Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mar 14 09 - Sixteen Mile Creek

Waiting at Sixteen Valley Conservation Area for the rest of
the crew to finish the shuttle


Let's be frank, I'm not an urban paddler. There is nothing really that interest me about paddling Lake Ontario or any river/creek that flows into the lake. First off, who REALLY knows what's in the water! Flowing through either industrial complexes or jam-packed neighbourhoods, you never know what (or who for that matter!) gets dumped in there. All it takes is a walk through a park and you'll see plenty evidence of our ignorance.


Our motley crew of seemingly intrepid paddlers!
Photo by: Imroze Albert


Then there are the structures - houses, apartments, buildings, bridges, culverts, etc. Why would I want to see that from the water?!! I could do that from any place out of the water! Then there is always the possibility of tipping in the drink! I couldn't even imagine, let alone wish it on my worst enemy! The previous day when my Ben and I paddled the Credit river and we hit some huge rollers, we squealed with glee, only to have "brownish" water splash into both our mouths! Needless to say, after spitting in unison like crazy, our mouths stayed fairly shut for the rest of the runs!



Evidence of urbanization was much more pronounced
in the lower reaches of Sixteen Mile Creek


But,...there are some advantages, I grudgingly admit. Like ice-out earlier in the season, closer places to paddle (including whitewater), less time spent on the road, and the more likelihood of friends joining you. Oh, and I forgot to mention, the possibility of a hot meal and cold beer at the end of the run!



video

I'm sure we were the only canoe-topped vehicles at a
drive through in Oakville that day!


The Credit river is definitely a fun run when the water is high, but the scenery from approx Streetsville south doesn't offer much. So when the opportunity of paddling Six Mile Creek in Oakville came up, I jumped at it. Other friends had paddled it the weekend before and raved about the scenery and challenging whitewater so I couldn't resist. Of course I had my doubts about the scenery (beauty is in the eye of the beholder), but hell, it was a chance to paddle more whitewater, so why not?



Like Rob's shadow, his alter ego -
the child in him - emerged!


After taking care of the annoying shuttle, we saddled up at Sixteen Valley Conservation Area. It was an absolutely beautiful day, - sun, blue skies, and balmy temperatures (5-6C), - ideal conditions despite large chunks of ice still lining the shore. We definitely caught the attention of people at the park and locals passing by with our flashy outfits and canoes. Before we got too far, we were even flagged by a couple (masked as paparazzi!) to take a few pictures - we obliged only because we are underpaid celebrities! (yak!) Once the photo shoot was done, we let the swift current whisk us away!



The red shale-limestone cliffs were breath-taking!
Urban paddling at its best!


It was soon evident that the landscape we were paddling through was much more wilderness-like than I expected. The upper reaches were void of man-made structures and helped us forget how close to civilization we were. Then there were the imposing but stunning shale-limestone cliffs, streaked with large vestiges of melting ice. At times, I felt like I was navigating a river through a remote canyon on a far flung expedition. It was well worth the paddle, even just for the scenery. So I may not entirely retract my earlier statement, but I have certainly changed my stance on how I view urban paddling and look forward to the next one. The scenery certainly did impress, but so did the massive concrete pillars and bridge that supported the 407!



Paddling below huge ice cliffs discoloured by the red
shale was out of this world!


video

Ben and Dimitry had to prove their worth
after their fiasco on the Dumoine river


Sixteen Mile Creek didn't have the same volume as the Credit, but it certainly offered up some whitewater challenges. Many were tight technical rapids that required precise executions while the odd time, we encountered huge rollers and standing waves that was just plain fun to run. There were also many strainers and downed trees to watch for, but nothing that required anything more than being diligent. Despite the range of rapids that we got to paddle (class 1-3) we still grounded out several times and realized any further drop in water levels would make it challenging to paddle. Nonetheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the run and look forward to doing it again in the future.



video

We all lose our way in life sometimes, just as long
as you can find your way back! - as
these boys can illustrate!


Due to our late start, we ended our outing in the dark at 20:00!, - thank goodness for the earlier daylight savings! (oh, and the streetlights helped!) It was a good 5 hour run, which was great, but we will certainly start sooner next time. It may have been warm earlier on, but it certainly wasn't when the sun went down. We all got out of the canoes with a funny gait as all our feet were like blocks of ice! (a hot jacuzzi would have helped right about now)



No urban paddle is complete without a playground! Yeah,
the kids ran when the colourful monsters emerged
from the river to take over the swings!
Photo by: Ben Albert


One thing I HAVE to mention. Once we got back to Ben and Imroze's place, - besides Ben being chided for not calling about our late finish, he's so irresponsible! (muffled giggle) - Imroze prepared an awesome meal for us. We were not only frozen when we finished, but starving! So once we peeled off our wet gear and cleaned up, we were treated to an amazing dish of pasta and samosas that we devoured like emaciated coyotes. Let me tell you, once we finished, we were royally stuffed! Thank you so much Imroze! We owe you big time! The singles in our group (which was everyone except Ben) concluded we all need a canoe-friendly lady! (of course, not just to cook! - sheesh!) You're a lucky man Ben!


That big pan of pasta was absolutely delicious!
Thank you so much Imroze!


Thanks gentlemen, (cough, cough) for the highly enjoyable paddle down Sixteen Mile Creek!
Until next time, "keep the hands off the gunwale!"


tPP


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