About four weeks ago (how time flies!) we canoed another stretch of the Saugeen River, downstream from Walkerton. This is about the most exciting stretch of the river, and as good as it gets for some gentle 'white water' in this part of southern Ontario. And we had a perfect day for it, with beautiful blue skies studded with white clouds, and cool temperatures.
At this point in its journey, the Saugeen is a relatively large stream, and for the first mile or two it's flowing down in a forested valley. You could think you were in the wilderness again. And there was a fair current, so paddling wasn't strenuous.
Part of the way along you encounter this huge sandbank on the east side, lining a great sweeping bend in the river. The current speeds up, and going around the bend is perhaps the most challenging stretch of 'white water' on the route.
The vertical sand patches provide a place for bank swallows to excavate their nests.
I say 'white water', but it hardly reaches that glorified status! For canoeists who have done more exciting class 2 or 3 rapids further north in Ontario, eveything on this river is very easy, but it is exciting to have to actually pay attention, steer carefully to avoid rocks and standing waves, and bounce downstream a little. Of course during the more challenging rapids I had to be paddling, not taking photos! So this is actually a very mild stretch of water in the picture, but as you can see, it's not entirely placid.
Halfway along the section we paddled you emerge from the deeper forested valley and begin seeing farmland along the shore. Still I don't think we saw more than one building in a 3 hour paddle.
A wide gravel bar provided a great place to stop for lunch.
And there I found a few interesting plants, including this Wild Cucumber vine in bloom (in white), and some bright purple Vervain, along with a stalk or two of plantain.
Overall it was a great paddle, partly because it's well managed by the local Saugeen River Conservation Authority. Although the river flows entirely through private land, there are designated public access points, good signage, and even a published map giving you an idea of what to expect.
I've paddled several stretches of this river, and parts of several other southern Ontario rivers, and this stretch was definitely one of my favourites.