Magnetawan River Whitewater Adventure Ep. 2 – Five Days In The Backcountry

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Episode 2 of my five-day whitewater canoe trip down the Upper and Lower Magnetawan River from my house to Byng Inlet on Georgian Bay. In this ep, I’ve said goodbye to Brad and Alex, and Buck and I posted up on Wah-Wash-Kesh Lake to wait for Ted. The weather got nice but the water was still high and (spoiler alert) after Ted found me we had to portage the Wah-Wash-Kesh dam which I usually run. Even worse, we had to portage Canal Rapids, the first time in five trips down the river where I’ve ever had to do that. Ted showed up late so we didn’t get to camp until late and paddled through a perfect sunset after negotiating a couple fun rapids.

Day two was a lot easier on the rapids front with a substantial amount of lake paddling. There was one short but challenging rapid that took a lot of scouting and contemplation before I decided to run it. We were also having trouble catching pickerel or pike as bass was closed and we really wanted a fish fry for dinner. As opposed to pushing on this evening, we stopped to camp at a beautiful site and left a lot to manage for the last day. The high water made fishing tougher but we put in an effort and caught a fish dinner that evening.

20km and nine rapids, three portages and a carryover is what we had to manage on our last day. The trickiest of this section of the river is Thirty Dollar Rapids. The last drop of Thirty Dollar is a raging and long class 3 +. It lies at the end of a narrow slot canyon with a class 3 just up river and a couple more portages just above that. After the last carry, we ferried across the river to eddy-out and then went on a long bushwack along the side of a canyon to scout the final drop of Thirty Dollar. It was intense but I knew we could do it. It was Ted’s first time soloing whitewater so he was a little unsure but I had a good feeling he would be fine. We scouted carefully and managed to build up a lot of fear and anxiety in ourselves while doing so, but we decided to go for it! We first ran the small class 3 just above the big drop and were feeling fairly confident after a successful run there. Ted was a little nervous though. I entered the slot canyon and successfully ran it, letting out a big cheer! Then Ted went for it as I watched and he made it too! We both cheered together and high fived. It’s like the whole trip was leading up to this rapid, plus the challenge of scouting from the right bank, and knowing the only way to portage from there was a horrific bushwack and then being able to overcome our fear and handle the serious challenge the rapid presented was incredibly rewarding and exhilarating. From there, we had one more short portage and a bunch more fun, runnable rapids before the trip compleated and we met up with my wife Tori and my son Wesley who picked us up for a drive back home. We all had a great trip including Buck who was just amazing at meeting us at the bottom of the rapids he walked around.

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