Thursday, August 21, 2014

Canoeing the Saugeen - Again

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.

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  1. Row row row your boat... I could row on forever. Perfect skies!

  2. beautiful scenery. don't ya just love those puffy white clouds.

    For the first time ever, this year I seen some of the purple vervain in my area and didn't know what it was, thanks for the id.

  3. A great post! Been a while since I've paddled. I enjoyed your shots.

  4. This looks like a lot of fun. We have a canoe but it hasn't been used in years....

  5. This looks so relaxing!! Beautiful river and skies.

  6. What fun, a day out on the river.. The sky is lovely and the scenery is gorgeous.. Have a happy weekend!

  7. what gorgeous views!! love that pop of red the canoe provides!!!

    sounds like a fun day, i enjoy being out on the water!!!!

  8. Very interesting shots...I'm amazed at the holes in the wall from the birds. Thanks for these pics!

  9. Beautiful! I'm glad those holes were made by swallows and not snakes!

  10. I am most fascinated by those swallow holes. They are common around here and I've done some "studying" up about them and wondered where they would nest if not in barns and such. We have had them nest on the overhang of our porch. They are interesting birds. Beautiful spot and wonderful photos.

    1. We have five species of swallows here; the ones that make holes in sand banks and live in large colonies like this are Bank Swallows. Rough-Winged Swallow live in similar nests, but usually only a few together, or solitary. Barn Swallows build mud nests normally on the inside of barns, like a little shelf on a beam, with an open top. Cliff Swallows also make mud nests, but usually on the outside of buildings or under eaves. Their nests are like closed in hollow gourds, with an opening on one side. Tree swallows usually nest in old woodpecker nests or birdhouses. Quite a remarkable variety; none of them nest in the 'typical' bird's nest in a tree.

  11. Reminds me a bit of our Skagit River sea kayak trip a few years back. I was nervous about it, being my first trip on a big river, but paddling was a lot easier than in the ocean against the wind and waves. But the log jams really made me worry. - Margy