Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Lower Oxtongue River Day Trip

Have been absent for a while over-occupied with family obligations. Once again, overnight canoe tripping is not going to happen this summer. But thankfully, got to go on a wee little excursion with my son - an easy 3 hr day trip to a pretty waterfall on the lower Oxtongue River near Dwight, Ontario.

I've been here solo before and thought this would be an ideal introduction to future tripping with the boy. Up until now, he's been limited to about 1 hr of paddling time before wanting to get back to shore, so we've been puttering around the cottage lake.

This time, needed to make it a bit more interesting so I hyped up the adventure of going up a "wild river" to a "secret waterfall" where we could climb up the rocks and have a shore snack before returning. He helped pack his own gear but interestingly did not want to fish along the way, so the rod stayed at home. Matching Captain yachting caps (a gift from Grandpa) were necessary to complete the adventure wardrobe.

Young Captain looking inspecting our route

The only carry...across the road to the beach launch

Since this was a portage free route, I ended up packing the newly constructed wanigan  full of goodies as well as the packbaset with some dry clothes and other items in case of a mishap. The little man's custom cedar paddle is now too small for him so he used a left over from before my paddlemaking days - a small laminated Redtail Paddle to which I added some leather whipping.

Loading up the wanigan

Ready to launch

The trip starts with a about 1 km paddle along Lake of Bays to the mouth of the Oxtongue River. The little guy is getting the hang of paddling and prefers the right side which is great because I prefer paddling on the left.

Across Lake of Bays

Wonderful still-looking waters greeted us at the river outlet. I say still-looking because there was a noticeable current that was manageable to paddle up but it was at this point that the bow engine decided he needed a break. 

Mouth of the River

Shoreline reflections

I suppose at this age, there's only so much silence and stillness a 5 year can take, so it was time for entertainment. He had packed a bunch of small toys in anticipation for the trip and now took them out. One of the neat  things he discovered was that the space between the canoe ribs were excellent tracks for his race cars. He'd hold them up right below the gunnel and let go. Gravity and the deep, boxy canoe design would shoot the car across to the other side of the hull. There's Lightning McQueen about to race down steep slope. Plenty of paddling time was now spent setting up cars to drag race side by side. When he tired of this, his toy helicopter was used to chase away the dragonflies that would hover around the boat.

Drag racing between the canoe ribs

The anticipated shore lunch by the waterfall never materialized. He got too hungry and insisted on eating right away. The wanigan lid made a perfect tray for his lunch and beverage.

Lunch in the hull rather than on shore.

After seeing the artwork on the lid, he wanted to draw pictures on the flat surface too. So next time paper and crayons will be packed as an extra distraction. Who knows, maybe he'll end up being a modern day canoe tripping artist like Rejean Roy.  Soon the roar of the waterfall could be heard. Things were packed up and the little Captain took his place in the bow seat again. You can just make out Marsh's falls in the distance.

Water levels were high for this time in the season. Plenty of mist and spray. The waterfall is usually tame enough for people to swim in the pool that separates the upper and lower cascades - not so this year. There's private property on the left and the usual landing spot on the right was too flooded with strong currents to go on shore.

After dabbling around at the base of the falls and taking more pics, it was time to head back. However, after not helping with the upstream paddling at all, the Captain was informed of the need to help with the downstream propulsion in order to get a surprise treat. Did we ever start moving after that! While he was busy maneuvering the boat, some marshmallow treats were prepare on the wanigan lid.

On the paddle back he practiced some French songs learned this past kindergarten year. Singing helped immensely with the paddling rhythm. That's the secret to getting kids paddle harder, I suppose...singing and sugar! 

Since I've always been a solo paddler, it was great learning experience for both of us to see what worked and what didn't. I consider it a success because by the time we ended up back at the launch point, he asked about when we could go out for another canoe adventure again. Hoping that next year, we can do an overnighter finally. 

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