LaVerendrye-circuit 77-First solo Canadian Trip

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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
This was my first ever "solo" Canadian canoe trip in the early 90's. When I was a kid I took some overnight trips down Muskrat Lake in Cobden, Ontario, but most if not all where with local farm boys who's Dad gave them a evening off to fish and camp with me, the "American Lad".

I had done a few trips with my young children and solo in the Adirondacks, but this was to be my first solo trip for a week in Canada. I had read about a place in southern Quebec called LaVerendrye, maybe in the old Canoe magazine, so I planned my trip, ordered some topo's and got my gear ready.

I read alot about extended canoe trips, Cliff Jacobson, Bill Mason and a few others who where popular at the time. I decided on Duluth Packs for my gear packs, and bought a #3 Duluth Pack and a huge Duluth Kitchen Pack...opps. It took me a while to learn big packs get filled up with stuff you never use, so my first trip was learning experience in alot of ways.
A younger me with stuffed packs...ouch!
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I had bought a wood canvas Chestnut Pal in need of some extensive repairs a few years earlier, completed the repairs and found it to be a good all around canoe, although the weight was an issue. I figured I would never find the spare cash to buy a lightweight Kevlar canoe when I liked the wood canvas so much, and the Pal weighed about the same as some Royalex tripping canoes, so this was going to be my canoe for home and away adventures for a while. It still is today.
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The trip north thru Montreal then northwest to LaVerendrye took about 12 hours from the Hartford, CT area. I had received a fine trip planning guide from the folks at LaVerendrye and knew that I would find free camping and showers at the base of canoe tripping operations, Le Domaine. A pretty nice option after a 12 hour ride. I arrived before the office closed and bought my permit for a 7 day trip, a Quebec fishing license and a 7 day fishing permit for the park and park map of Circuit 77. These maps are all you need, no need for topos.
Le Domaine on route 117
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I have since learned that it's better to buy a 3 day Quebec fishing license and a 3 day Park fishing permit for the middle of a solo 7 day trip. The fishing gets better after a few portage's, two or 3 days into the trip and I never fish much towards the end of a trip, so this is a big savings.

After buying your permits, you take highway 117 to a gravel road marked 38, follow 38 to the put in at campsite "Barker" or another option is to continue on 38 to road 383 which takes you to a bridge crossing where you can put in at the south end of huge Grand Lake Victoria.
The folks at Le Domaine will advise you to whats the best up to date option.

I did this trip in a clockwise direction. There is a long portage back into Grand Lake Victoria and by doing it clockwise, you will be at the end of the trip with empty food bags on that long portage.
Indian camp at first port into Graham lake
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The park maps they sell at Le Domaine are pretty accurate and they show campsites too. After a few portages I entered Petit Lac Des Baies and followed a beautiful little stream that had just enough water in it to float my canoe into Lac Dies Baies, what a great section to start a trip. I wanted to explore Des Baies with all it's islands and bays, but being my first solo Canadian trip I figured I better to stick to my route and head for the next portage.

My first campsite was marked on my map just west of Lac Des baies on River De Orignal, a small campsite that I barley fit my tent into, and it was obvious it hadn't been used in years.
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After dinner I paddled my empty canoe back into a bay north of my site looking for a moose while I fished. A very memorable paddle it was.

The next morning I continued west towards Lac Henault, crossing 5 portages, nothing long, but one very difficult one exiting Lac Rabanel (I have heard this has since changed) I had to climb over some downed trees, pulling my canoe and packs over while trying not to fall into the loon shit below. I gave up and just waded in that muck for safety sake.

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After the Rabanel portage I met a young couple from western Canada doing this route from the opposit direction. We talked briefly, nice folks, they mentioned that they treed a bear in the berry patch. I assumed the "berry patch" was on a side trip off this route I was on and didn't give it much thought.

Soon I entered Lac Henault, and found an un marked small site on an island. I went out fishing before dinner and caught a nice walleye for dinner.
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Soon I was enjoying a delicious evening meal of fresh fish. I used to bring my canoe into the site to act as a table, but soon tired of that. I quit smoking cigars also...:rolleyes:

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The next morning I headed north on Lac Henault headed towards Lac Cawasachouane. Both lakes are long and narrow and not effected by wind very much. I trolled a Rapala lure and did well on both Pike and Walleye. The couple I had met the day before mentioned a small island campsite just south of Chute Henault which they liked alot. I made it there and was in agreement with them, a lovely spot. They had left a neatly stacked pile of fire wood but I paddled over towards shore and found some beaver sticks and made my own firewood. I have never had a problem finding firewood near campsites in LaVerendrye in the many times I have been back.That evening I had a beautiful sunset.

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The next morning proved to be even more spectacular and I chose to hang around for another pot of coffee even though I needed to keep moving.
One must think all this guy does is pose for pictures..:cool:

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I soon was on my way north in Lac Cawasachouane, but first I had a 120 m. portage at Chute Henault. It's a real pretty falls, and the fishing below the falls can be great at times. I passed it a few times since and always look to catch a walleye here.
There are many nice sites on the way north through Cawasachouane and the fishing was great at times.

I saw an eagle at the spot where Cawasachouane ends and turns into Lac de la Triple Baies. I met a guy later who mentioned seeing an eagle there the year before, maybe the same one. As I paddled under the eagle I spotted a red squirrel swimming across the narrows just in front of my canoe. "Timing is everything my friend" I yelled as I passed him by. If I wasn't there I think that eagle would have made short work of him.

I found another island site on Lac de la Triple Baies, a very nice site with great views of the lake.

The next morning I arrived at the 1500 meter portage into Grand Lac Victoria. It had been recently clear cut and every where you looked you saw blue berry bushes. Being this was August, they where in prime, and the bear scat along the trail told me I wasn't alone. So here was the "berry patch" my young friends had told me about. I managed to get across with my two loads without seeing anything interesting, but singing "Me and Bobbie Magee" as loud as I could the whole trip might have helped.

Soon I had my canoe floating down a small feeder stream that leads to Victoria. I was surprised by two bear cubs swimming across this stream, they never noticed me, but one kept climbing on the others back midstream, I'm not sure if it was play or fright. Soon mama bear crossed and she didn't notice me either. As I got closer she puled a berry bush down and started to eat when she did see me. She hissed a warning to her cubs and all three headed for parts unknown.
Hunting is allowed in LaVerendrye during the proper seasons and every bear I have ever seen in the park high tails it as soon as it gets an idea you are there. I have never heard of one around a campsite, but it may happen. The park sees so few visitors, a bear would starve waiting to steal a campers food on the more remote circuits.

I soon entered Grand Lake Victoria and spent a night at a campsite on the lake, and the next morning I arrived back at my truck after my first successful solo trip.




 
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Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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485
Location
Ontario
Great report Robin! Sometimes, Duluth Pack runs photo contests where people submit pics of their packs in use. Seriously think you should send some in...you never know...you might win another pack!

Interesting to see how stuffed they were for your maiden Canadian Solo Trip. Other than the cigars, what sorts of gear do you tend to leave behind these days?
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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3,692
Location
Appleton, Maine
Well, I never take as much food as I always thought I needed. I don't have a dehydrator, I borrowed one once and the smell in the kitchen was unpleasant to me, so I never did it again. Hey, That's just me. I now use food right off the shelf in the grocery store, pasta's and mashed potatoes in a bag, boil some water in a "stick stove" and add the pouch of pasta or potatoes, I have even givin' up on jerky, upsets my system. I always take some cold meat frozen in the bottom of my pack, good for the first few days, then it's all those packaged pasta meals and fish...love my fish fry's. No GORP, I pigged out on that stuff for no reason. A left over piece of fish or pancake from breakfast is better for me for lunch, no cheese, maybe a granola bar, but not too many, not used to them.. I would rather go hungry the last few days than pack too much food.
I always trip in parks so the threat of getting lost is minimal. I don't carry spots-sat phone or elb's, but that may change with age, might rent a spot someday.
In LaVerendrye I leave the water filter home. When your in a big clean lake far from a beaver lodge, dip your bottle and fill er up, learned this from my friend Gerald, never has hurt me yet. Just plan ahead.
I rarely carry an ax there, plenty of firewood that my little Schimt Pack saw will cut up for me there.
Sometimes no stove or fuel, just a stick stove. If I take a stove, I only carry one fuel bottle and cook over fire as much as possible. One set of clothes, one pants and a pair of long fleece long johns to wear if my pants are drying...hey, I'm solo, who will see my ridiculousness outfit while I dry off around the fire. No spare foot wear, just my LL Bean Boots, I wear them almost 12 months a year, they are the best imho. One shirt, one fleece jacket, waterproof heavy rain proof jacket and lightweight rain proof pants that work, I have reconditioned them once. No more books or maps, maybe a small area related paperback, no candles, I should be too tired after dark to use one, two small "clip on my ball cap headlamps", one for the trip and a spare, a smaller first aid kit, in all the years I have never even opened any kit I have brought, just try to be careful. Instead of a roll of duct tape, I roll a length around my container of rum and my water bottle and that has always served me well.
I bought a down sleeping bag, really makes a difference. I still sleep in a 4 man Timberline, I just pack it better, poles in a separate bag slipped into the side of my pack.
The packs! I traded that "Duluth Kitchen Pack" for a "Duluth Wanderer Pack" on eBay, which is a really good 12 month pack, I use it alot and I can only fit so much stuff in it, so in goes my food and it better work.
Plus I did the old "what didn't I use" after a few trips and realized that even if you need something you left home, you can work it out and it really didn't ruin the trip.
My main reason for being out there is to canoe trip, I eat good at home and I can skip a meal here and there and still enjoy.
So that's some things I have learned canoe tripping.
 
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Joined
Jul 31, 2011
Messages
596
Location
Aberdeen, MD
my four-day solo through the st regis taught me more than anything i'd ever learned as a boy scout or in the army... it was a GREAT experience... and with similar results in "what is necessary?"... less clothing for sure. great trip report. thanks for sharing.
 
Joined
Oct 27, 2012
Messages
137
Location
Ottawa, Canada
Great trip report Robin. LaV is one of most favorite canoeing places as I hardly ever meet any other canoes on my trips there. Circuit 77 was a trip that I did way too fast and should go back for a more leisurely pace.
The only issue that I have is that the staff at Le Domaine are just so helpful, personable and attractive that I have a difficult time leaving to start my canoe trip :)
Ted
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Location
Raymond, ME
Its quite amazing how much stuff exists for canoe camping in the often maligned center aisles of the grocery store. I do dehydrate but not a lot of stuff. I dehydrate ground pork to add to Lipton Sides and also mixed veggies so I keep somewhat close to five servings a day :))) I miss veggies if I don't have them for a longer trip.

I am pretty sure I was on part of 77 once. It was a part of a series of loops..and I forget the numbers(maps aren't here). I do remember ( I think) Chute Henault.

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Hoping to get back there this summer.
 
D

Demarcus111

Guest
Thanks to you for sharing the pics well dude great trip report in according to me every tourists have liked that places,I also have spent a lot of time in that places especially for traveling and touring purposes last year with my friends and have lot of fun in that places,Do you enjoy that places buddy????????????????So, please share me more pics about it and if any body wants to share any information about it then please share me dude??????????:):):):):):)
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2015
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Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I like the "similar threads" feature of the new site. It brings stuff up that I would otherwise never have seen.

Good Tr Robin. La V is on my list, I assume it would be a similar experience now as it was 30 years ago.

I am also now tobacco free. Too bad the stuff is bad for you, it was like having a friend along on a solo trip.
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
Messages
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Location
Appleton, Maine
I like the "similar threads" feature of the new site. It brings stuff up that I would otherwise never have seen.

Good Tr Robin. La V is on my list, I assume it would be a similar experience now as it was 30 years ago.

I am also now tobacco free. Too bad the stuff is bad for you, it was like having a friend along on a solo trip.

I know right, I like the "similar threads" feaure too.

I re read that TR and it brought back a lot of memories, like those downed trees at the take out. I could never do that now, or the mile plus portage at the end of the trip either.
I still have that Chestnut Pal but it's a half finished restoration project, maybe this winter.
I remeber that Duluth Food Pack. Nice pack but too big for solo use and easy to fill up with stuff I never used.

I like the circuit 77 area the best of all the circuits I have done in the park. They added a new option down on the southern end, it was an old route they opened with a chain of small lakes. Chute Henalt futher north is a great spot.
Thanks Al.

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Joined
Jan 31, 2013
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300
Location
In the mountains North of Montreal.
Love reading your TRs Robin. Makes me feel like heading back up there. Drank the water directly from the lakes again this past September. Wonderful and safe place to travel as we head up the age scale. Every time I go there, I think we should have another solo gathering before we all pack it in.

Be safe,

G.
 
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