Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 25 - Sarah Heller

Standing here live at English River Falls, I am with a group called ECOEE that is on day 16 of their 18 days of paddling on the English River. They are headed towards Sioux Lookout and they have nearly reached their destination. This has not been an easy task though, let me tell you! You see, last night they had to sleep out under the stars with no tents because there wasn’t a campsite to be found. This didn’t put a damper on their spirits as it did on their sleeping bags, no! Today brought clear skies and warm weather and they were up and at ‘em this morning, ready for adventure.

That adventure is just what they got too. Their day was filled with rapids upon rapids and Brittany, their leader, and her canoe partner Nicki, steered them in the right direction. With the English River being so low this season, the waters are very ‘rocky.’ This can mean danger if the canoes are not paddled through very precisely. Tony and Molly were in the navigator boat today and they were taking the rapids head on.

During one set of rapids, Jeff, the wise one, and Katy got their canoe stuck between two rocks. Bad turned to worse very quickly as the rushing water began filling the canoe. They started dumping their bags and gear out of the canoe and all of it went rushing down the rapids and into a bay. A recon mission was put into place by Corey and me to gather all of their belongings. The canoe was still pinned though, with thousands of pounds of water pressure forcing it between the rocks. It was time for the “Macho, Macho Men” to try their hardest to get the canoe pried out. Jeff, Steve, Brandon, Justin, Tony, and Corey were using all of their might to save the canoe. Monica was sure to get pictures of all of this action. After several tries, they finally got it shoved out of the rocks and it flew down the rest of the rapids. They all floated down the wild waters and the women rescued them at the end. Jen was among those that performed a T-rescue to capture the canoe and Heather helped pull it back to shore. It was a little banged up, but it popped back into place and was ready for more action.

During another set of rapids, the group portaged the gear and canoes rather than chancing it on the rushing waters. Up came the tenth and final rapids of the day and the ECOEE-ians looked to portage this set as well. The canoes landed and were unpacked and the group began hauling their gear up what appeared to be a portage trail. Little did they know that this trail was merely a game trail and would end, just as soon as it began. Many trudged on through the forest, hoping to find a path. This led to some getting lost and frustrated in the woods. They all made it out to the water and decided they would have to run the rapids with the canoes because there was no portage trail to be found.

They glided through flawlessly and arrived here at the head of the falls this evening. They all pulled onto shore and unloaded their packs from the canoes and set up camp for the night. After filling their bellies and preparing for their travels tomorrow, these paddlers are ready to get some rest. From the top of English River Falls, with the moon and stars shining bright above me,
I’m Sarah Heller and “I like turtles.”
Good Night!

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