7 days solo in northern Quebec

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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
I returned a few days ago from a week long solo canoe trip in northern Quebec. The area I paddled is controlled by the local Cree First Nations and from what I could gather they have set aside these two lakes for canoe tripping. The Cree organization goes by the name NIBIISCHII, the contact person is Amélie Lapointe alapointe@nibiischii.com (819) 460-3323. Everyone I talked to spoke French and sometimes communication in English was an issue. I asked about other routes and when the conversation started going south I just left well enough alone and headed to my put in.
The two lakes are located about 100 miles north of the town of Chibougamau, PQ on the Rt. du Nord. The last 20 miles of the road in requires a vehicle with some clearance, nothing serious but I wouldn't take a loaded Prius in there.

Two maps I was sent. I will post some more information/requirements at the end of this report.
NIIBIISII map.jpg


NIB map 2.jpg

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The put at Lac Robineau is located at a small hamlet of Cree cabins. No one was there but it was tidy and looked like a nice place for those folks to gather. I slept right there at the put in that evening, I had been on the road since 2 am the night before (680 miles due north from my home in costal mid Maine), sleep came easy.
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A few shots of the Cree village

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Well, my first two days of the trip where pleasant, calm winds, clouds/sun, very nice. Lac Robineau is about 7-8 miles long, then a small river of about equal lenght leads to the much larger Lac Canotaicane. There are 2 portages on this river, both pretty easy. I chose to line my canoe down the first set of rapids, about 350 meters, then carried around a nice falls for the second.

The trees up there seem to thin out in spots, really pretty. Unfortunatley, the bush grows right down to the water, no rocky outcrops like in Ontario so I was soon to find out that campsites where limited to the beautiful and abundant sand beach's.
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My fist campsite.

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It was kind of sketchy, right there at waters edge.


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BTW, don't knock those crocks. I hated them when my wife brought them home but I'm a believer now. Not so great in sand, but I like them for around camp. My boots where soaked from lining the canoe down the rapids,
Just down the lake I found this nice beach the next morning. Who knew?
I don't carry any electronics other than a new to me SPOT X. I made some maps off the internet and tried to hi-lite the beaches on them with satellite pics from Google Earth. I guess I wasn't always accurate. I liked the SPOT X, sent a nice message to my wife every night, she usually responded with UGH! or "sunny here".

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Sunday the rain started coming in, I paddled on with a nice little tail wind.

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I had removed the rear seat in my "tandem" Chum before the trip. One of those "overthinking moments" during my pre trip plans. You know, save weight, more room. Totally unnecessary, plus I just like of the look of that canoe the way the Chestnut factory sent it out the door 70 years ago.

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Sunday, my second day, the weather seemed to be changing and I really wondered if this campsite I chose for the 3rd night was going to be an issue. 3 things I learned about camping on a beach, 1. tent pegs don't hold. B. Your out in the wind, no shelter. 3. Hard to set up a tarp. and D. sand gets into everything. (little Home Alone humor)


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Well, a storm came in after dark and the wind/rain was like nothing I can ever remember experiencing in a tent. The tent held up till dawn but gave out when things got really out of hand. I managed to crawl out and save the poles from getting bent.
The next morning, in spite of the rough conditions I packed up and worked my way down the lake to a sheltered cove.

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My friend calls this one "Dressed for Summer in Canada"

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I call this one "worried look", paddling down that shoreline with the chance of being blown out into that big lake was a real concern of mine.

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To be continued.
 

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Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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It was kind of sketchy, right there at waters edge.
Lol, that made me laugh. I hate beach camping, sand gets everywhere, like you say, every crevice, including the one's on your body. Looks like interesting country though, and nice to read a trip report again!
 
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Jan 7, 2016
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Glad you got to paddle your Chum in Canada. I too hate camping on sand, gravel is not bad, love a flat place of grass covered dirt. Pine duff covered Precambrian Shield country is still my favorite though. Did your border crossings go smoothly?
Thanks for taking us along, I really enjoyed your report.
 
Joined
Oct 29, 2019
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southeast PA
Congrats on getting out there remote! What made you decide on that particular destination? It looks like you could paddle endlessly among the bays and islands of Lac Canotaicane!
 
Joined
Jul 31, 2011
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Dodgeville, Wi
Loved the report and always appreciate pics of your canoes Robin. Setting up for wind in sand is miserable. I have used cut 12 inch sticks buried deep length ways ( dead soldiers ) for anchors and had better luck, but I hate having to do that.

Very interesting report, a great read on a gloomy windy morning.

Bob
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Location
Appleton, Maine
Lol, that made me laugh. I hate beach camping, sand gets everywhere, like you say, every crevice, including the one's on your body. Looks like interesting country though, and nice to read a trip report again!
HaHa, Thanks, still cleaning it out of the gear.
Glad you got to paddle your Chum in Canada. I too hate camping on sand, gravel is not bad, love a flat place of grass covered dirt. Pine duff covered Precambrian Shield country is still my favorite though. Did your border crossings go smoothly?
Thanks for taking us along, I really enjoyed your report.
Thanks, The border crossing did go smoothly. Getting the mandatory Covid test 72 hrs before the crossing was a problem of my own making. Long story short, I got it done at the VA and the results returned quickly. It did delay my trip, all my own fault.
Congrats on getting out there remote! What made you decide on that particular destination? It looks like you could paddle endlessly among the bays and islands of Lac Canotaicane!
Thanks, I read a few posts about the area over on CCR and posted a question about the area myself. I got lots of leads, contacted Amélie Lapointe and set my sights on a trip there. Now that I live in Maine, this is an easy one day (11-12 hours) ride north, Quebec city was a breeze too. All those bays and islands where what attracted me, I enjoy that type of exploring. Didn't see anyone for 7 days, not even a footprint in the sand. As wild as I'll ever see.

Yep, sandy beaches are not great for camping. Very interesting trip report as usual. Leaving tomorrow for LV, so will catch up on your adventures when I get back. Thanks for sharing.
Have a good trip Gerald, Thanks
Loved the report and always appreciate pics of your canoes Robin. Setting up for wind in sand is miserable. I have used cut 12 inch sticks buried deep length ways ( dead soldiers ) for anchors and had better luck, but I hate having to do that.

Very interesting report, a great read on a gloomy windy morning.

Bob
Thanks Bob, I agree, I should have secured the tent with the sticks, next time..haha
 
Joined
Jul 11, 2014
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4,366
Location
Ontario Canada
Already an epic trip. A real good read and great photos too. I feel like I'm there.
Only ever camped on sand once, with my wife and kids. (Not a canoe trip.) The grown up tent was fine, but the kids' nearly blew down the shore. Made an excellent reason to send them to bed early. Way early. "Get to bed and stay there. Gotta keep your tent in place. See ya in the morning."
I went for a swim and M sat in the trees and read. I don't remember the sand issue altho' we probably brought half the shoreline home.
Looking forward to the rest of the TR Robin. Thanks for taking us all out there.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
So I made it down the lake and around a point to a small quiet bay that looked out onto the wide open lake. Unfortunately at the other end of this bay was a wide open windblown exspanse so I was sort of trappedtill the storm moved on. I set up on a nice beach but out of the direct wind this time. This was home for the next 48 hours.

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In spite of all the rain I was able to find lots of dry firewood, you can just see my tent behind me.

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My twig stove doing double duty, a nice small campfire under the tarp does wonders for the soul.

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Paddling out in the rain. It took me 2 days to paddle out, first day into a headwind, the second day I had a tailwind down Robineau.

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Finally, not sure if I'll ever portage again, the legs just don't have it.

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If anyone is interested in more information about this area send me a PM and I'll forward what I have.
 

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Joined
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Preeceville, Saskatchewan Canada
Enjoying your northern Quebec trip very much, Robin. Thanks.

I’m in same boat (canoe?) regarding my legs, which are definitely giving out, and have been for the last year or more. Didn’t even pick up my canoe this year, and suspect it will be more of a challenge When I do. Kathleen and I intended to go on a two-week trip this summer in the Northwest Territoties, which remained closed because of COVID. Sigh. Hopefully next summer.

For us, with perhaps only one major trip left, it’s NWT or nothing. One obstacle we have is our rescue Siberian Husky. we would have to kennel him, and he doesn’t always respond well. We don’t want to force that on him for a closer, shorter trip. Besides, the Barren Grounds is our favourite landscape: open, spacious, nearly constant daylight and abundant wildlife. We gotta go. It would be a fitting finale to our canoeing career.

A little off topic, but no one other than Kathleen and me listed the Barren Grounds in their top five paddling destinations in response to Glenn’s question. It just shows you how personal experiences influence one’s perceptions. For example Kathleen and I actually like camping on sand, which provides firm support, with no bumps or rocks. Also, no delicate plants are crushed beneath our tent, which has a vestibules where we take off our shoes and wipe away most of the sand from our pant legs. We generally get very little sand in the tent.

Anyway, thanks for the trip report. Let me finish with an image of Shadow, dreaming in the sun about a kennel-free life.

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Joined
Jun 4, 2020
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Bowdoinham, Maine
Very interesting, good for you for making it out and north during the pandemic. You didn’t report about any bugs, even on the first day, so I guess the were unremarkable! Would you return to the area?
Thanks for the report. Lots of daydreaming material here.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
I'm glad to see that you're not only back at it, but back in a big way. I imagine there are lots of good trips out there without any portages. It doesn't have to be hard to be worthwhile.
Thanks, the two portages are pretty easy here but I had a hard time with the canoe on the longer one (380 meters). I carried the two packs across with long rests at the end of each leg, but the canoe I dragged up the rapids. That was a real test and I was relieved when it was over.

Very interesting, good for you for making it out and north during the pandemic. You didn’t report about any bugs, even on the first day, so I guess the were unremarkable! Would you return to the area?
Thanks for the report. Lots of daydreaming material here.

Thank You, I had a few non biting black fly's around one day, I did spray some repelent on my hat and there where gone.
I'm not sure if I will return there for a couple of reasons. 1. I don't speak French and I ended up having a few times where it was an issue. I thought me and "Sebastien" at the local KFC where going to step outside when he copped an attitude because I did understand him and he over reacted. Thankfully, a nice FN lad stepped in and translated for me.
Then the portage issue, the best part of the trip is after the portages so I'm kinda limited there. I asked about other routes or lakes in the area but that French/English thing sort of got in the way. The area is highly controlled by NIBIISCHII First Nations and I think they protect the lakes and limit access.
The lack of campsites other than beaches was an issue for me what with the windy conditions.
Other than those minor issues, the area is as wild as I have ever seen, some very beautiful sections, the fishing is said to be outstanding and the chance of seeing caribou, bears, moose etc. and birdlife (I had two sandhill cranes low level over my canoe) are very good.
I'm not sure if I will go back there, maybe.
 
Joined
Sep 26, 2013
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Location
Colrain MA
I like the beachfront campsite, I found a beautiful one on Manitou Lake in Algonquin PP and ended my day @ 10 AM
 
Joined
Sep 17, 2019
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Robin,
Sorry to hear about your misfortune with some of the locals ( 'Sebastien " ) on your trip, I spent many summers in Quebec hunting and fishing as a young man and never had any problems. Then we noticed local attitudes towards " English " seemed to change about the time Quebec was trying to leave Canada and become independent .
I had to grin a little when I read about "stepping outside " to settle the problem. ☺️ (y)
 
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