Map of the expedition
We left for our journey at 14h07 in the afternoon. The wind was favourable, and we walked for 18.5 kilometres to get to manic 2. It took 3 hours to get there. We carried our canoe for quarter of the run. Once there a nice man gave us a lift for the rest of the ride, but He refused the money we offered saying that we must help each other being all part of the same family; the lovers of the land. We slept on manic 2 storage bassin.
We walked 23 kilometres. At first the wind was facing us, but it changed along the way. I caught my first pike and I was very proud of myself. All along the way there was swell on the storage bassin and after supper we could still feel it even if we were sitting next to the fire. It was like a waltz.
We paddled all day long facing the wind sometime quite strong. It was one of those hard days, but we covered a distance of20 kilometres anyway. In the morning we saw many big high mountains coming down through the storage bassin. Some of those were 300 to 400 feet high. I was impressed by the greenery spots surviving on the mountains slopes whenever there was a little bit of soil. My first thoughts were for the human kind, the trees and the vegetation teaching us to hang in there. We started to feel muscles pain in our upper body caused by the repetitive movements. The canoe was handleling the waves pretty well and we had pike for supper.
We covered a distance of 4 to 5 kilometres before arriving to manic 3 storage bassin. It is a private property and we had to respond to questions about our presence over there. We presented ID cards to the security guard at the gate in order to continue our trip. Thanks’ to Claudie and Marc-André for their open minded we kept going with the approval of the authority in place. (Note to myself; next time, make sure to get a written authorisation from Hydro-Québec’s customer service, phone number is 1-514-289-5005, before planning a trip passing by Manic 3.) We did portage for 5 hours and then paddled for around 14 to 15 kilometres. We did not catch any fish, so it was beans, cookies and soup for supper. Hopefully, Yvon’s sister Pauline had gave us maple cones to satisfy our sweet tooth.
Sometimes it’s not that easy to find a place to settle down at the end of the day. We deal with what we find day after day. Yesterday it was on the beach and the backyard was cover with alder. I fell asleep listening to the melody of the frogs, birds and loonies chants. Yvon’s snoring helped a little as well. The weather had been perfect all day long to paddle and the sun was with us without any wind. We covered a distance of almost 25 kilometres. We did not catch any fish for the second day and supper was very basic again; soup, ham macaroni and cookies. There was ceramic in the kitchen though....
Great day today to do canoeing again! The sun shines and the wind are blowing in the good direction pushing us toward north. Yvon is going the fish market around 9h30 and bring us back a 12 pounds and 28 inches trout caught with a rapala.
This morning it was raining. A light bit that comes on and off. We traveled 20 kilometres and set the camp base on a big pitch of sand with an amazing view on the storage bassin Manic 3. All day long the south wind was pushing us and causing swell. Hopefully Yvon caught a pike for supper.
It rained almost all night long but when I woke up in the morning it was foggy. The firewood was all wet and we had to be patient in order to start the fire. We finally boiled some water to prepare coffee and oatmeal. I realised that we had a visitor during the night since we saw wolf tracks near our tent about 50 feet. It probably stopped very surprised to smell human and decided to change direction without any noises. We were very happy and relieved to realise the wolf was not too hungry.
We reached Manic 5 at 9h30 this morning thanks to Yvon Sanche for his great collaboration and helpfulness.
This morning we left Manic 5. The river was calm, and the north wind was light. We were heading upstream the river on a distance of 50 to 55 kilometres before reaching the Manicouagan storage bassin. We had planned to remain on the east side as long as we would be on the river and the storage bassin up to the river “Racine de bouleau”. It was in order to avoid crossing big water space on the storage bassin and meanwhile enjoy the sunset!
A light south wind is joining our departure which is perfect for us. We wish to reach the Manicouagan storage bassin by the end of the day. Once there we set the camp base on the southeast side of the storage bassin. It is a huge water plan. I was already impressed to see it on a map but to be there physically to see it is amazing. Farther north we can see, I guessed the “ottis mounts”. There is a snow spot here and there on the top of the hills. It looks like a big chess board game and to watch it from where I stand the blacks are going to win! Yvon caught a 4 pounds gray trout for supper!
We’ve been sailing the storage bassin for 2 days now. The light south wind is still with us and it is raining for most part of the day. On the early morning we have a little break from the rain to prepare our breakfast and it started again by the end of the afternoon on and off. By the way; Karolann my lovely daughter, as I love to tease you, I must tell you that Yvon and I caught a 6 pounds gray trout each. Yvon is sending his regards to Marie-Anne, Antoine and Laurence.
This morning the wind is very strong and the storage bassin is full of heavy swell. The weather is cold, and we have to put on our winter tuque. We decided it would be “laundry day” and we built another Inuksuk. We used a baby moose skull to decorate it. No canoeing for us today. We wanted to thanks the new reporter Serge Lamontagne for his great article in “la voix du sud” that we read in manic 5, we know that you are a lot of people to follow us and visit our web site thanks to Emmanuel and Lise. Our expedition is meaningful for us but its great energy to know that you are part of it with us. From the bottom of our heart we thank you.
We left in the afternoon around 2 O’clock since the wind had slow down. In the morning we walk along the storage bassin where we experienced waves of 3 to 4 feet. Around 6 O’clock we reached Boreal 51 camp. We wanted to thanks Lise and Jean-Marc for their warm welcome and their kindness. They allowed me to recharge my computer and my camera batteries. I strongly suggest calling their phone number-1-819-340-1162 or visiting their Facebook page if you are thinking about going to Manicouagan bassin to visit or for a fishing trip. You will enjoy the simplicity and the joy of living of those 2 humans being for sure. While visiting our site you will see beautiful sunset and it will not be the last since the beauty of it is that it is unique and brief. Our first one is for Yvon’s wife Lise and I have friendly thoughts for her.
Today 2 customers from the camp wished us good luck and congratulate us. They told us; “Bravo et bonne chance Radisson et Desgrosseiller”. Jean-Marc’s wife made sure that some new pictures were post on our web site. Thanks again to both of them. We are building inuksuk as often as possible to fix our expedition in time. In order to thank you we did one south west to your camp before reaching the storage bassin. Tonight, we watched an amazing sunset and I promise that you will see the picture of it on our site.
It was a beautiful day to do canoeing. In the afternoon we passed the mouth of Jone Hart river. This river is coming from the north east storage bassin. I notice that we don’t have fly yet, good for us!
This morning at 9 o’clock we crossed a bay of 4 kilometres. It was a tricky experience since there was heavy swell. It took 1 hour, and I am proud of myself because it was very scary. Yvon and I dealed with the situation in each our different way and it is a victory for us. Let’s take the example of a swamp where nothing is growing anymore; I think that the human being needs to conquer his or her fears and doubts in order not to lose his or her energy. If not, diseases will occur and slowly the death. We must face our fears, build our self esteem and trust life to bring the happiness we deserve. It was around 11 o’clock this day when we caught a big ouaouaniche of 3 pounds for me and a gray trout of 5 pounds for Yvon. At noon we stopped to eat at the mouth of “racine de bouleau” river 3 kilometres wide. The landscape was beautiful. At the right toward north was the river going through the mountain. Another river toward North West was flowing to the mouth with great mountains surrounding. South-south-west on the other side of Manicouagan storage bassin there was a wide water expense spreading on a distance of 45 kilometres. It was time for us to start the wild part of our journey since there was no road anymore. At this point the only access was by plane. The next road was at the aerodrome of Caniapiscau which pass by the James Bay. No chance to meet human before this spot.
We crossed the Timmins River mouth this morning on our right coming north-east while we were heading straight North. In the afternoon we saw a bear walking slowly aside of the river looking for food. (Hello to Jean-Francois, Yvon’s son, welcome back to Calgary and see you soon)
I forgot to say that we built an Inuksuk when we stopped by to eat at the mouth of « racine de bouleau » river. It was a perfect spot, so we built it on a cape at the mouth about 20 feet high. At our camp base yesterday, we reached the 52th north parallel. This morning, 1 ½ hour after leaving, I caught a 5 pounds trout and it was our lunch. During the afternoon we reached the real bed of the river because the storage bassin has no effect at this high. It was very beautiful with its 250-300 feet wide. Around 2 o’clock we started to practise “Cordelle” technique which means that we pulled the canoe on both sides to carry it. When the river is not deep enough to canoe or the stream is too strong that is what we have to do. In our case we walked in 6 inches water up to 2 feet. The campsites were rare, and we carried the canoe until 7h30. We decided to camp aside of the river on pebble. I found 3 positive sides on doing the “cordelle” technique; no portage, exercise our legs and wash our feet for free! In prime we had the sun.
In the afternoon we arrived at the place where the river is plunging in a huge canyon. We marked the trail to do unplanned portage. This one was not an easy one because we had to climb to the top of the hill on a mass of fallen rocks. The distance from canoe to the top was 600 feet with the rise of 100 feet. We did half of the portage and decided to set the base camp aside of the river. I took a lot of pictures over there because I was impressed by the water flowing in there. I noticed a huge number of blueberries on the trail and delicious gray trout. I thought to myself it was only the beginning of it.
The portage on 1 kilometre was almost finishing. Yvon taught me how to fly fishing and I realised I can be good at it. For the moment Yvon is feeding us but I have great expectation to become as good as he is. Let’s wait and see... The weather is great, and the sunset is amazing. Right now, at this latitude the sun set around 9h30 and it rises around 3h00 in the morning.
Briefly today we did 3 portages on ¼ kilometres and some cordelle technique because of the strong current. By the end of the afternoon I found a big moose horn beside the river. It was 13 spikes and weighted at least 15 to 20 pounds when it fell down. For those who know my passion for the horns would know that it took courage to put it back on the rock.
Today again we did some cordelle technique, 3 portages on ½ kilometres and something happened to us this morning. We were doing cordelle technique and suddenly the front of the canoe was carried by the current. Yvon lost his balance and slipped on a rock. The current rushed him for about 50 feet leaving me alone to hold the rope. The weight to hold was almost 350 pounds since the canoe was full of luggage and material and filled with water. When Yvon came back to his original position and started to push the canoe I must admit I was relieved. Since few days the section of the river is tricky. On both side there are rocks some small and some very big. There are plenty of forest hectares that burned years ago. We have no choice but to set our camp base on a 7 foot square spot surrounded by Labrador tea and caribou moss to put our tent on.
We spent the day with 2 small portages on ¼ kilometres and cordelle technique. It’s been few days since the flies joined us. Early in the morning it’s hitting hard on us. Trouts are on the menu for most of the meals.
We spent all day working with cords and doing porterage. This part of the river is really slowing us, because we are going forward only 2 or 3 km a day.
This morning we started the day with a porterage. Coming back from our first trip we walk just alongside the river and I found e very big bear skull. I also got three big teeth, three claws, and three smaller teeth. Looking at the size of the claw, it must have been a huge one. After that porterage we began working with the cords. At noon we arrived at a very special site of the river. In front of us was an enormous wall of pure rock around 40 feet high and something like 250 or 300 feet long with 3 waterfalls. We baptised this gigantic wall (Manic 6). On the upper part of the wall there is a small lake and thought it was time to get a few trout for diner. We went on working with the cords until 6 o’clock. The beneficial physical effects of our trek are beginning to show. Yvon has one hole loose in his belt, and me have to shrink another one in mine.
Jaël Lemieux, I wish you with as much love as possible a very wonderful day for your birthday.
Today we went ahead about 1.5 km. We did three porterage and one cord work that was very damp. The second porterage was physically rough, because we had to do mountaineering work. We were in a canyon and there was a fall of around 4 or 6 feet wide just in front of us. To come up that fall we had to get all our luggage plus the canoe towed with the cord for at least 20 feet up that wall. After the porterage we rowed for about 5 minutes, the water was calm, but we were still in the canyon. Passing by a curb in the river, we thought it was the end of the river because it was only 5 or 6 feet large, on the other side we had to us the cords again. There was quite a strong water current, we could stand on the bottom of the river because it was shallow not more than 3 or 4 feet of water. For two times I had to swim, to much water and could not grab anything on the rock wall to keep me afloat. When I would get my feet back on the bottom, Yvon could get aboard the canoe and I would tow him toward me. After that very rough part of the way, we had another porterage. We went through the curb of the river going across capes and we decided to camp at the end of the canyon. On the other side of the canyon we had the feeling that it entered another world. Like if the canyon would finish abruptly to a landscape full of black spruces tree and a much slow river which is at least 200 feet wide.
Our day began with an easy cord work because of the slow water current and a dept of about 2 or 3 feet. At noon time we did another porterage that lasted 1 hour and fifteen minutes. After that porterage we had to use cords again. From 4 to 6 o’clock we could row. The landscape is quite level. There are four wide spaces of vegetation stretching up north; the boreal forest, the open boreal forest, the taïga and the tundra. We are beginning to be between the boreal forest and the open boreal forest because we are seeing more and more field full of reindeer moss.
We have been doing cords all morning. In the afternoon we rowed for about 3 hours, and then again cords. As we are going up the river, we see more and more spaces with reindeer moss. Each time I look at those reindeer moss field with black spruces between 35 to 40 feet high here and there they are the more and more stunning to see. The landscapes of those reindeer moss piece of lands are just tremendous to look at.
The day began with a little bit of cord and then we rowed for a few hours. We did cords most of the afternoon and then began a porterage that will be finished tomorrow afternoon.
Work with the cord, a few little porterage and then we could use the paddles.
The way it goes is about the same every day; In the morning I always wake up before Yvon, I light the fire to cook the oatmeal and prepare the coffee. Then we eat a few toasts. After washing the plates, we gather the luggage to get them in the canoe. We would spend some 9 hours doing porterage, cords and rowing. At noon we will stop for around 20 minutes, lunchtime. A little fishing during the afternoon to assure our diner. When the end of the afternoon arrives and we have found a suitable spot for our camping, we get the luggage from the canoe, prepare the tent. My job is to find some wood, arrange a safe place near the river for the fire, while Yvon cleans the fish and cooks the food for the diner. Ten o’clock is the time to go to bed.
Again, work with the cord, two little porterages, and again rowing. Tonight, we are camping at the end of the lake (La Maison d’Hiver). Getting ready for the diner and it is raining. As going up the Racine de Bouleau river was rather slow, our food reserve for the breakfast and lunch are somewhat lower than we thought. We are lucky to catch enough fish to complete our meals.
When we woke up this morning, it was raining as it did all night long. So, it was time to rest a bit before heading to a porterage of 1.5 km, because we have reached the line dividing the water. We need a little time to cure our wounds; Yvon as a small swelling on a leg, and as my feet were always wet, on my left foot all my toes were red and two of them on the right foot. From time to time we have to use olive oil to protect our hands from the very ride we give them. During the afternoon we brought the canoe to the next lake which will carry us on the way to the Ungava Bay. No problem with the porterage because there is a lot of reindeer moss clearance, sometime black spruces and the land is quite leveled. I have much pleasure walking on this earth where I feel so fine and I am always checking to see my first caribou on their living ground, because on our porterages, we saw a few caribou’s trails and some foot track.
Getting up this morning with a little bit of rain, the weather was rather cold, much wind and no mosquitos. It was the ideal weather to do our 1.5 km porterage. That’s it !!!. We are at noon time and start rowing on the first lake which will lead to the Ungava Bay. As soon as we start rowing, we let our fishing lines in the water with the rapala lures, hoping to catch a fish for our diner. Maybe 10 minutes after having my fishing line in the water, I caught a grey trout some 3 pounds. Exactly what we needed for diner. As I am writing those lines, we can hear caribous walking close around here. When we were looking for a spot to install our tent, we saw new caribous track in the moss.
We agreed to modify a bit our course so we will not have to do another 1.5 km porterage on which we would have spent a whole day. We had to go through several small lakes and narrow rivers without knowing if there would be enough water to float the canoe on and over rocks. Everything went fine on our new trail. We entered on Hanctin lake in the middle of the afternoon to continue on our previewed way. Juston Lake was the next one and we were there around 6 o’clock. We made ourselves home in the camp and decided to rest for a day. After 35 days of sleeping in a tent and eating in the open, that was a very welcome moment.
We showered, did the laundry, a bit of sowing, charge the cell phone and the computer. We tried fly fishing at the end of the Juston lake. Fishing for between 1 and half or two hours, we caught 3 dozen of trout, 8 to ten inches long, two of them weighted around two pounds. Yvon caught most of them, toward the end of the afternoon the rain came back.
Rowing a good part of the day on Juston lake, heading to Hasté lake. At the end of Juston lake, Yvon had a great fishing bout of speckle trout between 2 or three pounds and 21 smaller one.
We are now on Hasté lake and it’s noon time. We ate about a dozen of trout and got back rowing to cross the lake to the other end. It started raining late in the afternoon and we prepared our camping in the rain. We installed a canvas as a shelter for the wood fire, so we can prepare our diner and protect our luggage. This shelter was a very great idea because it rained all evening and as we went to bed it was still raining. Since last Thursday, the rain starts in the afternoon and it goes on for most of the night.
Today we used cords to get down two rapids and we rowed for the rest of the day. We are camping in an old hunting lodge which has not been visited for a long time. It will be a good moment to dry our cloths our floor padding and sleeping bags.
We left the hunting camp where we had spent the night, heading to camp no 3 at the Chambeaux club. It is about a 30 km trip crossing the Lapointe lake. We had a few good trout catch, Yvon caught a grey one of around 10 or 12 pounds, for myself, I had a coregone in the early afternoon and latter an ouananiche trout weighting 5 pounds. Camp no 3 is very comfortable. The weather has been the same for several days, sunny during the day, rain at the end of the afternoon and all night long. In the evening there was lighting, thunder and lots of rain, we were happy to have a shelter.
I want very deeply to wish happy birthday to my brother Yves for his fifty years.
As we were packing this morning, we had the visit of a black bear, about 200 pounds. I took four pictures. The best one is when I am in the kitchen and the bear outside on the porch standing his back paws, the only thing between us is the door. Once the packs are in the canoe, we leave for the Chambeaux club, camp no 1. We arrived at the camp around 6 o’clock, and we had the friendliest welcome by the head guide Normand, Pauline (very, very good cook) Laurent her husband) Clyde, Sylvain and Pierre (guides).
After a delicious breakfast prepared by Pauline and shared with the guides, we are ready to leave heading for camp no 5 at the Chambeaux club. The camp to get revictualing because our reserves are completely gone. We have been eating fish three meals a day for the last 5 or 6 days. We are 7 days later then what we had plan. those unexpected events are to remind us that we have absolutely no control about what we live. A grateful thank you for Jean-Claude Tremblay (owner of the Chambeaux Club) and his team, they are professionals and we felt welcome in there way of enjoying life. They love their work and do it with the most pleasure. If you wish to live a wonderful fishing trip in a beautiful wilderness and friendly place, just call Jean-Claude, the number is 1-418-548-5505
We just arrive at camp no 5 of the Chambeaux club. We have the whole day to rest a bit, get back in shape, enjoy good meals and do the laundry. As you have read, the Racine de bouleau trip was quite a difficult one for us. I think that we had easily around 65% of the trek using cords and porterage. We had grown stronger with those porterages, because at the beginning of the adventure we would leave with our back packs weighting between 55 and 60 pounds, walk about 500 or 600 feet, and then stop for a little rest, because our shoulders and backs were not use to that kind of weight. Arriving at the Maison d’hiver lake, which is at the dividing line of the water, we had a porterage of about 1.5 km to do . Even if our food reserves were almost empty, our back packs had the same weight. When we marked our porterage, we doubled it to show that we were halfway, meaning 0.75 km. After getting our back packs on, we walk the last 0.75 km without stopping.
Now it was time to check if we had enough food to go on, because going up stream more slowly we knew that we did not have what was needed to get to reach camp no 5 on the Nouveau lake for the food supply. About 15 days before arriving to camp no 5 we had no more lunch. We would end the lunch with a few prunes and a snack bar. There was not much left for breakfast, bits of bread and…. The coffee lasted to the final day. As you can imagine, the last 5 or 6 days before coming to camp no 1, we ate fish 3 times a day. No sweetness since a long time. I have a problem with hypoglycemy, so from time to time I would take pills that I had brought with me just in case. I would take some along the days to make sure I could go on. We still had noodles, rice and mash potatoes we would eat with the fish. About 7 or 8 km before arriving to camp no 1, there was a canoe on the shore of the lake, and we heard the sound of a chain saw. We had to see, it was Clyde, one of the Chambeaux club guide speaking only English. He was cutting trees to repair the footpaths of camp no1. As we talk to him, he told us that there was a cook and four other persons at the camp, and place for us. So, we left heading for the camp, knowing there was lot of food over there, for me that was a blessing from God. We were welcome as if they had invited V.I.P. It was so great to enjoy good food. When Pauline offered me another full plate, I said yes please, almost weeping. After the main course, my eager for sugar was such that I would have eaten the whole dish. For the first time in my life I really felt the meaning of being hungry, being deprive of food. Going to bed at night after such a feast and a Pepsi to down it, I was planning to get up early to enjoy the next meal. After a great breakfast, Pauline prepared 2 ham sandwiches for each of us plus a batch like something of 25 to 30 molasses biscuits that we ate the same day. Just to know that we had food, I could not stop my body wanting to have more. We arrived at camp no 5 around 7.15 in the evening.
When we opened our food reserved boxes, we were like children tearing apart the covering paper of their Christmas gifts. An overflowing of food only for us. We had been waiting for so long coming to this camp and we use to say, at camp 5 we will eat good Oreos cookies, bannique with Nutella and strawberry jam. At night we ate the very good chicken stew cooked for us by Pauline. We allowed us time to enjoy the Oreos with tea, and next, Yvon prepared a bannique recipe as large as the TFal frying pan, we ate most of it with Nutella and strawberry jam. In the morning we had lots of oatmeal with the rest of the bannique. At noon, two canes of maple syrup beans with bread. It is 4.15h pm, and Yvon comes in with 3 pikes, our diner. We have been living for three day with one thing in mind, EATING.
To go upstream the river Racine de Bouleau with the cords and the porterages is very similar to the ordeals that a person as to overcome to test his will and prove to himself there is not boundary to his life. There are two visions looking at this river, we can curse it for the difficulties we encounter, or bless it for the strength of getting through. At first, I would often go upstream, wishing that the water flow would slow down so we could row and get ahead faster. Realizing that it was always the same, I stop the experience. It was like asking a fortune teller when everything seems wrong in your life. We always hope he will have something to cheer us up. I was trying somehow to get through this hard part of the trip and agree it would not be easy. The last portion of the river was even worst mentally because I just wanted to end the cords and porterage and so we could row on wide water plan. Anyway, we were able to row for about an hour and after that a bit of porterage. I was really worn off, but I preferred to end that part of the trek with positive souvenir. Because wanting to end the experience as fast as possible take you to the future, not the present.
The porterage seems the most difficult ordeals to get through. The first porterage where we had to climb about 100 feet on a 600 feet distance. We had to get the bags up and the canoe twenty feet at the time, it was the hardest one we did. After that porterage with the cords I realise that no problem crossing my way would stop me, I had the strength and the will to go through. My utmost motivation was Riviere Racine de Bouleau.
Since we left, I am aware of the help coming from the universe and the aid granted by Mother Earth. Because, even if at time we were hungry, we had enough fish to give us hope for a better meal.
After a good meal and back in great shape we left heading for camp no 5 A, about 25 km before entering the Caniapiscau lake. We arrived at the camp around 6.30p.m. for super we had pike spagettini. It was a wonderful day, lots of sun and lots of wind.
In the morning, on our way to Caniapiscau lake about 4 or 5 km from camp no 5 A . Rowing into the lake, the river is about 300 ft wide. The river flow entering the lake is quite slow. The landscape is absolutely magnificent, full of islands in a water world. What surprised us the most, the level of the water which was very low. Looking at the distance between the highest level of the water on the islands and the actual one, we had about 20 ft between them. Large parts of the lake are dry, no more water . We can see it as it was before the flooding. Both of us had the same thought, will we have to do porterage on the lake? We decided to go on with our previous plan along the east side so the wind will not be a problem. In the middle, of the afternoon, believe it or not, we had two porterages because there was not enough water to go on. The first one was about 600 fts, and we rowed for something like 10 minutes, the second porterage was something like 800 or 900 fts. Where we are camp now there is enough water so we can canoe . In the days to come we will have to check if we go forward or if we change our plans
Today, because of a very strong wind we were not able to move our camp and had to stay on the same spot for the whole day. For a few years, I had in mind to enjoy a trek of many miles on foot, just start from point A walking to point B and live the adventure lasting many days. But to get help from above, you have to do the first move, be on the trail. Today I did it, I will realise what I have been dreaming of for so long. I will go on that trip in the northern part of Quebec and walk for between 150 and 200 miles for around 30 days. I will travel on a hydroplane to a lake and tell them to get me back on another one. For now, I intend to do that trek alone, it will take two or three years to prepare it . That trip will probably be schedule sometime in the middle of July to the middle of august.
When we woke up, I saw rain and wind was blowing from the south- east. We decided anyway to prepare our bags and leave. It was difficult to know our exact position because of the low level of the water. Sometimes we didn’t know if we could trust the GPS and take the risk of doing some porterages or try a new trail to be sure to have water. We camped close to our first trail.
Shortly after we left, we had to use the cords because the water where we intended to pass was really to low, but after that everything went fine. It’s sad to see all. those ecosystems that were destroyed by the flooding. Now I understand the reluctance the Bay James Cree had and the Inuits too about those projects. But I also enjoy seeing the mountains and the valleys that were left intact by the rising water. The tops of the mountains look much like the one we have in the north with caribou moss, small trees, and sometimes black spruce. I feel so great and happy to see those landscapes that as long as I will be able to walk, I will do those treks every year. I will (visit the north from west to east and north to south). Tonight, we are camping in a place very far in the past history, millions of years, because our tent is just beside a big shit residue of a Rex Tyrannosaurus.
What a fine day, we rowed for about 28 or 30 km, we had the wind pushing us with lots of sun , shortly after ,clouds and rain. Sometime in the afternoon Yvon caught a grey trout, around 30 inches, something like 10 or 11 pounds. We cooked it for super.
It rained almost all night and when we woke up it was still raining. We ate bread with peanut butter, strawberry jam and Nutella. While we were having our breakfast, the rain stopped, and we used that time to pack and leave. About an hour after leaving I caught an ouananiche trout, 24 inches long and around 6 pounds. It was for super. Another good day, we can follow our determine trail without problem, because where we are now, there is a lot of water. We rowed for nearly 20 km. At the end of the afternoon the sky is blue. The weather is somewhat cold during the last few days, 13 to 15 degrees Celsius, with much wind. We have been on the trail for the last 50 days and are still having the urge and enthusiasm we had when we left.
We left this morning toward the Caniapiscau dam, we should be on the run for about 20 km. We arrived at the dam at 2.15 p.m. All along the canoe trip we had a south wing pushing us in the back, at the beginning of the day there was a little bit of rain and next a beautiful blue sky with a lot of warm sun that was greatly enjoyed. We got in touch with Patrick of Labrador air Safari at the Pau lake to know if it was possible to send somebody to get us back. Patrick had been contacted by Pauline when we were at No 1 camp. Michel who is in charge of the air base came to bring us back. From the bottom of our hearts we thank all the people of the Labrador Air Safari base; Michel, (manager of the base), Patrick, (dispatcher) Carol (outstanding cook) and Michel (pilot) for the very appreciated help.
In the morning, at the Air Saguenay air base Labrador Air Safari, it was raining, and it went on till noon. While we were at the base, we enjoyed a good shower and the laundry service. Once again, all the people were greatly helpful, and we were happy to share this friendly living with all those persons working on the base. I already did it a few times, but again I want to thank Carole, who speaks only English, for her delicious meals, she soon realized that we did not have much sweet to complete our eating rations on the trip, so she did everything to compensate. Tonight, we ate the whole big piece of fruit cake cooked by you that you gave us. We were afraid it would be mashed in our luggage, it was so good…
Patrick, a passionate in computer, fixed an internet problem I had, he did it with the help of Emmanuel in Quebec.
Michel, if he is as secure being in his plane as he is sitting at kitchen table, you can rest, no problem in sight. Michel, the handy guy of the base, is the man you will trust anytime. Chatting together we realised we had three hobbies we shared; horns, hunting and stripping paint on old furniture.
For all those watching our web site if you know somebody who is planning a caribou hunting trip in the north, just tell them about Labrador Air Safari. They can get in touch with Jean or Jean-Claude at the phone no 1 418-548-5505. We would have like to meet them but could not make it .
We left in the afternoon to move on the last part of our trip, one third to go. We start rowing down the Caniapiscau river, which will take us to the Koksoak river and by the way to the Ungava Bay passing in front of Kuujjuaq.
We are on our way down the Caniapiscau river, lots of rain. Half of the trip is done rowing and half using cords. The riverbed must have been something like 1000 or 1500 feet large, but since the erection of the dams ( there are 41 of them) the river average about 500 feet and there is a lot of rocks. Since our departure on June 7 it’s the first time we have a rainy day none stop, all day long.
Waking up this morning, our beloved sun was back. We knew it was the right time to dry our clothes.
We used the cords most of the day. A few years ago, that part of the river must have been very rough water way to use. We found a camping ground close to 19.30 pm. We have been going down the river for three days and the hardest part of the trip is to find a camping ground. We are now at the 55 north parallel and the Ungava is at the 59.
When we woke up the beautiful sun was still there. Today we had much more rowing than cords. At different places the river is wider and sometime small lacs. Occasionally the sides of the river are very steep and then low slopes. On each side of the river there is a lot of big rocks and elsewhere only capes. The river is between 500 and 700 feet wide. We are camping on a very level part of cape. Yvon found a really old caribou horn near our camp, so we baptised the place; caribou camp.
To start the day, we did a bit of cords and then we rowed for the rest of it. We when down some rough rapid water which pushed us forward for something like 35 km. We stop to settle our camp on a very long sand bar at least 1.5 km. All along that sand space there was many kinds of small flower purplish-blue, they were beautiful, so I baptised the place; the flower camping.
Again, we woke up with my friend the sun but in the middle of the afternoon my other friend the rain came to visit us, and after they came on and off for all the rest of the afternoon. We went down several fast and rough parts of the river and we were pushed by my friend the wind which gives us the chance to travel at least 45 km. When we settle down for super around 19.00 pm, my friend the rain came back, when it was time to turn in, she was still there.
My friend the rain stayed with us all night long and decided shortly after we woke up to stop. We were camping about 8 or 10 km from the entry of another big river which fall in the Caniapiscau, the River du Sable. We knew by the people of Air Saguenay that quite close there was a hunting and fishing facility. Since it had been raining all night, we could not light a fire for the breakfast, so we just pack up to get to the hunting camp to dry our equipment. We arrived at that camp around 10.30am. For a few weeks we have been seeing hunting and fishing camps not far from Juston lake. Most of those camps are not use anymore due to the migration of the caribou to other regions of the north. Now, the only one left are the Club Chambeaux camps, in very good condition. It is always sad to realise how damaged are those settlements. Thinking of all the work that was done to build those camps, because all the materials needed was brought by hydroplanes. We cleaned a bit and lit a fire in the wood stove. Once we were there, we enjoyed having that place on our way. We rested for the most part of the day, because tomorrow we have about 8 or 10 km to go before entering the Eaton Canyon porterage.
In the morning, Yvon found a topographic map of the region where we are now and on which the Eaton Canyon porterage is indicated. About thirty minutes after our departure we arrived at the Tuktu fall porterage. This porterage of around 0.75 km is traced by old marks that were done with an ax on black spruces. Later, after this first porterage we walked another small one called the Little Eaton Canyon, a 300 feet trail. Approximatively twenty minutes after being in the canoe, we are at the rapids the beginning of Eaton canyon. As fast as possible we rowed to the shore because if you get caught in the rapids you are sure it is the end of your trek. After looking around a short time we found the porterage marks. In the middle of the afternoon we dressed our tent and our shelter on a place quite leveled, preparing for a long porterage.
We decided to do the porterage in two parts. Anyway, with all the porterages done now, we are in great shape. During the afternoon we did three times the 1 km trail. On the river edge, only the canoe is left, and we will come and get it tomorrow. Till now there is no problem with the trail in the northern forest with large patch of caribou moss. There is so much moss that we have the impression of a ground being covert with snow. As I was walking, I had in mind the moment when there was a lot of caribous in this northern part of Quebec, and in my head, I could see them walking and eating peacefully all around here. Finishing our first one trip to get our luggage, late in the afternoon, I am the front guy and the trail is very steep through big rocs, and going down, I am asking myself in what kind of a dump are we gone to sleep tonight. Down the slope there is a small structure erected with spruce poles on which we installed our shelter, and not far away we dressed our tent on the side of a little lake which will lead to us the Caniapiscau river. All along the day both my friends, the sun and the rain were present on and off. In the evening there are so many flies that Yvon can not get rid of them on our dinner meal.
We went on with our porterage on the Eaton Canyon. We brought the canoe back and forth about two hours and 30 minutes trip. When we arrive at the camping ground, we decided to get the luggage and row on the small lake. Ending the crossing of the lake we had quite a surprise, the water falls in a mountain of huge rocks (another canyon). We had to do another porterage. This one was not on a such distance but was very difficult, we had to climb on huge rocks for about 150 feet, and on the other side we were going down something like 200 feet along a rocky wall, it took some three hours to get there. After arriving we got our luggage and rowed for a few minutes before a new porterage of about one hour to finally arrive to the Caniapiscau. We went down for around 2 km and reach a small sand beach where we stopped for our camping.
Today, we rowed for 30 kms in the canoe. About 45 minutes after we left, we went through the opening of the Goodwood river. At lunch time we stopped at the foot of a little downfall and Yvon caught 5 trouts between 12 and 15 inches long. They were for diner. During the afternoon, the Caniapiscau became broader and broader, because this morning it was 700 or 800 feet large and, in the afternoon, it doubled and there are often long and large beaches of sands. But even if the river was very wide, it was not shallow. Sometimes we were in the middle and there was not more than between 4 or 5 feet of water. The mountains are undulating with different eights. The tops of the mountains becoming more and more the standard of the north with lots of space covert with rocks, caribou moss, spruces, larches now and here. Even then, the landscapes are always beautiful.
Around 15.30 pm, we came to another closed hunting and fishing camp. We used it so it will be alive for an afternoon, a night and a morning.
We left the camp heading for the Granit Falls some 15 km away. My friend the sun was with us and a little south wind helping to go faster. Again, long and wide stretch of sand all along the river. About half an hour before coming to the falls, we could already the noise of the water pouring down. It’s always special to see and hear the sound of the water rushing hundred feet down.
We didn’t find marks on the trees or other signs to indicate the way to the porterage. So, we traveled on the left side of the river without problem for the first 350 feet, but for the rest, it was a rocky business, we had to come about 40 feet down with our luggage and the canoe to get to a little pebble beach going straight to the river. That porterage lasted almost three hours.
We tried to catch trout but didn’t get any. We went on down the river which was gradually shrinking an came to be between 300 to 350 feet wide with huge mountains on each side, no more sand beaches, only big rocks and rapids that were getting us down dangerously fast. Some twenty km farther, the mountains seem to become less steep and high. We came to a stop at 19.30 when we found a rocky cap quite leveled going down on a low slope toward the river.
Shortly after our departure in the morning we stop at the entrance of a big river. While Yvon was fishing, I went up the river to take pictures because there were many falls and the current of the water was really fast. Where I was standing to take pictures, I could see the beginning of the fall. I guest there was 150 feet to where I stand to go on down another 75 feet and end its running slowly to get to in Caniapiscau river.
When we left this morning, the sky was cloudy and slowly before noon the clouds completely disappeared and my friend the sun happily came back for the rest of the day. Today we when on for something like 38 km. We installed our shelter on a spot going down to the Cambrian lake.
We left this morning wanting to get to the Schists falls around 32 km of our camping. Around 11.00 a.m. we end the rowing on the Cambrian lake to come back to the Caniapiscau river. We have a strong wind pushing us and Yvon got a sail on the canoe, he installed an oar on each side of the canoe, right in the middle. Sometimes, I think we were going at least 8 or 10 km an hour fast. We arrived at the Schists falls at 15.30. The 420 feet trail was well indicated. Before, the level of the water lowered the end of the porterage was heading right in the water, but today we had to cut branches on a 150 feet distance. Several kms before coming to the falls, there were several acres of burned forest during summer, and the porterage was in part of this burned forest. Before and after the porterage. There is no camping ground. We got our tent on a small upper clean spot. We named our settlement; burned camp.
After finishing the remaining of the porterage, in the afternoon we enjoy some fishing at the foot of the falls, we caught 8 spotty trouts about twelve inches long. We travelled 25 km before coming to the entrance of the Swampy Bay river. We prepared our camping on a sandy beach in front of the Columbet Creek river.
I got up this morning with my friend the rain; before going to bed last night, I protected my firewood, so I didn’t have any problems lighting the fire this morning, and the rain stop after breakfast. The clouds disappeared slowly in the morning to let the sun through. But at the end of the afternoon, my friend the rain was back and lasted until our bedtime. Today we canoed for 44 kms. We camped there because tomorrow we will start going down a river where huge mountains on each side fall in it. Those mountains are just awesome, because they are exactly like the northern mountains. I love those splendid mountains, their vegetation and rocks. I love a lot more the northern landscapes than the one where I live, even if the mountains we have at home are beautiful.
When I woke up My friend the rain was still with us. After breakfast, we left heading for the Pyrite falls 25 km away from our camping. On our way my friend the rain was still with us and decided to leave us alone when we arrived at the falls at about 15h in the afternoon. Shortly before coming to the pyrite falls, the landscape started to look more and more like the one we have in the north with small round mountains, lots of reindeer moss, lichen, spruce tree and larch here and then. There are many spruces and larches by the side of the river for about a hundred feet, then after, wide spaces covered with reindeer moss. For the first time in my life, I drink with my eyes so my heart will be overflowing.
This morning, our way was toward the Calcaire falls, some 8 or 9 km from the pyrite falls. Before leaving we enjoyed some time for fly fishing, we caught a grey trout ,2 Ouananiche trouts, and 7 speckled trouts. So, we had our diner and some more for the breakfast. We arrived at the Calcaire falls around 13.30. We ate our lunch before the porterage between 400 or 450 feet along the river. It lasted 2 hours, and then we were back on our way toward the Manitou gorge where there are many rapids lasting for five kms. We arrived at our destination at 16.30 and got our camping ready for the night.
After our bags were ready, we started going down the Manitou gorge with the cords for nearly 0.75 km and we went down for the rest rowing along the left side of the river as close as possible to the shore. In the middle of the afternoon we passed the entrance of Larch river around 500 or 600 feet wide. From this junction, we are on the Koksoak river heading to Kuujjuaq.
When we left this morning, we were at a distance of 77 km from Kuujjuaq and we had in mind to row for between 45 to 50 km in our canoe. Occasionally we had a little bit of wind in our back and when the wind was stronger, Yvon would installed a sail that we called the third rower. When we stopped for our night camping, we had been rowing for 53 kms.
This morning was very special, because it was the last breakfast, the last fire and the last camp folding, for it’s the last 24 km to Kuujjuaq. We left at 8.00 o’clock and we reached Kuujjuaq et 11.30. We had planned to get our plane ticket 2 days in advance (meaning for Thursday) from Kuujjuaq to Quebec because then you save on the cost, but there was no more place available on Air Inuit before august 25. So now we got our tickets with First Air from Kuujjuaq to Montréal tomorrow afternoon at 16.50. We will spent the night at an Yvon’s uncle home before taking the bus to Quebec Wednesday in the morning.
We reached Kuujjuaq today on Monday the 18 of august, after 73 days living in the nature and we lived that adventure five more days that were planned. It’s the end of out northern trek, our challenge, our dream. What is obvious, the experience was exceptional. It’s been sometimes quite difficult, we knew it would be, but with your encouragements, you were a great emotional help for both of us. It was a very hard trip for the equipment and for the adventurers, the proof, we lost some twenty pounds.
We finish this trek with the head full of beautiful northern landscapes we will never forget, plus hundreds of magic moments. It has been a personal experience most rewarding for me. It brought back basic values that we no longer consider important in our modern societies, it is not important to possess as much to be happy. That trek was full of challenge we had to face day after day to reach the arrival post. What a great emotional feeling to see that we have succeeded. Anything is possible, as long as you do it step by step, rowing on and porterage one after the other.
One important fact in our expedition is that is we didn’t have any major accident, just a few minor problems to cope with. Chance, prudence, or maybe something else, or possibly all this together? For a happy ending, I am quite sure now that all dream can come true if you believe in them and dare to try. I went through a living dream I will never forget. Live yours and live them to the end.
Life is wonderful, lets thank it.
We were very proud arriving to Kuujjuaq today. When we left for our trek on June 7 th, we had planned to end our trip at the Ungava Bay. We decided together not to get there because the back and forth trip is 100kms and it means at least 4 days of canoe rowing.
Thank you to Doreen Tucker (manager of the Kuujjuaq Inn) for allowing us to stay at the hotel while waiting for our flight to Quebec.
For me that trip in canoe has been a most rewarding experience.
As a physical guy, I consider myself as one in good shape, and my weight was 165 pounds before leaving, with the porterage, the rowing the cords work, I gain quite a lot in physical strength, but on the other side I lost at least 20 pounds and had to change my belt.
On the psychological side, as you could read in day 43 the trip to go up the river Racine de bouleau, brought me a lot of will strength and motivations. In my writing there was two great challenges I had to face. The first was to accept the rain going on for days. I succeeded to live with that rain for as long as it lasted, and I wrote a personal note about it. Now, to welcome that rain, we must realise that in the world, all is one, a collectivity. If we don’t agree to have rain on such day, it’s because ourselves, we want the sun to shine when we do our work outside. If it is not shining, we are angry, damned and send negatives vibes in the universe.
My second challenge was to live with another person all day long. It’s hard to say to which point this challenge was accepted, because now, I know that very deep inside I am a solitary and absolutely need to live that solitude. The ironical part of this challenge is that I find myself in this broad wild nature having to share everything, the canoe, the tent, the fire, the meals etc. As I used to always get up before Yvon, I would enjoy deeply those moments being alone. The last week was morally difficult because after 9 weeks of canoeing every day I really had enough of rowing. Happily, the universe was there to boost me and give me the strength to go on.
On a spiritual point of view, that trip had two important meanings for me. The first one was doing that trek as such, and the second was to end a very long personal questioning, that is, asking myself why the north is so important for me. Ending that questioning was like opening a wild passion that I felt growing slowly in me each time I would come in the north. During those 73 days in the forest, I adored living in the huge wild nature, to walk on the ground, to travel on the water, to prepare our meal on the fire and to breath this pure air. As much as I was tired to canoe the tenth week, as much the joy to be in this nature was growing. The more I was in the real northern landscape the idea of giving the rest of my life, fulfilling the dream of living the north was urging in me. My passion is to walk in the north, write on the north and to picture the north.
It’s my way to share it protection. Before my trek, when I was in the forest listening to hear the piercing call of the eagle in the sky, I would always say, ( I know that you, you are free to go wherever you want.) Every time I see mountains, for me they always give a feeling of peace and serenity. Maybe in a not far future, when I will hear the call of the eagle, I will be able to answer him, ( me too, am free in the north, being peaceful, serein to walk on the mountains tops covert with reindeer moss, lichen, rare vegetation and sometimes a tree here and there).
In short, I will be in harmony with my vision of life. I abandon myself to the plan of the universe.