A Late Winter Paddle on the Napanee River

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We’ve definitely experienced warmer-than-normal temperatures here in Lennox & Addington lately. With springtime conditions like this, it’s easy to forget that we’re still in the first week of March.

It was so nice outside earlier this week, in fact, that I did something rarely do. I used up some accumulated banked time and took an afternoon off to go paddling, one of my favourite activities. After getting my kayak out of storage, I quickly loaded it in my truck and headed it to one of my go-to launch locations: The Napanee River at King Street.

I figured the 5.5km roundtrip to the 401 bridge and back should be plenty for my first outing. You can actually make it all the way to Strathcona and back from this location (about 20km total), but for a guy that hasn’t done a whole lot in the exercise department this winter, that would have been a bit more that my little arms could handle.

There was little sign of ice – still hard for me to believe considering the time of year – but the water was definitely chilly. After a brief wade in just past my ankles, I was able climb into the kayak without incident. It also provided me with ample incentive to be extra careful not to fall in. Tipping would not be good whatsoever.

The current of the river was much stronger than it was during my most previous paddle here in the fall. Seeing I was going against it on the way to the bridge (note previously-mentioned little arms), I could look at least look forward to an easier second half of my excursion.

The water was also much higher than it was on my last visit, though definitely not the highest I’ve ever seen it. That was in 2018 when I was able to actually paddle in this person’s back yard.

The high water also hid some of the smaller logs and deadheads that I’ve gotten used to seeing along the way. I had to be extra careful not to hit anything just below the surface.

On hot summer days there are usually dozens of turtles sunning themselves on the logs and branches near the shoreline. It’s way to early for them to come out of hiding yet, however, I did manage to spook some wood ducks, mallards and Canada Geese that weren’t expecting a human presence. I also saw the efforts of a very ambitious beaver that recently attempted to cut down a tree that may have been a bit too big for them to handle.

Upon reaching the the bridge, I took a breather before journeying back to the launch. While I expect winter conditions will return again before we hit springtime for real, it was still very nice to be able to get back out on the water again. I’m looking very forward to another season of paddling the shorelines of L&A.

If you’re looking to plan an outing of your own, either now or when the spring officially hits, be sure to check out our paddling page to see some of our favourite routes.

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