This was to be a 1 week trip from Wallace Lake (Manitoba East Side)to the Gammon river and back.4 of my daughters coincided their holidays with mine, to make it a family trip.
We got to Wallace Lake in the early afternoon, loaded up the 2 canoes, and were on our way. As usual, there was a brisk headwind blowing, which made it a bit of a chore to get to the mouth of the river. We were paddling the Wenonah Sundowner, and the old Bluewater Prospector. Susan and I in the Prospector and the other 3 in the Sundowner. We stopped on the lee side of an island and had lunch, and when we got to the river, stopped on a rock to make tea/coffee.
We got through the first 4 rapids/portages with no surprises, but the 5th was the heartbreaker. Susan and I were in the lead. I stood up and had a look. It was a pretty clear shot till the bottom, where there was a rock in the middle, a shallow ledge on the left, and a good clean run on the right.
We headed down, but at the bottom, we got sucked over to the left side of the rock. Instead of letting the canoe scrape over the shelf, we tried to bring the canoe around to the other side. We got ½ way, and the force of the water pushed us up against the rock. We tried to free it, but it turned on its side and filled up with water. I was afraid Susan might get jammed behind it so I told her to let it go.
The current wrapped the canoe around the rock, and our stuff went floating off down the river. Susan went after it, and Annie came running down the portage and jumped in to help her collect our packs.
Meanwhile, back at the rock, I could only watch, as the canoe bent in half. The floor was touching the yoke, and there was a mighty CRACK as the left gunwale snapped in half. The Kevlar was torn ½ way to the bottom. The canoe was not moving, as the flow of water was pinning the bow and stern around the rock. I was pretty sure it was there forever.
In desperation, I tried lifting it in time to the pulse of the current. One, two, three, LIFT. I almost had it, but not quite high enough, and the river won that round. I knew I had 1 more chance before my back said no. This time on three, I got it high enough that one end emptied, and the canoe rolled around to the side of the rock. There was a “whump”, and the bottom popped back into shape. I lifted it out of the water (the water was about up to my waist) to empty it, and hopped back in to see if it was still seaworthy. It was paddlable, but somewhat worrisome to look at, as it seemed as if it wanted to finish tearing in half.
We made camp on the portage, and after some discussion, decided continuing on would not be prudent. I patched it up with ductape, and wired the gunwale together, and the next day we headed back to Wallace Lake. We went home and got the Sandpiper, and went back to the road into Caribou Landing. 4K.before Quesnel Lake, there is a creek on the right hand side of the road that goes to a pretty little lake called Big Clearwater Lake. We have a spot there that we really like, so we camped there for the rest of the week.
The canoe is repairable; it needs new gunwales, a yard or two of cloth, and a jug of epoxy, plus some spare time (which is always at a premium for me).
I really enjoyed the time with my girls, and we had a blast in spite of the unfortunate event.