LaVerendrye, Quebec 8 days solo

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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
I left home very early on the morning of 7/30 and arrived at LeDomaine Canoe Base in LaVerendrye Reserve, Quebec early that afternoon. I quickly bought my permit and fishing license and a topo for part of my planned route, copied some campsites down and portages from their maps in the office and moved on to my next leg of the trip. From LeDomaine it was another 200 km to my put in, 40 km of it on logging roads.

Making good time, I was at my put in long before dark but opted to get some needed sleep, so I set up the tent on the portage at the put in. It was a clean spot in some pines and I was pretty tired. A quick dinner and I was asleep long before the sun went down.



The next morning I was up early and ready to go. Some cold cereal and no coffee till later, I hit the trail fresh and eager to be back in the canoe.


My route was to be circuit 70, clockwise with a detour about mid route down into circuit 77 for a few days.

Circuit 70 is only listed as a 3 day trip, with two big lakes and the rest river current.
My first day was to be heading upstream, but by doing the circuit clockwise, the upstream part of the trip is pretty easy.



2 portages and one small wading/lining of the canoe and I was in Lac Lambert.

Paddling upstream was easier than the headwinds I had to deal with on Lambert. It was warm with a southern breeze right in my face and sometimes some rain showers later in the day. I passed up a nice campsite and headed for one further down the lake, but the wind made it a tough days paddle. I found my campsite on a cobblestone beach.
Rain had started and after camp was set up, it came in buckets. My old tarp did a nice job of keeping me dry and I went to work on some wet cedar for a campfire. I had only brought a Littlbug twig stove, so dry wood was a must, either a quick meal over the stove or a campfire. Here I am with my rain soaked rain gear cutting up a nice piece of cedar. Notice the little stick I am using to create the proper tension on my saw. Don't forget, I have layed these little sticks all over canoe country for my saw, so if you happen apone one, please, leave it be, I'll be back and it might be all that keeps me from a warm fire and hot meal.



Soon I had a nice fire going and plenty of dry wood to keep me comfortable and enjoy a hot meal. BTW, That's my old "Campmore" tarp, the tie downs have long been ripped out and I now roll a stone into each corner and then wrap my cord around the stone to make a really good and strong tie down. It's served me well for many years, a good friend and I would feel bad to leave it home.



Not long afterwards I heard a small motor boat engine not too far off, so I peeked out under the tarp into the blowin' rain and wind and much to my surprise I had company. A portage/campsite clearing crew showed up to work on the site. They where a crew of 2, a middle aged friendly French Canadian guy and a young French Canadian girl/lady. They where very friendly and we talked a bit, but I could see they where in a hurry and they worked well together. New "Toilette" sigh, cut some branches away from the campsite sign, clean up the trail to the toilette, very fast and soon they where back in the boat. They said they where out for 9 days, the boat was stuffed with gear and that they portaged it. She was driving and he sat up front today. Those folks are the real deal, they told me they work thru all weather conditions. I thanked them and asked them to be safe.



My friends working hard to help me enjoy my trip. The lake was kicking up but they moved out without a second thought.



The next morning the lake had calmed down but I was sore from the day before so I took the day off, it's best to know when to rest up rather than push on. It was a nice day and I enjoyed hanging out around camp and paddling/fishing the lake.


The next day I headed out and by noon I had left Circuit 70 and entered Circuit 77. I portaged in Lac Cawasachouane, paddled south till mid afternoon and found a campsite. I set up camp just before a storm moved in. Soon afterwards, I paddled out right in front of the site and drifted a jig with a black rubber curly tail. I caught these two great pickerels, returning the bigger one as they where more than I could eat.


The next morning I headed further south on Lac Cawasachouane towards one of my favorite places in LaVerendrye, Chute Henault. The Chute flows out of Lac Henault and it's a special place. I have camped here before, caught pickerel and had some great shore lunches. There is a nice campsite, my friends had already been thru and the firepit was clean and rebuilt, the area raked and weed wacked, really impressive.
Here I am with "leftovers again"....pickerel filet with a touch of maple syrup, with Chute Henault in the background.


Not long after this, I met my portage/site crew again. They pulled up to my canoe and I guess they hadn't seen it before when we met on Lac Lambert. He mentioned it's roundness and possibility of a white water canoe (he had mentioned he had been on a river crew for years), was it a cedar canvas and did I build it. She mentioned "she liked my style"

Now I don't know about Oldie Moldy, but it's been a long time since a 20 something with looks like hers told me she liked my "style". A very long time.
So I sat there and said the first thing that came to mind....

"Hey, wanna be friends on Facebook?"

"What You say" she says in her romantic French accent.

sinking down on my webbed seat I said, "hooked my finger on a fish hook"

"Ouch" she said.

So here's my canoe with the packs waiting out another big storm. My food is in the smaller Duluth Day Pack. I used 2 Sealine waterproof bags inside it, one for breakfast/lunch/snacks and the other for dinner.
Worked well. The smaller pack is my fishing gear, binocs and camera. The rest of my gear fits in the large Duluth Pack. Using the Littlbug stove saves tons of room.




Above the Chute Henault a tree had floated down the stream heading towards the chute, making for another unplanned portage.



Later in the trip, I stopped at a vacant campsite and made some Cowboy coffee. I tried every combination of water temps and amounts of coffee, I still haven't found the correct combination, but it's been fun trying.



Nothing like a cup of coffee along the trail.

 
Joined
Jul 25, 2012
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Oh Wow! I was really looking forward to this trip report and it was well worth the wait. And I still don't see how you get some of these photos! Like that one where you're holding up the fish in your canoe.
Ah yes, the lovely French girl; it's probably your rugged self sufficiency and all round woodsy-craftiness brings them hovering around you! You probably ought to bring a fly swatter to shoo them off, they can be such a pest!
The few times that some sweet young thing has engaged me in conversation, I'm pretty sure she saw me a stand-in grandfather figure. And that's about right!

That one shot of your canoe waiting out a storm, with all your gear there to see; I've got to hold that image in my head and use it to winnow out some of the heaps of gear I bring along.

Thanks so much for letting all of us tag along!

Very Best Wishes, Rob
 
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Very nice! Those were some healthy looking walleye, I'm pretty sure I could have eaten both of them at once. Chuckled pretty hard over the French girl story, my bride to be is French Canadian too, they have a way of making you say strange things.
 
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Best stay clear of those sirens... they are nothing but trouble ;)
 
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Your 8 day La V solo sure has put a smile on my face, thanks Robin. I appreciate your ability to take casual candid snapshots of a laid back and serene journey. I was admiring the pickerel shot, and only later thought “Hold on, how did he do that if he was going solo?”
That “left overs again” photo beside the chutes is gonna be a lasting one for me. I can taste it, smell it and hear those waters now.
Your slimmed down but traditional tripping style sure has its appeal.
It sounds like you had a narrow escape with a French Canadienne.
You almost had to send an urgent message home “Send more money, and an English/French Dictionary. On second thought, skip the dictionary, just send more money”.
When I look at your Duluth gear sitting against the Chesnut, I have happy thoughts. Thanks for all of them Robin.
 
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Dodgeville, Wi
Robin, sounds like a great trip. I sure love to see pics of your canoe. Interesting to see park workers for sure.

Bob
 
Joined
Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
Thanks for the nice responses, it was a good trip. The headwinds tired me out and cut the distance down, I figure it was about 58 miles in the end.
I read this before the trip in my friend Teds Outdoor Pages with some great reports about LaVerendrye (http://www.parkerclan.ca/circuit77.php)
"Overview: Just because this 100K loop complete with 14 portages can be done in 4 days, does not mean it should be. 25k of paddling and 6 portages in a single day defeats the purpose of canoe tripping which is to get out and enjoy. Next trip must have a lay-over day built-in and paddling goals less than 20k, preferably 15K and some fishing."

The fishing was very good.
 
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Thanks for sharing your trip. I got a good chuckle out of your fish hook story. Man but I'm getting the itch to get out on the water. If it wasn't so darned hot and humid right now. Still, lots of rain and the rivers are high; I think you may have just nudged me hard enough to make me take up the ol' paddle again.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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Raymond, ME
Thanks for sharing your TR. It's going to be a while before I post one from our nineteen days on Lake Superior. None of which was hot! I think it made 60 degrees once! Right now I am reeling from finding out that the couple we talked to briefly and we saw depart on a trip in their green canvas canoe had an accident and one died. Your boat unfortunately looks like theirs.

And I remember saying to them (we had just been in the same area on a longer trip) "you'll love it".


Feeling a little guilty about being the second and third to the last people one of them ever saw.

Sorry for the digression.
 
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Brian,

It sounds like you need to take a trip up North! And while you may be hot and humid now, you'll be paddling away while I'm plodding along in snowshoes!

YC,

You can't feel guilty about that... that is beyond anyone's control. I'm still waiting for some pictures of Gitche Gumee... how about a teaser set?
 
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Brian,

It sounds like you need to take a trip up North! And while you may be hot and humid now, you'll be paddling away while I'm plodding along in snowshoes!

YC,

You can't feel guilty about that... that is beyond anyone's control. I'm still waiting for some pictures of Gitche Gumee... how about a teaser set?

Not guilty per se..but thinking back to what I said to them..it's poignant. Pukaskwa coast is important to me. I finally found out the details about Herb Pohls capsize and drowning. He expired in a hydraulic.
 
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YC,

I have never taken a long canoe trip in cold weather or on very cold water. Though, as I'm sure you know, it can drop into the teens here for a short time; heat injuries are far more common to us. I'm sure that you all do everything you can short of staying in your heated homes to stay safe on your adventures and I'm sure you have developed habits and techniques to cope with the cold just as I have to deal with the heat. Still, an unexpected or overwhelming event can happen at any time and to any one of us. I am so sorry for the loss of your acquaintance. Most people don't understand how quickly a connection can be made with a fellow wilderness traveler. Although you did not know him well, I'm sure that the knowledge of his passing has left a hole in you that will not be quickly filled. I feel for him, his family, and for you just by reading the brief account you posted and having not even met any of you. You are all in my prayers. Try not to feel guilty about your optimistic appraisal of the route. You had no way of knowing how things would turn out. Statistically, the most dangerous part of any trip is driving to and from it. At least he spent some happy time on the water and did not die in a traffic accident along the way. Cronje is right. We rarely encounter hydraulics down here except in some areas during times of flooding or around dam structures. Most here do not realize the raw and unstoppable power of moving water. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Hopefully it will serve as a reminder for us to remember just how fragile we our compared to the forces present in the places we love to travel.
 
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l'oiseau,
I DO need to take a trip up North! I am well along in planting subliminal suggestions into my wife's mind about a road/canoe trip. If my scheme works, she will come up with the idea 'on her own' and suggest that I or we should take such a trip. If not; I will have to resort to begging. Seriously, I am blessed with a very understanding and tolerant wife. Budgeting for fuel is the real issue.
When I was hiking the AT in Maine I kept thinking that this would be such a wonderful place in the summer months. I just couldn't wrap my mind around the fact that it was almost July. I'm sure it does warm up there but if you remain at altitude you would never know it. Mt. Katadin still had a sizable patch of snow on her in a shadowed area near the peak. Can you paddle in these areas or is there still too much ice?
 
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Yes some of the higher areas do retain snow well into the summer months. Those are pretty rare though. We don't have enough elevation to keep ice that long until you get up into the arctic circle.

Where Robin was in this report is pretty far north but low elevation. The High Peaks in the ADKs are snow free right now as should be the Greens of VT and the Whites of NH. I often see report of people skiing Killington in June but at the lower elevations the lakes are long past ice out.

If you look at Conk's pictures in this report from last May you can see what the ADKs look like in just past ice out. The lakes are clear and the leaves have not yet come out yet. Temperatures usually range from lows in the high 20's to highs in the low 60's.

http://www.canoetripping.net/forums...in-the-Adirondacks&p=3540&viewfull=1#post3540
 
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I live a few hours drive from where this happened. Weather up here this summer is whacked. Furnace has been running most nights since 3rd week of July. Supposed to be warming up soon. When tripping in these conditions, hypothermia is a real concern. When I was younger, i would just shrug it off, stay wet and work harder. Now I find if I'm wet and it's 50 F or less, I begin to exhibit symptoms of first stage hypothermia.

I believe that in most places up here, the water is currently warmer than the morning and evening temperatures. It's 10 degrees C right now, which works out to about 50 for the fahrenheit crowd. I remember tripping with one couple in their mid sixties, both hardy and experienced trippers. We had three days of rain and low temps like this, and she went hypothermic twice. She was tough, but quite thin, and the cold got to her quickly. Some people get pretty strange, when they get cold, they begin making very poor decisions and acting erratically. Once my teeth start chattering, I have a hard time making a decision, so I usually stop and warm up.

I'm not speculating that any of this was at play in the tragedy, I'm just making a comment on the cold weather we've had this summer, and how it affects canoe trippers. If this is Global Warming, I've had enough of it!
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2011
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First. La Verendrye has a similar forest to the Adirondacks. Its further north but far lower. The ADKs are a little higher.

The Whites keep snow only till June. Don't try to convince me otherwise. I live there. Because of the elevation, higher in the mountains has an arctic alpine zone with vegetation similar to the Northwest Territories Barrenlands. The temperature rarely goes above 55 or so. Ever.

I have been near Memaquay but alas cannot make his upcoming shindig. Sun and warmth were rare on the Slate Islands or in Puskaskwa National Park. Usually the high was seven to nine or ten. When we emerged we checked out the weather at home. Similar temps..maybe a degree or two c higher.

Needless we were happy that we took a good supply of soup! And lived in tuques and fleece for the whole time..

BTW we crossed the Arctic Circle by canoe several times. It was nearly a hundred degrees F. Its not always hot up there! And there is ice to be found year round in Maine. (Ice caves on Allagash Lake).

Of course there is always snow in the Canadian Rockies and particularly glaciers (though those are disappearing at a rapid rate. ). Perhaps the next glacial age will start in Geraldton.

Cold is fine as long as you can keep warm and generate body heat or keep moving. Curiously our outfits for recent weeks wettish cool weather is almost identical to what we wear while snowshoeing or skiing at temperatures below zero. Hypothermia is most prevalent at temps above freezing when you are wet or damp.
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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Burlington, Ontario
Hello Robin: Great report! I loved your story about the French gal. Good job on the fish. I liked the tarp and the Duluth packs. Thanks for sharing.

Take care
Cousin Pete
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
Thanks Pete, Glad you enjoyed it. I took some video which needs to be edited to make any sense so someday I'll get to that.
The fishing can be outstanding in back country LaVerendrye but really expensive. I buy a 3 day license and a 3 day (matching dates) park fishing permit which cost me $80 (15% tax if you can believe that, don't get me started on the tax thing).
Now I don't carry a watch, I'm retired so to me every day is Saturday and every evening Friday night, and I never know the date here at home let alone out in the bush, and my dates to fish are mid trip, and to be honest what with my age and not remembering dates that well, there could be some confusion whether my license is good yet or has expired while I fish deep in the interior of the park.
But, Since I have to pay the same fishing out of a canoe 5 portages in as the guy with coolers and fish finders and live bait and 200HP in the big lakes there, I'm ok with my sometimes confusion.
(a reserve employee told me to only buy a 1 day license and permit just to cover the fishing gear in the canoe in the rare case anyone checks in the back country)
 
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