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tripping novice paddlers 7 days
Spanish River
Monday, July 28, 1997 to Sunday, August 3, 1997
length: 168.3km, 7 days
difficulty: novice

leader: Dave Robinson & Jamie Stokes
organizer: Federation of Ontario Naturalists
participants: Tripper Dave, Jamie Stokes,

Spanish River Canoe Trip
Mon. July 28 - Sun. Aug. 3, 1997
Sun., July 27th
Group arrived at Canadian Wilderness Trips Base Camp near South River, Ontario. Had a pre-trip briefing with CWT staff and trip leaders Jamie Stokes and Dave Robinson followed by wine and cheese at the campfire and a sauna.
Mon., July 28
On the road at 8:30 am. Stopped for lunch about 1:00 at the rest area at Onaping Falls on Hwy. 144. Put in at Duke Lake Access Point, departed at about 3:00 pm. Paddled 18km to Campsite river-left at the top of Fifth Lake. Gorgeous large,? open site in mature Red Pines. Dinner of Chicken Stir-Fry with wine. Water levels on East Branch seem adequate. Weather clear and sunny.
Tues., July 29
Up at 6:00 am, on the before 9:00 after a good breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon. Made good time down to the bottom of First Lake but encountered difficult, low water conditions on the 1.2 km of rapids below the lake. Had lunch on a sand point half-way down Expanse Lake. From Expanse, our progress was again hindered by low water down to the forks. Removed two sweepers at dangerous locations on the east branch. Arrived at the first large rapid on the main river 4 km down from the Forks at about 5:30 pm, campsite was occupied by 30 boy scouts from Ohio. Scouted and ran a very tight and difficult Class II on river-right, everyone had a good run.

The next large set was a nice Class I with a beautiful campsite at the bottom, river right, where we made camp about 7:00. Dinner was Burritos with Cabbage Salad and wine. It was decided that we would cancel the plan rest day at The Elbow in light of the slower, more tiring work required by the low water levels. Distance run today, about 30 km. Weather clear and sunny.
Wed., July 30
Up in good time, did a lesson in River Reading on the rapids beside our campsite. Spent the morning running many swifts and Class I's down through Sheahan to Pogamasing Station on the CPR where we had lunch and a swim. Explored the area around the one remaining building and found the remains of the old station platform, the station foundation and the foundation of the old water tank. Continued down river after lunch, saw a large bull moose. Arrived tired and hungry at the campsite at the Mogo River only to find a Ministry of Natural Resources sign proclaiming "Campsite Closed for Regeneration". We turned our canoes around for a 1.5 km slog upstream into a headwind to a new "campsite" MNR has designated on a sand-bar on the up-stream end of an island. There was much speculation that the site has been closed because of pressure from the "owners" of a Hunting and Fishing cabin located next to the campsite. Dinner was a superb Mac and Cheese casserole with cinnamon buns for dessert. Early to bed to avoid the bugs. Distance run 29km. Weather clear and sunny.
Thurs., July 31
Up with the sun, great breakfast of apple-cinnamon crepes. On the river about 9:30 for a good run over many gravel swifts to Spanish Lake. Good morning for raptors, we saw a Cooper's Hawk in a dead birch upstream of Spanish Lake and an Osprey and 2 Turkey Vultures greeted our arrival. Arrived at Zig-Zag Rapids about 11:00 am and scouted. Zig-Zag was running a tough, technical Class II. We eddy-hopped the first 3 boats into spotting positions down the river.
?Zig-Zag Rapids Diagram

?Everyone had good runs, though Robert and Dave had a close call, broaching on a rock to the left of centre in the big drop. After being wrenched sideways, with water pouring over the up-stream gunwhale, they braced and powered out into the eddy on river right. Hugh and Shirley got right of the line half-way down and got thoroughly stuck on a rock. Mark and Susan executed at text-book front ferry to river right and Mark was able to wade out to them and give them the big shove.

?We continued on down-river in almost continuous Class I, boat-scouted and ran French Rapids perfectly. Made camp at the Elbow about 4:00 pm and had a swim and river rescue practice with throw bags. Dinner was delicious Bannock Pizza's and dessert was "Guides Surprise", blueberry-Raspberry Cobbler. In bed by 10:00 am. Distance run 19km. Weather hot and sunny.
Fri., Aug. 1st
Out of camp in good time after a breakfast of Oatmeal and Dried Fruit. Spent the whole morning negotiating Graveyard and its appendages. After scouting, we decided to line the last 150 metres of the main drop. The big Class III double drop 1 km down was not runnable as the entry was too shallow so we portaged 300 metres on the left. The last obstacle, a river wide ledge, had a very narrow break tight to river left. Ran the boats through loaded, 5 made it while Mark and Shirley hit a rock and went for the big swim. Had lunch at the ledge.

?In the afternoon we covered 21 km in about 3 hours. The rapids at the confluence of the Spanish and Agnes rivers were very tough, as usual, with no clear "V's" and a terrible boulder ledge at the finish with two very had to hit lines through it. We boat scouted and ran the first 3 boats down, then Mark and Dave set up with throw bags at strategic points on the shore river left and we ran the last three boats down. All went well until Doreen and Jamie missed the line over the ledge and acme to rest high and dry on a pile of boulders. Other than that it was an exhilarating Class II-III run.

?Cedar Rapids was a long, curving 1200 metre bouldery circus curving constantly to the left. It was followed by endless swifts and Class I drops. A great day! Fettucine Alfredo for dinner at a nice campsite at the confluence with Reynolds Creek, probably the best site on this section of the river where good campsites are very sparse.
?Distance run 25km. Weather cloudy and rainy in the morning, clearing in the evening.
Sat., Aug 2nd
Out of camp about 9:00 am fortified with tons of pancakes. Ran swifts and fast water with several Class I drops to well beyond the Waconasin River where the moving water usually ends. Made it to the site at the narrows at the north end of Agnew Lake at noon. Had lunch, swam, snoozed and relaxed till supper (Sheppard's Pie and Apple Crumble). Had a closing campfire in the evening and gave out the Spanish River Actively Resorted Mid-Stream Gravel Awards (see attached). Distance run 19 km. Weather sunny and hot.
Sun., Aug. 3rd
Up early, quick breakfast of instant oatmeal. On the water at 8:30. Paddled to Agnew Lake Lodge about 9:30, CWT van arrived about 9:45. Traveled to CWT Base with a stop in Sturgeon Falls for lunch with Poutine and arrived at South River about 3 pm. Distance paddled 7 km. Weather clear and sunny.

posted by: Tripper Dave

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