Sunday, December 27, 2009

Day 11: Thursday, 08-27-09

Lakes / Rivers Traveled:

Albany River / Petawanga Lake
Petawa Creek

Travel Time: 11:52

Distance: 9.75 miles / 15.7 km

Each time I woke up last night I heard the sound of the waves lapping up on shore. It was cool out.

I woke up at 04:30 am, then 05:30 am, finally I started moving around at 05:36 am then I started packing up my stuff and getting dressed.

At 06:00 am I was out of my tent. I saw Dave’s light on in his tent, but I yelled to him anyways to make sure he was up. We wanted to get an earlier start today, since we were going to head upstream on the Petawa Creek and we knew it was going to be another long day.

The coffee is on and Dave’s cooking breakfast. The wind is coming out of the NE. It’s cool enough where I can see my breath this morning.

Just as we were finishing up breakfast it began to sprinkle. Now our tents were wet before we could pack them away. We left out campsite about a half hour earlier than we have been on the water so far. It was 09:08 am.

There was a strong NE wind as we paddled. It also rained on and off. It was 10:13 am when we made it to the mouth of the Petawa Creek. We stopped and took a few photos before we started our paddle and tracking up the creek.

We tracked the beginning of the creek. We never looked for any portage, but I had marked on my map a 340 meter on river right. I don’t know if that was good information or not. The way the water has been, high, we figured we would see how it went. It was slow going as the current was very strong, but only a little over our knees here at the start. It would get deeper.

It took us until 02:25 pm to get through the first part of the creek. A total of 6 kilometers of which 1.25 km was in the widening of the creek where it was easy to paddle. We had lunch in a blowdown area before the next narrow section of the creek. Sometime during our upstream walk in the creek it had turned sunny. The river water was cold, but at least we had warm air on our upper body. We were up to our waist in the majority of places and in the other areas the cold water crept up the belly. It was a different feel as the cold water crept up my stomach to my chest, since from the waist down my body was numb from walking in the creek for so long.

We were finished with lunch at 02:54 pm.

Dave was in the bow of the canoe so he did all the cutting of the sweepers as we tracked the canoe. This narrative doesn’t do justice to the number of sweepers that Dave had to cut to get us up the river. Finally, we had to cut a portage on river right below a large Tamarack tree across the creek. Above the Tamarack was a large black spruce. We cut a 25 meter portage around this area. Once back in the water Dave cut out another 12 inch diameter tree and countless others.

Eventually we came across a section of the creek that was completely block with trees. We found an old portage on river left, but we needed to cut our way through it. This was a 35 meter portage. This portage was about the 3rd set of rapids/fast water from Auger Creek. Oh, of course it’s easier to say where this is after the fact because on the ground it’s hard to know exactly where you. I’m sure if you get to this area your not going to say to yourself, oh, we must be at the 3rd set of rapids from Auger Lake.

The second half of Petawa Creek upstream of the widening in the creek had a steeper gradient making the water current faster therefore it had much force.There were more sweepers on this section than the lower section.

There was a considerable amount of trees that Dave needed to cut to keep us out of the real fast, powerful current. It was getting late when we finished cutting our way across this 35 meter portage. We paddled a short distance before we came to another area of fast water and trees blocking. It was late, 0900 pm, we were running out of daylight. We looked on river right at the bottom of the fast water where we bushwhacked two tent pads close to shore. My tent was in a patch of Labrador-tea among with alders. It was dark by the time we got our tents up. There was no time for coffee. We ate some gorp and a couple energy bars as we stood in our completely wet clothes around the food pack before we each went to our tent.

My clothes were completely wet and I was chilled to the bone. I sat in my tent with my legs hanging out while I took off my boots, pants, and underpants. I put on some dry clothes. I left my thin wool long underwear shirt on that only felt damp. I put on another medium weight wool shirt over it. I was hoping the thinner one would dry from my body heat if I ever got warm.

I crawled into my sleeping bad. I had some dry light weight socks on, but my feet were still cold and numb. I grabbed some more socks and put them on. That didn’t seem to work so a grabbed my headlamp and dug deeper into my dry bag looking for some heavier wool socks. I could see my breath so the temperature was in the 40‘s.

The area underneath where my head was on raised ground. Not high enough so I could just lay my head down and with my pillow it was too high. I also noticed that I didn’t attach the clips on the outside of the top part of my tent to the frame. The ceiling of the tent was hanging down low.

It took a while for me to get warm, but I dreaded the thought of getting up in the morning and having to put on my cold, wet clothing. Then the thought of immediately walking in the creek to get to Auger Lake. This area where we put our tents was UTM #41.

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