Friday, July 17, 2009

One Last Post

Well, this will be the last post before we head out. It is late, I'm tired and energized at the same time (wonder how well I'll sleep tonight?!), worried we may forget something, totally stoked about starting the trip and just plain wired from trying to get so much done this week. I should be calm and collect, but no, I'm just a bundle of nervous energy. Really, there isn't much more to say. Just another big THANK YOU to everyone for your support. I pray that the rain and bug gods look favourably on us during the trip and all things willing, we will be back home safe and sound Sunday Aug 7.

So without further adieu, adios!, au revoir!, farewell!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gratitude to Sponsors, Friends, and Family

Planning a trip of this magnitude is a daunting task in itself whether by yourself or with a group. With more experience things will eventually get easier as you work out the idiosyncraies of being out so long, dealing with logistics, safety, etc. However, there are always companies, friends, contacts, and family that are more than willing to help out when needed. This blog is just that - a big thanks to all those who gave of their time, resources, and support.


The Complete Paddler -

I have been working closely with this retailer/outfitter which has been a great partnership. They have, as the name states, a "complete" line of boats and accessories for paddling ranging from recreational to serious expeditions, including services such as repairs and rentals. In fact they have the biggest selection of boats available anywhere in Canada. They are your one stop shop for all of your paddling needs in Toronto. I would like to thank Kelly McDowell and The Complete Paddler for providing us a fully outfitted 16ft Nova Craft Prospector to use on the Romaine River.

Eureka Canada- Johnson Outdoors -

Eureka Canada is a company that not only supplies a wide range of outdoor products to retailers, they also design and build them as well. They provide a wide selection of outdoor gear such as tents, packs, sleeping bags, airmats and stove, but they also back their products with a solid
guarantee. Trust me, I know, they've come through for us in the past. Its been a pleasure not only dealing with Jim Stevens but becoming friends with him. We both share a passion for paddling and love the outdoors so it was easy to align myself with him and his company. Jim has provided couple tents, barrel harnesses, a pack, a stove and camp accessories to outfit this expedition. We are truly grateful to him and Eureka for their support of this trip.


The Original Bug Shirt -

Northern Quebec is a haven for bugs, so we HAVE to be prepared or else, - #@*%!, swat swat, - itch itch itch! As the company's name states, it is THE ORIGINAL and the best out there. We are definitely glad to have Bob Meister and Sara Callaway on board providing itch free protection. We already all own his essential bug shirt, but now we have been provided bug pants. I don't know about you, but I always seem to get bitten under the legs and my tush while sitting in the canoe, so his bug pants will provide the ultimate protection for my crew's underside. And as a bonus, they are also quick-dry! We are definitely going to put them through their paces on this trip!

Roadpost Satellite Phones -

Nothing speaks louder than safely on our expedition. Our health and well-being is not only important to us, but to the loved ones back home that count on us, or are dear to us. In this age of instant text messages, endless emails and cellphone calls, its nice to get away from it all, but when you are far away isolated in the bush, its comforting to know the same technology exist to call for help. That is why we have secured a satellite phone from Roadpost, a leader in providing mobile satellite communication solutions for the remotest corners of the world. When you are far from the comforts and security of home, its reassuring to have a dependable communications expert like Roadpost to look after your needs. Thank you for coming aboard and supporting our trip.

Salus -

Salus is proudly a Canadian company based in Kitchener that provides a wide range water or marine-based products. From rescue gear, to marine suits, to safety products and PFD's, they cater to not only the recreational crowd but to water-based professionals in their respective fields. Salus manufactures high quality products that are also made here in Canada so its nice to know you are supporting your local community. Salus has provided us several whitewater/expedition PFD's through The Complete Paddler for our trip and we will proudly wear it knowing we can trust it when it counts the most.


Probably the most important support network we have. We couldn't have done it without you. Thank you all for your patience, help, and well wishes. Its comforting to know we are loved and will be missed! Some notable individuals that went over and beyond:

- Imroze, Ben's wife has been awesome cooking up delicious meals for us to dehydrate for the trip. We will certainly eat well. She is also going to be our main liaison back home 'in case' anything happens.

- Ben's father, Donald loves all things canoeing and outdoor related and his resourcefulness has allowed him to provide us tasty double-smoked bacon. (we love it). Of course there are those interesting soups too?!

- Marylou (yes, my ex) but who is still a friend and has looked after my "wardrobe malfunction" - (remember the ripped pant in the strategic area? - AC is not needed on the Romaine!)

- Ian Merringer, Canoeroots editor for taking the time to meet up with me and provide valuable information regarding the route.

- Fran Bristow of Alliance Romaine, a stanch campaigner trying to stop and protect the damning of the Romaine River who should be applauded for her tireless efforts. We didn't have an opportunity to talk much, but we appreciate her willingness and time - and especially her passion.

Its been a long journey, one of planning, re-planning, preparation, and finally coming to fruition. We are highly looking forward to this expedition, nervous, excited, relieved and eager - and I'm sure everyday we are on the water, one day won't go by without remembering all of you that helped to make it possible. Thank you all again for your enduring support and we look forward to seeing you all again when it is all said and done. For now, its time to walk the talk! Be in touch soon!


(The Romaine River Crew)
Ben, Dimitry, David & Rob

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Romaine River Pre-Trip Updates: Food

Bags of food littered Ben's place as the growing
pile looked like a small mountain!

Food of course is vital to any canoe trip, especially the longer and the more physically demanding it is, - like this one. Lucikly we have a couple guys that have dehydrators that were running full tilt to get that big pain of "water weight" down to bearable levels while preparing meals to satisfy our appetite. And trust me, all four of us can eat so there is no skimping here!! (Ben I don't want to hear that its "too heavy"!!)

In the previous post where I talk about Rob and I paddling a decent distance, we hardly had any portages to deal with yet we polished our lunch/snacks multiple times throughout the day lickety-split! If we'd continued longer on that trip, I'm sure we would have been rationing! (or gnawing on our forearms) The trip coming up is a totally different beast - much more physically demanding in the form of tough portages, lots of linning, bushwhacking, and of course paddling! Calories, and lots of it in the the form of fat is necessary to keep us going. Nuts, peanut butter, bacon, shortening (of course not by itself!), cheese, sausages and even milk chocolate! Sounds like the Atkins diet! Yum!

Trying to sort through the mess of food and equipment

Okay, now wouldn't that be funny if we gained weight after the trip?!! In actual fact, we are going to weigh ourselves prior to the trip and re-weigh ourselves afterwards. If anyone is heavier than at the start, we will know they were guilty of snacking on M&M's while we were sleeping! - the only appropriate punishment will be dealt by a sustained wedgy!! Okay so back to food.

Packing dehydrated meals in the barrels - fills up fast!

We have a combination of store bought and homemade dehydrated meals. Here's a sample:

Harvest Foodworks: Alfredo Primavera, Omelette
Osem: Lentils and Rice, Chinese Fried Rice, Tomato Pasta, Couscous
Variety of Spicy Asian Noodles - (not Mr Noodles, those are jokes, we have the REAL stuff that will make you sweat and clear your sinuses but they are soooo good!)
Sidekicks: Singapore Curry Noodles, Mexican Rice

Morrocan Chicken Stew
Couscous Primavera
Hungarian Goulash

Blueberry Cobbler
Apple Walnut Cake
Corn Biscuits

I know all you ladies are salivating - its going
to be like an
all-you-can-eat chocolate fest

Of course to supplement the meals we will bake bannock, boil up pasta/rice, whip up mash potatoes, savour/pucker up on double-smoked bacon, chew on fruit leathers and drink lots of soup. To flavour things up we have herbs, salt, cayenne pepper, dried veggie flakes, a bag of TVP (texture vegetable protein), box of chicken stock cubes and even a small pepper grinder! Let's not forgot important drinks - like a couple pounds of coffee, 40 tea bags, 24 cup-o-soups, 30 servings of hot chocolate, drink crystals (lemonade & Ice Tea) as well as Gatorade. Phew!, I'm running out of air just writing this! I think for the most part we won't go hungry, maybe a little sore from hauling all this weight around, but we don't want any of the guys looking at each other as potential meals, despite some of us already looking like we could use more food now!

This past Sunday we gathered for our last pow-wow before the trip. We brought pretty much everything to package, organize, verify, pack, and see if everything fits! (it does, thank goodness!) We have 2 huge 120 litre packs and 4 waterproof barrels to accompany us. All in all we have pretty much 3 barrels worth of food (each barrel being 60 litres). I don't know the weight, but one is definitely very heavy and since Rob couldn't be there, (shhhhhh!) - we designated that barrel to him! "No, no, not that one. That one is heavy, so I'm carrying it. THIS one is your's Rob, here let me help you get it on your shoulder!" ; )

We have an interesting concoction of unreadable, unpronounceable,
questionable variety of soup, - compliments of Ben's dad.
A couple actually states "Red Soup", "Orange Soup"
Should we be worried?!!

By the way, feel free to donate delicious food/snacks/meals to our cause. We won't refuse, even if Ben says "It tooo heavy!", I'll find a place to squeeze it in Rob's barrel!

Cheers, The RRC

PS. By the way, I forgot to say that we will enhance our meals with fish if we can catch any, - I won't mention any names.

Poor Igloo, she thought it was her birthday
again with all the food lying around!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

French River PP Jul 3-8 09

Blue Chutes, French River Provincial Park

So I'm baaaack!, one piece too! A little sore, a lot darker, but much more ready for the big trip! The brief five day getaway was just what the doctor ordered, - lots of paddling! That was one recommendation I followed to the tee! (which doctor?!!)

To drink beer, it is mandatory to unzip the mesh top to the bug
shirt,.....well,....actually not really!

Dimitry and I arrived late Friday evening at Wolsley Bay so we set out paddling in the setting sun. Even the waning light didn't stop us from running a couple rapids before Blue Chutes where the blue flashing light lead us to Rob and Ben, who arrived at camp earlier. Of course once everything was set-up and put away, Ben handed out cold beers. What better way to welcome a great weekend ahead, - even with all the mosquitoes!

I know, I couldn't resist

The weather the next two days was awesome, albeit a tad bit windy. We took the opportunity to play and practice at Big Parisen Rapids/Blue Chutes on Saturday, then Big Pine Rapids on Sunday. What more can you ask when the water is warm and the levels are up? We got in multiple runs, practicing manoeuvres, switching up partners and just plain having fun. Of course that included a few dumps, but hey, its been said that if you are not going overboard, you are not pushing hard enough! All in all it was a good prep for the Romaine as it cleaned out some cobwebs, especially mine!

Ben and Rob being swallowed by a big curling
wave at Big Pine Rapids

Dimitry and I smashing through some froth

Of course we didn't just play on the water, We also took the time to try new equipment, try some food that we were going to take, and discuss issues related to the trip. Of course not everything went according to plan either, like Rob's bridal hitch for lining the canoe, Dimitry's busted PFD knife sheath, my new quick-dry pants ripping at the crotch (honestly!, - don't ask) or Ben's singing. (3 pairs of ear plugs please) Of course nothing will be perfect on the trip, but we try to prepare the best we can. (oh, did I mention Ben's fishing skills?! - or should I say, lack of? - good thing we are bringing food on the Romaine!)

Ben testing out the cast aluminum pot that is going to
accompany us on the Romaine

How about some instant Borsch? "What?!" Its an
European soup made from beets - it was
actually very good!

As the weekend ended Ben and Dimitry headed home and Rob and I continued paddling. It was a good chance to test my arm out and see how it performed under sustained effort over a long period of time. We covered over 80 kms in 3 1/2 days through headwind, torrential downpour, heat and hail and I'm happy to say my shoulder is as good as new. (well almost) I got to see some sections of the French & Pickerel River I hadn't seen before and we even met a nice couple from Ohio at Recollet Falls where we chatted about paddling and shared a few photos. (poor fellow broke his camera when he slipped and fell hiking to the falls!)

Rob and I put mileage behind us, but it didn't mean we didn't
take time to enjoy the scenery

Chuck and Denise were the nice couple from Ohio we met at Recollet
Falls. They raved about our beautiful park/country -
couldn't agree more!

All in all it was just great to be back out on the water without worrying about my shoulder. With this preparatory trip over, I (and our crew) am looking forward even more to our imminent expedition! There is still lots to do and even less time. Time to buckle down!

We took out from the French River
beneath Hwy 69

Big thanks to Maxine, Rob's mother for shuttling us. By the way, the All-You-Can-Eat Fish Fry at the French River Trading Post is a good place for an apres-trip meal!, - especially for famished canoeist!


Reflecting on the big trip ahead

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Blue Chutes - French River

There's been a flurry of activity lately with trip preparations going on - gear and food purchase, correspondence with sponsors, logistics, flight details etc. including lots of emails, emails and more emails!! What the heck would we do without email?! Snail mail??!! Couldn't even bear the thought of doing it the old way!

Anyhow, in the midst of all this, our group wanted to head out one more time to test some gear and a newly outfitted canoe for the trip - an 16.5ft Esquif Canyon. We have to christen her - whatever that entails? (maybe dumping the owner in the boat?!!, yeah!) Therefore we are headed to Blue Chutes on the French River to practice some whitewater moves and go over safety issues while relaxing and having some fun. We are all getting those butterflies in our stomach as we are increasingly getting excited about the expedition. This will be a good chance for our group to discuss last minute details of the trip together before the pressure starts and the stress levels builds. (hopefully a good one!) For now, all I want to think about is getting back on the water!

Well hope you've all been out paddling! Be in touch soon!


tPP & the RRC (Romaine River Crew)