Carden Nature Guide

Carden by Canoe

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 harry-hallCarden By Canoe - Feature Article
Harry Hall is a Carden resident, lifelong nature lover and avid canoeist. In the following article "Carden By Canoe" and the companion article "The Head River-Canoe Route" Harry shares his joy for canoeing and his wealth of knowledge of Carden's natural wonders. Fortunately, Dr Hall also has a talent for catching wonderful moments with his camera.
Rivers and lakes are nature's highways and  byways. Animals and birds need to drink and travel so paddling, especially quietly, is a wonderful way to enter another world. There are a number of lakes and rivers in Carden and plentiful wildlife - seeing something is a certainty. My experience  has been that I see something new every time I venture forth. It may be a new sighting, a new  birdsong, a new plant or a new interaction between them. Be patient, watch, listen, sniff and feel things. Let your feelings guide you in your exploration.Most of the lakes are small and safe but watch for deadheads, swells from cruisers and always keep an eye on the weather. Wind can be your enemy if you are not experienced. kneeling is much safer than sitting

The lakes of the Carden Plain include Lake Dalrymple, Head Lake, Canal Lake, Mitchell Lake and Cranberry Lake, although Cranberry Lake is not accessible as it is entirely surrounded by private property. Canal and Mitchell lakes are part of the Trent Canal system with much pleasure craft traffic. The canoeist will find the northern parts, away from the cruisers more to their liking. There are bays, little islands and lots of water life. They are shallow with lots of logs, deadheads and rocks that support a multitude of wildlife – herons , bitterns, gulls, muskrats, beavers etc.

Lake Dalrymple has two parts separated by a narrows. This lake is full of life of all kinds, from fish to birds, including turtles  and mammals. The habitats are quite diverse as the southern part  has a limestone base and the northern section which is the beginning of the Laurentian Shield has many granite shoals and little rock islands. It keeps the power  boats out and becomes a virtual nature reserve.

The navigable rivers are the Talbot (partly) and the Head. The Talbot runs in and out of Raven lake  which is small, reedy and uninhabited I have not been down this river but  the Carden section seems to have a` lot of fences (often barbwire) and  is very shallow.

head river in fallThe Head River flows out of Head Lake and runs westerly across the lower edge of the shield. The first part from the lake to Monck Road about 2 km east of Uphill is wide, flat and generally swampy along the sides. There is a small dam and then life gets much more interesting. There are multiple rapids and small falls. Only a few of these are runable and some require 50- 200 metre portages. The part just upstream from CKL # 35  to Monck Road  east of Uphill is a quiet bit, which is mostly swamp with the river wending its way slowly. I saw some nesting eared grebes there. Don’ they know they are western birds?  (Suitable for novices – allow 2-3 hours)

From  CKL #35 to McKenzie Road is a joyful 6 hour paddle There are lots of rapids  ( mostly runable if you havehead-river-falls2x3 the skills), a few  waterfalls  (usually over limestone ledges) up to 4-5 feet ,and lots of deadfalls. .There is virtually no sign of humanity so prepare accordingly. This is not for inexperienced paddlers-surprises are common. One interesting incident happened when I saw something white in  a small rapid ahead of me. As I passed over it I realized it was a deer skeleton with the head impaled on a snag and the rest of the bones still held together by the ligaments waving in the current  - ghostly! I presume it had fallen through the ice in the winter. No camera available of course.

From Lake Dalrymple Road to the Monck Road at Young’s lake is mostly quiet with only one significant rapid to catch your attention .The river flowing from lake Dalrymple joins on the left side so there is a little more volume as you approach the Monck Road. The river of course continues and eventually joins the Black river south east of Washago.