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Down the Ottawa River to Montreal

It was late in the afternoon of Friday Oct. 1st as I entered the Ottawa River, leaving the Mattawa behind me as I entered the much larger Ottawa River. I was paddling under a clear blue sky, the sun sparkling down upon the swiftly running waters of the great river as entered what was essentially the last leg of this years expedition. The mighty Ottawa River would take me down river to this year’s endpoint in Montreal.

No sooner had I started along the Ottawa River, enjoying the much faster currents of this huge river than I spotted a canoe pulled ashore across the river along the riverbank on the Quebec side. Curious, I angled across the river, pulling into a small eddy next to the other canoe where I met Don, an older paddler from across the river in Mattawa at the confluence of the Mattawa & Ottawa Rivers. Don has an old camp here, located just metres from the banks of the river and he comes here on a regular basis to relax, sit in the sun and write in his journal. Don told of a trip he did one time a few years back, paddling a 500 MILE section of the Ottawa River, from well above Mattawa all the way down to the city of Ottawa itself!

Don had a pot of tea on the fire and I sat there, had a drink with me as we talked of canoe adventures over the years and of conditions I could expect to find further down this great river. Don also told me of a friend of is, a friend who was undertaking a multi-year canoe crossing of Canada, somebody that no doubt I would enjoy meeting someday, sitting down and swapping stories of this great land. Soon however I had to get back on the water. It was getting late in the afternoon now and darkness was coming earlier everyday with summer now gone and the fall season taking over.

I took Don’s advice and headed down-river for another 10 kilometres or so to a great little campsite on the Quebec side of the river beside a small sandy beach. It was just past sunset now as I hauled the canoe up on the sandy beach and quickly began unloading my camping gear for the night. Once the tent was up, the sleeping bag stretched out, it was time to turn my attention to supper. I ate my meal in darkness tonight as the stars came out in force, a beautiful fall night sky, full of a multitude of stars and the odd meteor blazing through the sky overhead.

With the late start this morning back on the Mattawa, and the lengthy breaks along the way, I managed a respectable 35-40 kilometres for the day, too bad all in all.

Sometime overnight a low-pressure system rolled in and when I arose the next morning the sky was a dark, cloudy mass and I knew it was just a matter of time before the rains would come. I barely had broken camp and gulped down a quick bowl of oatmeal before I felt the first drops of rain. Sliding the canoe into the water, dressed in rain gear for the day, I was off. Minutes later I just paddled on, knocking off kilometre after kilometre as I worked my way down the great river.

Finally, around 2:00 PM the rain eased off and then stopped all together. Pulling ashore on the Ontario side this time, some two hours later, tired and hungry, I quickly dug out my stove, anxious for a steaming hot cup of coffee. Well it took another hour to get that stove going today! Yeah, it had been acting a little funny last night and again this morning but not too bad. Now however it was simply useless. I took it apart, cleaned it, tried again. Nothing! I went through this a couple more times, finally removing the tiny filter on the end of the fuel intake tube that goes into the fuel bottle. That worked! That first coffee must have been one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever had I’ll tell you!

Soon I had the tent up and a good campfire going and once again life was pretty good.