The Canoe/Kayak Paddle from Lochinvar Bridge to Robertson Mills Park on the Upper section of the Rigaud River took place Sat April 20. The water levels on the river had risen and dropped several times in the last weeks -so this seemed the most likely and possibly the last seasonal opportunity. 1000’s of snow geese were part of the welcome committee at the bridge as some 12 paddlers got prepared to head off.
Mother Nature’s welcome was white like the snow geese but not quite as inviting to watch nor to participate in-some dark rolling clouds came quickly rolling in from the north west dumping some nasty stuff on the would be paddlers causing them to wonder what the blink was happening. Visibility was nil for a bit. It was an intense spring squall that finished as quickly it started.
The paddlers departed in 2 separate groups-with a fairly long time delay between departures. The first of the two groups finished around 11;30 and were welcomed at the RMP by the DHS hospitality committee. The second group of paddlers were waved off from the bridge by a number of well wishers who had gathered. The second group of paddlers took somewhat longer not getting to Robertson Mills Park till about 1:30.
The hospitality committee was stalwartly waiting with hot soup & chile & goodies to renew everyone’s energies. The big red farm wagon & tractor snuggled in to provide a wind break for the Hospitality crew & food table. God bless them for waiting.
What had happened that the second group took so long? Somewhat like in the comics things happen. Paddlers now know there is a monster in the Upper Rigaud and his name is ‘de Graisse” and he specializes in tipping canoes. Capsizing is such an amazing adventure- nothing like it in 6 degree waters. One moment the paddler is as bone dry as the Sahara desert and the next minute the paddler has little fishes & beavers for company looking for a nibble or figuring out how to untangle themselves from the paddlers gear. Or so it seems.
Or how about having a Canada goose for company under the canoe with you. A new nest site! You have not seen the world until you look at it from underneath a canoe with your feet no where touching solid footing. In that split second you can count & think about everything.—silly things–like how much is that box of Kleenex going to weigh now that its soaken wet? Forget thinking about grabbing the paddle – lunch -where the frig is the lunch box. And what about the thrill of stripping in the bushes to get into a dry set of clothes(provided by some very experienced paddlers who always paddle “prepared’). With 40, 50 K winds a blowing there is no need to press the hot air button to get dry. Capsizing makes a photographers day–there is just something about that action that tends to get (one) on the front page of the sports section. Thankfully this particular dunking moment rests only in the minds of those who were present. No picture means no proof and so easy to turn into a good story.
All the other paddlers came to the rescue and after an energy break the paddlers were off again-not much worse for wear. The rapids were a delightful challenge with just the right amount of white water. The wild life on and off the water was considerable: a Brown Thrasher, 2 Greater Yellow Legs and a few Teals, a Kingfisher, a Northern Harrier as well as the regulars at various points along the trip.The wind was tricky as the river wanders in all directions. However All is well that ends well.
Big Thanks to the Vankleek Hill Canoeists who provided canoes, gear, leadership & expertise and to the Dalkeith Historical Society for getting together a hospitality committee to welcome and feed everyone at the end of the paddle. thanks to the several photographers who supplied photos of the outing. Should you wish to be notified of future paddling outings on this river check out either www.dalkeithhistory.com or http://www.betterfarming.com/v
Because the water levels fluctuate so quickly on this river it is usually short notice for the Paddle date. Its a lovely little old river with lots of history & scenery & well worth the time spent to explore .