So while my erstwhile partner deals with some essential last minute details that I can’t help with, I decided to do a bit of pre-emptive training / exploring while I’m here in Ottawa. So I did a bit of a solo adventure exploring the Rideau River. The launch point was a bit muddy,
but I got off without too much difficulty, though I have to say that the smell of dead fish was nearly overwhelming. The water level was very low, with several feet of mud visible all along the bit of river that I paddled yesterday. (edit: since then, they’ve refilled it seemingly, as it’s bank full now). As I understand it, the water is nearly drained (the river forming part of the world famous Rideau waterway, which is, by the way, a UNESCO world heritage site) every fall, both to limit the damage done by the ice, and to leave room for spring floods. The thing is, this year, there was very little snow, and so far the spring is one of the driest on record. So the next time that you hear someone say that they’re not sure about climate change, you have my permission to punch them.
That said, I DID take a side trip down an unnamed creek just north of my launch point, and though the water level was low,
and it felt a bit like paddling through caramel due to silt and mud floating in the water, there was still as much wildlife as I’ve seen in a river. From Geese, to muskrats, to ducks, to a cornucopia of turtles (though, none, regrettably of the teenage mutant ninja variety), this little creek was TEEMING with life. I surprised some Geese on the way in, got a number of turtles to slip into the water from their perches, passed by a muskrat and scared up some ducks. I’ve paddled in some fairly remote places, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen quite this amount of wildlife on a waterway anywhere. I suppose that it just goes to show that no matter how much humans will change an environment (remember that we’re barely 15 km south of Downtown Ottawa here), nature will cling to what’s left. It gives me hope, that does.
Near the end of my jaunt up the side creek, I happened across a road, but luckily, there was a culvert piercing it. As much as they are man-made monstrosities, and they represent the gas guzzling culture that defines us, I really like paddling through culverts. The sudden lack of sunlight is like stepping into a cave,
and all sounds are muffled, with the exception of the odd car passing overhead like an avenging angel with little warning, and less remorse. Somehow though, the sounds made by your paddle are eerily amplified and reverberate through their echoes as you drift along. Additionally, the light at the far end plays tricks with your mind, either rippling along the curved walls and roof or somehow managing to almost disappear for a moment just long enough for your eyes to adjust to the dark, before bursting upon your senses once again at the far end of the tunnel. I don’t know what it is, but the whole experience leaves me feeling oddly cleansed each time I go through it. . .
Once I was through with the itty bitty muddy creek, I went the rest of the way downstream and then upstream, hemmed in by locks at either end.
It really is something a wee bit mind blowing to think that this canal system is more than a hundred and fifty years old. AND STILL USING MOST OF THE ORIGINAL EQUIPMENT! If all engineering projects had that sort of ambition for their lifespan, then we’d have a lot less waste in this world.
I’m going to see what I can do about getting the rest of the pictures posted on here, bear with me as I learn the vagaries of the alongtheus site.