Saturday December 7th, 2013. I am going to try to row up both forks of Widgeon Creek. There has been a cold spell in Vancouver, two weeks of below freezing temperatures. Today it is clear and cold, the temperature at 10:00 am is -8 degrees. The wind is predicted to be less that 5 km/hr from the South East.
I have found a Widgeon Creek weather site, it is:
The site is from Norway! Why the Norwegians would want to know about the weather in Widgeon Creek is a mystery.
The road to Grant Narrows. The weather today is clear, sunny, calm and cold. This view is looking North towards Grant Narrows and Pitt Lake.
The Tide information:
Saturday December 7th, 2013. The Point Atkinson tides are:
The Low Low tide is at 2:01 am, .7 meter or 2.3 feet. The High High tide is at 9:22 am, 5.0 meters or 16.4 feet. The High Low tide is at 3:36 pm, 2.9 meters or 9.5 feet.
The tide is going to be higher than the last time I was here.
I am going to try to ride the tide up both of the forks of Widgeon Creek. The last time I was here on November 25th, the High High tide was at 11:08 am at Point Atkinson. The tide was still rising when I left at 3:00 pm. The high tide should be an hour and thirty minutes earlier today. I plan to row from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Will the tide peak during my row?
Just visible is the delta going into Pitt Lake. It runs from the left point across the picture to the right.
The morning sun on Widgeon Creek Estuary. It is cold. I am dressed for the cold. I have my long underwear, top and bottom, woolly socks, undershirt, long sleeved shirt, pull over fleece, wind breaker jacket, scarf, hat, toque (if windy), life jacket, and a blanket. I also have some pogies to row with for my hands. I have some boot and hand warmer packs.
Leaving the dock behind. I am going to row South along the docks and then make the crossing. There is a one and one-half current going up river into Pitt Lake.
Wow!, as I enter the estuary, I find that it is frozen. There is a channel in the ice from the boat I saw earlier that I am going to follow. I am rowing in stern first, so I can see exactly where I am going.
My oar is resting on the ice. It is between 1/4 and 1/2 inches thick. In some places my oars go right through and in others they just bounce off the ice. This could be a very short row if the ice conditions do not get better. A few times I have to take two runs at the ice to get through.
The crew from the Arctic Joule, the boat that attempted to row the North West Passage in 2013 gave a presentation at the Centennial Theatre in North Vancouver, on Nov 26th (Tuesday) at 7.30 pm, just blocks away from my house. They shared stories from their rowing expedition in the Arctic. They had pictures and film clips from the expedition. Their boat “The Arctic Joule” was on display outside the theatre. What a lot of windage their boat has. Their training regime seemed to be training to be miserable or training to be used to being in miserable conditions. This photo reminds me of what the shoreline usually looked like in their photos.
Their website is http://mainstreamlastfirst.com/. It is worth a look.
The ice sheet is frozen to the top of the reed beds. My oar is resting on the ice frozen to the weeds.
A little ways upstream from the cabin. There are icicles hanging from the branches. Any branch hanging into the water had ice on it. I noticed that my oars were starting to get ice on them.
The fork in the Creek. The left fork leads to the camp ground, the right to the head of the creek. I choose the right fork and row to the end, hoping to get further than the last time.
Going up the right fork. According to the topo maps, the two forks join, because upstream Widgeon Creek splits into two to go through this marsh. I hope to row up one fork and back down the other.
This is where I have to line (walk) Gwragedd Annwn upstream. Last trip there was a coyote on this point. The water seems to be at about the same depth as the last time. Upstream I trudge.
Last trip I rowed into this stump on the way up. I have learned from experience and avoid it this trip.
The right fork shallows again. I line Gwragedd Annwn upstream. This is about as far up as I got the last trip. I really want to push up as far as I can.
Pulling Gwragedd Annwn up through the shallows. Her bow line is 100 feet long and I can pull her over the shallows and into the channel as I work my way upstream.
A tree blocks the way. It has been undercut by the current and fallen from the bank into the creek, blocking the channel. I row up to the tree, but, there is not enough water to float Gwragedd Annwn over it. and there is not enough room to pass between the branches.
Should have brought a chainsaw. Probably would not be legal to cut it up to make a passage. I wonder how far further upstream I could go if the tree was not in the way.
Gwragedd Annwn, bow resting on the tree. I need 8 inches more water to float her over the tree. No way I can pass this obstacle. I do not see the end of the fork ahead. How far could I go from here?
I am running the creek backwards so I can see where I am going. On the way down, I grounded several times. I sat on the side of Gwragedd Annwn to tip her on her side and reduce her draft to get across the shallower spots.
Ice has blocked the channel. Many of the side channels are too narrow for Gwragedd Annwn to row in. I would have to pole her up the channel. I am thinking of putting a sculling notch in her transom just for such occasions.
This photo shows a side pool being flooded by the tide. I know that the tide is still rising as it is filling this pool. Notice the ripples to the left of the photo. That is the water flowing into the pool.
With the reduced flow and the width of the channel, picking the deeper channel to row in is not easy. There is another eagle in a tree, top centre right of the photo. This eagle did not fly away and I saw it again on the way back down.
The channel ahead. It looks like there has been movement in the main channel. I am trying to row up the deepest one.
Past where the channel has shifted. The old channels seem to have a gravel bottom and the newer ones are narrower and do not have the gravel bottom of the older channels.
Salmon in a pool near the head of the left fork. There were probably more that a hundred of them. Were they waiting for the tide?, or for more rain to swell the creek?
As far as I can go. The creek is too shallow for Gwragedd Annwn to be pulled further ahead. I counted three sets of shallows ahead that I would have to pass before the deeper pool in the distance.
Another picture of the salmon. I would guesstimate that they were all about two feet long.
The ice sheet on the shore seems to indicate that the tide will raise the water level here. I know that the tide is rising still, but, I do not have the time to wait for it. The time is 1:15 pm. How much longer will the tide rise? I will not find out this trip.
This is a photo of the ice forming on the oar. The temperature never got above freezing, even in the sun. The white lines show the water depth. 24 inches, 18 inches and 12 inches. Most of the ice is by the 24 inch depth. There was no ice on Gwragedd Annwn’s hull.
Walking Gwragedd Annwn past a shallow spot.
The beginning of the freeze. It seems as if the “stars” of ice form and then fill in between the arms.
Four and one-half feet of water? It read below three feet when I went upstream. Maybe another foot to rise? I will have to come back and try to find a correlation between the Point Atkinson tide times and the tide times here. I will clean off this marker the next time I am here.
The No Power Boats sign. Did the ice drift up stream? Did it go into the Pitt River and go downstream?
On the way out
The stump is almost awash. Compare this photo one take on the way in….
On the way in