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
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