The 1st Waterloo “Roamers” Venturer Company, 2nd Place Amory Adventure Award Winners
We left Waterloo at 6:40 AM to start our most adventurous trip yet. We had a 7-hour car ride ahead of us before we would reach our night’s stay. The next day we finally arrived at our launch point. We said our goodbyes to parents and Scouters and on a warm, dry morning it began: the great voyage down the Spanish River.
That first day was absolutely beautiful: the sun was out, no rain and just overall great attitudes. The next day was much more eventful. It started out happily: sun out, no clouds in sight. We crossed the appropriately named Expanse Lake in about four hours, and by mid-afternoon it had started to rain. It was just a light rain—almost a mist for most of the day—but it was still consistent enough to soak us through.
Around the same time that the rain let up a bit, disaster struck. We had just finished scouting the Lower Athlone rapids and were going to shoot the rapid. First boat went easily, second boat followed without a problem, then some of us saw the third boat drifting down the middle of the river, upside down and unoccupied. One boat shot off to go get it as the other boat waited for the members to follow down the river. This even cost us a beautiful campsite, but fortunately the next one wasn’t that far down and was nearly as beautiful.
It was the next morning and all of us were up, still unknowing of the surprise waiting outside. Before we even got out of our tents, we noticed them. There were only a few at first, popping up here and there and giving us some good laughs. They were slugs. Slugs everywhere. Soon enough, we stopped laughing since all of our stuff was covered in them. We kept finding more and more as we struggled to prepare breakfast under a heavy downpour, more as we packed up camp and we kept thinking this isn’t the end, knowing we would keep finding them all trip long. We would’ve been happy to have the same misty rain as the day before, but were instead plagued by a torrential downpour. At some point going down the river, we found ourselves pulling a few metres ahead of the wall of rain. Clouds following close behind us were a great motivation to paddle hard, barely managing to stay ahead of a storm.
We finally found our campsite for the night, soon after the rain let up. It was at the top of an exposed rocky hill overlooking a lake. Despite a minor wrist injury from slipping on a wet rock, we had a great night swimming in the lake, and even met an otter in the water.
The fifth day was already set up to be the hardest one yet and only got harder as the day went on. There were plenty of rapids; a few we already knew we would be portaging. Their names were Upper and Lower Graveyard Rapids. They were loud, filled with rocks and extremely dangerous. The portage trails were not much better for hiking with mud, rocks and tree branches all over the trail. It took a lot of sweat and blood, but eventually we reached the rocky beach at the other side and settled down for lunch, taking photos of the wonderful scenery in the area as we ate.
We reached one of the last rapids of our trip. It was a rather nasty specimen, but we decided to run it anyways. As the second boat closed in, its paddlers noticed a bit of a fuss happening behind them. On the third boat, there had been an argument and the end results were one individual soloing the rapid, while the other sprinted down the portage. The two of them were met with a great deal of concern and disappointment from the other Venturers after that hoopla. We ended that day peacefully in a nice campsite overlooking a small rapid.
Day six consisted of lots of small rapids and flat water. It was fairly relaxed and, still feeling fully energized, we decided to attempt to cross Agnew Lake when we reached it that evening. We pushed hard, and barely made it anywhere through the intense wind, eventually giving up and turning back to a wonderful campsite overlooking the lake. That night we made makeshift beavertails from leftover ingredients. We had a peculiar incident of a fully clothed member slipping and making a bit of a splash in the lake while trying to wash a pot, prompting the rest of us to go for an evening swim.
Our next morning was early as we tried to wake before the wind and push across Agnew Lake. It was a fairly leisurely paddle as we took our time on this last stretch of the trip, and upon reaching the lodge at the end of the lake we treated ourselves to long overdue showers with their facilities, then horsed around as we waited for our rides. At lunch, we found a bag of forgotten oranges mocking us from the base of one of our food barrels, again, just as they somehow seem to do on every trip. We camped overnight overlooking Agnew Lake after competing in a sumo wrestling competition on the lodge’s water trampoline.
On the eighth morning we woke up well rested to begin the long drive home. It had been a pretty long trip, on which we had canoed a total of 156 kilometres. As a Company, we can certainly agree that this trip was one of the best, if not the best, of all the experiences we have had thus far. It’s certainly left its mark, too, mostly in the form of slugs showing up and spreading from anywhere our gear went for the next few weeks. Rumour has it the tents we slept in still have slugs on them to this day.