Made it to the starting line!
Objective for WT14: Get as far as we can, learn as much as we can, and get back safely. Along the way, ENJOY the adventure, ADMIRE the scenery and SHARE some good times with team mates.
At the starting area, JustMe went through the starting process with the tracker (she is our IT expert!), while coach ld, UltraBecky and I got the canoes. I need to learn how to pick a good canoe (more on that later). Coach ld just hoisted their canoe on her shoulders and headed down to the water, while JustMe and I did the suitcase carry.https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3903/14450954800_f9...
When the teaser photos for WT were posted with the "scenic islands" listed as a part of the course, I took a deep breath. I have done a couple long weekend paddling camping trips on Georgian Bay, and the weather warnings (i.e. wind/waves) can be ominous. It is one thing to be in 1 metre swells in a sea kayak, but in a canoe? Yikes. However, the weather gods smiled on us and we had sunshine and quite calm water (for Georgian Bay). https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3877/14640409945_1a...
We admired the scenery along the way.....it was like being in a panoramic Group of Seven painting. We lost sight of the pack ahead of us and paddled out around one island too far out in the Bay. UltraBecky mentioned that when she had heard this area was part of the Thirty Thousand Islands, she wondered how there could possibly be SO many islands (I remember thinking the same thing as a kid). But we can say we successfully relocated ourselves and found CP1 on our own, without simply following the masses. Then headed back through another approximately 200 islands to find the bay that lead to the river.
Again, without a pack to follow, we had to find our own way to the mouth of the river, and managed to find it exactly where we had headed. Whew. Navigating through the 30,000 Islands while trying to paddle at race speed was quite different than when cruising along in a sea kayak. A few zigs and zags later, and we had our first beaver dam. We had to get out and pull our canoes over this one (and shared a memorable moment).
Along with a 3 person co-ed team and a team of 3 women, we found ourselves at a dead end in the water system. After a bit of figuring and poking around, we found the place where the creek entered the river, and headed upstream (the co-ed team had found it while we were checking out whether or not a certain land mass was really an island or a point of land.....) So up the creek we went, with 4 paddles. Lily pad city, and cattail corrals. As it got less paddle-able, we got out and push/pulled our canoes through the "water", then across a bit of weedy land, then plunked down into the river.
After that, it was paddle paddle paddle. And drink. And have something to eat. And paddle paddle paddle some more. We tried out the SteriPen water purification system at one point, and some chemical water treatment. Without the wind pushing us around, it was easier to stay in a relatively straight line than it had been on the bay so more time/energy was spent keeping the boat actually moving forward. Coach ld pointed out the patch job on the gunwale on the canoe and how the boat didn't exactly have its factory alignment anymore, which may have been part of our problem. Live and learn...... We reached CP2 and then JustMe and I swapped places in the boat. We paddled up and over a couple beaver dams along the way (this was all upstream paddling) and got out to push/pull the boat over a small rapids section. Getting past the dam was another exercise in push/pull, and then gave me a chance to get the next map ready and estimate the time to the pull out point. Along Six Mile Lake, we saw some people camping (put that on my to-do list!). We had a general tail wind through here, and I wondered if it would be legal to use a sail through here. Or carry a big golf umbrella, um, just in case it, say, rained?
The wind swirled around and hit us in the face as we paddled across Wilson Lake. We finally reached terra firma (Lanterne Rouge!), but in less time than the conservative time we had projected the night before. Coach ld once more effortlessly hoisted a canoe on her shoulders and set off up the portage track. The other gals helped me get the other canoe on my shoulders and off we went up the trail. At the TA, I changed into compression socks and re-siliconed my feet (and put them back in my soaking wet shoes). Ate some boiled potatoes, grabbed my pack with the filled bladder in it, and a couple things to eat on the trail.