Kayaking Big Creek with Dad

This story is from June 2016 and is being republished from my cycling blog.

I’ve always held a special place in my heart for canoeing.  It makes sense too as my dad had my brother and I out in his old aluminum Mohawk while we were still in diapers.  I remember that leaky old boat well, and the short trips my dad would take us on along Big Creek near Quance’s dam and out in the Teeterville pond.  It wasn’t long before he laid down some cash on a brand new (this was in the ’80s) Coleman Ram-X 15′ canoe.  It was very bright red, heavy, and tough enough to withstand a nuclear blast.  We made alot of memories in that boat and in my teenage years I took it out with friends and even solo a few times.  At one point we also had a 14′ fiberglass canoe so all four of the family members could get out together.

My dad has since hung up the trusty Coleman (which I still borrow on occasion) and bought a fleet of kayaks.  When he offered a trip down Big Creek from Rowan Mills to Port Royal I jumped at the chance.  I packed up my lunch and we hit Rowan Mills on the 3rd.  My dad was paddling his trusty Ascend D12 and I would use my mothers new Wilderness Systems Commander.  A good lathering of sunscreen and bug spray, a wave goodbye to the wife and kids, and we were off.

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The lack of rain made for pretty low water levels.  The waterline was a few feet below where it was a couple of months prior.  This made for some interesting sights, like the exposed roots of trees clutching the edge of the riverbank, and young bullfrogs digging into the mud looking for a nice damp cool place.

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We also came across a number of turtles.  I tried to get a photo of a baby snapper but he was too nervous and quick.  The mama snapper wasn’t scared by us and stuck around to have her photo taken.

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We took a few stops along the way for snacks and lunch where the river bank would let us.  You can see the high water mark across the river.  Our relaxed pace meant that we had quite a few people pass us on the river, who most likely missed out on some of the animal sightings we came across.  Taking things easy also allowed us to just enjoy the sounds of the bush and the occasional bloop of a paddle in the water.

​Paddling my mothers hybrid canoe/kayak was a treat too, super comfy and easy to maneuver, these types of boats are the future for river paddlers who want something easy to get in and out of but with the comfort of a kayak.  I can feel the urge for one of my own growing, the only thing holding me back is the lack of storage room.  I’d have to get rid of a bike to make room and that sure as shit isn’t happening.  I’ll just have to sneak out with Mama Bric’s boat once in a while.

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It was a great day on the river.  I ended up with a sunburn on my legs and numerous bites on my neck but that’s par for the course out here along Big Creek.  I nearly forgot how much I enjoy a nice lazy paddle down the river as all my time has been used camping and biking in recent years.  I can’t wait to do more paddling this year and maybe I’ll relive a few stories on the blog of canoe trips in years gone by.

As far as our route goes, this isn’t the kind of place that greenhorns should make their first trip on.  The banks are muddy and impossible to reach in a lot of areas, not to mention that when you do get off the river, the bush out here is thick and has been called “Canada’s Amazon”.  That should give you a good idea of what to expect.  If you want more information on the Big Creek canoe route you can visit the Norfolk Trails website at http://www.norfolktrails.ca/trails/paddling/canoe-and-river-kayak-routes/big-creek-paddle-route.

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