Algonquin Provincial Park - Lake Travers - Campsite

Petawawa River

Lake Travers to Lake McManus

June 17 - 20, 2005

Algonquin Provincial Park - Sand Lake Gate

Canoe Trip Reports

Petawawa River

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Day 3 - Crooked Chute to Lake McManus

On the river Sunday morningDay 3 started with a reasonably early start, I think we were all up around 7am again. It was also a day of celebration for the owner of the absentee blue SealLine pack. The trip was half over and it was time to change into the 1 pair of clean underwear!

We were on schedule and we'd gotten as far as I had planned on the 2nd day, but looking at the map, we had twice as far still to go, and that wasn't counting the drive home. Breakfast was quick - coffee, oatmeal, fill the water bottles and off we weRollway Rapids Portage Sign - Petawawa River - Algonquin Provincial Parknt.

It was only a little over a kilometre to the first portage of the day at Rollway. This rapid is rated as Class III/IV depending on the water level. Looking at the start of it from the first campsite along the portage, it doesn't look too inStart of Rollway Rapids - Petawawa Rivertimidating, but at almost 800 m long, an early mistake would have meant a long, and potentially dangerous swim. A somber reminder to respect the power of the river is the Blair Fraser memorial. From what I have read, Blair and his companions were seasoned, experienced canoeists who were familiar with this route when they made the trip in the fall of 1968. Blair and hiBlair Fraser Memorials paddling partner ran into trouble at the takeout before Rollway and got swept into the rapid where they overturned. Today the takeout for the portage is well back from start of the rapid and it was a very safe and easy exit from the river.

Continuing with our original plan, we portaged the gear over the 820 m portage. This portage was very well maintained including a number bridges, Canoe rest along the portage around Rollway Rapidsand even a canoe rest about halfway through. Personally I thought it was a relatively easy portage but the consensus was that an 800 m portage a half hour after breakfast was just a little on the uncivilized side.

Portaging Rollway Rapids - Petawawa RiverBy the time we got to the end of the portage, it was clear to everyone that there was some big water there and it definitely wasn't one for us to run, at least not on this trip. Of course, being our first trip down the river, we still didn't know how to interpret the water level relative to the Petawawa River Whitewater Guide. Given that the upper part of the Crooked Chute had been washed out the Big water in Rollway Rapids - Petawawa River - Algonquin Provincial Parkday before, we were pretty sure that the river level qualified as high water.

Now I said that the portage around Rollway was really well maintained, and it was. I also said that it was relatively easy, but there was one awkward spot - the put in at the bottom of the portage. This put in was squeezed betweLoading up at the bottom of Rollway Rapids - Petawawa Riveren a bit of cliff and the river, with a jumble of broken rocks sloping down into the water. The slope is steep enough to make loading the canoes awkward - forcing you to lean down as you put the gear in. We ended up passing the gear down while one person held the canoe and another person loaded.

 

Bottom Of Rollway Rapids

After Rollway, you only have about 500 m to the takeout for the first section of The Natch. The Petawawa River Whitewater Guide states that "You have to be a mountain goat to Portaging The Natch rapids - Petawawa Riverdo this portage." and I have to agree. Even just carrying the gear was a bit of challenge. The good news is that this first section of The Natch consists of 2 drops with a pool between the 2 drops and another, smaller, pool after the 2nd drop. I went first, paddling the Dumoine solo, Josh followed in one of the Starbursts, also solo, then Dave and Scott came last with the other Starburst. Well, I wasn't quite solo, Brownie had come back to the start of the portage with us and after here swim back at Grillade I figured I was better off having her in the canoe with me rather than taking the chance that she would swim another rapid. I picked a sneak route down river right which took me down the drop and let the current push me right out into the eddy missing most of the standing waves. It worked beautifully, but you should have seen the look I got from my dog as we went down the drop and the waves came over the bow to drench her. Josh took more of a middle line, got dumped in the standing waves and then he and the canoe pushed out to the eddy on river left.

Now Scott still blames me for the outcome of his run with Dave. You see First drop on the first section of The Natch rapids - Petawawa RiverI had been explaining that you always lean downstream. Of course this applies when your canoe is at an angle to the current, in which case leaning upstream is a good way to put the upstream gunwale under a wave and promptly dump. Unfortunately I hadn't really clarified that. So Scott did his best, leaning way out over the bow of the canoe as they dove straight down the drop and buried the nose of the canoe in the first standing wave. Scott and Dave swam into the eddy on river left while I rescued the canoe from the eddy on river right. Oh well, it had been a couple of days since anyone had showered, a little swim wasn't a bad idea.

Everyone got back in the boats and we took on the second ledge. This one turned out a little better, with both Josh and I managing to keep our canoes "open side up", but I guess Dave and Scott didn't feel like they were quite clean enough yet so they took another swim. I tossed Scott the throw rope and reeled him in. Dave drifted on around the corner with the canoe, but was back quickly, having emptied out the canoe and paddled back up along the shoreline.

We loaded up the gear and paddled the 100 m or so the takeout for the second section of The Second section of The Natch rapids - Petawawa RiverNatch. We portaged the gear, but couldn't see any sign of the drop that was supposed to be there. The Petawawa River Whitewater Guide said that there was supposed to be a souse hole and a huge standing wave, but we couldn't see anything. There is an island downstream from where the drop should be and there was a sweeper on river left of that island, but there was lots of room to get by on river right, so other than making sure we knew which side of the island to pick, there didn't seem to be anything to worry about. Puzzled, we took a good long look on the way back to the start of the portage, but it looked clean and when we ran the boats down that was confirmed. As far as I can figure, this must have been "really high water" that just plain washed out the ledge.

After loading the gear back in the canoes, we continued on down the river. Here we were treated to a loon swimming along right beside us for probably 2 or 3 minutes.

Now after The Natch, the ground starts to level out and you move awayPaddling towards The Natch cliffs from the rocky cliffs that have followed you most of the way down the river so far. But the cliffs aren't quite done yet, and as you come around a bend you are treated to one of the most scenic sights in Algonquin - the 100m high cliffs of The Natch. These cliffs are highlighted on the canoe routes map, but I had never seen a picture of them before this trip and it was quite stunning. Combined with a nice campsite, and a pool that looks like it has to have some good fish, this would definitely be desired overnight stop for a future trip.

The cliffs of The Natch - Petawawa River - Algonquin Provincial ParkFollowing the cliffs of The Natch, the landscape really does start to relax, and after a couple of swifts you come to the start of Schooner Rapids. This is listed as a class I/II rapid and has 2 sections that run for almost 4 km total. The first portage is 2305 m and the second portage is another 1400 m with maybe 500 m of pool in between. This was the first section of rapids that we had been hoping to be able to paddle loaded. We dropped Wendy and Brownie off at the start of the portage and then lined up for the run. There were a few small standing waves at the start that were easily handled and after that it was really just one big swift all the way down to the hydro bridge at the end of the first section. Here there were some slightly more serious standing waves, which I managed to negotiate successfully and then watched anxiously as Josh and then Dave & Scott all managed to make it through upright! Wendy met us at the end of the portage just as we pulled the canoes up.

After a short break, we carried on, dropped Wendy at the next portaged and paddled the second half of Schooner. This was another fun section, definitely a fun part of this route. After Schooner comes Coveo Lake, but the current carried us right on through here without any real paddling required.

The final named rapids on the trip are Five Mile Rapids which start right at the outlet from Coveo Lake. Now Five Mile Rapids is a little misnamed since it is really only a 3400 m portage, or a bit under two miles. The standing waves at the start of Five Mile Rapids are a bit larger than the ones at the start of Schooner, but a lot smaller than the ones under the hydro bridge had been. So as Wendy and Brownie headed off on the portage we lined up the canoes and headed on down river. We all made it through the standing waves and after that it was just a matter of trying to pick a line that required the least scraping off the rocks in the fairly shallow water. Now Five Mile Rapids isn't quite continuous for the full length, rather it has a few calm pools breaking up the sections. Brownie met me at the first pool and clearly expected me to stop and pick her up. Since I knew the rapid wasn't done, I carried on paddling through the pool. Brownie, of course, had no idea that there was still more rapid up ahead, she just figured I was abandoning her (even though Wendy was still hiking the portage, go figure) so she started swimming out to me. At that point I slowed up and hauled her into the canoe with me. With great relief she then went and curled up in the bow, where all good dogs ride, as I headed on to the next section of swift water. Well, this time she didn't get drenched, but she wasn't any too happy as we dropped down and then started bouncing through the waves. In fact she started crawling back towards me across the packs. Wendy was maybe 5 minutes behind us when we pulled up at the end of the portage, which let me stretch my legs a bit as I walked back to meet her.

Well, after Five Mile Rapids the river part of the trip is pretty much done. In fact we actually had to work to paddle through Whitson Lake, not the whole lake mind you, the current held up almost halfway through the lake, but we did have to paddle for the second half. After carrying my fishing gear all the way along the river, I finally tossed a line in. I didn't have any luck, but then again it was a pretty half-hearted effort. There are a lot of deadheads and sunken trees through Whitson and Smith lakes, clear remnants of the log drives on the Petawawa, and I wasn't really interested in getting snagged by that time in the afSunset on Lake McManus, Algonquin Provincial Parkternoon.

We carried on to Lake McManus and camped at the first site on river left. This site was up a bank back under some more pine trees with lots of room, flat space to set up in, and a view back to the last swift as it drains into McManus. For dinner we had Pita Pizzas which are made by sandwiching pizza sauce, grated cheese, sliced pepperonis, and anything else you want between 2 pizzas and then heating them over the fire until the cheese is melted enough to hold them together.

 

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