C-c-c-cold Weather Paddling

River: Ottawa (Main)
Level: -.75
Temperature: -8 degrees Celcius
Date: 24 Nov 07
Paddlers: Me, Rich, Colin, Bobbie, Laura, Geoff, Alex, Bryson


About a year ago, I made the http://www.riverjunkies.net/ website, and was excited to find out that people wanted to be on the Riverjunkies Team. A year later, all of us had never been on the river together, so a month ago I had (what I thought was) a great idea! I planned an event on Facebook, and invited all of the Riverjunkies Team to have a year-end cold weather paddle on the 24th of November, after I got back from Costa Rica. There was a great response, and I told the team that they could invite other river junkies that they knew to join us. When I planned the event, it was still pretty warm out, and I didn’t truly understand what I was getting myself into.


When I got back from Central America, there were 13 people who confirmed they would paddle the Ottawa River on the 24th, and another 12 people who said they might show up.


Bobbie arrived Friday night from Toronto to crash on the couch, and Colin was stopping by in the morning. Quite a few locals said they would come, a few from Kingston and a couple from Ottawa were planning on joining us on the river.


When I woke up Saturday morning and looked out the window, I instantly regretted my one-time brilliant idea. It was -12 degrees, grey and blustery. I made a decision to put on the river at the Lorne, worried that the 30 minutes of likely frozen flatwater would not be a wise idea.


Colin stopped by and him and Bobbie worked on moving his canoe to Bobbie’s truck while Rich and I went to see who was at the put in.


I was impressed that eight people showed up for the Riverjunkies Cold Weather Paddle!! Laura came from Ottawa, Geoff and Alex drove up from Kingston, Rich came up from Minden, Colin from Barrie, Bobbie from Toronto, and Bryson and I from the valley. Whitewater junkies from all over the map!!

Yes, an open boater joined us on this adventure!

We went to the Lorne, ran shuttle and put on the river. By the time we put on, the temperature had risen to -8 degrees! The guys in playboats immediately started rolling and flatwater looping. Rich and I decided to paddle creekboats; Rich because of his bum shoulder, and me because I had a horrible chest cold for 2 weeks and really didn’t want to make it worse.

Geoff, Alex, Bobbie and Bryson played for a short while at Garb while Colin took pics and Rich, Laura and I went down to Pushbutton. The whole group ran the rest of the river together, enjoying company and the rapids of the Main Channel. The paddle was cold, but not THAT cold. Only my fingertips were frozen and the rest of me was pretty much fine!


Bryson Hard-core surfing Garb!

The only place I thought I might stand a change at flipping was at Coliseum, but it went off for all paddlers without a hitch! We upped the anti to about $60 for Geoff to jump off BFR, but he didn’t go for it.

At the end of the day our gear was completely frozen; Laura couldn’t get her PFD off, Geoff’s noseplugs looked like one of those invisible dog leashes, and Colin’s pelican case for his camera was frozen shut!

Laura tries to get her PFD zipper down!

When we put on, everyone was complaining about the temperature, and making comments on how *I* could cancel the event at any time, and asking whose brilliant idea it was to paddle on such a cold day. After the paddle, no one complained, and no one had any regrets. Even Bobbie, Alex and Geoff went back to McKoys to surf Corner Wave and Babyface!!

Snickers and I helping Rich get his PFD off!


All photos by our team photographer, Colin.

Next up: skiing!

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