Call it a misadventure, call it epic, call it unforgettable. One thing is for certain, our recent ‘Two Creeks Expedition’ did not go to plan.
Envisioned as an exploratory canoe route linking two creeks flowing from the Algonquin Dome to the mighty Ottawa River, it seemed like quite the amazing adventure. A +13km ‘portage’ linking the creek systems was supposed to be one of the greatest challenges, but we would soon learn environmental conditions were to be our greatest foe.
It was late April and the lakes and rivers of Southern Ontario were ice free. However, as we drove north, we witnessed a lingering winter. Conditions rapidly deteriorated within 50km of our put-in; frozen lakes and patchy snow in the bush. As we were primarily paddling creeks, we were less concerned with the iced lakes and snowy woods as the creeks were in a full torrent of ice-free melt water.
Pushing our way upstream against the heavy spring flow was slow and arduous, but we were making progress. As we neared the first portage, we were greeted with an unwelcome sight; a path blanketed in over a foot of snow. Postholing under the burden of laden pack and canoe we made slow progress as every step was met with a hefty drop in the snow. Things got worse as we made our way further up the creek. We were gaining elevation fast as we bypassed countless waterfalls. Consequently, and much to our dismay, the snow depth was increasing. The expedition was beginning to appear futile as we attempted a rugged (read: not been used in decades) portage littered with blowdowns and waist deep snow. The 585m bushwhack slog took us over 3hrs.
By the second day we were kilometers off the preplanned goal. Stubborn, determined and with a degree of slight optimism, we forged our way deeper up the creek towards the headwaters. Little did we know, the worst was yet to come.
As we approached a small lake where the creek slowed and widened, we discovered a blanket of ice as far as the eye could see. Too thick to break through and too unstable to support our weight, we had no practical way of bypassing the obstacle. This was as far as we could go. There was no way we could forge ahead given the remaining supplies and allocated supplies. Iced-in, the final nail in hypothetical coffin for the expedition.
Not to be fully dismayed by less than optimal conditions, we made light of our situation and spent the remaining days taking our time paddling downstream and running the many rapids we had bypassed on our upstream trudge. Sure, we didn’t meet our goal, but the trip was still a success as we got an early jump on the paddling season!
One thing is for certain, we’ll be back.
What got us through the trip by fueling us on the grueling portages:
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