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Spanish River - high water and rain!
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Author:  hooligan [ May 21st, 2006, 2:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Spanish River - high water and rain!

Just a couple of notes about what was supposed to be a four day solo trip on the Spanish . . .

Took the train from Sudbury to Pogamising, late start. The train arrived with two coaches and no baggage car so my boat and two others at Cartier went on top of the seats. Weather was clear and sunny for the train ride.
Dropped of at 1200h in a swarm of blackflies. By the time I had changed into paddling boots and set the canoe up a drizzle had started that turned to a steady rain within a few minutes.
Current was fast, made good time. Rain continued. Made the campsite at Cliff Rapids shortly after 1400h for a late lunch in the rain. Current seemed to be even faster now if that is possible. Rain continued. I am now soaked despite the ¾ length rain jacket.
Moving along at what seems like breakneck speed so I decide to make for the campsite at the north end of Spanish Lake. Rain is getting heavy.
Only a few more minutes and the rain is now a downpour, I can barely see across the river. A few K north of Bannerman Creek I see a new campsite sign in a grove of cedars, RR, and head for it to take some shelter. Crossing the river, lightning and thunder start somewhere fairly close and the rain is falling in buckets.
First priority is a protection so I set a tarp close to the fire pit. Second priority is heat ‘cause I am very cold. Finding wood is no problem; it is all around the site. Getting a fire going is no problem but keeping it going is. Every time I get out from under the tarp, the few parts that have dried off get wet again. The rain, thunder and lightning continue.
My original intent was to wait for a lull in the weather and continue to Spanish Lake. There wasn’t any lull. Lightning flashed across the river with thunder a half second behind. Rain came down harder. More lightning, more thunder, more rain. The fire emitted clouds of smoke from damp wood and it collects under the tarp stinging my eyes. More rain. I was doomed to spending the night here.
Still in my soaked paddling clothes after setting the tent and eating some supper I am ready to retire at 1930h.
The sound of rain reaches a crescendo only obscured by thunder crashing directly overhead. As I think that it could not get any more miserable, the sleeping bag zipper fails and I wake frequently through the night, pulling the edges together. The repair kit is in the barrel under the tarp but I will not brave the rain to get it. At least I’m dry and fairly warm.
There is no dawn, only a lightening of black to grey. The rain continues. Amazingly the water is about six inches higher than yesterday and the current is faster.
Camp is broken in record time and the rain lets up as I push off.
Bannerman Creek is letting out so much flow that I am pushed to the bank on RR. Spanish Lake has current. Zig Zag Rapid isn’t, just straight on through. The kilometres fly by. I’m trying to avoid all the big waves because I couldn’t bear to put on my cold wet clothes from yesterday and am wearing my only set of dry clothes.
Above the Elbow the rain starts again, just as a moose swims across in front of me. It has been years since I have seen one on this river.
The first Graveyard Rapid is simple, stand up in the canoe to check and run close to RR to avoid the waves. The plan for the next was to eddy hop RR to where lining could start but the eddies disappeared. Ended up portaging the last couple hundred feet, the first time for me. The big Graveyard was another portage, not that I would have considered running anyway. Fresh bear scat in the center of the portage trail. The Cascades were a surprise. Another portage, another first. All the rocks were awash in massive amounts of water.
My canoe was set with air bags on the thoughts of running Agnes Rapid but after scouting from the brink, which was quite far back, I decided to portage. I was able to paddle in past the big rock at the take out. The put in was great; all those logs near the bank that make loading a canoe so treacherous were under a couple feet of water.
Only a few meters from the canoe on the return of my second carry, the sound of breaking branches just ahead perks me up with thoughts of bears. Approaching the site now fully alert, I still give a yell of surprise when a cow moose jumps into the trail and snorts before bounding away. No more than fifteen feet from me, I can see the look of panic in her eye, almost rolled back in her head. A strange sound is coming from some dense bush only a few meters from the put in; it is a young calf moose, left behind by its mother. I try to get a picture but the bush is so dense I can barley see it pacing back and forth, bleating like the baby it is. Heading out for the third and final carry, loud snorts from the right of the trail hasten my pace. It is probably the cow warning me to stay away from its young.
Rain starts again as I push off. These sightings made my day.
Cedar Rapid is next, again I avoid all the big stuff by staying RL and pull in at the campsite RL a few K down river.
Seems to be a repeat of last night. Set up the tarp in the rain. Set up the tent in the rain.
Tonight though it is not so bad, a good hot meal under the tarp, a pot of hot coffee and dry clothes. The sleeping bag zipper gets repaired and I sleep very well.
Daybreak is cold. Another fast pack up and on the water. A north wind speeds the canoe along. The shore flies by in a blur. An early lunch at 1000h at the campsite with the creek, RR, the name escapes me. The wind still cold from the north but clouds breaking up.
I am at my planned camping spot across from Eagle Rock by 1215h. It is now warm and sunny with hordes of blakflies. I cannot imagine sitting in this for another eight hours so I push on an and head for the lodge. The crossing gets rough after Target Rock, wind from the west and the occasional wave breaking over the side. By the time I reach the respite of the shore, I am done in. A white water boat with five inches of rocker is not easy to paddle in a broadside wind.
A shuttle is arranged with the nice people at Agnew Lake Lodge (my ride is expecting me on Sunday and is out of town), for a very reasonable charge and I am home by 1900h. I’m beat, eighty five K in two days of paddling!
Not the best trip I’ve had but lots of wildlife anyway.


PS: I’m glad I pushed and finished yesterday. As I sit and type this it is blowing hard outside, rain mixed with wet snow, the temperature was only 2 this morning.

Setting out in the rain on Thursday at Pog


The Cascades awash, a first for me


Author:  TSM [ May 21st, 2006, 5:59 pm ]
Post subject:  RAIN

Great report! Too bad the weather didn't cooperate!

Author:  Laurie March [ May 21st, 2006, 6:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

good read... sounds cold and wet... made me shiver.... 85 km in two days... yup ... you deserve to cuddle up with a warm cup of cocoa... laced with Bailey's Irish Cream

Author:  ontariobackpacker [ May 21st, 2006, 7:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

great trip report :)
My trip up near White River the week before last sounds about the same weather but we ended up with about 5 cm of snow
and 1 sunny day in a total of 6 days spent out camping

Author:  Jonny [ May 21st, 2006, 10:53 pm ]
Post subject: 

Really enjoyed your report Paul.

2 questions;
1) How does one repair a zipper?
2)Which canoe were you using?

Author:  hooligan [ May 22nd, 2006, 9:10 am ]
Post subject: 

Jonny wrote:
How does one repair a zipper?

A bit of a misnomer there - it was actually the sleeping bag that got fixed with a string of large safety pins along the zipper opening. Don't leave home without them!

Jonny wrote:
Which canoe were you using?

Esquif Vertige X.


Author:  GWA [ May 22nd, 2006, 9:37 am ]
Post subject: 

Great trip report, just enough misery to be memorable. Whatcha using for rain gear? I've been fishing in miserable sideways rain all day and stayed dry except for my cuffs....

Author:  Tonycc [ May 22nd, 2006, 10:06 am ]
Post subject: 

Thanks for the report. I'll be on the upper Spanish starting tomorrow night. Hopefully we'll be a bit drier than this.


Author:  Mike McIntosh [ May 22nd, 2006, 3:59 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sorry I never had the chance to catch up with you, Paul... you're too damn fast
We just got back from our trip - high water, COLD weather -- no bugs! :clap:
We ran the entire river from Duke Lake to the Elbow, running everything; no portages - what a treat! We met a group of paddlers at Pogamasing Station who had decided to "abandon ship" due to the weather.
The river is really moving fast; from below Spanish Lake, the rapids are a lot of fun - lots of big haystacks etc...
Just bring some decent wet/cold weather gear.

Author:  Red Lake Rob [ May 22nd, 2006, 4:20 pm ]
Post subject: 

Despite all the adversity, betcha you would still rather being doing that than going into the office.

Author:  Mike McIntosh [ May 22nd, 2006, 4:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Here's a couple pics from this morning's paddle out to The Elbow
What are usually easy swifts between Spanish Lake and The Elbow, turned into some surprisingly tricky stuff in some spots...



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