne Lake after finding
out Orley Lake was a dead end

It was great to get back out paddling with the boys again. We enjoyed the spectacular scenery, the mild temperatures and just hanging out together. As ideal as it all sounds, there still was some hiccups along the way. Like Dimitry's headlamp dying before heading out in the dark, (he "apparently" checked it at home, - yeah right!), Igloo rolling in some crap (she's not sleeping beside me!), finding out we ended up in a dead end lake (who's idea was this?!!) and then there's Ben. Where do I start? He apparently forgot all his batteries for his dSLR so we ended up lugging his Pelican case during the whole trip for nothing, he brought a grand total of 7-8 stale Ringolo's that Dimitry and I couldn't stomach (so that's why he didn't have any!), and more importantly he forgot to bring implements for obtaining firewood! (saw and a real axe) Ben, always known as the "Axeman" on our canoe trips let Dimitry and I down when he pulled out a pathetic Canadian Tire hatchet as a replacement for the real stuff! Especially considering the time the year when we hope to have a blazing fire to keep us warm! Well, all was not lost as we managed under the trying circumstances. We honed the art of collecting small pieces of firewood, practiced the "martial art" skill of breaking wood with our hands and feet, and kept warm from constantly feeding the fire! Dimitry and I forgave him but decided we would let him come on our next canoe trip only with conditions!

Dimitry wondering what this hatchet could be
used for? Hmmm,...maybe pounding
pegs into the ground?!

Well, the weather certainly didn't feel like November and getting out to paddle was motivation to speculate about another. This time of year, you just never know what you will be hit with in terms of snow, cold temperatures and the water freezing up, but let's see. I don't know for certain if this trip was "it", but the thought is already depressing! I might as well hope and dream a bit and you just never know where I'll end up! (crossing my fingers!)


Ben quietly solo paddling down Sherbourne Lake (and
wondering why Igloo doesn't stop whining!)

FYI: We were unexpectedly surprised to find out at the end of the trip that we breaking a new bylaw(?!). The HHWT staff were nice enough not to give us tickets for apparently camping without permits! Only weeks ago, they changed the bylaws which now require permits from Jan 2 to Dec 18 (basically all year round!) Oops! Previously no permits were needed after Oct 31, so I just assumed the same but not anymore! If you decide to head up to that area, just be aware!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Romaine River Trip - Sailing

The vast expanse of Lac Brule lay in front of us -
40 kms to be exact!

Yes, that's correct, the subject is sailing. I know we went on a trip with canoes, but that's the versatility of this craft. It can be utilized in other ways to effect travel! The experienced paddlers out there know when to harness the wind under the ideal circumstances to move the boat without paddling. Why not? Its an opportunity to have fun, relax, enjoy the scenery and still get from point A to B. What's not to love about that?

Ben lashing the spruce poles to the canoes to hold them
apart as well as forcing them to move together

We had just entered Lac Brule on day 2, a huge lake stretching 40 kms southward. We knew it was going to be a long paddle, but luckily a steady tailwind gently nudged our boats along. After a shoreline lunch, we noted the winds picking up and small whitecaps appearing. Once back out in the open, a light bulb immediately went off in my head and all I could think of was sailing. We certainly weren't exerting much effort as the wind and fairly large swells pushed us along, but I figured sailing would be even better! The only problem was either shoreline was quite a distance from where we were for us to get set up. However, looking at the map a prime opportunity presented itself. We would be passing through a few islands soon and that's where I wanted to stage our build. I relayed my intentions to the rest of the guys and we headed directly for the leeward side of the island.

For a quick and easy set-up, a tarp was lashed between
2 semi-flexible poles for the bowmen to hold

Once on shore, a couple guys proceeded to obtain 2 long spruce poles to lash the canoes together into a catamaran, while the other two got poles for the tarp-sail. After the prep work and build was done, we discussed execution/safety issues before heading off. Barely pushing the "sailboat" off from shore, the wind immediately caught the sail and pulled at the canoes like wild horses! Ben could barely hold on! After a few quick snapshots, I jumped into the other stern seat and off we went!

Once the wind caught the sail, the catamaran was rearing
to go!, with Ben barely hanging on!

We were all thrilled and amazed at how well our "sailboat" worked. We were even happier to be speeding down the big lake effortlessly! Occasionally we wondered about the integrity of the tarp fabric straining against the wind or the adjoining poles creaking and groaning under pressure, but they both held up superbly. We even worried a bit about filling with water as the swells that got compressed between the canoes easily spilled over the gunwales, but it never got too serious. We were so hooked on sailing at the moment that nothing else mattered, other than the fact that we also instantly became speed adrenaline-junkies!We couldn't determine exactly how fast we were moving, but we figured based on time and distance from the island, we covered 9 kms in the first hour! That's blazing fast for canoe travel on flat water!

Rob and Dimitry give their approval as we flew down the lake!
They were sporting "perma-smiles"!

Of course in time, all good things including tailwinds end. We luxuriated in the setting sun, admired the scenery and enjoyed each other's company on account of the wind, but "she" ran out of breath and we all eventually had to pull out the paddles when the sail finally flopped. We paddled our catamaran as a foursome the last 2-3 kms to the waiting beach campsite at the end of Lac Brule. We certainly couldn't complain, as we were most lucky and fortunate to have experienced sailing this way. In the end it was a great day, covering 40 kms total and having the wind look after a third of that distance. We had just started the trip and by all accounts, if this was a sign of things to come, we were looking forward with more anticipation than ever!

What an awesome experience; sailing down a huge lake
on a beautiful day barely breaking a sweat!! Who
says you can't paddle and sail at the
same time!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Eels Creek - Serpentine Lake Loop

Who said there are no colours left at the end of October?!!

Hi Everyone,

Just got back from 5 days of canoeing in the Kawarthas with Lisa. The paddling season has definitely slowed right down, evidenced by the empty parking lots and lack of canoes on the water. (although we did manage to run into another canoeist in a beautiful green cedar-canvas) The hardy few to brave the cold and wet environment this time of year can still be charmed by the lingering colours and the sense of total isolation.

This small MEC shelter lent to us by Lisa's father was
great for keeping the wind and rain off of us,
as well as keeping us warm!

Lisa and I combined 2 trips in the 5 days we had, given all the routes in the Kawarthas are fairly short. We first headed down Eels Creek (curious how the name came about) as a "there & back" route since we didn't have the luxury of a shuttle. We then headed further north to paddle the Serpentine Lake Loop, a route I had done years ago but in mid-summer. It was quite different this time (and nicer) with the lack of people and a much more colourful landscape.

Lisa having fun playing at the final rapid on Eels creek
before draining into Stony Lake

Since most of month was inundated by lots of rain and frigid temperatures, this trip ended up being the only outing in October. Cancelling my last trip was all it took to stubbornly head out regardless of the conditions this time. However luck would have it that the rain gods took it easy on us and we came back fully refreshed and revived to still consider a few more possible outings. The paddling season is definitely waning, but its still not over yet!

Taking a moment to enjoy High Falls along Eels Creek

Still Holding On, (to the paddles!)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Romaine River Trip - Fishing

Ben: "I'm positive that there's
fish down here!"

Years ago as a youngster, I loved to fish. (yeah, years ago!) My brother and our neighbours use to hike to the local creeks, rivers, and reservoirs to fish regularly. However being a fairly inpatient person, I got bored waiting to catch fish. (maybe it was my lack of fishing skills?!) Anyhow, with all the numerous canoe trips I head out on, it would seem ideal to throw a line in, especially in those remote out-of-the-way locations. One particular friend of mine (who use to trip with me) is incredulous when I tell him I don't fish on my trips anymore. He loves fishing and shakes his head at the thought of me passing opportunities to fish bodies of water teeming with them or hook into a trophy-sized one. I usually just shrug my shoulders.

Fishing on the Romaine - cold clean running water, solitude,
scenery and of course fish. What more can you ask?

I'm sure you've seen pictures of people with monster-sized fish in the far north. I could only imagine that it would be an experience of a lifetime hooking into one of those giants! So I figured if an opportunity came about (like the Romaine River), I would take my fishing rod. So the trip materializes and guess what I didn't take?! I knew Ben was bringing 2 rods and I figured if he began catching them left, right and center, I would borrow one of his to try my hand at casting. (pleeeese, Ben!)

Massive fish steaks - 3 complete meals for 4 hungry guys!
We weren't about to go hungry anytime soon!

Before heading out on the Romaine, we got various reports of the fishing conditions out there. They seem to hinge on both ends of the spectrum - good to not that great. So with this we headed with some expectations, but not too much. We also took enough food for every meal, so catching fish would only supplement our meals rather than replace them - we were optimistic, not foolish. So off we went, hoping to brag about the "big one", or come back with stories about how amazing the portages were or how much we enjoyed all the rain!

One of the many beautiful brook trout that was
caught lurking by the fast moving water

Okay, lets cut to the chase. The fishing was pretty good! Much better than our reserved expectation! Most opportunities to fish produced results. The only fish we caught on the Romaine were pike and brook trout. We were hoping to catch some of the land-locked salmon, but didn't luck out in this regard. In any case we were not disappointed. Although one time, we almost were.

No, its not caught on a log! Even I had
a big one on the line!
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

When people talk about the "big one" that got away, usually only evidence will vindicate your story. Fish stories always seem to get blown out of proportion. Once Ben hooked into a monster pike that he struggled with for almost 20 mins. All the while intensely discussing with the rest of us how we were going to haul this monster in! We had no net or gaff to pull it in without losing it or our fingers! (pike have rows of big razor-sharp teeth!) At one point as the tired pike rested close to shore Ben realized his line was tangled. But just as he was trying to fix it, the pike jerked violently and snapped the line clean. I'm not going to comment on the choice vocabulary that spewed from his mouth, but lets just say he was rightfully upset. Actually we all were.

You can't get any better than this! Fresh crispy fillets
(just caught) that melt in your mouth!

Of course there was no pictures or video to show how big this fish was, just "our word", so it would have gone down as "another fish story". Well, because we had a bit of time, Ben immediately replaced his spool of line for a stronger one and started casting away. After several cast, - we were all waiting at this point ready to go - his insistence that the present cast would be the "last one" had us rolling our eyes,.....until he hooked onto an even bigger fish! Well this time after another 20 odd mins of fighting the fish (I was surprisingly given the rod after 5 mins - thanks Ben!) we remarkably didn't lose it this time! All of us were filled with nervous energy and relief - yelling and screaming like kids when we safely got this beast onshore. It was an amazing accomplishment through team effort considering the circumstances and lack of proper gear. This time we not only had the pictures to prove it, but the amazing experience of really catching the "big one"!

Almost 4 ft long and 20+ lbs - its a fish guaranteed to
put a smile on any one's face!! Good job Ben!

Of course catching fish is only one part of the equation! Part 2 is enjoying the bounties of the wilderness! So if you figured it out by now, we enjoyed many fish meals - fried fillets battered in Fish Crisp, grilled/smoked fish steaks, fish stews, etc you name it, we had it! All of us were more than thrilled to have so much fresh fish supplementing (more like replacing) our meals. Even Rob, who wasn't much of a "fish person", came to love it so much he was always looking for seconds! We all came away with a positive experience in regards to fishing, - heart-pumping fish fights, sated stomachs, bragging rights and memories of a lifetime captured in pictures. Proof that "fish stories" are actually sometimes true!

What's a fishing trip without a shoreline lunch! Just one of
the great memories from the Romaine River!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chiniguichi-Sturgeon River Loop

Wow, time flies when you are never around. That's usually the case when you are enjoying yourself, isn't it? Before I knew it, my favourite month for paddling sadly ended after a whirlwind of activity. I shouldn't complain considering I struck out on 4 trips with more than half the month on the water. And let me tell you, the month of September did not disappoint! The weather continued to be amazing on the latest trip with only one day of rain in 9, considering the forecast prior to the trip!

Starting a trip and paddling into dramatic skies such as
these only portend good things

This last September trip was in an area I've been to twice before; the Chiniguichi area. However, not wanting to do the same route, I lengthened the loop and added to the already familiar one so that I could cover some new areas. Not that I don't enjoy the areas I've previously been to, but there is so much else out there to see and experience. I'm sure glad I did, as it was worth it; I love this area!

Going for a dip in a cool surging aerated pool is like
being in a world-class spa

I also had a chance to paddle with someone new whom I met on the Romaine River trip. Lisa is an experienced paddler with a solid background of tripping and whitewater skills. She is a Camp Kandalore alumnus and really knows her stuff. I found her to be more than my equal in the field, impressing me in many ways. It was a pleasure paddling with her. The combination of a great paddling partner, amazing route, and the spectacular weather was a great way to say farewell to September.

The dramatic display of colour on this trip
was a feast for the eyes...

Jumping into October, the rains began again with vengeance, just like last summer. Waves of rain after rain with no break in sight. I actually cancelled another outing due to all the rain! (imagine that!, I must be getting "soft"!) Anyhow, all is not lost, I still have a trip in mind for October. I'm starting to get stir crazy again so its planning time,..whether it rains or not!

...and lets not forget the visually stunning sunsets.
(Do I have to come home?!)

Now that I have a bit more time, I will get back to the Romaine River posts! Thanks for being patient! By the way, to all you Canadians, Happy Thanksgiving! (to you Americans, my sister is visiting from New York on your Thanksgiving, so I will send the well wishes then!)

Happy Paddling! (there is still lots of time!)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nunikani Loop

Trees changing colour, mist in the mornings and cooler
temperatures herald the change in season

Even more recently, I came back from another solo excursion, 3 days in Haliburton doing the Nunikani Loop. The whole Leslie Frost area is now managed privately by the town under the name of Haliburton Highland Water Trails. After registering for the particular campsites and paying for it on the internet, off I went!

I had a nice trip that saw very little traffic or congestion, (namely other canoeist) due to the time of year. Not that I don't like running into them, (I actually met a very nice couple at the put-in where we ended up sharing contact info) but I understand these popular weekend destinations can get very busy. So it was nice to have most of the place to myself.

By the way, autumn is definitely on its way. The last morning was very cool and the colours have already started changing. Anyhow, here's a few pics. Now I got to get packing for the next trip with another new partner for an extended 9 day excursion in the Chiniguichi area. Be in touch soon!


Being alone allows you to take plenty pictures of
of yourself! I'm so full of myself, huh?!
(Don't you dare say it!)

French River Old Voyageur Route

With the weather being so nice, you sometimes just have
to kick back and enjoy the scenery!

Okay, I'm majorly behind on posts (as expected) so I'm going to throw a couple at you regarding 2 trips. Its my way of trying to stay in touch for the next little while, so here's the overdue one first.

I recently came back from an amazing trip on the French River following the Old Voyageur Route. It was 5 days of very hot sunny weather, - like summer again! (wait, did we have summer this year?!) I also got to trip with a new paddler, Andrea that I met through MEC's People Connect. Its always a little nerve-racking paddling with someone new for the first time, but it turned out great!

Anyhow, the one thing that stood out on this trip other than the great weather was the gourmet food that Andrea provided. When I write a post on this trip, it will be like describing a menu at the restaurant! No joke! I was literally blown away! I was certainly reminded how differently people trip and even learned to appreciate it. (I don't know if I can deal with packaged dehydrated food anymore!!!) Well here's a couple pics to tease you regarding
this trip for now. Next, I'm headed off for another solo excursion.

Happy Paddling!,

Check this out! - Slow roasted tomatoes on salmon with toasted
pearl couscous on a bed of mixed greens!
Even I still say "wow"!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Solo Excursion Pics

This is what it looked like starting the trip...

...and what it looked like finishing it!
(I know, I got it all wrong!)

Hey Everyone,

Didn't want to stay incognito for too long. I've been jumping between trips and there hasn't been any time to do much else than work and get ready for the next excursion. The solo trip went well - a split trip between Algonquin and the Kawarthas. It was really hard to go on my own after the trip with my "paddling bro's" on the Romaine, but it all came to together and I found peace, solitude and contentment out there. The weather was split - 2 days of rain and grey skies, then two days of blue skies and sunshine. Here's a few pics to tie you over. Now heading out to the French for 5 days to do the Old Voyageur Route. Be in touch soon!


I'm not fussy on trips. Just a comfortable
place to sleep, and....

...a slice of wilderness. (a full moon helps!)

Friday, August 28, 2009

tPP Out! - (for a bit)

"So that's why I couldn't see anything?!!"
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

I hope everyone is enjoying the blog on the Romaine. I've got lots of positive feedback and appreciate it. I'm trying to keep the posts coming but I'm going to run into some delays. September/October is my favourite time to paddle, which incidentally is also a great time for photos. Therefore unfortunately I won't be around much to write. I will definitely get back to it asap, but for the next month (or so) I have a very tight schedule between long hours at work and heading back out on the next trip so please bear with me for awhile. Thanks again for all you support and your willlingness to listen to this paddler ramble on! Off tomorrow morning on a 4 day solo! Be in touch soon!

*Quick side note, I appreciate the odd comments I get on the blog. A few times I've also had inquiries. Because the blog doesn't allow me to respond back, (I tried) I would actually have to respond back on the "Comments" section instead of responding back specifically to you. Maybe you'd like to remain anonymous which is fine, but if you'd like a response back please just email me at and I'll respond back. Don't worry, I won't phish, spam, or cyberstalk you, despite what my previous ex's say!! (joke! - really!! )

Hope everyone has had a great summer paddling!!


"This little piggy went to market, and this little piggy..."
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

Monday, August 24, 2009

Romaine River Trip - Sand

Sand was everywhere on the Romaine River,
whether we liked it or not!

We humans are finicky and temperamental - when its hot, we want it to be cold. When its cold, we can't wait for the heat. We are never satisfied unless its perfect, - even then! Being out in the wilderness far from many modern day conveniences, we are subject to the whims of nature. We try to prepare as best we can, but it doesn't always work out. Kind of like the first few nights of the trip. It was really cold. The temperature dropped below 5C and I was huddled in my sleeping bag rated to guess what?!,...5 degrees Celsius! Lovely! Didn't brilliant moi sleep in my underwear and T-shirt with no socks that night?! Even when the long johns, socks and fleece top was donned, I was still chilled. (Rob, you want to cuddle?) I wished it was warmer. Then fast track near the end of the trip where it was 21C in the friggin tent! It was a sweat lodge! I slept atop the sleeping bag with just my underwear! (Rob preferred that I keep them on) Yes, damn right I wished it was cooler!

We took the opportunity to climb a few eskers - the
sand was fine like talcum

The view from atop this esker was breathtaking!

Well, I admit, we were those temperamental humans, especially when it came to sand. It was definitely a love and hate relationship on this trip from the moment we were introduced! At first we loved the sand beach campsites. They were gorgeous, scenic, and great to camp on. It feels great under your feet, easy for digging firepits or inserting poles, comfortable to sleep/sit on, drain well, good to scrub pots with and even to draw on! (I will refrain from describing the images - lets just say it wasn't SOS!) There is no doubt sand gave us much enjoyment. Whether in the water or on land, we appreciated the textures, subtle shades, and the delicate forms resulting from wind and water action. Some of the many superlatives from this trip included the vast sand flats and eskers on this river. It was mind-boggling to see so much sand in the boreal forest! Who would have known that they co-exist? However, that's where the buck stops.

The sand helped us to identify the local
fauna - bear in this case

Digging fire pits in the sand for cooking over was
easy and very effective

After camping all of 3 nights on sand, it started to grate on us. (literally) When the rare opportunity presented itself, we sought out non-sand campsites as it got in anything and everything we had. There was no where to hide. We couldn't shake, wipe, blow or wash enough to get all the sand out. The rare time when you were dry you could shake most of it out, but some of it was as fine as talcum and it stuck to you regardless! And let me tell you, when it was wet, forget it! Mornings were the worst as it was regularly misty/foggy making most things wet or damp. I don't know why we bothered but if it was nice the previous day we'd dry everything and shake all the sand out. But come morning, we'd be back at square one! (we had to believe we were making progress) You just knew you were packing heavier that day with the combination of sand and water!

A great beach campsite with an amazing view!
Photo: Dimitry Sapon

The nice level sand flats were great for camping on!

Sand loves tents - especially the inside! It always seems that just when you were about to go in, they'd find a way to hitchhike in with you. Arrrgh! We'd all shake the hell out of the tents but it was useless. There was no way it was coming out. And if it did, you ended up with it in your hair, which ultimately ended back in the tent! By the way, shaking the tent is overrated. When you shake it, sand gets stuck in the damp mesh walls. Guess what rains in the tent when you set it up that evening and hit the tent wall trying to kill a mosquito?! There were also "sand" rules that we tried to follow in helping us deal with it, which included the obvious (not always!) such as closing your mouth and eyes when shaking things, walking downwind of the food, placing your gear on other people's stuff when packing, and not putting the toilet paper on the sand. Of course these only alleviated the problems temporarily. Unsurprisingly, sand even became part of our daily food group supplying many essential minerals and fiber! (I'm sure Health Canada doesn't know about this one!) There's nothing like a crunchy meal when the cook states that it shouldn't be!

How about a friendly competition of sand-pizza
flipping contest!

We'll admit, sand bottoms are much better to wade
through then rocks, mud, or bog!

It was the one battle we lost and admit we couldn't defeat. Its insatiable desire to be with us even out did the black flies and mosquitoes! Everything we packed whether we liked it or not, included the ubiquitous sand. As much as we loved it, we hated it and it was one part of the Romaine River trip we didn't want to take home with us.We dearly missed pine needles, flat rocks, and soil, but then again if that was all we had, we would want sand wouldn't we?!!

Sand - just one of the things that the Romaine River
will be remembered for!