The last time I was in the Ottawa river valley, at Christmas, it was -35. The 15-minute walk from our apartment to Parliament one morning caused my hands to freeze so much that I couldn’t reach into my pockets. Today was a little different, with the mercury pushing above 37. It was equally intolerable. It was enough to make me give up on my quest for fireworks. (But like all stories there’s a silver lining!)
This morning started out ok, eventually making it to Mattawa where I had a decent lunch and stopped to get out of the sun. After Mattawa, however, I was treated to hill after hill as I progressed along the Ottawa river. The temperature kept climbing, my water was so warm as to be off-putting, my midday swim provided no relief, and eventually enough was enough. I stopped at the Driftwood provincial park campground. Ontario’s provincial parks are expensive, and I prefer to avoid them. But it was this or the ditch and after two days of incredible sweating a shower felt worth $42.
As I started making supper I discovered that 1) my tent cleaning solution leaked a bit when I sloppily packed this morning and 2) I threw my spoon in the trash earlier when disposing of a bag of stuff, something which I had a bit of a sense of but thought I must be crazy. Neither of these were welcome discoveries. Then I settled down for supper and discovered my matches were a little wet and needed a dozen or so to get the stove on. Suddenly they don’t seem less wasteful than lighters. Next my fuel can ran out (finally – it lasted 14 days, I was told it was good for 6-7). Once I had a new fuel can attached things started looking up.
First, I cracked one of my 35-degree beers procured earlier today. Canada Day requires beer. Next, a friendly guy popped by to chat, we talked about cycling for a bit, then he spotted my Java Blend bag, and mentioned he was from Halifax. A longer chat about the push & pull of the east coast ensued (he’s based in Ottawa now), then his wife joined us. Finally, the temperature started to drop, which made the evening more bearable. All around good news.
The last thing to mention is the oddity of looking across the river at Quebec. Previously, all the provincial borders were perpendicular to my route. Since Mattawa I’ve been travelling parallel to the border. Tomorrow I might cross in to Quebec for the ride to Ottawa, then back to Ontario for a day. If I don’t, it will mean three days of riding with the next province in sight. An odd quirk of the way the Upper & Lower Canada borders were drawn back in the day. For what it’s worth the Ontario side is fairly French.
So, I suppose I’ve ended today in a perfect microcosm of Canada. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Today’s distance: 113.4 km
Cumulative distance: 4,547.0 km
Today’s climb: 1,090 m