July 1, 2011Kayaking seemed a fitting way to celebrate Canada Day, and the weather was ideal, so off I went on my usual schedule, 0829 De Laurentides bus from Cartier to the Parc. There were already a few groups getting ready, and I knew there would be many more by the end of the day.
I turned west from the landing, under the bridge to Île Gagnon - already noticeably shallower in comparison to May - and out onto the river.
The water was still high enough for an easy trip through the tunnel underneath the south side of the des Laurentides bridge.
Then under the footbridge to Île Locas, and up the north side of Île Locas to the marsh, with the birdwatching lookout clearly in view.
The water level was still high enough that I could poke my prow into the marsh, though all around me I could hear herons muttering and whuffling, and I figured by now they might well be nesting, so I didn't push it. (On the map, if you draw a line from the tip of the promontary just west of Île Chabot to the bank just west of Île Lacroix, everything to the west of that is filled in with marsh and reeds. This photo has me towards the northern margin, just below Île Chabot. That stand of trees beyond my bow marks the little island. I really ought to come back and annotate these maps, but if I wait to do that, these posts won't go up until December).
Then I crossed to the north side of the river, to go up the north side of Île de Mai, loop round the top, and come down the narrower, quicker-moving channel. No photos from this side.
And swung back around the north of Île Morris, to check on the progress of the swallows nests underneath the De Laurentides bridge. Clearly, I'd missed the building stage completely: the nests were built, and already occupied by something hungry, if the constant activity of the parent-birds was anything to go by.
Here's what the north bank of the river looks like, around Île Lefebvre,
Then I paddled back across to the south side of the river (with a pit-stop at Île de Juifs) and worked my way up the shallow, increasingly narrow side-stream just to the east of the de Laurentides bridge. I'd noted it on the way up as a potential side trip. I was stopped by a minor logjam, but on the other side, in a shaded pool, I spotted a mallard with her milling clutch of ducklings, visible more as motion than shapes in the shadows. To my pleasure, the little things bumbled up and over and around the obstruction, towards me. I started poking my way backwards, trying to stay out of their way at the same time as I took photos. Unfortunately, my autofocus was keener on sharp edged grass than cute fuzzy ducklings, so I have a number of fuzzy photos of cute fuzzy ducklings. The best ones were taken against water.
I've been startled by the speed with which ducklings skitter back and forth across the water, but it occurred to me that I was thinking from the perspective of a naked ape who has to slog along with most of its volume immersed, instead of a little ball of waterproof down and trapped air that displaces a fraction of its body-weight and therefore has negligible resistance to the thrust of its (comparatively) big webbed feet.
. . . And then back past the house with the red roof, and through the tunnel (this willow is to the left of the tunnel), and back to the landing.
AugustAugust seemed to consist of a whole month of sunny, calm Tuesdays or Wednesdays or Thursdays, glorious for kayaking, miserable for working in an office that never seemed to get below 82F on the thermostat despite the loud wheezing of our antiquated air-conditioner, while the weekends were rainy and miserable, or had a strong wind warning. Or worse.
Decided to split this post into to two, otherwise both its production and its length were going to become exceedingly protracted. Stay tuned for the longest paddle yet.