Killarney Outfitters Paddle – FOUND & CLAIMED

Bill Graham holding a Badger LaBonga paddle - winner of the Killarney Outfitter canoe paddle and prize package he won from the Paddle in the Park Contest

Killarney Outfitters Paddle – FOUND & CLAIMED

It’s true! The 2019 hidden Killarney Outfitters Paddle has been found and claimed by Bill Graham! Paddles up and congrats to Bill! Read Bill’s story, in his own words, below. Also, be sure to watch the bonus by-chance live-video interview we captured of Bill the day he found the paddle, plus the KO prize announcement video to see all the great gear Killarney Outfitters has provided for this year’s Paddle in the Park campaign! 

“I’m retired; why on earth did I set my alarm for 4:30 AM!?!?”

Those were my first printable thoughts as I forced myself out of bed.  Then I saw the pile of canoeing clothes I had left out the night before.  Remembering the half-joking Facebook conversations I had last night with my paddling friends, I realized I had a full Friday ahead of me.

After a quick breakfast I threw my gear and lunch into the car and hit the road, stopping briefly in Mattawa for a medium dark-roast regular and in Sturgeon Falls for gas.  As I listened to podcasts of Paddling Adventures Radio, the kilometres went by quickly and the sun rose in my rearview mirror.  As I drove, I contemplated the Killarney Outfitters clues for the Paddle in the Park Contest and how I came to be on this adventure.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the first clue, but when the second clue came out two weeks ago, I was pretty sure I knew where the paddle was hidden.  It sounded exactly like the portage from Killarney Lake to Three Narrows.  It’s a lovely valley between two hills, and there’s a steepish hill at the south end.  The photo of the wooden walkway looked like the walkways through wet areas on the portage.  “a third to halfway there” would mean it’s 1000 to 1500 metres into the 3 km portage.  The photo with the first clue showed a maple tree; and the portage goes through a mixed deciduous forest.

I was tied up with other commitments for the next week and a half, so I was sure the paddle would have been found.  Then, late Thursday afternoon there was another clue.  The “name-sake lake” had to be Killarney Lake; the portage to Three Narrows is just north of it.  This confirmed the location.  More importantly, the clue confirmed that the paddle hadn’t been found yet and there was a chance the long drive would be fruitful.

But what did that first clue mean?  I got out Jeff’s Map of Killarney and discovered that Three Narrows used to called Long Lake, and that Killarney Lake used to be called Sturgeon Lake.  So “Long, it has been” referred to Lake of Three Narrows.  The other part of the clue was “But one’s evolution dates to Triassic times”.  I looked through geological descriptions of the park and it’s all much older than the Triassic period.  But a google search of “sturgeon” and “Triassic” revealed that the evolution of the sturgeon has been traced to the Triassic.  So, the first clue meant that the paddle was hidden between Killarney and Three Narrows.

Killarney Provincial Park shoreline September 2019

After four hours of driving and two and a half podcast episodes I got to the park.  I purchased my day-use permit and was on the water before 10.  The lake was calm, the sky was overcast, and it was warm for the third Friday in September.  There were a few light raindrops as I made my way across George and Freeland, but they moved out of the area by the time I got to Killarney Lake.  My biggest fear was that somebody would be coming down the portage with the paddle as I pulled in, but there was very little traffic on the lake and no canoes at the takeout.  At 11:30 I set off up the portage to Three Narrows.

The portage is one of my favourites in Killarney.  I’ve done it 4 times in the last few years, and in 2017 I somehow lost a spare paddle there.  Without having to carry a canoe and pack, the trail was much easier than I remembered.  It’s a lovely Carolinian forest with lots of oaks, maples, and yellow birch.  It goes past a series of beaver ponds that are nearly dry late in the season, but are like a cascade of infinity pools in the spring when they’re full of water.

Just past the last beaver pond, about a kilometre into the portage, the trail goes over the first wooden walkway.  Comparing the walkway with the photo in the second clue showed it was an exact match.  The paddle had to be hidden behind a tree somewhere close.

I checked one side of the portage, walking 20 metres into the woods and looking back.  Nothing.  Going over to the other side of the trail, I went in 30 metres and started circling.   A little way to the left, there it was:  a beautifully engraved commemorative plaque and an even more beautiful 60 inch cherry Badger la Bonga paddle in a black sock.

After finding the paddle, I walked back down the portage and had a relaxing lunch.  That was followed by a leisurely paddle through Killarney, Freeland, and George Lakes.  I even tried out the new paddle all the way across George, and it’s a beauty.

After packing up, there was a mandatory post-trip meal at Herbert Fisheries, followed by ice cream at Killarney Outfitters.  Then, after another four hour drive and two and a half more podcasts, I was home.

I’d like to thank Badger Paddles, portageur.ca, and all the sponsors of the Paddle in the Park Contest for their generous contributions.  I’d especially like to thank Killarney Outfitters for sponsoring this prize package.

Bill Graham

So a big ol’paddles up and congrats to Bill on his Killarney Outfitters paddle-find! Thanks, also to Bill, for taking part in this year’s campaign and for becoming part of Paddle in the Park history with his impromptu video interview. Many thanks, as well, to Killarney Outfitters for their always super generous support of  the Paddle in the Park campaign! (Scroll down to see videos below.)

Bill now joins the those on the exclusive list of 2019 paddle-finders who are eligible to win a very special Prospector from London’s Paddling Shop and Nova Craft Canoe. Besides the paddle from Badger, Bill has also won some more great gear and prizes. Paddles up and congrats to Bill!

Scroll down to see Bill’s interview and watch Preston’s FacebookLive video visit with Killarney Outfitters!

Don’t worry though, there are still more paddles to be found and claimed this fall – plus don’t forget to check out our #PaddlePoints Challenge too –  and as always, just keep getting “Out There”!

BONUS LIVE - with a paddle finder of the Killarney Outfitters paddle!

Posted by Paddle In The Park Contest on Friday, September 20, 2019

LIVE from Killarney Outfitters

Posted by Paddle In The Park Contest on Friday, September 20, 2019

NEW: Download and print the official 2019 Flag for a better chance to be seen along the #PathOfThePortageur this season!

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