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Christopher Greaves

Rouge River - Sunday, May 25, 2014

We wanted a start-of-year trip closer to home.

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Fifteen years ago, before the 407 was punched through eastern Markham, I used to walk to the Rouge River.

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Now we will canoe the mouth of the Rouge.

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We drove the 401 east to Port Union Road and parked in the car park that leads off the north side of Kingston Road on the west bank of the Rouge.

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We are parked. Here is the view westwards looking towards the entrance to the car park off Kingston Road. At 10:30 the parking lot is almost full.

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A sealed path leads down to the river, but we didnít see much of a put-in spot there.

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Our decision took us across the grass towards the Kingston Road bridge.

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Not the most pituresque spot, but who knows, right?

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Forty minutes after meeting at Finch subway station we are In The Water. We have already said ďHiĒ to the kayaker

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The current is mild, the weather the best; we drift under the massive bridge for highway 401.

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I am spending more time staring at bridges this weekend than ever. Beautifully-maintained steel beams sit on concrete pylons.

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And so into the last stretch of this river, one of five that cut across the GTA.

The ferns that line the flood plain remind us of some of our Muskoka trips.

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The paddle starts to look good; gentle current, open spaces, trees, the promise of wild-life. Only the roar of the 401 reminds us that we are in the city.

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And so eight minutes into our paddle the trip really does look like some of our barrie-Musoka paddles.

We are faced with a mild stream, bends that hide the next stretch, peace, calm, ...

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We come across three Canada Geese on the bend.

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They appear to ignore us; the kayaker has passed just a few minutes before us, and they werenít scared by him.

Letís see what happens as we drift gently downstream towards them.

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Not much! The soloist and the couple go on dabbling for grubs in the mud.

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Now we are alongside; these geese are surely used to paddlers.

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At this point the day becomes perfect; warm sun, small breeze, and obliging wild life!

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A little way further and we come across a brood of chicks out for a walk with Mum.

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As unconcerned as their parents, they explore their world. And quench their thirst.

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We are amazed at the similarity with, say, Black Creek near West Sutton.

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And why should we not be? Here is a shot from Pefferlaw Dam Conservation Area; it is less than one hundred miles from the Rouge River and surely shares the same geological origins.

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The breeze has dropped away; we could be in Minesing Swamp.

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Signs of this winters ice-storm; this is (for us) a seriously-large branch.

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We met up again with our kayacking pal; he had spotted a deer, but by the time we arrived the deer was making its silent way away from the river.

Can you spot the deerís rump?

Answer at the end of this essay.

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The trees are not in full leaf, but they are full of shady promises.

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A GO train rumbles over its steel bridge on its way to dowtown.

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Fred spots what he thinks are beaver lodges, four of them. I deny that they are beaver lodges on the grounds that they are made of reeds, not tree branches, but I mist admit that I saw a great many beaver-chewed stumps on the East Don yesterday, so why not beavers-on-the-rouge?

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Detail of one of the lodges.

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We are almost in the lake; a swamp area opens up here.

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The sand bar is in sight, and people strolling about.

From this distance the bridge structure is visible.

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The bridge beams sit on top of concrete pylons.

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There is a parking area and, like ours, it is almost full near the river bank.

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We prepare to float under the railway bridge.

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Ot at the lake, those little waves arenít so small when you are in a canoe.

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We stare at the lake for a while, then elect to back-paddle rather than turn around.

We are wimps, but dry wimps!

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Folks fish from the banks. In the distance we spot what has to be a mound of sand; it surely canít be rock!

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Back towards the rail bridge and the foot bridge. The foot bridge arrives from the right with an observation deck, ducks under the rail bridge, and exits via a ramp on the left at the far side.

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I thought the toddler in the red rubber boat was doing a great job keeping up with her dada until we pulled past and I saw she was roped to dadís kayak!

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On the way back we deked (orange line) into the swamp and patrolled its perimiter. When it was time to leave we accidentaly deked into another meander lake of the Rouge (purple line).

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A white swan swims near the far bank; I know that there are white swans in Toronto Harbour.

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Cottage country!

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Reed beds reminiscent of the outflow from Coldwater Creek.

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Iím not sure what this represents; I think the shaft of bright light is an aberration of the camera; the river bank was the main attraction.

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We wander in and out of reed-bed islands.

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We come across a nesting goose whose head swivels around to keep an eye on us.

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Next a one-legged duck whose yoga posture has healing powers; a second leg decsends in seconds.

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A VIA train heads off to Kingston and points east.

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For lunch we pull the canoe into a small grassy bank.

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A fallen tree presents a schematic view of a river system.

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This old chimney we missed on the way downstream.

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It appears to be seve two levels; those are steel beams projecting from a point about ten feet up from the base.

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Lovely caves in the river bank, suit beaver, otter, muskrat, ...

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The first visible signs of the 401; the sounds have not left us all this trip. We are never more than half a mile from the highway.

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The beams of the 401 appear to be made out of cherry-wood; I suspect the paint job jelps in that it is applied with a grain-like look.

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We paddle past our launch spot to the first of a series of weirs; I hop out for a look upstream.

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Here is the weir and the other abutment; and floodgates that were present are long gone.

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Upstream looks calm enough, but we were told more rapids await us, so for now it is not worth the portage.

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Back in the canoe I take a shot of the rapids tumbling over the weir

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Deerís Rump

At the left-hand end of the dead tree are its bleached roots; about three feet to the left of those a white lump shows up on the river edge; midway between them, and just entering the trees is the deer.


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