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PostPosted: April 25th, 2015, 8:12 am 
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Partridge Creek is a little river in Eastern Ontario. A tributary of the Skootamatta river, its headwaters are at Upper Partridge Lake and it empties into the Skootamatta River north of Flinton. You can access it via Weslemkoon Lake Road just above Upper Partridge Lake. However, it is little more than a trickle and a series of wetlands until it feeds in to Grimsthorpe Lake. A better access point is at Hughes Landing Road where a bridge crosses the river. From there down it becomes a wonderful little river that is beautiful, remote and full of runnable rapids.

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Route Map

With the exception of several isolated hunt camps there is no development, almost no campsites, and no cleared portages. When we ran it there were 24 sets of rapids. This could change depending on water levels. There is no gauge on this river. However, it feeds into the Skootamatta River where there is a gauge at HWY 7. For what it is worth, the Skoot was running at 21cms when we went down Partridge Creek. We had plenty of water to cover almost all the rocks without being too pushy. In low water, I expect the river would be unrunnable. This is a pretty remote stretch of river with no easy exits. Many of the rapids have blind corners. There are a few falls and some unrunnable or very difficult rapids. I wouldn’t recommend it to beginners or for single boats. Experienced river trippers will discover a real treat!

I first visited Partridge Creek in 2010 while at one of the hunting camps along the river. After walking the area a few times over the next couple of years I knew I wanted to run the river. I am an experienced novice in moving water. To do it safely I needed a group, preferably an experienced bunch. It took a few years for a group to come together but it finally did in 2015. A group of 6 near strangers formed around David Lee (aka The Passionate Paddler http://www.facebook.com/ThePassionatePaddler) and me.

We planned the trip for immediately after ice out. 2015 was an extremely cold winter in Southern Ontario and the late spring almost put an end to the idea. A week before we were supposed to leave, the lakes in the area were still frozen tight to shore. But, a last minute scouting mission by plane revealed the creek was flowing well. Yes, scouting by plane! That’s a whole other story! We all agreed we would give it a go the following weekend. Then, 2 days before we were to leave, my partner backed out. I scrambled to find another partner but couldn’t. After 4 years of thinking about this river I’ll be dammed if I’m not going. So, I decided to run it in my solo Kevlar canoe. The idea was that we would scout everything. The others would run the rapids first in two Royalex boats and I would follow if I felt it was something I could handle.

We met at the Boat Launch on Deerock Lake. This would be our take out point. We left a vehicle there and shuttled 5 people and 3 canoes to the put in on Hughes Landing Road. When we arrived at the Deerock Lake boat launch the lake appeared mostly iced in. But, ice was melting fast and there were three days of high temperatures, wind and sun in the forecast. We decided to go for it. The shuttle to the put in took us a little over an hour. We saw one fisher and two deer during the drive.

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Deerock Lake, still iced in.

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Put in on Hughes Landing Road

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Partridge Creek just upstream of our put in

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All saddled up and ready to ride.

The first section is a pretty, meandering river with some rocky shoreline and some open marsh lands. There are a couple of beaver dams to run. It was awesome just to be out on the river surrounded by marsh birds, waterfowl and basking in the sun. After 4km or so you see the first hunt camp on River Right. Most of the hunt camps are decrepit looking buildings with junk strewn about. This one is nicer than most. The first rapid is immediately past the camp. It is about 350 metres long and starts with a drop over a small ledge. Then it turns left out of site with a vertical rock wall on the right side of the river. The rapid continues with two more bends before emptying into a pool. This is typical of the rapids along the river. Narrow and shallow with blind corners. There is an ATV trail that starts behind the hunt camp and bypasses both this rapid and the next one. I decided to portage both rapids by using the trail. It terminates at the second rapid. This second rapid is a straight swift of fast moving water. However, there is a steel cable that crosses the water. Hunters use this cable to help ferry their ATV’s and equipment back and forth across the river. Depending on water levels this cable could be right about neck height. I held the cable up so the other two boats could pass below.

The next rapid starts a kilometre or two downstream. It is a long one, about 700 metres. This is probably, the longest and trickiest rapid of the route because of blind corners and difficulty scouting. It starts straight and easy. Then it turns 90 degrees to the right and narrows into a series of S bends with multiple ledges. Water gets faster and bigger as it progresses through the twists and turns of a small valley. While it was definitely at the limit of what I could do in my solo canoe, experienced paddlers in the right boat should have no problem. Scout before running! This is a very narrow and tricky section of the river that could be dangerous in higher water. There is also the potential for strainers around the corners. This is the longest scout or portage of the trip.

The river continued this way for the next few kilometres. There is one un-runnable drop and a couple more twisting rapids that require scouting. The last rapid before the creek empties into Partridge Lake is marked by a Log Cabin on River Right.

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Narrow twisting rapids along the creek

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Kate and Andrei run a rapid flanked with ice (Photo: David Lee)

Partridge Lake is a pretty little lake that looks like a great spot for Bass fishing. We set up camp on a point on the south shore. This was one of two established campsites we saw along the route. This lake is typically accessed by an ATV trail which runs between the north west corner of Partridge lake and Hughes Landing road. The camp was a bit of a waste land. Full of trash and junk left behind by locals. But it served its purpose for us.

After peeling out of wet suits, dry suits and setting up camp, we settled down to a beautiful evening. We gobbled down our dinners, shared stories around the campfire, and got to know each other a little better. The evening air was crisp and the sky was clear with a million stars twinkling overhead. I went to sleep exhausted and happy, dozing away to the sounds of Spring peepers and the occasional slap of a beaver’s tail.

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South shore of Partridge Lake

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North east shore of Partridge Lake still iced in

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Camp on Partridge Lake

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Sunrise on Partridge Lake

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Andrei soaking it all in (Photo: Kate Ming-Sun)

The next day we woke up stiff but eager to get back on the water. We traveled about 18 kilometres under glorious sun and blue skies. The start of the route was through a large wetland. A magnet for water fowl and Red Winged Black Birds. After 2 kilometres the land closes back in on the river and the rapids start. The first rapid is a good one, too much water for my canoe, so I portaged past the remnants of an old dam on River Left. The other two boats ran it, dropping down a ledge on River Right, and then staying right to avoid some obstacles and bigger waves.

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Paddling the marsh

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Scouting some rapids


David and Andrei running some rapids

The next few rapids were short and spaced apart. Some were easy rides. Others were more challenging, requiring lift overs and portages. One we named Kate falls because it was a big angled ledge where Kate got to test out how well her dry suit works. Another we named high falls, where we wondered how this river got the diminutive title of ‘creek’. The drop was at least 20 feet high and the river was 150 feet wide at the jumble of rocks that spanned the base of the falls.

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Scouting Kate Falls

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Looking down High Falls.

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High Falls from the bottom

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A highlight of the day! Treeing this mother black bear and three cubs beside a calm section of the river (Photo: Kate Ming-Sun)

The afternoon came to a climax with a very challenging rapid shortly before the hydro line. This one is straight and two or three hundred metres long but it approaches the limit of what can be run in an open tripping canoe. We all portaged on River Left. Next there is a series of rapids that curves around a bend and empties out onto one of those massive hydro corridors which cut lines hundreds of kilometres long across Ontario’s landscape. After the bend the river collects into a small pool before picking up steam again and heading under a bridge (decapitator). Then it splits in to two channels and ends in a boulder garden before pouring back into the forest.

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Hydro Corridor Rapids from the air.

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Middle section of the Corridor Rapid

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Me burying my bow in the middle middle section of the Corridor Rapids. (Photo: David Lee)

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David and Justin Run the boulder garden at the bottom of Corridor Rapids

Shortly after the hydro corridor we found some level ground along the river and cleared some space for two tents and a hammock. Again exhausted and exhilarated we settled down to another great evening around camp. Justin built a great fire and played chef while we all made jokes at each other’s expense and reviewed the amazing day we just had.

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Makeshift camp on Partridge Creek

The last day of the trip included 2 kilometres of river before hitting Deerock Lake. Only two rapids today. The first turned out to be an unrunnable falls. A little campsite exists on River Left overlooking the falls. The second rapid was another fun twisting rapid that turns right around a blind corner before emptying out into Deerock lake.

A running joke of the trip was how many blind corners there were. Nearly every time we approached a rapid we would see it twist out of sight. I would exclaim, “Not another G** D** * S-bend!” Leaving the group laughing in their boats as I would have to pull out to scout from shore and watch them go through. My little boat was not the right canoe for this trip. Still, I ran plenty of rapids along the way, bailed a lot of water and only hit 2 rocks. The last rapid was a lot of fun with some bigger waves in the middle. I was sorry to see it done.

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Unrunnable chute on the river

Deerock Lake was our last obstacle of the trip. It is about 5km from the inflow of Partridge creek to the boat launch on Deerock Lake. Last time we saw it 3 days ago it was full of ice. Today we faced a strong wind as we started east across the lake, hugging the south shore for safety. About 2 km in we started to see ice on the horizon. I joked that is was a white sand beach at the end of the lake. As we approached the ice we were relieved to find there were just a few large ice flows remaining. We could paddle around them and listen to the tinkling, crushing noises as the ice flows melted around us. A final 3km push into the wind and we were back at the boat launch. Hand shakes and hugs all around. Justin, Kate and I started on the 2 hour long shuttle process. David and Andrei decided to run the last 5km from Deerock Lake down the Skootamatta River to the town of Flinton.

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last of the ice on Deerock Lake

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Tired from a long push in to the wind (Photo: David Lee)

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Happy paddlers Andrei, Martin, David, Justin and Kate (Photo: David Lee)

I would say that was one of the best weekend trips I have ever had. Seems the River Gods were in our favor as we had a great group, great weather and a great little river to start off the paddling season.

Martin


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PostPosted: April 25th, 2015, 9:06 am 
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Nice trip. The solo whitewater image is very cool.

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PostPosted: April 25th, 2015, 9:44 am 
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Excellent color in those pix!

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PostPosted: April 25th, 2015, 10:56 am 
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Nice trip report. That creek looks beautiful!

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PostPosted: April 26th, 2015, 1:31 pm 
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Looks cold.. but fun! I just finished reading Kate's trip report on her site. Very cool.

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PostPosted: April 27th, 2015, 7:24 am 
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The creek was beautiful and it wasn't cold at all when we were there. All three days it was in the mid to high teens. I really want it to be a bit colder when I'm spending the day in a wet suit. I was drenched from my own sweat. I think people say the same thing about dry suits. I haven't been able to justify the cost of a drysuit. The other nice thing was how 'clean' the river was. Not a single sweeper/strainer in 40km.


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PostPosted: April 27th, 2015, 10:36 am 
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I love everyone's different point of views on this trip. We had such a great time. Kate's falls - hahaha - yes, the drysuit held up very well. Also love that picture of you, Martin, with the bow fully submerged. How you didn't take on more water I have no idea but par for the course really... you and the Kevlar solo rocked this trip!


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PostPosted: April 27th, 2015, 3:23 pm 
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Hey Kate, Thanks! I was lucky and got away without wrecking my canoe or myself. It was fun but I really need a river tripper!

Boom!!! Problem solved.

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PostPosted: May 17th, 2015, 7:22 pm 
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Hello MartinG: Very nice report and video! Good job finding a group of people to trip with. Will your group be doing primarily white water trips or flat water as well?

Take care,
Cousin Pete

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PostPosted: May 21st, 2015, 9:37 pm 
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Thanks Pete. It would be great to do more trips with this group. Who knows where the next one will be. As long as it's in a canoe I'm happy!


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PostPosted: May 1st, 2017, 4:28 pm 
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Just got back from a few days on Partridge Creek (Friday to Sunday) with Sam82. Friday and Saturday the weather was very nice, Saturday evening it got very windy and cold and then the rains came for Sunday morning. The paddle out on Deer Rock lake was unpleasant, although the rain stopped the winds were from the east and it was still quite cold.

Unfortunately we missed the prime water levels, although it was mostly runnable there were plenty of rocks to bump and scrape. Level on Friday (Skootamatta gauge) was 12.7, falling to 9.2 on Sunday. The good levels were probably 7 - 10 days earlier. One sweeper crossing the entire creek just upstream of Partridge Lake.

It was nice to get out for a paddle on a new (to me) route, shame we missed the good levels but glad it was not any lower which would have made for some real ugliness.

Saw no mammals but there was a lot of waterfowl (ducks, geese), many small birds and an abundance of herons.

Total distance 35.8km, two short portages and one lining plus the liftover at the sweeper. The road in to the put-in was in pretty good shape with one small flooded spot just before the put-in.

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PostPosted: May 1st, 2017, 7:12 pm 
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The Sweeper just upstream of Partridge Lake could have been in an ugly spot. I seem to remember a twisting rapid just before Partridge Lake.

Too bad about the weather. Not looking great for this coming weekend either. but the water levels will probably be a whole lot higher with all the rain coming this week.

I reread the beginning of my trip report, where I said the water levels were @21cm/s. That seems an awful lot higher than what you were at. We ran it April 17, 2015. I can't seem to figure out how to get historical data for the river levels. Can you figure that out? Was I dreaming?


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PostPosted: May 1st, 2017, 10:43 pm 
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April 17, 205 it was 17.3 and falling.

Historical link is on the main page right beside the real-time link:

http://wateroffice.ec.gc.ca/index_e.html

You can only see a full year chart for previous years so switching to the Table View is best if you are looking for a specific date.

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PostPosted: May 4th, 2017, 12:03 am 
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Damn! That looks like a fun trip!

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PostPosted: May 5th, 2017, 12:34 pm 
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We ran it 2 weeks after Martin ran it (I believe 2nd week of May 2015?) and the levels were dropping as well. Not sure what the gauge was, but we were grinding out. Seems the window to run (without loosing paint) it is fairly narrow. End of May/early June and you're probably walking. Good luck.

We put in on Skootamatta near Bible Island and portaged over to Partridge. There's a good ATV trail from the road down to the lake, but getting to the road required some bushwhacking (50m)... pretty sure it was private.
At those flows we only portaged twice, around the falls and the lower chute near Deerock.

Bass were hungry... shame they weren't in season....

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