Sports: Canoeing, Kayaking and Rafting
[ Background | Equipment | Where ]
Background of the Sport
These are the human-powered versions of water sports. Kayaking is popular on both whitewater and lakes, and in coastal areas, sea kayaking is popular. Canoeing is popular on lakes, rivers, even on whitewater. Whitewater slalom kayaking and canoeing have been Olympic sports for several years. Rafting is usually reserved for fast-flowing rivers and whitewater experiences, where the raft provides an extra measure of safety and control, expecially for beginning watersport enthusiasts.
With a kayak, uou move using a double-bladed paddle. You reach forward with each blade and pull, twist your torso to reach and pull with the opposite blade, to balance the forces and keep your kayak moving forward. Kayaking is an excellent sport for building leg, abdominal, chest and back muscles. Rookies need to learn to moves: the "eskimo roll" to right the craft when you are inverted and submerged, and a "wet exit" to get out of the skirt while inverted.
Canoeing has evolved from the main means of transportation for Indians and early explorers and fur traders. Canoeing is a low-noise way to explore the area's beautiful and rugged geography, letting you get surprisingly close to wildlife on land, water or in the air. Canoeing is a great form of exercise, whether canoeing on a lake or canoeing downstream.
Your propel a canoe in the sitting position, either sitting on the seats, or kneeling and resting your buttocks against it (lower centre of gravity and lower wind profile). You hold the paddle with two hands, one at the end of the handle, the other gripping the shaft just above the blade, and pulling toward you. The person at the front of the boat sets the pace (it works best when every body paddles in unison), while the person at the back does the steering, by paddling with a "J" stroke.
Kayaking has evolved dramatically from the sealskin-covered shells that Eskimos used for hunting seals in the Arctic. Kayaks today are durable and lightweight fibreglass or plastic shells with built-in flotation, and provide a waterproof spray skirt to keep you and your pack dry during in a roll-over. Whitewater kayaks tend to shorter, and can turn on a dime. Sea kayaks and longer, with a sleek v-shaped body for stability in rough seas. You sit in a moulded seat, and your feet sit on footrests (which control the rudder, to help with steering). Most kayaks have two bulkheads fore and aft for storage, and have deck lines and bungee cords to keep key items handy. Things like a spare paddle, map, munchies, water bottle, and camera. Kayaks can cost $3000, with paddles costing $50 to $200 (you should always carry a spare). You will also need to wear a lifejacket, which are required by law.
Canoes come in a number of materials: aluminium, cedar-strip, fiberglas and even Kevlar, all with different benefits and a range of costs. There are many places you can rent canoes and other equipment, especially around the popular canoeing areas, which is handy when you do not canoe often. Canoes all have built in flotation, so in case of a capsize, stay with the canoe.
When rafting or kayaking, you will need a bathing suit, shorts, T-shirt, and a Polar fleece, acrylic or wool top (warm when wet), a wind-proof rain jacket and pants, running shoes and wool socks, sun screen, a brimmed hat and sunglasses (with retainer or string), and a complete change of clothes for end of the trip (in a waterproof plastic bag). If you are paddling on open water, dress colourfully so large boats can see you. For overnight trips, you'll need a sleeping bag and tent, and a warm jacket.
Peterborough, in the Kawartha Lake area of the Treent-Severn Waterway is home to The Canadian Canoe Museum, so we know this area has a lot of great canoeing routes.
- Crab Lake reached by Wolf Lake (get to its far eastern side off Highway 28, five km up the Ansthruther Lake Road) and reached by way of a short 107-metre portage. The lake consists of five bays and shaped like a star, each inlet with 1 or 2 good campsites.
- Eels Creek this route begins at highway 28, north of Burleigh Falls, past the town of Woodview, and ends at Stony Lake, by the bridge on Northey's Bay Road. A hiking trip from your campsite here takes you to Petroglyphs Provincial Park.
- Kawartha Highland Park a relatively new park (1988) which preserves a "pure" wilderness (some trees are 150 years old) with two main lakes, Bottle and Sucker, connected by a wide, slow creek, both of which have excellent choices of campsites.
- Long Lake Loop located just northwest of Woodview, off Highway 28, this chain of lakes offers numerous side trips to surrounding lakes (Vixen, Turtle, Stoplog, Shark), but can get busy on long weekends.
- Mississauga River between Mississauga Lake Dam and Buckhorn Lake, with lots of whitewater and 20 portages along the 16-kilometre route.
- Serpentine Loop a chain of lakes just west of Apsley, in the middle of the north Kawartha region with cascading waterfalls, perfect island campsites, stout pine trees, and excellent fishing.
- Silent Lake Provincial Park about 20 kilometres north of Apsley, this 1,420-hectare (574 acre) has a single lake where only non-motorized boats are allowed and a campground. At the lake's eastern inlet, paddlers can connect to Quiet Lake, Soft Lake and Hush Lake,which provide additional remote canoe routes.
- Wolf Island Provincial Park on the Trent-Severn Waterway, between Lovesick Lake and Lower Buckhorn Lake. Park has unique Paleozoic limestone outcroppings amongst much older Precambrian bedrock. From the boat launch at Burleigh Falls Lock, paddle west to reach the island (camping here is free, but there is no way to reserve anything)
If you want to take a longer canoe trip, the Trent Severn Waterway passes throught some great scenery, and you can save money by portaging around the locks.
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