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Moon River: Hwy 69 to Georgian Bay (June 23-25, 2000)*
I just got back from a three day trip - Friday to Sunday - on the Moon River. Four of us put in at Hwy 69 and paddled to Woods Bay. The water levels were not as high as I expected them to be. But they weren't low either. We lined a few of the rapids which I would have liked to run. We rented a Swift Dumoine Royalex and used my old fiberglass boat. The latter had to be lined or portaged more than the former. I made a stupid decision at, I think, Curtain Chute (I can't remember now if it was Curtain Chute or one of the Seven sisters). My partner was a novice at whitewater. I misjudged her experience, knowledge and skill and agreed to let her run the rapid with me. I made a mistake lining up the entry to the chute and she did not know how to correct and we smacked a rock head on. There was no skid plate on this boat and we put a small dent into the nose. The people at Swift Canoe were very nice and did not charge us for the damage since all it was going to need was a skid plate. We were worried we were going to be gouged for the damage. So I would definately rent from them again.
When I had the chance to solo the Dumoine, I was very impressed with its maneuverability in whitewater. It was equipped with a kneeling thwart so it was good tandem and solo. I did not paddle it on the flat water but I did notice the other paddlers were considerably slower on the flatwater than my old fiberglass boat, which is not surprising since they are both designed for different purposes.
When we got to the Twin Rapids it was late and both sites were taken. We were disappointed, tired, and just wanted to set up camp and eat. As a result, we took the wrong Twin and ended up in the small lake at the top of an impassible canyon. We camped there on Friday night. We had intended to stay at one sight for two nights and spend a relaxing day swimming, paddling and relaxing. So on Saturday morning I climbed through the canyon and when I got to the other side I saw the other branch of the river and realised our mistake (I had no proper map, only Kevin Callan's book as a guide). So we paddled back up to what we had now renamed "the Evil Twin" and hauled our gear back over our tracks from the night before. We paddled to the other Twin and took a short break at the top. During this break I decided to sit under the falls for a quick massage/shower. When I came out I was covered in little leaches. Luckily I was quick enough to get all but one off before they made a home for themselves. But it was an unpleasant experience nonetheless - and not only because I had to strip down to get them off EVERY part of my body and in so doing endure the heckles of the beer drinking yahoos at the campsite beside the rapid. Having purged myself of leaches, we then proceeded down the portage only to find the other end covered in poison ivy. We still don't know if we escaped unharmed because it takes a few days to appear on your skin. So we decided that this was an evil twin as well and we renamed Twin Rapids, "The Evil Twins". Having passed through their gauntlet, we set up camp on the little lake where to two forks of the river come together. It is a very picturesque little spot and we were happy to set up our camp at such a lovely spot.
One organisational/gear problem we had was that none of our group had proper canoe packs and packing was done on an individual basis, except for food. And when we started out on the first day there was alot of loose stuff - dry bags, bucket, grill etc. It made portaging a real pain in the rear. But when we set out on the second day, we had learned our lesson and everything was in or attached to a pack - except for the bucket (more on the bucket below). This made a big difference and should have been done before we set out. But I guess we were eagre to load the canoes and get going. Even after sorting out this problem, we still had 4 packs for four people and the two canoes. And since I can't portage anything heavy, that meant at least two trips over the portage for each of the rest of the party. Part of the problem was alot of fresh vegetables - which made for nice meals but was too bulky for my minimalist approach. But I don't expect others to adopt my style of tripping so I asked the rest of the group to select the menu. I am not complaining - I just wouldn't usually eat so extravagantly. Portaging may have been more of a hassle but the good food did give the trip more of a holiday/vacation kind of feel.
I used a bucket and gama lid for the first time and was quite impressed. I had already adapted a frame pack to take two olive barrels where the bottom compartment used to be and the single bucket fit the same place just as well, or even better, than the two olive barrels. I have to say it is a much better system than olive barrels. The wider opening makes it much easier to access the contents. With the lid on it made a good stool and table. And the handle meant it could be carried easily in one hand when it wasn't attached to the frame pack. On the other hand, the bucket had to be removed from the pack in order for both the pack and barrel to fit low in the canoe. Because of the menu plan, the bucket could not hold all our food - the top compartment of the frame pack was full of fresh veggies - but I am sure the bucket would be big enough to hold enough food for a week long solo or two-three people over a weekend who don't mind less extravagant dried foods.
We saw a rattlesnake, heron, turkey vultures, beaver, some kind of ferret, and, unfortunately, alot of garbage in the campsites. I was very annoyed at having to haul out other peoples' garbage. Indeed, there was so much that we could make only a small improvement. The Moon river can use a major clean up. On one site I even noticed there was full garbage bag which had been broken into by animals - the owners of the garbage went to the trouble of bringing a garbage bag, filling it, but not hauling it out! Aside from this kind of abuse, I was impressed with the Moon river's natural beauty. You see only two cottages between Hwy69 and Georgian Bay. It is not at all far from Toronto and would make a good two day trip - or three if you plan to lounge around for a day. Indeed, if you get an early start and push yourself, it could even be done in a day.
Well, I should end this here and start planning my next trip.