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The past few weeks have been filled with family fun activities and getting ready for the holidays. We trekked up to Canada to spend the beginning of December with Nicks family in celebration of Christmas. We ended up bringing our kayaking gear knowing that both of us had very little hopes in it being warm enough to really want to go. Sure enough the weather shot up one day, warm enough to melt all the snow and convince us it was time to go boating.


We got geared up in the house so we would stay warm and headed out to the incredible Ottawa River. Nick and I set shuttle and arrived at the put in which was completely empty. Unlike the summers in Canada when you cant even get a parking spot! After getting our last pieces of gear on, we headed out to the water.

Ice everywhere! Nick put in at the rivers edge and started chopping away with his paddle, thank goodness for our lighting paddles because we were hitting pretty hard. After about 30 minutes of ice chopping we decided it was time to make another plan, we back tracked to the shore and started hiking.  I found a spot with current that I could actually get in and not worry about ice at all, and nick got in another spot where he slid in and continued to slide across the ice. Then he was stuck for awhile and had to continue to chop through. I waited for him on the other side, paddling in circles to stay warm. Once we were together in the open water, off to the first rapid we went!


I have run this river a million times and I must say it is one of my favorite. Not having a clue what the water level was I was excited to bomb right into the first rapid, McCoys. I boat scouted and headed straight down into the first waves. The water was high and crazy cold! Usually when the water is high I find the boils,  whirl pools and other currents pushing me around. Not this time, my new Star rocked in the big water. I couldn’t believe how balanced and easy it was for me to get where I wanted in the middle of these big rapids. Not only that but with no bracing!  The edges were easy to control, not catching and incredible smooth through all sorts of whitewater that the Ottawa had to offer.


Nick and I took one ride at 7/8 hole but it was too high and playboating was way colder then simply paddling. So we headed on to the rest of the river. We got to Garberator slow as the wind was working against us and we decided not to take any short cuts in case they were iced over. Garberator was swirly! I stayed right side up easily and with every big breaking wave I simply leaned into and popped out the other side, colder, but nowhere near as cold as I would be if I flipped.


We kept paddling, down through butchers knife, and the surprise waves below BFR (big friendly rock). I was staying high and dry the whole time, my gear was warm, my head was practically dry and I was happy!


We got to the top of Normons and figured it would be a good level for triple nipple.  Holy crap it was! Triple Nipple was insanely smooth and offered a ton of air. I kept doing flash backs as then I wouldn’t put my hands in the water and I would stay warm. This boat was by far the easies to flash back that I have ever used. I even tried them on my off side and found them easy that way as well. The hull was fast so I could carve out to the greenest part of the wave and the volume kept me in when I would try moves. As I went first nick was waiting up top so I figured after a hundred flashbacks I should try something I might flush on, so I tried flip turns, and helixes, they didn’t flush. Then I tried big blunts, they didn’t flush, so then I decided I might not be able to hold my paddle as my hands were now purple from the cold so I simply carved off the wave and paddled down through Normons. (again, totally right side up)


Nick surfed for awhile and I sat there enjoying where I was, and the fact that my hands were coming back to life (in a very painful way). I peeked over the horizon line at Coliseum but really couldn’t see much so I just kept waiting for Nick.

Once nick flushed off the wave (after a ten minute ride), we bombed down into Coliseum. I started way left which puts me right in front of a big wave that tends to act like an ocean wave, building and crashing, building and crashing. When I realized how far left I was I started sprinting right so that way I can hold onto my dry hair day claim. I really didn’t think I would make it but sure enough I did, only to end up crashing into the big wave behind it. I kept my weight balanced, and forward and once again popped out on the other side of chaos right side up.


I must say it was one of my best days on the Ottawa. To have shared it with my husband and only my husband (there was no one else in sight) and to have braved the cold, made it so much more special.


I am truly impressed with my new kayaks ability to carry my through tough boils, eddylines and swirlagrams, and cant wait to run another river in it. If you are looking to improve your playboating, and want to be able to take it  down your local play run, effortlessly, this boat is for you!


Happy Holidays

Emily Jackson