Saugeen River, May 18-19-20, 2013

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On Saturday I drove with Derek Vink and Ellen Lin to Walkerton.
We met up with James Fitton on Hw 9 and drove behind each other.
Arriving in Lobies Park, we met up with Eugene Furchner who was already there.
and Gary and Luanne Wolfe and Jaromir Zubicek came soon after.
Unloading the cars and loading the canoe for Ellen and Derek, who left before us, we drove up to South Hampton to Denny's Dam.
Gary was kind enough to shuttle us back. The shuttle is about 1 hour and a half up and down. But because we did it ourselves it was faster then the usual Thorncrest outfitter I use for the shuttle.
Back at Lobies park we waited for Karonne Lansel to arrive and we got ready to leave.

It was a gorgeous day, water level was higher then usual for this month, which encountered for fast floating.We were on the water very fast.
Within the first hour we encounter a little rapid.
As some of our team had not any or little experience with moving water, I decided we pull out before the rapid and scout it out.
Due to the high water levels, both rocks that could create hazards were completely submerged in water and just creating high waves, for a lot of fun.
Jaromir went down with no problem at all and tried to eddy out with expert skill, but there is not really an eddy.
Jim went after him, and he did really well until he tried to turn in the waves too and tipped his canoe.
Without a life jacket on, he hang on to his canoe instead, and got some scratches.
Jaromir was luckily quickly there to help him out.
In the mean time Eugene came down, easy and relaxed
Gary and Luanne did a great job hitting the waves, for their trip down the rapids.
I went up and joined Karonne and we both hit the waves full and had a nice cooling splash.

We stopped on the banks and dried up and had some lunch or snack, while enjoying the groups coming down floating and tripping the canoes with big coolers and lots of beer cans, barbeques etc.
It was quite funny, but luckily no serious incidents as the water level was high enough to be safe.

After this excitement, there are only swifts, that is just fun to go through and play in.
The Saugeen is a rural river flowing throught the scenic country side of Huron county.
We canoed the river from Lobies Park in Walkerton to Denny's Dam in Southampton in 3 days. It is about 90 km. This is a great river for beginners to be done in a nice relaxed way. Short days, time to enjoy the country side, eating ice cream, checking the floats out, camping on crown land and at the Saugeen Conservation Area where there is a great look out point on the Saugeen River and the bluffs.

For keeping track of where you are on the river you can use your GPS, but I am used to just count the bridges, as these are the access points on the river.
Nowadays the signing on where the access points are from the road are excellent signed by the local community.
But there is also great signs on the bridges as to how far the next bridge is and how long it will take approximately to get there. Please note that most people float the river.
So for paddlers it is about half the time.

We arrived at our intended campsite quite early already. The beach was wet and muddy, but the camp on the edge of the farmers field with a great view of the river was ideal.
And even though it was early and only a relative short paddle, we all enjoyed the afternoon/evening, with a great dinner provided by Jim and a relaxing campfire.
The bugs were not that bad and I enjoyed just sitting on the shore and writing my journal.
The river was less busy then usual as not many groups passed by.

Sunday, after a great sleep, Luanne woke us up as breakfast was ready to go, bacon and eggs.
We took our time and enjoyed each other company.
For lunch we stopped at the dr. Milne Park, first stop in Paisley, close by the water tower and Gibby's Grub where we went first for ice cream
Jaromir and Jim had met up with Derek and Ellen at the 3rd stop in Paisley near the light house. So luckily for cellphones and texts, they joined us at Gibby's Grub for ice cream.
It was only a 10 minute walk for them
A small ice cream was big enough and delicious in this warm weather.
A nice tradition that I do every year with groups I take on the Saugeen.
Then Luanne and Gary had organized the lunch for that day, great dried sausage, cheese, pita's and bread

For our second night we stayed at Saugeen Bluffs, this year we got a campsite further on the river, which was actually quite nice as landing was much easier then the steep muddy hill near the canoe sites. Plus it was closer to the Outlook point for a hike.
And sitting on the grassy shore and leaving our canoes there was also very nice.
We had 2 campsites next to each other.

I was in charge of dinner. I had prepared a big pot of chili, hamburger meat, variety of beans, salsa sauce, tomatoes, applesauce and vegetables and all dehydrated. So for dinner I only had to boil water, add the dried chili and boil and hydrate it again.
A nice relaxing evening with lots of trilliums on our campsite.
I even found a Jack-in-the-pulpit on our campsite and March violets.
Some people took a shower and/or went for a hike to the look out point.
I enjoyed a glass of wine and the sunset on the grassy shore line writing in my journal and seeing other canoers come by.

Monday after a great pancake with fruits (and some peanuts and chocolate) breakfast organized by Eugene, we packed up for our last day on the river.
We noticed several float along the shores that went on Saturday on the river.
The new bridge is completely ready now and the old bridge was taken down completely just passed Saugeen Conservation Area.

We were pretty fast, even with our relaxed paddling and floating, and exploring the delta of the river at our lunch area at the Port Elgin Bridge.
River right was quite muddy and there was a lot of debris from the floaters still, so we ferried over to river left and had lunch there under the bridge in the shade.
Karonne had fish, bread and cheese for lunch for us and a ginger drink.
Jaromir finally opened his snack bag with carrots, tomatoes, paprika and sausage that we could snack on too.
Derek made hotdog chicken noodle soup, that I got a cup from too.
It was very entertaining seeing a group of 10 people moving a boat/float back in the water to pull it up again on to the shore a bit further where they loaded it up on a trailer to move it away.

I knew there was a eagle's nest on the shore, but thought it was between Paisley and Saugeen Bluffs, so by the time we arrived at Port Elgin bridge I thought that I had missed it, or maybe it was not there any more. Plus Derek had teased me that he had seen it and that I had missed it.

But just past Port Elgin bridge we found the eagle's nest on river left.
Gary had binoculars and it was amazing to see the bald eagle hopping out the nest on the branch and partly spreading its wings to make itself bigger.
It was muddy to climb out of the canoe, but it was so worth it, to get closer to the nest and enjoy this magnificent bird and its young in the nest.
It was definitely a highlight of this trip to see this bird again.

As we passed the double bridge, I felt sad to leave, enjoying the last couple of bluffs and nature and this awesome river.
Even though I come here year after year, it is very nice river to relax on for a weekend.
This year was special with fellow paddlers of the Wilderness Canoe Association.

Thank you Karonne for the use of your canoe, while my son took my canoe,
Thank you Eugene, Jim, Jaromir, Gary and Luanne for joining me on this trip.

The link has all my pictures of our trip.