On August 3-5 some members of the Ontario Adventure Rowing Association rowed and rafted on the mighty Ottawa River north of Ottawa on the Row ‘n Raft Tour. On the first day we elected to go with the prevailing winds (west to east) and rowed from Waltham to Davidson. It was a beautiful row – about 25 km – with the Laurentian Mountains on the Quebec side of the River and sand cliffs, points, and beaches on the Ontario side. After lunch on one of these beautiful beaches, we rowed on past Esprit, our base at Davidson, to the mouth of the Coulonge River. We could see remnants of the lumber trade, old cribs on which log booms where tied and the Davidson mill which, alas, closed last year.
To some extent tourism is replacing forestry as the main industry. Fishing and hunting is still important. Unfortunately the zip lines at les Chutes de Coulonge were destroyed by a micro burst from a thunder storm in July. The rafting company, Esprit, with whom we were staying, is the other big touristic enterprise. Fortunately judging by the lines for their pizzas, ultimate BBQs, and all you can eat pasta, Esprit is doing well.
On Sunday we bused to the world class whitewater stretch of the Ottawa River, Rocher Fendu. With our paddles we faced forward in 7 person (plus guide) inflatables. Our rapids grew progressively bigger until we successfully descended a level 5 rapid. We tried surfing which is rafting upstream into a rapid and lost 3 people overboard in the cauldron – no worries, they were all rescued. After lunch we descended another channel of the Ottawa River. There was a stop where brave warriors jumped some 5 metres from a rock into the River. We faced forward and paddled strongly in the rapids, so that we never flipped while descending rapids.
On Monday we reacquainted ourselves with going forwards backwards by rowing on the perfectly calm water of Lac Coulonge. It was a memorable weekend of great rowing and terrific rafting.