A special paddles up and congrats to Cory Seaman! Why a special congrats and paddles up to the official finder of the KO A.Y. Jackson paddle? Because there is quite a a bit of history here between Cory and the PITPC and, well…. why don’t we just let Cory tell it…

For those who don’t know my full story with Paddle in the Park, my first search began in 2015 when my then girlfriend and I set out bright and early at 4am in order to be on the water at the Carlyle Lake access point in Killarney in order to find the paddle on the portage between Norway and Sandy Lakes. We had the right location, yet failed to search the 25m carry over the paddle was on. We didn’t find a paddle that day, but still had a really unforgettable time, capped off with a late lunch at Herbert’s Fisheries.

In August 2015, we once again set out early in the morning on the hunt for Kevin Callan’s Happy Camper paddle in Kawartha Highlands after I’d solved the clue with the turtle watermark in the picture. It was a long day of paddling and we were quite excited to find two portages into Turtle Lake. We had seen a blue canoe bee lining it away from there, so we weren’t quite sure the paddle was there anymore… After searching every birch tree, we knew there wasn’t a paddle there, but the ground around every tree had been trampled pretty heavily by searchers before us. I still wanted to load the car up and head down for one more search on Little Turtle Lake at the very south end of the park, but she was too tired so we made the decision to head home. It was when we were halfway back to the parking lot crossing Long Lake that we came across a father and son paddling out as well with Badger paddles in their hand. A quick conversation revealed they’d been searching for the paddle as well and had spent the night camped out for it. Ultimately they won the grand prize canoe in 2015, but after we were out of earshot we knew we would have given them the paddle had we found it.

Just seconds too late, Cory took this picture of the Stinson’s right after their find.

Fast forward to 2016 and I had figured out where all the paddles were. I really wanted to go find the Portageur paddle in French River, but due to changes in life I didn’t want to go solo on to Georgian Bay, so I let that one go. The Portage Queen paddle led me to the Rain Lake access twice. The first time was to the same spot where a paddle was found by Mike Last in the first year of the contest and a search of the portage into Hot Lake. The second trip led all the way through Jubilee up to the Petawawa River. No paddle was found that day as the paddle was well hidden at the end of the Jubilee portage.

Then there was my infamous trip to Bon Echo in mid August where I misinterpreted the Happy Camper clue and thought it meant the paddle was at the far end of the portage but it was really near the start and I was 10 seconds too late as I heard the shouts of “I found it!! I found it!!”. Yes I was a little heartbroken at that, but I was happy because it was a family who were overjoyed. Seeing 5 year old Hiker Stinson come out from behind the tree with The Happy Camper paddle in his hands made the entire trip worth it.

The final trips of 2016 were in search of the Nova Craft paddle. I messed up though. I knew from following both Preston and Kevin on social media that they’d just done a trip together to Noganosh. The likelihood of a paddle being there was high, but they’re usually quite careful in not revealing where they go when it’s time to hide a paddle so I decided to wait for a clue… First clue clarified it was in Explorer’s Edge and I had it narrowed down to 2 parks. Second clue comes out and I was in Noganosh. No paddle. Third clue had me sleeping over night at the parking lot in Noganosh and on the water bright and early as the sun rose and the mist covered the Pickerel River. No paddle. It was mysterious circumstances at the time, then we all found out it had been found by a lucky cottager.

So we arrive in 2017… I had a 12 day trip to Temagami planned for the end of July and early August, so I hadn’t been out looking for paddles, but had figured that the AO paddle was on Pen Lake (it was, but it was my 2nd guess for a location). The KO paddle was an easy one to figure out as well, but I didn’t have the time to go searching. With my declaration of it being unfinished business from last year, I was set on locating the Nova Craft paddle this year. As of my writing this, the Nova Craft paddle still hasn’t been claimed, but I’m pretty confident in its whereabouts. However, plans are oft to change and my plans changed the second I saw that there were 2 extra paddles being released… Wow, that new Killarney Outfitters A.Y. Jackson paddle sure looked nice!!

The first clue didn’t really say much to me. I already knew it was in Killarney and given the timeframe that Preston and Joyce were in the park, it had to be one of the George or Carlyle access points. Then on Wednesday, August 30, I happened to look at the PITPC website at 930am and knew from the picture exactly where the paddle was! By 10am the canoe was on the car and I was on the water at 130pm. I knew I was the only one looking for the paddle because of quick peeks on car dashboards and only seeing overnight permits.

As I explained earlier, this was also the location of my first paddle searching adventure, though it was bittersweet and full of memories this time. Carlyle Lake was a dream to cross, smooth water with no wind and solo paddling at an unreal 7.3km/hr. Halfway down the portage between Carlyle and Kakakise, I ran into 2 couples on their way out from a multi day trip. You better believe I took careful notice of the paddles they were carrying! No Badgers though!

I made quick work of that 860m portage, but how did I ever forget about the rocky drop to Kakakise at the end of it?!? It didn’t help that everything was slippery, so I was cautious and slowly worked the canoe down to the water. A quick paddle across the narrow bay and I was there. The portage from Kakakise to Norway Lake. Home of the A.Y. Jackson paddle. Today’s the day, it’s going to be mine!

But not so quick…. you see, these paddles are never hidden where they’re an obvious find. This is a 1450m portage with the last 500m being part of the La Cloche Trail and a gorgeous view of the quartzite mountains from the sandy beach at the Norway Lake end of the portage after a long hill climb. That paddle could be anywhere….

“yet to find this paddle, you must search out white rope and a red spruce”

I began slowly down the portage taking long glances at every red spruce I saw. Maybe 50m into the portage is a long row of young cedars on the east side of the portage. They’re not easy to see behind, but I could see red spruces behind them. No white string though. But there’s this awful smell of varnish. Why do I smell varnish in the woods? Keep going. I get to the bridge and I know that Preston likes to make people stop and enjoy the scenery. There’s a fairly open hillside here with red spruce galore, but one tree in particular stood out to me. It was a red spruce to the right of the bridge behind 2 other red spruces. Its trunk was mostly hidden by cedar boughs. In my head I’m thinking this is it, the paddle will be there. Except it wasn’t.

I continued up the hill from the bridge towards the junction with the La Cloche trail, all the while flooded with memories of that first trip here. On the way back out, I spent a lot of time at the bridge looking around and re-examining a few spots before I gave up on that and thought that maybe Preston had been sneaky and the paddle could be on the portage between Carlyle and Kakakise…

So I’m hiking slowly and I round a small corner in the trail near the cedar hedges. The smell of varnish hits me again. What the heck. At this point I’m still not making much of it and then it happens. I look to the left and there’s a red spruce I couldn’t see from the other direction because it was hidden behind another one. Peeking out from behind the trunk is a 1″ triangle of yellow and a long black line running up the back side. HOLY CRAP, I FOUND IT!! I swear my heart stopped and I just froze before running up to it and then remembering to grab a few quick pictures before removing it from the tree. It finally happened!!!! Much like the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series, I finally did it!! I spent a while there admiring the paddle, but the darkening sky at 3pm hastened me to leave.

I took my time crossing Carlyle Lake on the way out as I was no longer in a rush and was treated to the amazing site of a 6-8 point young buck standing majestically on an outcropping of rock. I didn’t get the best picture of him as I watched him silently until he began to re-enter the forest, but I’ve attached a picture.

Once back at the car, the phone call was made to Badger Paddles and I had a great conversation with Mike. The next phone call was to the Stinson family, finders of the Happy Camper paddle in Bon Echo last year. It was great hearing Hiker yelling “Congratulations Cory!” in the background.

It was really great bringing the contest full circle for me by ultimately finding a paddle along the same route I took when I first searched for a paddle in 2015.

So there we go, I finally found and claimed a paddle, though the contest is always about so much more. Whether or not you find a paddle out there, if you win or don’t win a prize pack for paddle points, the contest is about so much more than that. It really is all about getting out there and enjoying all that our parks have to offer us. The clues are fun to solve. The paddle points list is lots of fun to complete. The places you end up exploring and the memories you make out there are priceless.

Through the contest, I’ve been to some places I might otherwise not have gone yet. I’ve made friends I wouldn’t otherwise know. There’s an ever-growing community of paddling friends created because of involvement in the PITPC. I have future trips planned based on locations opened up to me through hours spent poring over maps trying to deduce a paddle’s location.

Fiona’s probably teary eyed right now, [Editor’s note: Yep, she is!] but part of successfully locating a paddle is being able to see the forest for the trees, taking your time and really taking in your surroundings at each step of the journey. We often rush through portages with our heads under a canoe, yet Preston, Kevin, Hap, Andrea, Fiona, and Mike have created something great here by asking everyone to slow it down and enjoy all that surrounds you. Thank you to all of you for creating such an amazing outdoor advocacy campaign and I hope to see it carry on for years to come, even if I’m no longer eligible to claim a paddle out there!

#rewardsareoutthere #finishedbusiness2017

Submitted by Cory Seaman, via email.

So much history! We could’n’t be happier for Cory and have truly enjoyed watching his journey come full circle and his paddle-finding dream realized. Cory has kept us regularly updated on his paddle seeking pursuits over the years and has always taken our  automatic “No comment. 🙂 ” replies with great humour. As Preston mentioned during his long-clue, Cory has won a decal or two, but nothing really big during his years of participation and has been coveting the hidden paddles the entire time. He didn’t seem to want to take any chances this year in prospects to win a prize package, either as he completed the entire Paddle Points Task List in record time to take the North West Award for being the first to finish and won himself a built-to-order custom Badger Paddle before going on to find and claim the KO A.Y. Jackson paddle. And so with that, Cory’s paddling finding adventures are complete…. or are they? #PaddleSelfies are encouraged for all previous paddle-finders, so who really knows?! There are still Paddle Points to be collected, plus 2 more paddles waiting to be found and claimed. So get your clues and get “Out There”!

But before you go, check out everything Cory won below (plus this):

KO – A.Y. JACKSON PADDLE (Killarney Outfitters) Prize Pack Full List:

Badger Hidden Badger Paddle $ 269.00
KO Northwater Barrel Harness with Barrel – $153.75+$56.20 $ 209.95
Rapid Media 1 YR PADDLING Magazine Print/Digital Subscription $ 20.00
Portageur.ca Portageur.ca Decal $8.00
 TOTAL  KO – A.Y. JACKSON PADDLE PRIZE PACK  $506.95

 

Written by Fiona
Mother, wife, friend, artist, paddler, and owner of Badger Paddles. As co-founder and title sponsor of the PITPC, I'm not eligible to win. But I still wanted to get "Out There" too, and help advocate to get lots of people to spend more time in nature. So I'm really only in it for the fun, and not for the prizes!