May 25-26, 2019
One of the tour participants reflects on the experience of rowing on the Rideau Lakes in May, 2019.
One of the pleasures of rowing tours is the opportunity to view this wonderful country from a perspective not available to most Canadians. Unless you live or vacation on a river or lake, you probably seldom had the opportunity to observe the fauna and flora and rugged but beautiful landscape of the wilderness. I enjoyed that privilege when I joined the Rideau Lakes Tour along with 16 others and rowed some of the lakes of the greater Rideau system.
Tour participants were accommodated in cabins at Chaffey Locks which is located off Highway 15 about 50 km north of Kingston. The location is ideal for touring because it offers access to two lakes on either side of the Locks. On Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast the boats – three quads each with cox and a double – were rigged, seats were assigned and boats launched. The rowers quickly fell into a rhythm and the boats glided through a channel into Indian Lake. Once the Locks disappeared from view we realized that we were the only boats on the lake. A participant from the Netherlands was in awe of the silence and the vastness of the forest and lake. “It is like we are the only ones in the world,” she remarked. We rowed steadily with periodic stops for orientation, water treats provided by the organizers. We traversed to Benson Lake then on to Newboro Lake, landing at Newboro Locks where lunches were taken. The weather that had been threatening finally brought rain but experienced rowers know to be prepared with rain suits. The return trip followed Newboro Lake but diverted into Clear Lake back to Indian Lake. Total distance rowed was about 21 km, somewhat shorter than planned but dictated by the weather. That evening the organizers provided an array of food buffet-style. Tour rowers by their nature are social, friendly and helpful. This group was no exception.
Sunday morning took us through Chaffey Locks into Opinicon Lake. For people unaccustomed to using the locks, the experience can be daunting. Rowers in each boat use gaffs to hold vertical cables on the walls of the lock allowing the boat to rise or fall with the water level. We passed through without difficulty and glided out onto the lake. The weather was clear but with a brisk wind which roiled the water around us. We saw large birds riding the wind high above the trees. Were they eagles? Were they hawks? It did not matter. They were majestic. At the end of one small island dozens of turtles basked in the sun. We rowed to Davis Locks then made our way back to Chaffey Locks for a total of about 13 km.
As all good things must come to an end, we landed, derigged the boats and returned them to the trailer. With much thanks to the organizers we bid farewells.
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