Two Saturdays ago, four of us guys from church went on an trip usually more associated with younger boys, more the likes of the title of this post. Friends Joe and Nate had built a raft last summer, and I and another friend, Rob, got to join them for the last trip of the summer down the Grand River on an overnight jaunt. This raft does not resemble anything of what Tom or Huck would have traveled on. Nate has a business where he gets sheets of styrofoam in bulk, and after glueing together large slabs, they sheathed it in plywood and 2x4's, and then built a counter and upper platform. It's unsinkable, and to un-experienced rafters not too bad to maneuvre.
It was a great evening, the best spot being seated in a chair up on the "upper deck", peacefully floating down the river.
|Nate's got the best seat on the raft.|
We set out from the boat ramp by Cockshutt Park thanks to Pete, Dan B, Ian and Hammy at various points in the journey. The groups of people fishing or watching us embark took more than a second look at the less than typical vessel, compared to the usual canoes and kayaks which frequent the river that is.
|Approaching Colbourne Street South bridge and "the rapids"|
As we started our slow meander down the river, we floated past an Osprey, a number of shore birds, herons, and then saw two dear in the water, who were probably thinking of crossing. They let us approach quite close until they thought better, put up their white alert flags, and "high tailed" it up the bank into the long grass.
|White-tailed Deer does.|
Through out the evening, we pushed all the great blue herons downstream along the stretch of the river we ran. Quietly they'd pump their large wings and labour up and away, gliding to what they assumed would be a serene place to hunt, only to be disturbed again a short while later.
|Compulsory group shot on the bow of the vessel.|
We got some swimming in, a good swing on an old rope swing, and fishing for all but one of us was successful.
As it got darker, we enjoyed a fire on the raft and roasted sausages, then sat and chatted and fished the night away. We poled around the rocks in the dark, some with more ease than others. Some unnamed members of the group figured it was better not to have a look-out on the top level providing free and helpful directions. One unannounced rock nearly succeeded in sending the "blind" polers over board. I'm still not sure how they recovered - the scene from our vantage above was lots of flying arms and legs and chairs on the very edge of the raft as we jolted to an instant stop, all with a burning fire right in the midst.
Through the dark, the previously quiet herons, squawked at our approach, voicing their annoyance at having to leave their chosen roosts for the night. They have nothing of a complimentary sound, that's for sure, probably suiting their mood at that point.
We tied off to an overhanging tree and floated on the river for the night. After a night on top of the platform, racoons on the shore making a ruckus, and the dew soaking me pretty well through, I think maybe I got about a total of 2hrs sleep. Morning's light woke us at about 5:00am. We let loose our moorings and headed out for another few hours of fishing, relaxation and peaceful floating, or poling where the current wasn't strong enough to move us at all.
After a combined 6.5hrs of actual rafting, we pulled out at a small boat launch at the end of Beach Road towards the eastern side of Brantford. You wouldn't think it would take this long, but the River meanders quite a bit. Also, for about an hour or more of the evening, it seemed the last street light on River Road and Baldwin Ave had a strange pull on us, letting us slowly away then reeling us back towards it. Once the culprit wind finally died down enough to let the will of the river overcome the force of the breeze, we finally made progress again.
The trip was a great time, and a unique way to spend a night and see the river. The one "dissappointment" I had was the promised beaver's boldness in the night. Others, including some groups of girls from the church, have gone rafting before and had beavers (and strange men!) approach right against the raft at night. We saw them, heard the slap of their tails in warning once or twice, but nothing like the girls had.
Next summer again guys?!?