Archive for the ‘rivers’ Category

Finally made it to Algonquin Park!

September 13, 2013

On Tuesday, I rented a beautiful single seater canoe from Swift  and took it to Access Point 3 in Algonquin Park. marked algonquinmap

Here is my full load for the canoe.  NOT packed were eating utensils and a big ziplock bag for the map.DSC00005


Although I described the canoe as beautiful, the sleek lines and speed came at the cost of forgiveness.  This canoe was one for hijinks.  After the first portage, I waded out with the canoe, lifted one sandaled foot out of the water, shook the water out and stepped into the canoe.  Mostly in the canoe, I shook the other foot, still hanging over the side… and rolled!  I hopped out so the canoe was only a third full of water but I was in belly deep water and my camera was in my shorts pocket.  I raced ashore and opened the camera up, took out the battery and all that, then set it on a rock while I tended to the rest of my gear.  By Wednesday evening, it had dried enough to take acceptable shots again. Basically, there are no pics until the last day of the trip.

I had planned to paddle (and portage) to Misty Lake and the clerk at the Park Office in Kearney remarked that it was a beautiful place but after the drive and the paddling and portaging, I had only made it to Little Misty by 5:15 and chose not to do the final portage and just camp there.  The site was great and involved 935 metres less canoe-and-gear carrying.

During some downtime, I carved two clothespins for the drying line, a spoon and a spatula.
DSC00024 Each of the three days had their best weather in the afternoon with the mornings being warm enough but ranging to dark and threatening to full downpour.
DSC00015 c

For the Big Hominid, some unidentified scat with remarkable fungal growth I had to step over during a portage.


I saw several beavers, otters, great blue herons and a few moose.  Here are a mother and child shot I took in the pouring rain on my return home.DSC00040 c

I’m glad I traveled solo and I felt comfortable doing so but this is the sort of trip that I won’t really enjoy until more time has passed.  It will feel better in hindsight.

Ethiopia is using the water flowing through it.

June 15, 2013

Four years ago, I wrote about trans-boundary water issues in Korea and about one flood that killed six in South Korea.  This slight familiarity with international treaties on the subject made this article in Scientific American about Ethiopia ending a decades-long agreement with Egypt over water use catch my attention.  Ethiopia is part of a new treaty involving five other Nile Basin countries that gives them greater autonomy over water use and leaving Egypt’s 84 million people in some jeopardy.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi said on Monday he did not want “war” but would keep “all options open”, prompting Ethiopia to say it was ready to defend its $4.7 billion Great Renaissance Dam near the border with Sudan.

Ethiopia and five other Nile basin countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – have now signed a deal effectively stripping Cairo of its veto, based on colonial-era treaties, over dam projects on the Nile, source of nearly all of Egypt’s water.

Canada and the US continue to have good relations regarding water use.  If the subject interests you, here are reports on Great Lakes Water and the Columbia River treaty.


Added a week later:


“Some pronouncements were made in the heat of the moment because of emotions. They are behind us,” Mohamed Kamel Amr, Egypt’s foreign minister, told a joint news conference with his Ethiopian counterpart Tedros Adhanom in Ethiopia’s capital.

Wye Marsh, April 29, 30

April 30, 2013

I have fairly big news: Surprises Aplenty is now employed!


Some time ago, I described my situation, moving back to Canada as leaving a job I love to find one that I can tolerate and earn enough to care for the family.  Well, I am lucky to have another job I expect to love but I don’t think it is one to keep the family in rice and kimchi.


My new employer, the Wye Marsh is an outdoor education centre that, well, have a look at the sorts of things I’ll be doing and working with.b DSC08352 This beaver was walking across a field near a canoe launch point.b DSC08358

These red wing black bird are everywhere.b DSC08362

For the first time in at least five years, an osprey is using the purpose-built platform for nesting.b DSC08365

These pitcher plants live on nutrition-poor ground and supplement their fertilizer with insects drowned in their pitchers.b DSC08370

This Canada Goose mother is guarding her nest.b DSC08371 I was told the names of both flowers – the yellow ones are not dandelions.b DSC08373

This snapping turtle was in such a hurry its legs blurred as it waddled.b DSC08374

I saw the completion of the 4-rivers project.

January 22, 2013

I’m leaving soon.  I depart on January 31 and don’t know if I will be back.  As I wrote on Facebook (names removed),

“My work these past three years -and also at Kwandong before that, has been great but I am returning to Canada next year. I can’t say for how long.

The Little Guy’s English is barely sufficient for day to day conversations with me and falling far behind his Canadian cohort so we (TLG and I; my wife will remain in Korea) are moving to my mother’s home in Penetang for at least one year. TLG will attend school and I will look for some kind of work. If I find useful and valuable work, my wife will emigrate and join us. If not, we will return to Korea to work I love and have shown an aptitude for but with the real concern about what high school will be for TLG- and any Korean child.”

I am not ready to talk about Canada, but that will come.

I am ready to talk about my long stay here and how connected I feel to Korea, even if only as a foreigner.   Case in point, my views on the Four Rivers Project.  I started blogging only a year before Presidential candidate Lee Myungbak proposed a crazy project, then withdrew it in favor of the Four Rivers Restoration Project.  I was here during his transition and throughout the Four Rivers work.  I also learned about flooding (one thing his project was designed to reduce) caused by North Korea.  Although I am not at all satisfied with the result of the project, I feel a strange satisfaction in my deep understanding of it.  I’ve been here long enough, and been aware long enough, to have real opinions on the subject.  I remain impressed with the bike trails built along the rivers and experience a thrill when I see the “Andong, 380km” sign near my home at the mouth of the Nakdong River.

For the record, I still have no opinion on who owns Dokdo.  I don’t know how long I would have to stay in the country for that to happen (Hans Island is, however, clearly Canadian).

I feel so connected to farming in Korea.  Even though I am unable to plan or schedule when or what crops should be planted, I have been involved in that work for several years.  I don’t love rice like my wife does, but I know it grows.  I don’t know how hot my in-laws’ peppers are but I know how productive the plants are and hot to recognize a pepper from a leaf at a metres’ distance.

I even sorta understand why Korean lifeguards are so cautious about letting people swim here.  Full understanding is beyond me, but I have seen so many non-swimmers launch themselves in tubes into deep water that I would be equally draconian in running a beach.  I now only grimace when I see a two-metre deep pool only filled to 1.4 metres so non-swimmers are safe.

Maybe I am leaving just in time.  Everytime I see a car or truck running a red light, I plot about bringing a realistic doll to the intersection and tossing it in front of a red-light-running vehicle.  I have held back because I can imagine the result of a car swerving wildly to avoid the ‘baby’ and because I don’t have such a doll handy.  I’ll leave it to you to guess which influence is greater.

I don’t know if I will write a ‘_-things I love in Korea” or a “__ things I hate in Korea”.  With my current blogging regimen it will be July before they finish. Still, I should take some time to review my time here and my future plans at such an obvious demarkation point. What better place to put my private thoughts then on a public blog?

Spoonbills in Eulsookdo

March 1, 2012

The big flat building in the background is wildlife information centre describing the local wetlands on Eulsook Island.

The closer birds are a few varieties of ducks.  In the background are herons and spoonbills.  I had never seen spoonbills before and was thrilled to do so.  The birds are a little unclear and I tried to shoot a picture through a set of stabilized binoculars.  To my great surprise, it worked!

There are walking paths on the island and a flock of swans live along the southernmost edge – nearest the ocean.

The island also has a great deal to offer kids.  There are rental kiosks that offer bikes, motorized cars and more.  My little guy had a good visit as well.

‘Bo’s, not Bows, in the rivers

September 28, 2011

I sometimes worry that my voc…., my vocb.., my word-bank-in-head-thing is failing as I spend too much time in Korea.  At other times, such as this, possibly appropriate words that are very technical and arcane are used very nonchalantly in newspaper articles.


The Dong-A Ilbo has such an article with the offending term right in the title.  To my surprise, it’s term  that I want to know.

The article is about ‘Bo’s, or what I always thought were ‘low-head dams’. A google search for weir shows me images similar to low-head dams.  Bos, for which I can find no appropriate images, seem to consist of a weir plus a liftable-gate to control water levels.

I also finally investigated what a ‘barrage‘ was. Turns out it is not only an artillery term. The barrage in Busan looks like a series of mighty jaws that can close to reduce salt influx during high tide, but open to let the river water flow.

About Civil (engineering) offers a comparison:

The only difference between a weir and a barrage is of gates, that is the flow in barrage is regulated by gates and that in weirs, by its crest height.

Barrages are costlier than weirs.

Weirs and barrages are constructed mostly in plain areas. The heading up of water is affected by gates put across the river. The crest level in the barrage (top of solid obstruction) is kept at low level.

During flood, gates are raised to clear of the high flood level. As a result there is less silting and provide better regulation and control than the weir.

Alright, back to the original Dong-A article:

It is chiefly a defense of various bos that will be placed in the four rivers as part of President Lee’s Four Rivers Project.

I am torn about the project for idealogical and ecological reasons.

Ideologically, the Four Rivers Project feels too much like a revamping of the Great Korean Canal Project that would allow ships to travel upstream from Incheon and Seoul via the Han River to Taebaek and down the Nakdong River to Daegu and Busan.  I can see no benefit to such a project and am glad it has been scrapped.

Ecologically, I would prefer that rivers and natural areas be left alone, but humans rendered that option untenable when we reached a number of six billion.  As we are now at seven billion, and our presence is felt everywhere, no place is ‘natural’ so careful management is often the wisest course.

The bos – or low-head dams or weirs – do seem among the most environmentally-friendly of options. As with anything else that is new or strange, we won’t know how well they work until they are built and the Dong-A article ends somewhat ominously:

The bos in the four rivers are reportedly designed in a much more eco-friendly manner than traditional bos because they have the features of weirs. The people must now see the bos of the four major rivers and judge them.