The 12 Month Challenge! – Revisited

In 2013, I challenged myself to canoe in every month of the year.  I started in January and made it to September.  I stopped the challenge because we had some very difficult events happen in our family, that made it hard for me to spend very much time away from home.  The years since have been tough, from a mental health standpoint.  I have decided to attempt this canoeing challenge again in 2018, partly, because I’d still like to paddle each month of the year and partly to create the closing bookend to a very difficult time in my life.  If you’re interested, you can follow along here.  They’ll just be day paddles for the first few months, but I’ll do overnight trips starting in March or April. I’ll also try to vary the rivers, lakes and types of trips, as well as, my canoeing partners.

April 9, 2018
Location – The Grand River (Kaufman Flats, Waterloo to Riverbend Dr., Kitchener)
Distance – 19.5 km
Duration – 4 1/2 hrs
Canoe Partners – NoneOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANotes – This was my first solo paddle of the year.  It was also my first bike/canoe venture.  I biked from my house to Kaufman Flats, pulling my canoe on my trailer.  When I got there, I took the wheels off my bike and the trailer and loaded everything into my canoe.  I had a nice paddle down the river to Riverbend Drive.  I saw lots of geese and ducks.  I saw several red-winged black birds and killdeer.  I also saw a great blue heron and a hawk.  When I arrived at the Riverbend Drive access point, I reassembled my bike and trailer, so I could ride home.  It was a completely human-powered trip!  You can click the link below to see more pictures.

March 28, 2018
Location – The Nith River (Christner Rd. in Luxembourg to Holland Mills Rd. east of New Hamburg)
Distance – 15.5 km
Duration – 3 hrs
Canoe Partners – Curtis & FoxieOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANotes – I was originally planning to do this little run solo, but Curtis decided to join me, which meant we could bring Foxie too!  When the trip was over, Curtis waited with Foxie and the gear, while I biked back to the start, to get our car.  I wanted to find someplace in Luxembourg to launch our canoe, because, although we’d be paddling over 15 km, it was under a 5 km bike ride from where we planned to take the canoe out of the river, on Holland Mills Rd.  We ended up launching our canoe, from somebody’s driveway just off of Christner Rd.  For the first 10 km, the river was placid and deep enough to be easily paddled.  We were shocked at the damage that the winter flood had done to the trees along the banks.  Branches were broken off and bark was stripped from trees 20 feet above the current river level.  Most of the damage was caused by the huge ice hunks the flood pushed down the river.  After the portage around the dam in New Hamburg, the current picked up speed in a few places.  The depth of the river also dropped, and we scraped the bottom a few times.  We saw a lot of wildlife: geese, ducks, an osprey, lots of muskrats and a weasel!  You can click the link below to see more pictures.

February 4, 2018
Location – The Conestogo & Grand Rivers,  (South of Conestogo to Kaufman Flats, Waterloo)
Distance – 8 km
Duration – 2 1/2 hrs
Notes – My buddy, Graham, bailed on me, just because he had previously promised to take his kids to a hockey game!  It was a good thing I could rely on my son, Curtis, to step in and help out. He didn’t need very much convincing either!  We started a little south of Conestogo, in the Conestogo River and pulled out of the Grand River, at Kaufman Flats.  The water level was low for during a winter thaw.  Both rivers were clear, and had fewer floating ice chunks, than two weeks earlier, so I was quite surprised when we came across a blockage that was about 150 metres long!  It really slowed us down.  Curtis chopped at the ice to make a channel that we pushed the canoe through.  When the ice got too thick, we put snowshoes on and dragged the canoe to open water.  We saw some ducks and geese, but they kept their distance from us.  You can click the link below to see more pictures.

January 20, 2018
Location – The Grand River (Kaufman Flats, Waterloo to Otterbein Rd., Kitchener)
Distance – 15 km
Duration – 1 hr 45 min
Notes – The water level was lower than I thought it would be, so the trip took a little longer than I had foreseen. The river was pretty clear. We had no blockages, but we did have to avoid ice chunks and pick our path carefully at times. It was a pretty warm day for January; however, my feet got a little cold. We saw some geese and ducks.  You can click the link below to see more pictures.