Through the efforts of friends who dropped us off or picked us up (Jim S. � Niagra-On-The-Lake and Pete L. � Toronto), Patti Z. and I launched at 9PM Tuesday July 10 from Niagara-on-the-Lake) onto beautiful calm water that reflected the warm colours of the low sun, even well past sunset. We had a clear visual of the Toronto skyline all the way (30+ miles away across the lake), with the city�s glow making it possible to see the water as we paddled a straight line course, approx. NNW, toward the CN Tower.
We arrived at the Toronto Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre at 9 the next morning (34 miles in 12 hours), with the only stop being after 32 miles, when we got out at a beach adjacent to the Toronto Island airport. On our all night kayak trip, we watched the sunset from NOTL, saw the stars come out, watched a meteorite streak high and in front of us, and saw the moon rise. The nearly half-moon rose over our right shoulders, and came up as an orange orb, gradually rising and becoming brighter.
About 8 miles north of NOTL, the flat water began to get choppy, gradually building into the predicted 10 knot headwind. The wind produced half-meter waves, and occasionally produced sets of larger waves about 2 feet in height. The larger waves would have been more fun if we weren't still over 20 miles from our goal at night and in the dark.
As we paddled in the center of western Lake Ontario, I saw a small, dark shape dead ahead, and startled an apparently sleeping gull as I paddled within a foot or so of it. The bird took off suddenly, brushing its wings against my paddle blade, and flying across Patti's kayak in front of her face.
We watched the sunrise while we approached Toronto, with the head wind persisting for most of the remaining 26 miles, only fading as we paddled close to the Ontario mainland in the city. Finally, we entered Toronto harbor and paddled our kayaks to the outfitter who had invited me to take out at his place of business. Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak had a nice carpeted ramp, and we were able paddle right up onto the green carpet to end our journey. Pete was there waiting for us as we celebrated and packed up our wet gear.
Prior experience in long-distance paddling, night paddling, and open water paddling in a sea kayak is strongly advised. It was a lot of hard work; I'm glad we did it, but that was the first and last annual trip from NOTL to TO!
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Niagara-on-the-Lake is a beautiful resort town north of Niagara Falls, located at the mouth of the Niagara River on Lake Ontario.
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