La Verendrye, Circuit 70 (Lac Lambert)

CanadaQuebec04 Ottawa
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Andrew Chapman ("Chappy")
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
46 km
Duration: 
3 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
3
Total Portage Distance: 
355 m
Longest Portage: 
190 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Novice
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Portaging: 
Easy
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

La Verendrye, Circuit 70 (Lac Lambert)

North on highways 15 and 117 from Montreal to Le Domaine (335 km and at least 4 hours).
North on highway 117 from Le Domaine to road 44 (122 km and 1.5 hours).
SouthWest on road 44 to the put-in on the island on Riviere des Outaouais (33.6 km and 40 min or more).

P125 Southeast to the put-in.
Take the East fork to paddle South, upstream.
P190 around rapids and shelf.
Southwest to cross a short eau vive (EV) upstream.
P40 around a shelf (logging chute).
Southwest down Lac Lambert.
North to the P125 around Chute Big (waterfall).
North on Riviere des Outaouais, with the current, crossing a short series of EVs.
Northeast on Lac Gaotanaga, to continue on Riviere des Outaouais.
Northeast on Riviere des Outaouais, with the current, crossing another series of EVs.
P125 from the take-out back to the vehicle.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1
I strapped the 16 foot kevlar Novacraft prospector on top of the ’93 Altima, and was on the road by 7:40 AM. From Montreal (NDG), it was a 4 hour drive to Le Domaine on a Wednesday morning in light traffic that usually went 10 to 15 k over the limit. I hit Mount Laurier at 10:15 (225 km), and Le Domaine at 11:30 (335 km, or 56 km from the park entrance), where I got a full tank of gas for the next leg of the trip.

Staff at Le Domaine are always great. I marked the campsites and river info on my topographic map on their map table, paid fees, picked up some rope for my new tarp, and was on the road again, North on the 117, just after 12:00.

It was 122 km (1 hour, 25 min) to the turn-off for route 44. It is the first left right after the green 458 km sign.

After 11.3 km, take the left fork towards Camping Gaotanaga. After about 20 more km, at the 31.1 km mark, take the right fork towards Camping Gaotanaga. I crossed the bridge into the island (Pont Beley) where the put-in is located 33.6 km from the 117.

Road 44 starts off as a pretty good 2-lane gravel road, but gets much worse in spots as you go. Don’t expect to go above 70 km/hr above the first fork. Below the first fork, watch out for large rocks, substantial fallen branches, and jarring potholes. Sandy stretches can have soft shoulders. The road thins to 1 lane at times, due to encroaching tree branches. Forty to fifty km/hr is plenty fast on this stretch. You never know who is coming over the hill at you, and you have to slow down to a crawl in many places.

As noted in the La Verendrye description, the put-in is down a portage to the left just before the second bridge off the island of Pont Beley. It is about a P125 to the put-in (47 40’07N, and 077 31’18W by my GPS). A second road leads to the right just before the second bridge, and I parked a short distance down this road by the portage and firesite and what looks like an informal campsite with a great view of the rapids. As noted by others, this would not be a bad place to camp if needed on the first site, but it would be nice to get on the route outside sight of the car.

Headed South into very mild current and light breeze. Breeze stiffened at times, and always seemed to be coming right at me, no matter which shore I followed. Getting used to solo strokes, and being blown about by the wind, but never got blown to shore! Hard to keep track of distances on this stretch. Came to the P190 around the rapids and shelf about 6:15.

Saw a fishing boat swamped in the shelf at the bottom of the rapids. There was no sign of recent activity, and this must have happened some time ago. They must have had quite a ride down these rapids to the shelf, and I hope all came out well for them. I ferried back across to the P190 to set up camp. I saw some fishers that evening who spent some time below the rapids.

The C5 campsite at the P190 is pretty basic, and is on the remnants of a logging road that used to cross-over above the rapids (47 37’26N, and 077 31’27W). Space enough for 5 tents lined up with a great view of the rapids, and of the next lake, but a bit noisy from the rapids, no obvious supply of wood, and no good place to hang food. I balanced foodbags on the bow of the upturned canoe, vaguely hoping that any animals would have a hard time scaling the hull. Also no obvious latrine and I was glad to have brought a trowel. This site was a bit barren, and there was not much escape from the sun on the elevated road in the morning. Raspberries for oatmeal, though.

Day 2
The EV and the approach to the P40 around the shelf were the first time that I recognized the usefulness of eddies to go upstream. My first attempt at the EV failed, and I was swept downstream. With the second attempt, I used the eddies better, but still had to use my paddle to pole up the rest. The P40 is a very picturesque logging chute of some kind.

The C4 site just under 1 km from the P40 on the North shore has a nice beach from swimming. It is a bit exposed to the wind from the lake, but is a pretty nice site with 3 obvious tent pads. It is nicer than both the site at the put-in and at the P190, but it might be a bit much to try to reach this site on the first day.

The next campsite is a C5 on an island (by the “A” in LAMBERT on the topo), and this is a cozy and interesting site. It even has a big picnic table. I saw a fishing boat on the North side of this island. I had a quick lunch and was away by 12:15.

The C4 at the South end of an oblong island (directly West of the “L” in LAC on the topo) was quite nice, with other picturesque islands close by. In a quick look I did not see great tent pads (they were not quite level). There were lots of branches to hang food from. The site was nice, and I thought about staying here (2:00 pm), but the wind was not too bad, so I pressed on to check out the two C2s near Chute Big. Just leaving, I saw an armada of 6 canoes heading North, perhaps headed for the C5.

I was blessed this day by generally mild headwinds in which I could make good progress solo. I also learned the great value of sitting to one side and keeling the boat over a bit whenever possible. It makes the effective width of the boat so much narrower, and the boat so much faster. I also learned to put heavy gear well in front to keep the boat trim, and to use headwinds as a correction stroke. Still, my shoulders are feeling it, and it looks like a layover day tomorrow.

There are two sites South of Chute Big. One is on the point on the Southernmost tip of the major landmass. The other is a 5 min paddle Northwest, and is directly upriver from Chute Big. Both sites are pretty nice, but the first on the point is a bit barren and exposed, consisting mainly of an exposed area and fireplace at the point, a trail back to the toilet, and just amazing scenery. I pushed on to the second C2 and was glad I did; a small clearing with 2 tentpads and fireplace set back into the woods a bit from a tiny beach. This site has a limited view, but is nice and sheltered, and was great for my solo trip. What was a nice cozy site for me, though, might seem a bit small and limited to another party. Two signs for Chute Big are visible. I set up camp at 3:45 (47 31’57N, and 077 38’26W). I had to go pretty deep into the woods to find good quality wood, and mainly used my stove for cooking.

Day 3
Much reading, relaxing of tired muscles, tuning of gear, and resisting the pull of the falls.

Day 4
I left the C2 around 9:30 for the P125 on the island to the E of Chute Big. Be sure to mark the portage well on your topo map, or get the La Verendrye Guide Map #4 that shows this small bit of the route. Two yellow signs are visible from the approach, but the portage is actually about 100 m further down the east shore of the island from the rightmost sign, quite close to the start of the low-water (maigre) region.

The C3 in the middle of the portage is much nicer than it sounds. Grand old trees, and the maigre close by. Could make a nice destination. Water quality for swimming looks better above than below the portage, but I would hate to get swept down river in either location. The sheltered bay at the lower end looks nice.

I thought that the C2 above the first set of EVs (at about 47 31’40N) was OK, but there was only one obvious tentpad (11:45 AM). This site may have been cleaned-up since the last report. Gigantic logs for good seating. Very picturesque above the EV with rocky approach, and reasonable shelter.

The first C2 on an island toward the South of Lac Gaotanaga was not what I had hoped. Small beach, a fireplace that sits high on barren rocks exposed to the wind, and not much shade. I wanted to press on to check out the 3 sites at the North end of the lake, but the winds were gusting quite strongly at times. One tent pad was quite sheltered, and the other quite open, next to the firepit area. The winds died down a bit, I found a cozy shady spot to sit, and began to like it a little more. Nice rocky shores and islands nearby (47 36’35N, and 077 36’40W).

This was a Saturday in which I counted about 6 fishing boats. They were the last I saw on the trip.

Day 5
Woke late around 10:30 to a very stiff wind from SE. I felt windbound all morning because the winds were often quite strong, but there was a short calm period about 2:00 and I headed for the NE shore for shelter. It turned out that I had a perfect, strong wind blowing me straight for the island C3. Saw otters on the way, and had a great ride on some nice long rolling waves going 6 to 7 km/hr (top speed 8.5 km/hr on the GPS!). Couldn’t keep up with the waves. Would hate to be going opposite direction against this wind on Lac Lambert today.

The C3 on the small island to the North of Lac Goatanaga (directly North of the second “G” in Gaotanaga on the topo) is great, with a nice little rocky bay for swimming that is sheltered from the South wind. The campsite has a grand fireplace with great room and seating for about 6 people on flat logs and flat stones that feel like armchairs. Again, I saw signs of recent grooming and they have done a great job of it. Three tentpads are off to the one side of the circular seating area. I put up my tarp for the first time to cut down on the wind while cooking.

Day 6
Woke about 7:00, and was on the water by 8:30 to check out the C5 on the large island at the North of Lac Gaotanaga, directly north of the C3.

This island C5 is a pretty nice spot with a firepit area with reasonable shelter set back just a bit from a sandy beach. Most of the tentpads are scattered up the hill a bit, which gives it a nice feel. There is also a C1 Northwest of the C5 on the North shore of Lac Gaotanaga, but I did not check that one out.

I left the C5 at 8:50, and with steady paddling and favorable tailbreeze, I was at the takeout just before 10:00. This stretch of the river has very nice scenery, and is punctuated by an EV section.

I was on the road by 10:40, hit the 117 at 11:15, and was back in Montreal by 5:00 after grabbing a shower and gassing-up again a Le Domaine.

Contributed by Chappy

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Lac Otanibi 31 N/12
Other Maps: 
La Verendrye Guide Map #4 (small part of route)
Other
Special Comments: 

The course is interesting because of the current flow. The current flows Northeast towards the put-in from Chute Big and Lac Gaotanaga, as well as North up the short river section from the first P190. Therefore, either direction taken from the put-in is upstream. The La Verendrye Canoe Routes description recommends doing the route clockwise, and to “begin the loop in the Lac Lambert direction because the course is easier to go up that way”. This is because the initial upstream section with the first two portages has a very mild current, and only one short EV (stonger current). The two stretches of EVs on Riviere des Outaouais in the other direction would be much more difficult. Go clockwise.

Scenery is very nice on Lac Lambert, with many beautiful islands, clinging trees, rocky shores, and beaver lodges.

Because of its length, level of remoteness, and the short easy portages, this was a great course for my first solo trip (I stretched this three-day trip out to five days). La Verendrye also notes it is accessible to beginners. However, approach Chute Big and the take-out point cautiously because of the currents above these falls/rapids. The Canot-Camping La Verendrye Guide Map #4 shows a small bit of the route that includes Chute Big at the Southern-most tip of the route, and I found it worthwhile for that. The wind on the two lakes can make things difficult, and others on this site have mentioned being windbound. The wind generally comes from the SoutWest, so much of the trip down Lac Lambert is likely to be upwind. Its great to have a nice big tailwind later in the trip, though, to blow you across Lac Gaotanaga heading home.

On a 5-day trip late in July (a major holiday period in Quebec), I saw only one other canoe party. The number of fishing boats I came across on each day ranged from 0 to about 6 or so on the Saturday.

I visited 11 of the 12 campsites on the route. A couple seem a bit barren, with firepits set high-up in the wind on exposed rock. Most of the campsites are great, though, with a cozy feeling, and grand old trees. All had been groomed this season (2005; grooming frequency is approx. every 3 years) with fireplaces, toilette signs, and latrines in very good shape.

The choice of campsite on the first night is a tough one. There is a sort of informal campsite just North of the road on the portage around the rapids near the put-in, and this would have to do for a late arrival. The C5 (camping for 5 tents) by the first P190 is a pretty good destination, but it is a barren site layed out on the remnants of an old logging road, and is not the greatest of sites. The C4 a short distance after the P40 is a pretty nice site though. Head there if you have the time and energy for the little upstream EV and P40.

For a 3 night trip, I would suggest trying to get to the C4 on the beach just after the P40 on the first day (if not, the C5 at the P190 would do fine). Then head for either of the C2s South of Chute Big. If you don’t like either, the C3 on the portage around Chute Big should not disappoint (although a bit noisy). Then, head for the C3 on the small island to the North of Lac Gaotanaga on the third night. Paddle down the EVs on the last day to the take-out; a beautiful stretch of river.

Ask the staff where to park. I was not sure if I was supposed to park at the top of the portage leading to the put-in, or down the little road to the right (just before the second bridge) that leads to what seems to be an informal campsite by the rapids.

The GPS was a really fun new toy, but certainly no substitute for a compass.

Forum postings by John S and Tripper Ted on this site were a great help to me in planning my trip, and contain great information. Many thanks!

Comments

Post date: Fri, 03/07/2008 - 11:49

Comments: 

Hello, I am looking to do either a 3 day solo trip (or a 3 day trip with a friend who is new to tripping) in quebec. i am an ontario resident with novice paddling skills(little whitewater experience) who is completely unfamiliar with quebec canoe routes. i don't mind having to drive a bit far into quebec for a great destination. The trip will be in early June. Any recommendations??
Barry