Saturday, May 25, 2013

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 6 of trip (June 24 to July 1, 2012)

Day 6, Friday, June 29

Last day paddle was a piece of cake k968 to k50, k18, moderately pushy current but no meaningful rapids.

Took out just after k 50 bridge, on left. About 250 miles to La Tuque, a hot shower and dinner at Le Parasol.

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 5 of trip (June 24 to July 1, 2012)

Day 5, Thursday, June 28

Weather improved and we enjoyed the spectacular scenery—craggy, bare rock high cliffs, some with mountain streams tumbling down to the river.

The current was always pushy and the river shallow in some places. Had to pick our way down a little bit.

No special challenges this day. Camped at k68 GB site, plenty of room with a large wood platform for gear. Hordes of hungry biting flies. Had the time and inclination to take a cold water bath.

Dinner was sausage in tomato sauce over spaghetti with fresh brussel sprouts (they transport easily).

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 4 of trip (June 24 to July 1, 2012)

Day 4, Wednesday, June 27

This part of the river was particularly scenic with steep wooded banks, almost canyon-like and otherworldly.

 Long waterfalls coming down the cliffs occasionally on the sides.

The light rain created a mystic atmosphere. There were several tough R3s (at least one around a bend) that had to be thoroughly scouted by going bushwacking up the banks. The best routes seemed to be on river right. At one point we did some unintentional surfing in a hydraulic, which we were able to backpaddle out of.

We camped at a site K92 rated “tres beau” GB. There was plenty of room for multiple tents and fire rings. Had a small log bench. Mashed potatoes and corned beef hash with fresh beets for dinner. Rain stopped, saw a double rainbow and we were able to dry out some gear.

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 3 of trip (June 24 to July 1, 2012)

Day 3, Tuesday, June 26

Light rain when we get up after rain all night. paddling started a bit tough. Somewhere around K138-139 took a lot of scouting for the S3 and R3s.

After some R2s we had the S5 mandatory carry and lunch on rock RL.

Portaged down the rocks to a steep put-in.

After lunch and the paper bridge, a stretch of 7.5 miles of mostly R1s with a little R2s mixed in. A hoot, even though it was raining.

Campsite was “beau site” pretty in that it had lots white flowers.

Dinner was a classic that Doug created and perfected. Chicken korma, fresh buttered green beans and brown instant rice.

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 2 of trip (June 24 to July 1, 2012)

Day 2, Monday, June 25, 2012

Day started with lots of rapids of varying difficulty, R1, R2 and a few R3s. We scouted all the R3s and Doug lined the easy part of the R3 at K 156. We were still getting comfortable with the mapmaker’s river markings.

In the beginning we had plenty of R1s and R2s but also R3s. We hit an S2 little off and took on a boatload. Not a pleasant feeling with one inch of freeboard and the boat so heavy it can’t be steered. We kept the boat pointing downstream and soon had it on a rock. After some mid-river bailing we were floating again.

Nice campsite marked GB high up on the spit of a sandy bank.
Shrimp scampi dinner was a first, with pasta and carrots. A keeper. It started to rain before bedtime, which was 9 p.m. Black flies were particularly bad, plus added mosquitos thrown in for more annoyance. Site was full of fluffy white/light green flowers in bloom.

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, DAY 1, June 24 to July 1, 2012

Day 1, Sunday, June 24

Sunrise was early, four or five; the birds made a racket. Out of the tent before six; lots to do. Coffee and pork chops that had to be eaten. (They were to be dinner but instead had wonderful spotted trout.) Walked and ate to keep the bugs away. All the gear had to be down to the lake and the truck delivered to our friend who was going to take it to the take out for us. Waiting for the float plane at the washed-out dock, we decide to move all the gear to the beach where there weren’t nails and broken wood. Kept watching and watching for the plane. The sky was perfect blue with a few painterly clouds. No wind, the lake very still. Then we heard the rumblings of some shore bird and the big red single Otter plane arrived with its white goose logo on the back—Air Saguenay.

The plane, a de Haviland single Otter had a new Polish Pezetel 1,000 horsepower engine. The pilot came right up to the beach, donned hip boots and jumped in the water to maneuver the plane even closer to us and the gear. He strapped our canoe to the right pontoon with nylon straps and heavy clamps. All our gear was stowed in the back of the plane. Doug gave Trish the co-pilots seat, which she gratefully accepted, Nikon in hand. We followed the path of the river up to Lac Machisque. 45 minutes, 72 air miles.

 What a treat to see the river from the air before navigating it. The landing was perfect and we taxied to the plage marked GC (group camp) on the map, the headwaters of the Mistassibi Nord Est. Kilometer 176 on the map.

We started off fast and checked the map for reliability, R2 S2 R2 R1 R2 S2 R1 R2. The first part of the river had a forest fire in June 201 so it was still pretty desolate looking, only low scrubby growth. We paddled 7.5 miles and camp at a 3C site around K 164. Dinner was especially memorable since it had been transported in a cooler for days. Steak, baked Yukon gold potatoes with sour cream, steamed fresh broccoli.

MISTASSIBI NORD EST, QUEBEC, June 24 to July 1, 2012

Getting to the Put In

Our adventure began well before we arrived at Lac Boisvert for the plane to take us to the put in. Some of it is worth recounting here for those considering a similar trip. Note, there are several other ways to start a paddle on the Mistassibi Nord Est without engaging a float plane.

Our account of this trip, started with the drive on the Abitibi Bowater Road, 12k, 78.7 dusty miles on the logging road. Our Ford 4x4 crew cab was able to do a respectable 42 to 45 miles per hour with the cruise control set. At any rate, that leg of the trip took two hours, following directions and keeping an eye out for various turns. At the designated mile, we crossed over the bridge (double, no guard rails) and found the road to Lac Boisvert, confirming that we had the right one with a middle-age couple on an ATV (many around) who spoke only French. They gave us further imperative: “Stay to the right.”

We took them rather literally and a couple of times had to backtrack as “the right” deteriorated into pure bush. The road up to the lake is very difficult. Huge rocks, steep inclines, only a few hand-written signs. Tough on the toughest truck. Rarely did we reach 10 miles an hour, mostly 5; traveling the 11 miles to the lake.

When we arrived at the pristine lake and the spot where we thought a plane might land, there was no sign of a dock. We went to the north end of the lake and still could not locate a dock. We eventually ventured down a driveway and found a chalet occupied by a family. The father told Doug (who speaks French learned in school and refreshed with regular visits to Quebec) that the dock had washed away; and offered to show us where it was. Sure enough, the sign bearing the symbol for a float plan was buried in the brush.

We found the path down to the lake and decided we would wait there for the plane in the morning–where the dock used to be. This was at the southern end of the lake. Across the road there was a gravelly open area where we camped. The evening’s beauty was marred by the onslaught of black flies. Retreated to the safety of the tent early.