Circuit 35 La Veréndrye
August 28 - 31, 2006 Eric and Ted in a 17 foot Trillium
The canot-camping building at Le Domaine. Registration, maps and some gear.
The beach at campsite 35-03.
After overnighting in front of the Canot-Camping building at Le Domaine, we picked up our permits, transfered route, portage and campsite info from the Canot-Camping topo map to our maps and headed for the put-in. Twenty-five minutes and 30K later, we turned off of Highway 117 onto Road 28 towards the Lac Nichcotèa SEPAQ site which is another 26K down a good gravel road.
We were on the water by 11:00 and, after a nice hour-long paddle stopped at campsite 35-03 for lunch. This campsite has a nice little beach, 4 good pads and log seats around the campfire ring. However, it was buggy. There is a small swamp behind the site that in wet weather could be a bug factory. Back on the water by 1:00.
The first yearling bear just after climbing out of the water. The second yearling bear just after crossing the narrows. At the narrows between Lac Desty and Lac D'Arcy, we spot two yearling bears swimming from one shore to the other. They swam well and quite quickly too. Due to the distance and the bouncing of the canoe, the pictures aren't much but the excitement was. A great way to start the trip.
It's 3:30 so we stopped for the night at the 35-12 island campsite. It has a good view of Lac Giroux as it is situated high off the water. We even had a slight breeze to keep any bugs away. Perfect. There is even a small sandy beach.
Lots and lots of room at campsite 35-12
One of the great views from campsite 35-12
Lines were set up to dry off the tents and and we enjoyed a relaxing evening on a great site. By sunset, lots and lots of good pictures were taken. After the breeze died down, the roar of distant rapids could be heard as this lake is part of the Coulonge River system. Eric enjoyed a nice evening campfire, while Ted went to bed early to try out his Hennessey Hammock.
It's a lazy morning as noboby wants to leave. As we're packing up we notice bear tracks on the beach below and hope that they were there before we arrived. Finally departed at 10:30. It was a short paddle to the portage over Road 28 and into Lac Strobile. Although the start has a good incline, the portage turns out to be very easy but we needed to be careful of low-flying trucks on a road that must be crossed. On the Lac Strobile side, there is a basic camp suitable for emergencies or finishing off a long day. Back on the water by 11:50.
Two otters checking us out and snorting with nerviousness.
The third otter that really got carried away with snorting at us.
Just after rounding the corner into the main part of Lac Strobile we surpise 3 otters playing in the water. Boy, were they upset. Snorted up a storm. They kept "swearing" at us for quite some time while we took picture after picture. As campsite 35-19 was close-by, we stopped for lunch. It is a nice site with a short incline to the camp from a small sandy beach. Good tent sites and logs around the firepit.
It's time for the Ruisseau Carrière which has quite the negative reputation. After looking at the portage over the bridge and noting that the portage take-out is really in the middle of a rock garden, we decided to line the whole thing rather than humping all of the gear up and over the road. After a short paddle, we hit 2 short portages almost back-to-back. The last half of the Ruisseau is a very, very, very, meandering stream that takes forever to finish.
The entrance to Ruisseau Carrière
The bridge where we started lining the canoe. About 100 meters in total.
High winds and good chop made the crossing to the island campsite quite the ride.
One of the two back to back 30 meter portages
We heard the sound of wind the closer we got to Lac Carrière and broke out into the Lac to find 3 foot chop and 30k winds from the North. North, of course, is our direction. Good Grief. After 20 minutes of hard paddling we made it to island campsite 35-22. Although rocky in front of the site, there is a small beach on the Southern side where we landed. Funny but typical as there are mean winds and waves out in the lake but an absoutely georgeous calm and sunny day on the leeward side of the island. The site is nice with one 1 small tent site and the other capable of a family sized tent. Let's hope the wind dies by morning.
Ted moving gear to the campsite
Eric on the leeside of the island which was calm, sunny and even sandy. A real change from the windward side.
Nope, the wind howled through the trees all night and it was a cold wind. My little thermometer showed about 8 Celsius when we woke. The wind was still howling down the full length of the lake. As there was no shelter to break the wind or chop for the good 2K to the East shore, we decided to call ourselves wind-bound.
The morning was spent wearing every shred of clothing I had brought - 2 T-shirts, a long-sleeve shirt, fleece jacket, rain jacket and, sometimes, even my PFD. Wool socks for gloves of course.
By mid-afternoon the wind started to moderate to gusts so we decided to make a break for it. It wasn't too bad while in the lee of a couple of islands but when we hit the exposed area, it got really interesting. We did wind ferry at about 30 degrees from the chop and wind. Nice canoe that Trillium. I only took a few waves in the lap and not once did the nose dive into the trough deep enough to bury the bow thanks to the angle. 45 minutes of white-water practise got us to the Eastern shore's wind shadow. This wasn't a good move really. There was no one else on the lake and a cold day would have made dumping a kilometer from shore very serious. I guess it's all about risk management based on experience and expertise.
Campsite 35-29. Sand, sand and more sand. What a place to stop and relax for a while. The firepit area can hold an entire Scout troop it's so large We took a well-earned breather at campsite 35-29. Wow, what a campsite! We wonder if we took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up in the Carribean or something. There is lots and lots of sandy beach, five nice tent sites including a couple large enough for family-sized tents, plus a very large get-together area around the campfire. This is a definite 11 out of 10.
One last 300m portage and paddling until 6:30 gets us to campsite 25-22, dead tired as usual. Although the site is rudimentary, we're greatful it's there.
The narrow lining channel before the portage. It's visually far left.
The view from the Lac Canimina SEPAQ beach.
The area around the campsite is shallow and has a lot of reeds and weeds. It looks like good moose country so we plan to rise at 06:00 to check things out. However, we woke up to solid fog with visibility less than 15 meters in front of us. My little thermometer shows 4 degrees Celsius! So much for game viewing so to heck with it. Back to that nice down sleeping bag. Finally rolled out of bed at 08:00 to see the fog burning off and the sky clear - no clouds whatsoever. This should be a nice day considering that North wind will finally be at our backs. Break camp at 10:25.
FYI, getting to the portage between Carrière and Canimina is quite interesting. There is about a 100 meter long channel (starts on river right) that has to be lined before the actual portage. The channel was definitely man-made by removing a whole lot of rocks. It is approximately 225 meters upstream from the bay to the portage. The portage, itself, is only 200 meters long.
For a late 1:30 lunch we stopped at campsite 35-40 which is a standard shield type campsite with a relatively rocky shore.
We arrived at the Lac Canimina SEPAQ at 15:15. The beach looked sandy so I stepped out to stretch my back and legs. That one leg went knee deep into muck. Yep, this is the Lac Myon area all right.
Even though Lac Myon still owes me a water sandal from 3 years ago, we decided to bypass the portage entirely. I watched the gear and Eric walks the 20 minutes over to the Lac Nichocotea SEPAQ to get the truck.
Note to self. Eric and I have to stop doing circuits a day or two faster than the norm. Wasn't canoeing supposed to be relaxing? On another note, Eric must have liked that 17 foot Trillium as, instead of giving it back to the rental people, he decided to leave it on the truck. He bought it!