Monday, 12 November 2012

A little iced SUP


So after yesterday's surf'n & burn at Storries Beach just south of Campbell River in southeaster, Darcy and I felt like something a little more mellow. A noon start from town with coffee and a portable lunch from McWoofald's, we headed up the highway going north. Taking the next left past the Menzies Mtn. logging road, we drove about 4km in and parked at the Twin Lakes forestry campsite.

The slushy snow along the roadside and on the logging road was a bit of a surprise but then it had felt quite cold the last few days and the top of Menzies hill was just high enough for some of Saturday's heavy rain to have turned into the white stuff. Even more surprising was the layer of ice on some sections of the lake. That was a new thing for us on our boards, so we sallied forth and poked our noses into it.

Following through the broken up ice in the channel and now dressed in winter clothing and a farmer john wetsuit, I thought back to the last August when I had last come this way wearing only shorts, sandals and sunglasses. The Twin Lakes are part of the 48km Sayward Canoe Circuit and I had been passing through on my way to doing the first SUP of that beautiful chain of 12 lakes and linking portages.

Darcy Wardrop- breaking the ice/ PK photo

    At first it was just a kind of mushy slush but then further in it became a little thicker. Darcy found he had to rock his board from side to side to break up enough ice to make room to get his paddle in and be able to make forward progress towards the next stretch of open water.

Heading towards the portage trail leading from Mohun Lake/ DW photo
When we got to the narrow channel that led to the portage trail there was enough water flow after the heavy rains and melting snow to have kept the ice from forming and progress became a little easier. At least until we ran into the first beaver dam.

Coming from an ocean kayaking background, both of us have now learned the hard (and actually quite quite funny) way that in freshwater- test what you step on to before commiting your full weight to it no matter how firm it looks. If not, you can end up to your waist in the mud in a second.

We found the beaver dams to be solid structures though, really well built- and about the only firm ground around through these marshy sections.

Darcy running his board up onto a flooded beaver dam and then hopping off to lift the board over/ PK photo
There were  three such dams along the way with the biggest creating about a two foot drop on the return trip. We didn't get quite all the way to the Mohun portage trail as the last section looked to be all ice. The sharp edges of the ice were taking a toll on our wooden paddles so we decided we were happy with what we had done and turned around.

On the way back, we went around the other side of the small island that divides the lake into two and came across a beaver lodge.

Beaver Lodge
All looked quiet around the lodge so perhaps the beavers were hibernating, watching a movie with a cup of tea or had headed south to the warm blue waters for the winter.

Another great SUP outing and further proof, 'There is no 'off-season.'

Paul Kendrick

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