The universe was on our side back in June when I got asked to come out to do some work just outside of Ottawa and it was the exact same week as the L’il Shredders trial program at Wilderness Tours that Hunter had been invited to. Obviously it was meant to be!
We spent a week living together in a rustic bunkhouse on site at Wilderness Tours. It wasn’t fancy but it had power to charge devices and was clean. Outhouse just down the way and showers at the main lodge a few minutes walk down the road.
Our first day didn’t get off to an auspicious start… we awoke to light rains which quickly turned into monsoon like showers that lasted off and on all morning.
We spent the weekend together on an Eric Jackson class which was a lot of fun. He is really knowledgeable, and finds ways to play and teach at the same time. Here are he and Hunter paddling boats full of water in the whirlpools on Butcher’s knife.
Hunter also learned a new technique for getting out of his boat!
The prize at the end of the day of paddling is a nice sheltered bar at the take out that has beer and juice on tap – a great way to end the day!
Sunday brought EJ’s “Big Water” indoctrination – meant to teach you that things that look scary because they are big are not necessarily so. What it really meant is that everyone had to throw themselves into Phil’s hole, the first rapid on the river. You can see a very small part of my boat with most of me under the water – it wasn’t a great washing machine ride and ended in a swim when my skirt was blown.
Hunter had an equally unsuccessful Phil’s experience. If you look hard you can just see a corner of his boat in the centre of the photo (yellow and black) and you can see a small dark item just downstream a few inches. That dark item is his helmet, which should be attached to his head but got pulled off. It was lost to the river gods that day…
Luckily EJ was able to grab a helmet for him at Keeners and we carried down the river with Hunter a little shaken from his first big beatdown.
We both survived the weekend only a little worse for wear and having learned a lot of new things! I then headed off to work for two days while Hunter joined Seth and Maddie in the L’il Rippers program.
A new helmet was purchased after an unplanned detour to Ottawa on my way to work on Monday and Hunter managed to talk EJ into a sticker and Simon into cutting the sticker for him to get it looking cool.
The week went well for Hunter with lots of surfing and skill building delivered by Seth in sneaky ways. He managed to shake off his beatdown and was back to his usual self by Tuesday. When Big Water Thursday rolled around we both made it back into Phil’s fairly unscathed and EJ was right – it builds your confidence!
I went back into an EJ weeklong session on Weds and continued to have a lot of fun. I came down with a major sinus cold which definitely played havoc with my ability to clearly think, and that did correlate with a much lower confidence level most days. I now consider whitewater kayaking in the same category as “operating heavy machinery” in terms of the things you shouldn’t do while on cold medication…
Overall our week was fabulous. We met lots of new fun people, paddled in warm water and warm weather, learned new skills and Hunter came home with a new boat – a RockstarXS that was just released by Jackson in May. It was a great fit for him and really allowed him to have more boat control. Thanks to Jackson and the great folks at Wilderness Tours / Ottawa Kayak School for helping to make that happen.
He’s already been busy taking it out on flat water and doing mystery moves…
We definitely recommend Wilderness Tours for families and non-families equally. Lots of things to do on and off the water with a really friendly environment. For those that don’t kayak there are a wide assortment of rafting or inflatable kayaking options and a great school to take lessons from.
2 responses to “We’re hooked after a week on the Ottawa River!”
Did you both go back and do Phill’s hole again????
We did – for Big Water Thursday. And it happily went well for both of us…