Monday, September 1, 2008


I headed back to Ontario at the beginning of August to visit my family and to paddle with the ladies on Georgian Bay. Originally being from the area and growing up on the lakes and rivers of Northern Ontario I was stoked to paddle Georgian Bay. Paula Rivard, a very close friend of mine, got a group of girls together for the trip, Maureen, Kelly and Judy. I had numerous warnings from Paula's mom that I was basically risking my life taking these women on a trip. I am sure most guys would agree with me that I was okay taking that risk. Plus there was more booze to sink a ship(or kayak) so i knew if everything went south I had a contingency plan.  

Our day started at the Chikinishing Creek launch point later in the afternoon since Judy was at the walk in clinic all morning with stomach ailments forced to go by group members. The delay was great since it allowed the strong winds to calm down and we launched in stunning conditions. The evening was just how a paddling trip in August should be, sunny, hot with flat water. I was really excited to be out here and the girls really seemed to be enjoying themselves. We set camp that night on a warm rock outcrop. Saturday we awoke to mixed weather conditions yet we were able to explore the various islands and inlets and even had time to climb a small island, Silver Fox, to check out the cool Inukshuk. We had lunch under a storm cloud(yes I am sure I brought the weather) blasting lightning bolts and looking very close to a tornado. I gave the option of heading back to camp and I have never seen a double kayak paddled that fast before. Kelly's arms were moving so quick i didn't think it was possible to move a boat like that. After our retreat to the campsite we had some dinner, pasta, with the Rivard family secret sauce and then all of a sudden the S#$% hit the fan with the weather. The winds increased dramatically and it was almost impossible to keep our tarp up. We did manage to keep the fire going but by 11 that night it was time to hit the tents. Now i have worked on the west coast for 9 years and I have seen some incredible weather but the storm that hammered us all night would have to rank right up there. Very impressive. The storm went unabated for 12 hours, blasting our tent like we were on the top of Everest. It was impossible to stay dry and all of the girls decided to stay in one tent. I had to check the kayaks a couple of times throughout the night to make sure they had not been blow into orbit.

The girls went to bed laughing and woke up laughing. Incredible. The last morning we broke camp, did some more exploring and then headed back to the Chik Creek. Well by the time we got back to the creek it was swollen to spring time conditions, conditions not even seen by locals in the summer. As I was assessing taking out at the original launch point which had now become a raging rapid, Maureen thought she would test her white water skills(none), and try to get across. I chuckled and mumbled something about going over knowing I was now mentally getting ready to do a rescue. Yup, she crossed the distinct eddy line and wham, she was over, boat, paddle and various gear now floating down river. I was able manage the group and get them to shore while i gathered Maureen and made sure she was safely onshore. I then had to paddle back down river to pick up the kayak and various gear. It was not the easiest tow up river. Maureen thought she would assist and left the group to float down the river to "help" me. She met me down river and I had no option but to put her back in the boat. After another capsize we got back to the launch and got all gear back onto shore. We then had some ice cold bevys and had a great laugh about whole event. Of course Paula was terrified but I think she quickly realized that it was more just of an inconvience than a full on crisis. We finished the trip up at Herbert's, the World Class fish and chips spot in Killarney on the docks. 

It was an outstanding trip and more impressive than the storm we had was the attitude of the girls. Most groups would have paled in such conditions. The girls were always having fun, always laughing(maybe they had something i didn't) and really valued the experience. They were one of the best groups i have ever guided and i am really excited that they want to do another trip next year.......thanks a lot to Paula for putting this trip together. Both of us thought a lot about her brother Dwayne, a close friend and teammate of mine, an outstanding brother and son,  who passed away in a car accident a few years ago. Dwayno was one of those great guys who would do anything for you and who just made your life better being around him. Cheers to you Dwayno.


Kristina Rivard Gobbo said...

Hey Norm,
What a great adventure :) I am glad that the girls had fun and that the weather conditions did not bring them down.
I love the write up that you added at the end about Dwayne. It warmed my heart and brought a tear to my eye. He was the best and still is.
You are a true friend,
Love krissy xoxoxox

Jude said...

Hey Norm,

Thanks for the compliment. Since we were the best group you have ever guided, does that mean we get a discount next year!!!!.lol


P.S. next year we want it on my birthday..Do you remember my request?????

Rivurd3311 said...


Sweet write up on the weekend..however I DO NOT remember being "terrified" concerned...

We did have a lot of fun despite the year we will bring less alcohol so the "giggles" will be kept at a minimum.

Thank you for the nice words regarding Dwayno..He would have loved that adventure..I really miss him..thanks for thinking about him.

Love Paula xo

maurina said...

my dear norm,
upon reading your description of our weekend, i was distressed to hear tht you considered our less than perfect landing to be an inconvience, so i had to write.
Please be assured that i did not consider my having to save you to be an inconvience, not in the least. That is just the kind of remarkable person that i am - infact, i would not hesitate to do the same thing again next year. I hope knowing this makes you feel better.
all the best, maureen