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novice paddlers 1 day
"Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny"
Saturday, April 9, 2005
length: 10.0km, 1 day
difficulty: novice

organizer: Town of Port Hope
participants: David Newland, Harold Higdon, Karonne Lansel, Joe Amodeo, Molly ?, Wendy Stainton, Herb Beedell, Carol Soper

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You couldn't imagine a more perfect day for the annual "Float Your Fanny Down the Ganny" race. Brilliant sunshine and up to 15C. High water levels gave us a good push. The canoes and kayaks were given the "go" signal one at a time, starting at 10:00. The crazy craft started further downstream, after the rest of us had gone by.

It was quite a different river than the one I remember from two years ago at lower levels. The first surprise came soon after the start: a fallen tree blocked the whole river and required a quick exit over boulders, no eddy. Hey, that portage wasn't there before!

As we continued briskly down the river, most of the small drops along the way were washed out, and there were far fewer exposed rocks than before. We were blissed out, enjoying the trip, when out of nowhere we were attacked by pint-sized pirates lying in ambush on the riverbank. They shouted a challenge and lobbed water-balloons at us. Snapping out of our Zen state, we quickly retaliated with volleys of paddle splashes. They were overcome with delight. Elated with the thrill of battle, we sailed on under gales of laughter.

The whole town turns out for this event, so all along the route, and especially at the road overpasses, there are crowds of people cheering us on - or taunting us about the fate that awaits us downriver! It's really wonderful; I haven't seen anything like it elsewhere. Great community spirit!

Before you know it, we've arrived at the dam: the take-out for most canoes, and a compulsory portage for everyone else. Even though Joe and I haven't exactly been putting the pedal to the metal, the canoe feels extraordinarily heavy as we haul/drag it across the portage. It's our first outing of the season, and let's just say we're not in peak form yet. Or maybe it's the added weight of the new outfitting Joe had installed last week - which works great, by the way.

Back on the river, we knew it was time to tense up for the final descent. The series of steep ledges at the end which I had previously called Class III, were actually smoothed out to Class II. The recirculation under those ledges claimed numerous victims, but most escaped unscathed. I must say it was a little unnerving to hear the ambulance go by just as we were approaching that final section, but we kept our focus and made a perfect run to the finish. Perfect because this time, unlike last time, we scouted those drops and followed the mental map we had made in our heads. We may not have achieved a top ten finish, but if there was a prize for elegance, it would have been ours!

Final standings are posted on the floatyourfanny website, and pictures will be posted there in the next week or so. For posterity, the winning time was 54 min. From our little group, Herb & Carol came in 15th at 1hr 8min (1:08); Joe & I came 20th at 1:11; David & Molly took out at the dam, but are listed as coming in 26th at 1:22. The posted list ends at 1:50 and Harold & Wendy don't seem to have made it by then, having been overtaken by the first of the crazy craft. You can't blame them for wanting to be part of that bunch - those crazy craft crews are real party animals!

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