I left Jones Falls about 9 am and headed North on Highway 15. I stopped in at Poonamalie to meet the lock staff and reconnoiter the area for later on in my trip. I added the coordinates to my GPS and headed into Smiths Falls for some supplies.
After a brief lunch I went through my maps again and decided to check out Merrickville. Its a beautiful little hamlet and the lockstation is right in the middle of town. I made arrangements with the lockmaster and set up camp at the western end of the grounds. I didn’t plan to paddle until the morning so spent the late afternoon exploring the town.
The lock closes at 8pm and turning basin is left filled to the top at night . The locals arrived right on time to swim and leap from the parapet. I swam some laps and enjoyed the frolicking.
Merrickville to Kilmarnock return is about 21km
I was up with the sun and had my kayak in the water at the eastern end of the lock by 8 am. I was planning to reach Kilmarnock Lock and then return in the afternoon. The canal at this point is into the limestone flats so the landscape is completely different from the granite cliffs I’d enjoyed yesterday. Marsh and reeds abound. As the sun rose into the sky the wind came up and I found the paddling uninteresting. I decided to skip goal of getting to the next lock which was turning into work and not very enjoyable. As I came in close to shore and started to meander through the marshland and reeds the trip completely changed. I was out of the wind and in a serene emerald land filled with birds, otters and frogs. I paddled deep into the reeds and marveled at the sparkling beauty all around me. I lunched under a huge willow tree and watched a Perigrine Falcon feed her chicks. I turned back to Merrickville and found the wind had swept around so I stayed close to shore where the paddling was easiest. There was quite a bit of traffic and the boaters all seemed to be in a race south, leaving me with some pretty big wake.
I came across a family of Loon and they seemed to be quite comfortable with me and let me approach close enough to take some great snaps and just sit there, still in the water, watching. I was very careful to not frighten them. The mother was teaching them to dive and they seemed to like coming up on either side of my kayak.
Returning to the Lock around 3pm I watched the swing bridge close the street traffic so some larger boats could cross the intersection. I was sitting with my maps considering my next outing and checked my phone for messages. I had forgotten an important meeting and would now have to head back to Toronto for the next day.
Merrickville to Big Marsh return is about 15km