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scenic or casual paddling beginner paddlers 1 day
Lower Burnt River - Kawarthas
Monday, June 6, 2005
length: 24.0km, 1 day
difficulty: beginner

organizer: DJ Clifford
participants: Dave Clifford, Heather

This was a last-minute, "let's jump in the canoe and go for it" trip. My friend Heather and I wanted to go for a "nice" paddle, and we were wondering where to go. I got a bright idea! Lets leave a car at the mouth of the Burnt River at Cameron Lake (Cranberry Bay) and launch the canoe at Centennial Park in the hamlet of Burnt River...can't take any more than four hours, right?

Well we jumped in the car and off we went, picking up some snacks and bottled water at the IGA on the way. It was very, very bright and sunny. And it was slightly windy. Off we went anyway.

We soon discovered that it was fairly windy on the river and even though it was a downstream paddle, we were working quite hard to get where we were going. And since the Burnt River in this area is a meandering stream, we figured that the wind would only be in our face about half the time anyway.

Beware those who look at a map and decide that this is an easy 15km paddle. It turned out to be burning, scorching, sweating hot. Which was nice because the 15kmh headwind kept us nice and cool. And it turns out that even though each leg of the river twists and winds back on it self, with its narrow banks and tall trees, it is sort of like a wind tunnel. The wind was feeding in at Cameron Lake and following the river surface all the way up!!! We paddled against the wind the WHOLE way.

Not wanting to be wussies, we stopped for lunch at the former CNR Haliburton Subdivision bridge, which I calculated to be 8.75km from where we started. The scenery was awesome, red sand everywhere, the water clear as a bell, deadheads and snags that were easily avoided, and lush, dense greenery everywhere.

After going downstream from the CNR bridge, we came into cottage heaven. Many of the cottages on this part of the river were multi-story monoliths with revetmented banks and every thing. Why do all these people have potbellied stove fireplaces on their decks? Also saw several moored vessels flying the jolly roger. (Do these people know that this is still a criminal offense?)

After the worst 6.4 km of paddling against a force 6 cyclone, we came to rest below the Fenelon/Verulam townline bridge, which incidentally was originally built as part of the Korean War effort to replace a bridge bombed at Kowloon. The war ended before the bridge was delivered, and the Township bought it as army surplus and assembled it there!!! We swallowed some water here, had quick swim, phoned home and revised our ETA and set off on our third leg... towards Cameron Lake.

We saw lots of sand banks which are eroding rapidly into the river, as well as hundreds of sandpiper nests. Once the cottages petered out, we were once more into combined swamp, and even saw three beavers swimming with logs. (Well branches to us, logs to them I'm sure,)

Getting closer to Cameron Lake, the Burnt River is hemmed in by two banks which are maybe four or five meters wide with swamps and lakes on the other side...this river moves a lot of dirt!! This leg of the journey was 9.4 km.

The lesson in this paddle, though is that what we thought would be a four hour paddle turned out to be almost seven. And other websites I've seen list this as a 15km paddle, it is closer to 24km!!!

There was no fast water or rapids or anything. Heather and I are thinking of going from Kinmount to Burnt River next time...if anyone out there does this, I'd love to hear from you!!!!

Cndr99 -at- hotmail.com

posted by: Dave Clifford

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