The Vermont Paddlers Club

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Ottawa River

Wednesday-Sunday Aug 24-28, 2022
Kayak: AllieR, BobN, BridgetM, ChrisF, ChrisW, DaveF, DaveS, ForrestB, JimP, JonD, MaddieC, MarkM, PaulC, PeterC, RubinB, TannerK
Doing Own Thing: CindyM, DawnD, Kala the Pooch, Willow the Pooch, Rio the Puss
Organizer: Jim Poulin
Difficulty: int-adv WW
Level: medium
Author: Jim Poulin

Ottawa River 2022 Trip Report

August 24 – 28, 2022



Last year we hatched a plan to include some weekdays in the trip. Since some of the usual suspects are now retired, we thought this would be a good way to enjoy a less crowded river. I planned the trip to include some weekdays for the retired folks and a weekend for the working stiffs. I expected paddlers would gravitate to one part of the week or the other. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Ottawa – most everyone came for both parts! I guess you just can’t beat a five-day getaway on this river!

Full participant list:

Paddlers: AllieR, BobN, BridgetM, ChrisF, ChrisW, DaveF, DaveS, ForrestB, JimP, JonD, MaddieC, MarkM, PaulC, PeterC, RubinB and TannerK

Non-Paddlers: DawnD and CindyM

Mascots: Kala the Pooch, Willow the Pooch and Rio the Puss

We did meet up with Paul Bicknell and his crew of four. They were on a different time schedule as they were using Owl for put-in and take-out services so we did not paddle together. We did spend some off river time with them in the evenings to swap tall tales.

This year was better than last in terms of getting over the border. We still needed to use the ArriveCAN app but we did not need to have a recent negative COVID test. Some experienced the flexibility of this new reality. Jon was changing entry points as his GPS kept updating traffic congestion in the various routes along the way. Pete and Bridget needed to turn around near the border as someone (no names mentioned!) forgot his passport (oops!). But the two hour later entry time did not seem to bother Canadian border patrol. Hopefully next year we can do without this additional paperwork.

Owl Rafting has negotiated a 10-year deal with Wilderness Tours to allow kayakers to take out at the Wilderness Tours take out. In past years we needed to purchase a parking pass to take out there. Thank you Owl Rafting! Plus, we found out that Owl is for sale. The whole business can be had for a cool CND$6.5 mil. Who wants to go in on it with me?!?

Speaking of next year, mark your calendars. Since this format seemed to work for so many, we will do it again! See you at Owl rafting and on the river:

Wednesday August 23 through Sunday August 27, 2023


So here is a daily breakdown of the juicy deets of this trip…


Wednesday, August 24

Level: -2.25

Weather: sunny and in the 70’s

Participants: Paul, Maddie, Rubin, Tanner, Mark, ChrisF and Jim

Afternoon Run

A few of the early arrivers opted for a McCoy’s park and play over a full run down the Middle or Main as it was around 4:00 before we had a quorum and we were running out of time.

We scouted McCoy’s as it was the first time for Maddie and Rubin. The tree damage from last year’s tornado was still present. The Zoom Flume sneak route is still choked with wood so not even an option.

We had an uneventful run of McCoys – doing the usual “thread the needle” line. The group played around below the Horseshoes for about an hour and got our big water legs under us again. At this level Baby Face was in and giving some good rides. The sun was getting low in the sky and there were just a few other paddlers. At one point, when there was no line, Paul exclaimed he would have like to see a few more people so he could rest. With that said, we ferried out for another go. A great start to the weekend! We hiked back up McCoy’s Island and paddled back to the put in.

The group completed the day by relaxing over dinner with a few adult beverages.


Thursday, August 25

Level -2.25

Weather: sunny and in the 70’s

Participants: Paul, Maddie, Rubin, Tanner, Mark, ChrisF, ChrisW, Jim, Pete, Bridget, Bob

First Run

We opted for a Middle run to get everyone on the water and feeling comfortable. This included a run through McCoys. There was a quick scout of the rapid as Bridget had not seen it before. The rest of the river was read and run (and follow the leaders).

From there we worked our way down to the Middle Channel. All your favorite Middle Channel rapids were fluid. Iron Ring, S-Turn, Butterfly, Garvins, Little No Name, Big No Name and Velvet Falls was the lineup. We did walk Garvins but everyone ran everything else! There was much play at all the usual locations. For Big No Name we split the lines with Paul leading the right line and Jim taking the left for folks to follow.

Afternoon Run

We arrived back at camp (from our morning run) at 3:30 in the afternoon! Thoughts of a second run quickly turned toward cocktail hour, but for a few hearty souls! DaveF, Mark and Pete opted for a short run down the Main putting in at Upper Lorne (Garb). They had a quick late day run while the rest of us tucked into appetizers and beverages. Oh, and there may have been a nap or two…

Then we set about telling tall tales of the day’s adventures (including butt jokes) all while looking at the beautiful open sky filled with stars.

It was a banner day all around and why we venture north to this wonderful whitewater playland.


Friday, August 26

Level -1.75

Weather rain in the morning with mostly cloudy skies in the afternoon. Cool – mid 60’s.

Participants: Paul, Maddie, Rubin, Tanner, Mark, ChrisF, ChrisW, Jim, Pete, Bridget, Bob, Jon

The Day’s Single Run

A hard rain around 6:30am kept most everyone in their tents for a bit more time. Once the rain ended around 7:00 or so, folks started to emerge and get going. We learned our lesson from yesterday and didn’t even dream of a two-run day.

The Main was on the docket today. The level was coming up today as the Canadian Freestyle Team Trials start on Monday and the powers that be were getting the river to the proper level to allow for participants to practice this weekend.

We scouted McCoy’s for Jon and then worked our way down reading and running though all the rapids – Upper Lorne, Lower Lorne, Pushbutton, Butcher’s Knife, Brain Douche, Normans - before scouting Coliseum since Maddie, Rubin, Bridget and Jon not ever seen it. Most everyone opted for the left line, but the right line went as well (right Paul?). From there we went through Dog Leg and Blacks before heading to the takeout.

It was a wonderful run and we were back in camp by around 4:00. Just in time for the sun to start peaking out from behind the clouds. Again, plenty of time for exaggerated tales of our day on the river.


Saturday, August 27

Level -1.75

Weather: sunny and cool – in the upper 60’s

Participants: Paul, Rubin, Tanner, Mark, ChrisW, Jim, Pete, Bridget, Bob, Jon, Addie, Forrest, DaveS

Morning Run

We bid adieu to Maddie and ChrisF as they were heading out early. But we got to say hi to Allie, Forrest and DaveS! We opted for another Middle run to start the day. We also brough our lunch so that we did not have to go back to camp. (we can be pretty clever sometimes). The plan was to run the Middle, go to the Lorne/Garb put and watch some the of practice laps on Garb by the Canadian Team hopefuls. Follow that with a run down the Main.

A quick scout of McCoy’s since Allie, Forrest and DaveS had not seen it yet. The river was busier with more kayakers and rafts so we did not spend much time on Baby Face. We headed downstream with nice runs through all the Middle Channel rapids. Forrest, Tanner and Pete contemplated a run of Garvin’s but in the end decided it was not for them. We took out around noon and ran a shuttle to prep for the afternoon run.

When we got to the takeout, Mark noticed his prescription sunglasses had no lenses. They were ripped from the frames when he flipped in Phil’s Hole a few hours ago. Mark paddled the rest of the run without sunglass lenses and never even noticed! It makes one wonder what other goodies are at the bottle of Phil’s…

We watched the action at Garb for about an hour. It was fun to see a few paddlers really ripping it up.

Then the group headed down the Main without Pete and Bridget (they headed home in the afternoon) and Mark and Jim (who were just plan beat).

Paul was surfing the top wave at Pushbutton and flipped. He wedged his paddle in some rocks and broke his blade near the shaft (still rolled up with a broken paddle). Luckily it was right at the put-in so Tanner ran back and got his spare paddle for Paul to use. The group ran down fairly quickly without any scouting, just read and run. Most opted for a left run at Coliseum. The group arrived back at camp just before 7:00.

It was Tequila Night! An Ottawa tradition on our last day in camp. Bob offered that Tequila and Tonic was the official drink of the AWA! Many bottles were shared and we enjoyed the drink and banter well into the evening. Some wandered over to the Owl pavilion where there was a live band from Serbia playing. There was some circle dancing going down by the Vermont crew!


Sunday, August 28

Level -1.75

Weather: sunny and warmer – temperatures climbing into the 80’s

Participants: Paul, Tanner, Jim, Bob, Jon, Addie, Forrest, DaveS

The Last Run

We all got up and got motivated. Trying to squeeze in one more fun filled run before the ride home. We said goodbye to Rubin, Mark and Cindy who were heading out. We were out of camp by 9:15. We opted for a short run down the Main putting in at Lorne/Garb. Playing was limited but some did a few surfs at Garb and Pushbutton. This would be a no Scout and no Swim run – the first of the trip! We were back in camp just a few minutes after noon. We packed up, ate some lunch and said our goodbyes. We all vowed to meet up again next year. Same Ottawa Time, same Ottawa Channel (see what I did there?). Everyone was on the road by 1:00pm.

I never heard from anyone Sunday evening so I will assume the ride home (including the border crossing) was uneventful and everyone had sweet whitewater dreams that night.


Additional Notes

Dawn composed and performed to some a new song, “Sweet, Sweet Love”, to capture the weekend. Here is a link to the song for everyone’s enjoyment.

I hope everyone enjoyed the trip as much as I did!

See you next year…


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