Life's hectic pace often leaves little room for extended getaways, but sometimes, a short paddling adventure is all you need to rejuvenate your spirit! That's precisely what Scott and I discovered when we set out on a quick journey down the Mississippi River near Kinburn, Ontario. Initially, we had aimed to explore the Ottawa River, but nature had other plans—strong winds and intimidating whitecaps put a halt to those ambitions. But as they say, when one river closes, another opens...
Making Do Without Roof Racks
Because of this especially windy day, we decided to swap out our regular Oru Kayaks for a couple of hard kayaks instead. The only issue is that we don't have roof racks on our vehicle! However, this minor obstacle was no match for the ingenuity of Level Six foam blocks and Perception tie-downs, which enabled us to safely secure our kayaks to the car roof. The setup isn't glamorous or ideal, but it was effective for a short drive. After getting the kayaks secured, we were on our way to the river.
The Launch Point Is Not What It Seems
Arriving at what is marked on Googled as a "boat launch" off Hunt Line Road, we had a slight surprise. Let me set the record straight—this isn't a proper boat launch. If you're considering bringing a trailer, you will want to reconsider; the "ramp" is more of a rocky drop-off than a designated launch area. But for our kayaks, it was more than adequate, and we found it easy enough to get into the water and set out on our journey.
Battling the Wind
As we began paddling downstream, it was apparent that the wind was going to be a significant factor in our outing. Every stroke felt like a mini-battle against nature's forces, but it was a great workout for the arms! We managed to travel around 2.5 kilometers downstream before deciding it was time to head back. While the strong wind made for a demanding outward journey, the river gave us a scenic backdrop. Had time permitted, we would have extended our trip to visit the old train bridge just above Galetta Falls—a goal we're saving for next time.
A Birder’s Paradise
Our trip wasn't just a test of our paddling endurance; it was also a spectacle for the eyes, especially for bird watching enthusiasts. Among the avian stars were three Great Blue Herons, a kingfisher, a handful of bluejays, and a mysterious bird of prey. But the standout moment came when we spotted a great egret—an incredible sight, as neither of us had ever seen one before!
The Marvelous Great Egret
The great egret deserves special attention. This striking bird, with its pure white plumage and long, slender neck, is a sight to behold against the contrasting landscape of the Mississippi River. Native to areas in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Southern Europe, the great egret stands out as one of the more adaptable wading birds. It can fly at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and has a wingspan that ranges from 52 to 67 inches. It typically feeds on fish but will also eat amphibians, invertebrates, and small mammals when the opportunity arises. We had the pleasure of witnessing the bird fishing for his lunch, but sadly he didn't catch anything this time around. Spotting a great egret is often considered a sign of a healthy wetland ecosystem, which is a great thing to see on one of our local rivers. It was an blissful experience to follow this elegant bird along the river, watching it glide gracefully and attempt to snag a meal, even if it was unsuccessful in the end.
The Perfect Quick Escape
If you're in the Ottawa area and looking for a short and rewarding paddling experience, the Mississippi River offers just that. In less than 40 minutes from downtown Ottawa, you can immerse yourself in nature and return home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
So, are you ready to discover this hidden gem for yourself? Grab your paddle and get out exploring!