Little Rouge Creek

I fell asleep last night to a familiar feeling: my body swaying as if aboard a boat. It happens every year. I get on the water for the first time – be it rowing an 8-woman shell on the Charles, a sail boat on the Boston Harbor, a kayak on Georgian Bay, or a canoe in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park – and I become one with the boat.

Yesterday’s one-with-boat experience came courtesy of my friend David’s (The Passionate Paddler) Esquif Mistral (*sniff* long live, Esquif). So how is it, you ask, that I ended up paddling on Easter Sunday in between the snowflakes? It started with this e-mail:

Morning Kate!

So here’s the scoop. Last year, Gary W, on Facebook posted pics of the Little Rouge. He has done small micro adventures, which is basically an urban overnight excursion in parks … along the Little Rouge. I was amazed at how beautiful the Little Rouge was, so it has since been on my radar ever since. I have spoken to him about running it together, since he is familar with the area and the waterway. Well, he wasn’t available this Sun, so that’s when I thought of you…

The big thing is, that it isn’t a high volume river and water levels are a big part of whether you run it or walk it. (I’m hoping the rains have helped somewhat.) No one has done it, to my knowledge, or even Gary. I will say, the water levels are not high at all, but the upper Little Rouge is bit narrower and probably has more depth than the lower part, as the river widens there and gets shallow. I want to take a run at it and wondered if you wanted to join? I’m guessing about maybe 20k total. Starting around Major Mackenzie down to Steeles. I think it will be a fun adventure either way. Interested? The neat thing is, it is next to Richmond Hill (Markham). So if you time it right, you can easily head to you in-laws right after. {edit: I needed to get home to grab husband and dog to get back to Richmond Hill in time for 6:30 Easter dinner. No problem, right?}

I have pretty much everything. All you’d have to bring is yourself, drysuit, PFD and your favorite paddle, besides some snacks along the way. We can coordinate. It will be good way to get the winter cowebs out and start the season!
Oh, and bring your camera as well! You’ll probably want to write about it! 😉

Let me know what you think. I attached a screen shot of the shuttle route and the river is to the right of it.



Map for Sunday Apr 5

For a guy who’s only met me once, he seems to know me! Yep I’m always up for a fun adventure so we made plans to meet at the take-out at 9am. Additionally and probably most importantly, I had the right cold weather whitewater gear to join David. This is not the time of year to be paddling without a drysuit and some sort of hand protection. I have a heavy-duty drysuit from NRS and I paddle with Neoprene gloves. Snug as a bug in a rug.

We left my car at the take-out and drove David’s to the put-in, which didn’t appear to be a public road so David asked if we could park outside of someone’s home and they were very agreeable. (Thank you, kind people!) And then the fun began… Well, we needed an Easter theme, so I brought a lamb:

20150406 - affixing lamb

The lamb unfortunately didn’t last there very long. He did make it home though.

Gary, inspiration for this trip, saw us off at the start leaving us Cadbury caramel eggs (how did you know they were my favorite, Gary?!) and taking these two shots for us:

Gary W2     Gary W 1

David caught one of Gary on his phone before we set out. We’re visions in primary colors, aren’t we?

Gary and Kate

Once on the water David and I had PLENTY of time to get to know each other, our outdoors stories, our paddling styles. But our conversations were constantly interrupted.

We had to go over things:

20150406 - we went over

We had to go through things:

20150406 - we went around and through things

We went under where we could…just barely:

20150406 - we went under things

So after a while we chilled out for a little bit and contemplated our next move:

20150406 - we chilled out

Our cameras were tucked away a fair amount to protect them from the mud so we missed taking pictures of the ginormous turkey that barely made it from one bank to the other, the kildeer, the kingfisher, the redwing blackbirds, the white-tailed deer, the three beavers, one muskrat, a great blue heron, and Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who we followed the whole way down the creek.

Once back on the water we talked about how the early spring landscape would make for some stark black and white photos:

20150406 - landscape black and white

20150406 - landscape black and white 2

And before we knew it, it was time for another portage where we discovered a lovely old tree:

20150406 - grand old tree

And David decided he’d give the beavers a run for their money:

20150406 - David was getting hungry

We did eventually make it back to the creek though:

20150406 - always got back to the water

Besides the flora and fauna we observed, we found an alarming number of signs in the middle of the creek. One was a speed posting. This one was supposed to notify drivers of a road closure:

20150406 - not the first sign we saw in the water

In the end, we paddled, dragged, and walked the creek for about 5.5 hours and I’m not sure how many kilometers.  (UPDATE: Looks like it was about 11.8 miles / 19 kilometers: There’s a good chance neither of us would choose to run the creek again. The water is shallow and debris-strewn and as such the boat took a bit of a beating. But it was a great way to get to know each other and expand our circle of adventurers.

Other lessons learned: (a) I need to work on the neck and wrist gaskets on my drysuit a bit more. I prefer not to lose circulation to my brain. (b) I could stand to practice some more yoga. Some of those up and overs required more flexibility of my hips than my hip flexors cared to offer. (c) I need to practice paddling on my left more! (d) It’s always a good idea to build in a lot of buffer time, just in case. I guessed I’d be home by 4. Plenty of time to shower and make it to my in-laws for dinner. I got home for 5:15, quickly changed into something less muddy, and away we went JUST squeaking in for dinner with my in-laws at 6:30. (e) Chocolate is ALWAYS welcome on an adventure (thank you, Gary!).

Share your favorite early spring paddles here in the comments or over on Facebook.

20150406 - no seal launches attempted

Published by Kate Monahan

Travel happy. Outdoors professional. Writer. Photographer. Educator.

%d bloggers like this: