Sunday, February 21, 2010

Romaine River Trip - Lining Part 1

The fourth day marked the first time lining became an integral
part of the skill set needed to move down the river.
It was just the beginning.

The word lining is an abstract term to non-canoeist (and some canoeist) that read this blog, so I will have to digress a bit to get them up to speed. Lining is another option in a paddler's repertoire to move a canoe from point A to B. There are many reasons for this, but an obvious one is to avoid an unrunnable rapid. Portaging tends to be the option of choice, but if a trail is not available, it not only takes a long time to create one, but the carry can be burdensome. That's where lining comes in, - if its possible.

Much time was spent determining not only the best
route to line, but the safest....
Photo: Rob Dale

To line, you first attach ropes (30-50ft) at either end of the canoe. Then with both paddlers holding each end of the rope, you guide the canoe along the shore while bypassing the difficult section of the river. It takes skill and practice as both paddlers have to coordinate their movements to safely guide the boat through possibly strong currents, drops, shallows, and obstructions. But if you can read the water well and master how to manipulate the canoe from the end of a rope, it can make river travel much easier.

...although, sometimes we didn't really have a choice!
(Rob: Glad they are going first!)

So why is this subject relevant? Because lining played an extremely crucial part in order to successfully navigate down the Romaine. See, this river's reputation for being very challenging stems from many reasons, the most obvious being the large number of unrunnable rapids. Due to this and the lack of people paddling this river, it also meant portages did not exist. Other times the shoreline topography (ie. canyons) did not afford foot purchase, and if they did, you'd have to deal with scrambling up huge erractics or hopping precariously on ultra smooth polished boulders. Even the rapids you could normally run are immediately followed by a rapid succession of unrunnable rapids/chutes/falls which meant there was no room for error. Put all these factors together and voila!, lining was our default method of travel! More to come!

Nothing like a rainy day with slick rocks to line down the
river! (Smiles were over-rated that day)
Photo: Rob Dale

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Finally out of the woodwork!, maybe....

Okay, I admit I've been blatantly delinquent with blog post. Well not purposely, but seemingly. I usually find during the trip less winter months I usually have more time to write, but that obviously hasn't happened. Work has been busier than ever lately demanding more time than usual from me, throw in multiple writing/photo submission deadlines as well as putting together a slide show/presentation on the Romaine River trip. Yeah, I've been a little tied up!

Most of you know I've been posting on different subject matters on the Romaine River trip and haven't gotten to the 'incident' yet. However, if you attended the Wilderness Canoe Symposium recently, you know I "spilled the beans" there. Earlier in the year, I unexpectedly (and surprisingly) got invited with someone else to jointly present on the Romaine River trip at this annual event. Sure its a privilege, but my stomach still filled with butterflies just thinking about the sea of people I would be presenting to - like 500 plus people! This symposium brings people from all over North America and abroad to both attend and present on their incredible expeditions to remote rivers and far off places. To put it lightly, I was stressed as the bar is set high at this event.

Myself and David Robinson sporting nervous smiles just before our
presentation at the 2010 Wilderness Canoe Symposium
Photo: Aleks Gusev

Needless to say, despite the anxiety, the effort paid off as my partner David Robinson and I did a decent job. It was very encouraging when many people came forward with nice comments. It even seemed to impress members of another canoe club as I was asked to present there in the future as well! Even though it was a relief when I finished, I'm still not out of the woodwork yet. I have another one to prepare for in London at Nova Craft and one pending at The Complete Paddler later in the spring. No rest for the wicked!

I want to touch on one presentation at the symposium that was a bit more meaningful to me. Several years back, during the dark long days of winter I found a website on an expedition by a group of American girls. Talk about a dream trip, this one took them 95 days and covered approx 1200 miles from northern Saskatchewan to the Arctic Ocean! (that's 1920 kms!) I was captivated by the team, their motivation, and the incredible route they chose. I was hooked as I poured over their blog that contained trip reports and pictures. A few years later, they planned and completed yet another huge and equally exciting expedition in the far north. So when I found out they were presenting at the symposium, I was thrilled. Not only would I get to hear about their trip, but even get the chance to meet them! Unfortunately the whole team couldn't be there, but I had the pleasure of meeting 3 of them - Nina, Karen & Emily. As expected, they were an amiable group that were easy to get along with. Anyhow, they put on a great show and if you missed it at the symposium, check out their website/blog. Its totally worth the time to read about their adventure and to dream about yours!

Pleasure meeting the girls of The Borealis Paddling Expedition
(l to r) Nina, Karen, myself and Emily
Photo: Lisa Riverin-Thomas

Okay, so what's next? Well, working on getting some more Romaine River trip post up. There is also the Outdoor Adventure Show the weekend after this. I will be at the Eureka booth Sat and Sun again so come by and visit if you are there. Then on March 5 if you are in and around London, I will be doing a much longer presentation on the Romaine at Nova Craft.
There is also the Toronto Sportsmen Show in mid March where I'll be working with Eureka again. And most importantly, weather and circumstances willing, the paddling season may start next month! As other things unfold, I'll post them and let you know what's down the pipe. Hope everyone is doing well! Feels good to finally put a post up. Hopefully soon there will be more to follow!