Canoeing at Massassauga

Photo by Vikkie Chen

I’ve been really fortunate at the amount of times I am going camping this summer. None of the trips are long, but that isn’t making them any less enjoyable. This past weekend I went camping with a mix of architecture classmates and friends of friends. Because we didn’t want to pay the extra cost of renting canoes, I took transit home on the Friday night to pick up the van and my parents’ old canoe. They hadn’t used it in so long that we had actually never tried putting it on the minivan that we have had since 2006! I left really early on Saturday morning to meet the others at the 400 and highway 7. I’m glad that I only had to worry about one canoe on my vehicle because Rachel had two canoes on her parent’s minivan!

Photo by Vikkie Chen

It was very helpful to have two guys in the group who had been on many canoe trips. Vikkie and I were paired with my parents very heavy canoe but we were determined to succeed. We both had some experience with canoeing but neither of us had ever been in the back and steered. I had also never done much portaging. I started at the back and lets just say it was a bit of a slow start. We were doing big S’s for a while as I attempted to master the J-stroke. Let’s just say that hearing my dad tell me how to do it and watching “how to” YouTube videos wasn’t enough and that I just needed the time to feel it out for myself and see how the others were doing it.

Photo by Vikkie Chen

The journey had its ups and downs. We had five portages to go through in order to get to our campsite. Because we weren’t strong enough and had the heavier canoes, us ladies carried our canoes in pairs holding it on our shoulders from the front and back seats. It really hurt our shoulders after a while because unlike a proper yoke, the seats were digging into the top of our spines. Along the way we tried everything from wearing our lifejacks and towels for padding, or even trying to wear our bags to try to pass the weight onto them. There were some difficult hills and also some areas with very bad mosquitos where you could feel them biting you everywhere but had no ability to swat them away. But then whenever we got on the water again, we could almost forget how bad the previous portage was just because it was so calm and beautiful on the water! I definitely think we got better as we went along.

Photo by Vikkie Chen

One funny story I recall is when I lost my sandal while stepping into the water to reach the back end of the canoe to lift it out of the water for one of the portages. The mud was very deep and thick and I didn’t even know exactly where I had stepped. I searched for a while and almost resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t get it back, when Rachel who was helping me search miraculously came across it! I’m telling you, the chances were slim! Then at the next launch, Rachel very ironically lost one of her bright yellow crocs. She new exactly where she had stepped and it still too several minutes to find it again! We also saw some leeches at one particular spot and so we got better at avoiding stepping into the water. I got less paranoid about scratching the canoe when I realized that my ancient canoe had the best looking underside of the bunch!

Photo by Vikkie Chen


There was one particularly difficult part in our journey where a portage that was supposed to be 100 meters was actually 500 meters because of the lower water levels. Luckily we managed to shorten down it to 200 on the way there by canoeing through some shallow reedy water, and on the way back we actually cut it back to the original 100 by finding a full way through. There were lily pads and flowers everywhere; what amazing things they are!

We made it to the campsite by five and had a few more hours of sunlight to set up our tents, go for a fabulous swim off the rocks at our campsite, and prepare dinner. We had a whole lake to ourselves! The next day we had breakfast, packed up camp and headed back the way we came. The way home was just as difficult but we all agree it was overall an excellent trip!

Photo by Vikkie Chen

Photo by Vikkie Chen

Photo by Vikkie Chen


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