Thursday, July 11, 2013

Big East River Poling & Lining Daytrip

Last week I got to spend another fun day playing around the mid section of the Big East River. The plan was to pole upstream further than last year's trip, setup a day-camp on a sandy spit somewhere, and snub back down to the launch point at the Williamsport Bridge. Just like last year, I ended up picking a steamy, humid day for the trip. Here's a shot of the gear loaded up at the access point.

Ready to launch

Water levels were much higher than last year's trip when the driest season on record forced a total fire ban across much of this part of Ontario. I was quite surprised at how much this changed the nature of the river. Obviously the current was stronger, but this year there were many more downed trees to contend with as well as a lot of channeling where parts of the river had serious flow and others were too shallow to move. Also interesting were the number of horizontal trees along the riverbank waiting for their turn to plop down.  

Horizontal trees on the riverbank

On this trip, I wanted to try out using some new camera angles - mostly to record my paddling & poling technique and see where I needed improvement. Usually the waterproof camera is setup on the end of spare paddle using a flexible mini tripod and some straps. During the deeper sections of the river when the canoe pole wasn't needed, the camera was rigged up on the end of the pole and that provided some neat shots. To secure the pole, the other end was tightly lashed in with the leftover leather straps from the tumpline on the centre thwart. Really like it when gear has more than one usage. Hope this is helpful to other solo paddlers wanting to experiment with filming.

Camera secured to top of pole

Other end lashed with the excess tumpline straps

Here's a reverse shot where the pole was flipped to the stern... 

Also got the chance to properly try out the homemade tripod / camp stool project made back in the winter. Here it is in "camera mode"...

Homemade tripod setup on the hull

Used this for filming some of the basic shots on shore and for the downstream run. Worked out very well. It only tipped over when an unsecured paddle slid across the bow seat and moved one of the legs out of position.

Anyway, after some deep water paddling against the current, the bottom of the river could be seen. At this point, I switched to the much more efficient pole to get further upstream.

To get the camera shots I would first pole up a section, setup the tripod on shore, snub down and then come back again to pick up the tripod and continue upstream. The shallow swifts look harmless enough, but all that back and forth meant it was still a decent workout. 

Eventually needed a break to rest up and eat. Spotted this sandy spot which looked perfect to setup a temporary shelter....
Perfect beach spot for a rest

After posting about some various canoe shelters back in the winter, ended up coming up with this basic fair weather shelter to get some escape from the sun. The canoe was propped up with some driftwood and the canoe pole and paddles supporting the tarp. To get the most of the very mild cooling breeze, it was setup so the air would flow through rather than being a windblock. Must be getting older because without an afternoon nap on a canoe trip, I get cranky.

Fair weather canoe shelter

The tripod was reconverted into its "campstool mode" to sit up and enjoy some lunch. If it wasn't so hot, I would've had a fire and cooked  up some noodles or something, but a daytime fire in such humid, muggy conditions made no sense. 

A brief walk around on the beach revealed two different sets of tracks. Smaller sets of multiple deer tracks (on the right) and solitary set of much larger moose tracks. Below is a shot of the two tracks next to my pocket firesteel (& waxed jute cordage) for scale

Moose tracks (left) and Deer sharing the beach

After recharging the inner battery, headed further upstream. As mentioned, the current was much stronger than last year and at one point was too much for a novice poler like myself. After exhausting myself with a few attempts, the only option was to track upstream with painter lines. Rigged up using the bridle system seen in Bill Mason's films and illustrated in Ray Goodwin's great book (see sample pages of this chapter HERE).

Couldn't pole up this section 

Tracking up this narrow channel with the painter lines rigged up 

Tricky work not to slip on the rocks while holding the line angles just right

More tracking upstream

Noticed this adjacent pond off the main river that I didn't see last year. Ended up exploring this neat little section that was free from the increasing current.

Channel to a little side pond

Poling up the tiny channel

At the far end of the pond was a marshy area where I spotted this guy fishing in the shallows. It allowed me to get a relatively clear shot before retreating in the reeds.
Great Blue Heron fishing the shallows

Eventually it was time to turn around and head back. Couldn't really manage taking too many pics during the steady downstream run while trying to steer and avoid the fallen debris, but here's a shot in a riffle. 
Heading back downstream 

Even though this wasn't really remote trip, I found the different water levels meant that this river was a great place to practice some backcountry skills - paddling, poling, snubbing, lining, & tracking. Like last time, put together a brief vid (3:49). Again no dramatic music in the background - just the sounds of the river, the bird life, and the deer flies buzzing around....


Schwonke A.B. said...

Very nice pictures and video!

Greetings from south Brazil

Canuka said...

Beautiful place. You are lucky to live there!

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