SUP Camping 2014: Lakefield to Stoney Lake Day 2

I was up at 6 and on the verge of leg cramps.  Could have sworn that I’d hydrated well yesterday, but my legs were telling me otherwise.  I downed some water, washed up and walked over to Foodland to pick up a few things for my trip.  Grabbed a coffee from McD’s on my way back and sat by the water to enjoy it.  It was nearly 7am.

a clear and quiet morning at Lock 26 in Lakefield.

a clear and quiet morning at Lock 26 in Lakefield (looking south)

I had a washroom key to return but the lock operators wouldn’t arrive until 9 so there was no hurry.  I packed up slowly and finally handed in my key around 915 before setting off.

As you put Lakefield behind you, the Otonabee River opens up into Lake Katchewanooka.

Lake Katchewanooka

Lake Katchewanooka

Only an hour in and I was ready for a break in the shade.  I stopped in this exact spot last year….  I downed a full litre of water before I was on my way again, through this weedy section, and back over to the main channel.

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I arrived in Youngs Point, it was just 1130.

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I brought my gear ashore and began the short walk over the foot bridge to Granny’s Restaurant for breakfast.  The place was packed, but I was seated quickly and a hot cup of coffee arrived soon thereafter.

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It was nearing noon of the 2nd day of my camping trip and I hadn’t even struck a match yet, this was feeling a little strange…  Grandpa’s #2 (uh, that doesn’t sound quite right) breakfast special filled me right up; 3 eggs, 3 sausage, 3 bacon, some home fries and 2pc of gluten-free toast!

If you’re not in a huge hurry, and up for the scenic route back, hang a right as you come out of the restaurant, walk 100m, and enter the trail on the left hand side of the road.  This will take you to the dam.  Cross the dam and you’re back at the lock.  While you’re there you might as well take a stroll through Lockside Trading – no visit to Young’s Point is complete without it.

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The trail through Young’s Point Conservation Area

It was 1pm before I set off from Young’s Point and headed into Clear Lake.  There is a continuous flow of high-speed boat traffic on Clear Lake on this beautiful Sunday afternoon.  I look up to see 4 boats abreast coming straight towards me and decide it’s time to cross to the east side of the lake in search of calmer waters.

By 2pm I’m at the north-east end of the lake and passing amongst the many islands. I tour the area briefly and arrive at my island camp site by 330.  The garbage in the fire pit is still warm.  I spend the next 20min clearing the site of broken glass and garbage 😦  The next thing I do is tend to the fire pit.  Most fire pits are around 3″ deep and 4 feet across.  Not much good for anything but wasting firewood.  I cut the firepit into a 1/4 of its original size and build up the sides.  This will protect the fire from the wind and reflect the heat where you want it.

Cut the fire pit into a quarter of its size and build up the walls.  This will protect against wind and reflect the heat where you want it.

Cut the fire pit into a quarter of its size and build up the walls. This will protect against wind and reflect the heat where you want it.

…and here’s today’s route if you want to check it out, just click to enlarge:

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530 and my hammock is up and enough firewood gathered to get me by.  Not much left to do now and lots of time to do it.  I enjoy my dinner, clean up and take a sunset tour on my SUP before settling in by the fire to reflect on a wonderful day.  The full moon shines upon me and it’s time for bed, uh, time for hammock?

 Check out Day 3 of my trip.

Happy paddling!

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SUP Camping 2014: Peterborough to Lakefield on Day 1

Find yourself in the Peterborough area and fancy getting out on the water?  Rent a SUP from Wildrock Outfitters or Peterborough SUP and get out there, both have similar day rates.  With something slightly more ambitious than a day of paddling in mind, I carried my rented SUP down to the water and set off on a 6 day SUP camping trip.

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A fountain rises out of Little Lake, in the heart of Peterborough.

It was on Saturday just after noon when I set off from Millenium Park in Peterborough’s downtown, on the edge of the Otonabee River.  From there it was about 35min over to Lock 20 where I picked up a 6 day lock pass ($60).  This allows lock usage for any 4 days over a 6 day period and seemed like it would be the best value for what I had planned, although many other lock pass options are available…

The lock pass is worth it to avoid this one portage around the Peterborough Lift Lock:

The 65ft Peterborough LIft lock

The 65ft Peterborough LIft lock

Heading north up the Trent-Severn Waterway offers an interesting mix of urban, rural and wilderness paddling.  The waterway is quite undeveloped as you slip quietly through town.  It feels immediately like you’re out in the country.

...slipping quietly through town

…slipping quietly through town

Last year I stopped for the night at Lock 24.  It’s a beautifully secluded spot.  Lock 23 isn’t bad either if you’re looking for options.  On this day I paddled on to Lakefield’s Lock 26, about 18km upstream from my put-in.

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It was only 530pm as I brought my gear ashore.  Still plenty of light left, but the end of the road for me on this warm and sunny day.  Though my energy level was still good, my hands were shot, even through my new paddling gloves!  This is what I find tough to prepare for.  I made sure to get out on the water a number of times before this outing, but the place in Toronto where I rent offers blades with a palm grip.  The paddle from Wildrock has a T-handle.  A 1st world problem if ever there was one, but my callouses are in the wrong spot…

Getting camp setup early, I found two trees appropriately spaced, and hung my hammock, before wandering through town looking for a place to eat.

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On the map above you’ll find Foodland marked off.  This grocer is open 24hrs, so if you want to paddle light on the 1st day, you can pick everything up once you get to Lakefield.  Most of the town’s restaurants can be found along Queen street.  I stuffed myself with a full rack of ribs at the Thirsty Loon before heading back to “camp”.

Camping lock-side is incredibly cheap.  I think they charged me $5!  I suppose you could just show up after the lock has closed and camp for free, but then you don’t get a key to the washroom…  4-5 boats called this lock home for the night also.  It seems a strange place to camp, on the edge of town, next to some boats docked for the night, but it is a quiet spot, quieter than I would have expected…

The 1st day was coming to a close as a full moon rose over head.  Dinner in a restaurant, running water, a washroom.  Didn’t feel quite like camping, but my trip was underway….

Check out Day 2 of my trip.

SUP Camping: Day 6/6

Day 6 of my SUP camping trip began in Lakefield Ontario at Lock 26.  I’d already gone for a swim, had breakfast, enjoyed a coffee and packed up, and it was only 8am.  The lock operators wouldn’t arrive for at least another hour and my plan for today was to purchase a lock pass for an easy trip back to my put in, just 18km downstream.  To pass the next hour I went for a stroll through town. Walking past a couple of restaurants serving breakfast I decided that next time, and there will definitely be a next time, I’m going to take advantage of my urban route and eat at least one meal in Lakefield and one in Youngs Point on my trip, allowing me to pack even less food and experience a bit more of each town that I pass.

Paddling the Trent-Severn Waterway, Lakefield to Peterborough

Paddling the Trent-Severn Waterway, Lakefield to Peterborough

Parks Canada charges by the foot for lock passes.  My 12ft SUP day pass came to just $19.20.  It was $10.80 for a two-way ticket through Burleigh Falls a few days earlier so this day pass was a heck of a deal given that I’d be skipping 7 portages for that price!

It was 938am as I was lowered down through Lock 26, I was not alone.  There was a couple from Hastings in a boat heading downstream as well.  The next 4 locks were quite close together and I knew they’d make this couple wait for me each time, so I felt the need to hustle to the next lock.  When I arrived at Lock 25 panting it was just 9:58.  I had a nice break while the lock closed behind me and lowered us to the next level.  I would hurry again to the next lock, and the next…   A couple of these locks are so close together that 2 operators will run both of them.  They let us through one lock, hopped in a pick-up, drove to the next lock and let us through that one as well.  They would go back and forth all day as boat traffic dictated.

A brief but torrential rain finally cooled me off as I sat waiting in Lock 23.  Lock 22 was just 800m away.  Once through Lock 22 there was an 8km stretch before Lock 21, so that was the last I was to see of the Hastings couple as they powered away.  8km would take me nearly 2hrs to cover, so I could relax into a steady and comfortable pace at last.

Just after you’ve passed Trent University, the Otonabee River is divided into two branches, one forming a canal.  The canal takes you away from Peterborough’s downtown, through a beautifully undeveloped area, and finally to Little Lake where the two systems are joined again, but not until you’ve passed through the Peterborough Lift Lock and Lock 20.

The beautifully undeveloped shores of the Trent Canal

The beautifully undeveloped shores of the Trent Canal

I arrived alone at the Lift Lock.  It was a very quiet day on the waterway and it would be a few minutes before the Lock Master would realize that I’d even arrived.  He knew I was coming as the upstream Lock Master had radioed for him to expect me, but I arrived much earlier than he’d expected.  The cloud cover and rain thwarted most of my sightseeing efforts and I simply paddled steadily downstream.  It was only 1:55pm and I was on the homestretch. He noted that I would have the honour of being the 1st SUP paddler to go through the Peterborough Lift Lock!  Being lowered down 6 or so stories as you stand in the middle of the caisson (big bathtub) on your SUP makes for quite a grandiose entrance to the area below.  On this cloudy and rainy day there were only a handful of tourists around the base of the lift lock to ignore this historic occasion.

I cruised back into Millenium Park by around 230 and my trip came to an anti-climactic end as I portaged the 300 or so meters back to Wildrock Outfitters to drop off my SUP and paddle.

In his 1944 essay ‘Exhaustion and Fulfillment: The Ascetic in a Canoe‘ Pierre Trudeau, Canada’s 15th Prime Minister, wrote:

What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.”

I doubt Trudeau would have included SUP paddlers in his vision of paddling and fulfillment but I have rarely, in my adult life, felt more at peace than I did during this 100+km journey.  The next time I need to be “rapidly and inescapably purified”, I will set off SUP camping again, by then perhaps, SUP campers will be a regular sight on our waters.

Happy Paddling!