Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Eels Creek (Near Petroglyphs Provincial Park)

Location: 50 km (1 hr) North of Peterborough
Website:  My CCR
Map: Google Maps or look at the bottom right corner here, starting from Haultain
Approaching the 1st portage
Camping Facilities: Backcountry (Crown land)
Grade: B
Summary: A nice day/overnight river trip, which is easily accessible.
Thoughts: A very fun river trip, with just a few short portages and some whitewater that can be run in high season (though not by me).  One of my regular camping buddies and I thought we would give this one a try, since its relatively close to his home.  This was the first trip where we'd done the shuttle arrangement, with a car stashed at both the put-in and the take out.  Kevin Callan provides instructions on where to do this in his book "A Paddler's Guide to Ontario's Cottage Country" (I highly recommend this book for trips within a few hours of Southern Ontario's major population centres).

The route starts under a bridge on Highway 28, with a paddle some reedy sections that the river winds through to ease you in.  Admittedly, this is kind of nice, especially when the water is high.  After a while you get to some tricky looking whitewater (in May it looks tricky, at least).  So this means a few portages around rapids and then a longer portage just before High Falls.  High Falls provides the only serious portage on the trip (and its not really that bad, just a few hundred metres).  Once you're past the falls, you most of your way through the trip.  We stayed at the campsite just below the falls, which was a nice, spacious site (see the video).  However, if I do recall, there is no thunderbox available at this site (and I would also presume the other sites as well), so bring your trowel.  Around the falls, there is a trailhead which provides access into Petroglyphs Provincial Park.  This is worth the hike (though we didn't end up doing it due to time restrictions), since the historical and cultural significance of these carvings is awe-inspiring.

We actually ran the last set of rapids, with great hesitation and trepidation,  and were quite sheepish when all was said and done. It was somewhat anticlimactic, after all the scouting and determining the safest path to take, just to avoid a 50 m portage.

Falls at the 1st portage
River paddles are a lot of fun; there's scenery that is continually changing, you really don't have to worry about wind and there are inevitably lots of water falls to enjoy.  This trip is very easily accessible and as a result, we noted a bit of litter around (broken beer bottles); It seems to be a fine place for teenage kids to enjoy the spoils of raiding their parents beer stocks, from what we saw.  As well, something about this place gives you a sense that you're never far from civilization, but I can't put my finger on it.  However, I think I can recommend this trip if you want to get an easy river paddle in and don't have much time.

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