Shayn and I were looking for something to do one Sunday in August. I have been lamenting my desire to go tubing at Elora Gorge for about two years, so Shayn said we better go before winter comes!
On route to Elora, we stopped in Guelph for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants – the Woolwhich Arrow. With our stomachs full of delicious burgers and craft beer in Shayn’s case, we continued on to Elora. We arrived at the park to a “tubing sold out” sign. We left and made the short drive to downtown Elora, which was packed with people. The good weather must have brought out the tourists. We walked around a bit and decided to try the park again.
The sign was still up, but we elected to inquire further. The park attendant said the tubes are returned regularly, so we could go in and wait. We arrived at the rental station to no line up and people returning equipment – so don’t be discouraged by the sold out sign! There was a regular rotation of tubes in and out. To participate, you must wear a life jacket and helmet. You can pay the small rental fee or bring your own.
We changed into bathing suites in time to see clouds rolling in! A trend this summer it seems. There was a shuttle bus to the river or you could walk. I should note that the “shuttle bus” is actually a school bus packed full of people and tubes driven by a lovely women who obviously knows every turn of the narrow roads! She can chat, while taking turns at impressive speed, without a second thought – I liked her! On our way in, the bus was pulling out, so we decided to walk. We were rather unprepared, as water shoes would have been a smart idea. Shayn had running shoes, so did the walk barefoot, while I took my flip flops (which I would lose countless time in the river).
It was a 15 minute walk to the launch site. We were greeted with WAY more white water than I expected. The launch site has the largest rapids of the run, but is positioned so that someone could put in after and avoid them. There was a park employee situated at the put-in, but otherwise there are no life guards and its at your own risk.
We watched one person do the rapids with little trouble, so decided to head up river and do them too. The special thing about the launch site is anyone can access it, which allows for a crowd of spectators to watch us idiots. I thought it would be easy, but didn’t realize how little control over the tubes I had. I spun in circles, attempting to aim at an area of the rapids that would get me through, but luck was not on my side. Near the base of the rapids the tube went forward and I flew backwards and right out! I was pushed under the water and gasping for air, as I heard the park employee’s whistle. I think he actually whistled because the girl behind me came out too. Maybe it was a greater danger with both of us out flopping about? At least the spectators got a show.
I managed to grab my tube and a stray flip-flop, as I was pushed down the river. A guy grabbed the other tube for his girlfriend. When I finally got to an area where I could attempt to get back in, it was to find Shayn floating and looking rather relaxed. He reminded me of my own words: “we will not get that wet, it’s just tubing.” Yeah…
The rest of the rapids were small and would be no problem for most people. The river slows to a meander in some areas and picks up again at the rapids. We saw a couple taking an inflatable canoe/kayak down the river, which looked fun.
We did a few more rapids and came to an area where the gorge walls turn to tall rock. The river picks up through another set up rapids. I quickly realized that being a fairly experienced paddler counted for nothing in the tube, as I headed straight for the rock wall. I probably could have let my tube bounce off it, but I was worried about hitting my knees, so I kicked off with my feet…which sent my tube flying forward and me flying backwards. Again. As these were not large rapids and the water was fairly low, I had to float on my back to prevent hitting the rocks. Shayn made it through no problem and grabbed my tube, as I again retrieved my flip-flops. We stood up in the rushing water at the bottom of the rapids and he helped me back in my tube.
The rest of the river was fun, but uneventful. We passed a group of guys holding on to a tree branch waiting for their friends to come down the river. Our lack of steering sent us there way, nearly scattering them! We took in the beautiful gorge and continued on. We arrived at the take-out to see the school bus, and hurried to catch a ride back.
Overall, it was a fun way to spend an afternoon. As I discovered zip-lining, I am not exactly the most elegant tuber either.
With the park permit, you can also visit the nearby quarry to swim. We never made it there, but it would have been fun if we were there earlier.
Stay tuned for some GoPro videos from Algonquin and a trip report!