ottawa river 21_jpg_t285After portaging through the town of Temiskaming our options for possible campsites were sketchy at best. Our map indicated one amongst the weedy islands just downstream from the town, where Highway #63 turns away from the river. The second options was a cluster of possible sites down towards Beauchene Bay. We saw the first site while drifting by but it was surrounded by swamp and a little too close to to town for our liking. So we paddled further downstream, past Beauchene Bay, in hopes of finding something better. A couple of hours later we were still hugging either the Quebec shore or the Ontario shore searching for some sign of a tent site. There was nothing. The only hint at a possible place was where a trail lead into the thick woods at the mouth of a creek. There was a site but it was so littered by the past users that we abandoned any idea of staying there. It was after 6:00 p.m. when we did finally locate a place - on an island at the entrance to a good size bay on the Ontario side, a couple kilometers upstream of Jocko River (Jocko River also has a great campsite). It was a perfect site and the entire group took a well-deserved swim, and jugged a few cans of beer purchased in Temiskaming, before cooking up dinner.

Next morning we were up again early and on the water before 8:00 a.m. Mike, the other father on the trip, is an early riser, which was to our advantage. We gained some distance before the winds were up again and blowing against our bow. A few camps/cottages were passed throughout the day but the majority of the river is left to its natural state. It was the only occupied place and we stopped to chat with the owners Joe and Julie Fedewich (Julie's brother was the drummer in the movie Almost Famous). Joe came up to the area in 1966 and bought into a fishing lodge. The lodge is now subdivided into separate cottages. A few snap shots of their "Sasquatch" guarding their flower garden were taken and we took up their offer of using their water pump to fill our jugs.

About twenty minutes downstream we noted two campsites on the Ontario side of the river. They weren't on our map but they were good spots, each with a knob of granite and a cluster of pine. Problem was, it was only 2:00 p.m. and we decided to continue on in hopes of finding more campsites further downstream. We eventually did, at a public launch at the mouth of Snake Creek. Of course, that meant we had paddled for over 8 hours that day - way too long to make this an enjoyable family vacation. The kids were hyped up for being in the boat so long so we decided on a quick dinner of sandwiches and juice and then hiked the road to view the waterfall. Camp was hastily set up before dusk and Mike and I lucked out while trying to find a place to safety store our food barrels from bears - a Quebec angler was leaving his broken down vehicle at the launch while he went into town for parts and offered us to store our gear in. He even offered it up as a place to sleep if a problem bear came by to bug us!

At least the previous 8 hour day had greatly reduced the distance of our last day of the trip. All that was left to paddle was a few more kilometers of the Ottawa River and then a sharp turn into Bang's Bay, just to the west of Dupras Island, to reach the take-out spot at Nature's Harmony. The bay was an excellent ending to the trip; a pristine and a much more tranquil spot than the wider banks of the Ottawa. Mike's son, Dalton, and I even caught a dozen smallmouth bass along the way; more than what we had caught on the entire trip.

A 300 meter trail led up to a rough road where the owners of Nature's Harmony had parked our vehicles. After a brief swim at the access point, we loaded up and drove the road leading to Nature's Harmony where we planned to spend our last night at one of their "off-the-grid" cabins. Ending here was ideal, not only because one of the worst storms of the season happened that evening, but also because we had the chance to get to know the owners, Jen and Tzach (and handyman, Ralph). What an incredible group of people living their dream. Jen and Tzach had met while traveling through Cambodia and purchased the 485 acres in 2007 in hopes of living "off-the-grid" and create a "green" business. They've combined new technology with back-to-basic ideals and follow the philosophy of "taking the first step." To quote Tzach "Nature's Harmony is in the early stages of a vision that is much bigger. Our goal is to live in a symbiotic relationship with nature and to minimize our impact on the environment. In doing so, we hope to generate awareness and inspire our guests to live a little more lightly on this planet."

This was definitely a perfect way to end we all definitely made plans to return. In fact, Alana and Wendy (the other mom from the canoe trip) have booked themselves in Nature's Harmony Nature's Harmony Run Off the Grid September 24th. We can't wait.