Moisie River 2

CanadaQuebec07 Lower St Lawrence, N Shore
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Gene De St Croix
Trip Date : 
last 2 weeks sept 2012
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
400 km
Duration: 
17 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
21
Longest Portage: 
2100 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Advanced
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
High
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Car to Sept Iles, Train to drop off out side Labrador City

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1,The Long Drive

Sunny and Warm

 

Nick, Arnie and Don leave Caledon at 6am.Stop in Cobourg for caffeine fix and cram myself in the back.

Drive straight through to Quebec city for a brief albeit great visit and dinner with Tak and Gabriel.

Dinner at Chez Victor's.

Back on the road for another 8hrs to Sept Ilses. Arriving a 3 am we slept for a couple hours in the van at the train station,

 

Day 2,Train Ride into the hinterland

Sunny and warm

 

 Early up at 5.30m we go to Tim's for 4 number 2's and 4 black coffees.

Back at the train station we check in and everything gets loaded into the train and the long slow ride begins at 8.10am

Lots of First Nation people and workers for the rail line. It seems that every hour or so we stop to let guys off, 2 here, 3 there, all along the way, Several long iron ore trains head the other way.There is a half hour lunch break.There is no great rush to get there is seems.This slow and long process is driving Arnie bonkers

Wonderful vistas of raging white water and pristine wilderness stretch as far as the eye can see. Burnt areas that have long ago started the slow regrowth process give a unique appearance the the terrain. Very rugged and very isolated.Our first view of the Moisie is afforded us as we exit a tunnel and there it is.Thats a lot of white water,looks do able but hard to tell how big the rapids are from inside the train.

Big Rock cliff faces towering high above the water,beautiful views of the mountains as we ride along.

As the train moves up the valley the tracks veer right away from the Moisie following a smaller tributary.

The burnt off landscape from an earlier forest fire has a much different view of the landscape not quite barren but certainly very rugged. Small Aspen and popular have grown back where the dominate black spruce, and tamarack.

We start to wonder if our ride the the headwaters will wait for us .Finally marker number 228, Emerald Junction is reached and we disembark from the train at 5.15 pm, Eddie is there with the club cab pickup and a trailer for the gear and canoes. Twenty minutes later he backs the trailer to the Lake .

We say goodbye to Eddie our last contact for who knows .He reminds us the it gets dark by 8.30.

 

We Paddle down Lake De Mille a few miles and check out an old cabin site, not suitable we head on till we get to the hydro cut and bush whack out a campsite for the night.

Fire is started, tents up, Lamb currie alla Brenda. Thanks

 

Day 3,North to South wind and bright and sunny. 16K

 

Lots of Grouse around the the sandy camp site. Strange sounds at night. not sure what is was.Breakfast and coffee , break camp and off we go. We paddle down the end of the lake looking for the elusive portage that will carry us over the water shed from Labrador to Quebec. andLake Menistouc

Not the easiest to find and we send some time exploring around till we get things sorted out. A little backtracking, we find the correct portage and out onto the lake which is very shallow, couple of time we had to get out to drag the canoe over the sandy bottom. well out into the middle of the lake As it turns out our water level was favourable,despite being shallow we read of others going earlier in the late summer having trouble.

    We paddle our way down the lake wind still at our back which is a blessing.We paddle till 4.30 and come across a beautiful white sand beach that stretches for a couple miles.As we make camp a rain shower heads our way across the lake. Very cool to watch it roll in.It is brief and dinner is Neokis and spagetti sauce thanks to Paula. Another great camp fire followed by a brief appearance of northern lights. The stars oh the stars. Amazing

 

Day4. Sunny and warm day, Wind has turned South to north HEAD WIND  19K

Got very cold last night the rain that fell, froze on the tents. I get up early and get the fire started. Arnie gets up shortly after and is quick to relate that nobody has ever been up before him to make a fire. I'm his newest best friend. Another awesome breakfast, and we break camp getting on the water by 8.30. Even though the wind has swung around it isn't too bad. We cover 11k till we get to a connecting river to Lake Opocopa.

We paddle 8k to the lea side of an island for a little break I decide to try a couple of casts with the spinning rod.

#2 repps silver spinner and wham something whacks it. I throw another cast in the same spot and again bang, big hits reel starts whining.Its a beautiful pristine Lake trout. 24" perfect for dinner.

As we enter the river the water is crystal clear and I see several fish follow my lure. We see countless numbers of ducks, Geese and Loons  that call to us. the wind and their calls is the only noise we hear other that our own sounds ,grunts and groans as we work our paddles against the current. The river moves quickly and I spot Blue Heron fishing in the water. A pair of Osprey fly over head also fishing . Lots more duck and we turn a corner and hear rushing water, our first set of rapids. A nice set of class 2 and several more make for an interesting and enjoyable morning.We raft up and drift as we eat lunch. This will become standard practice for the trip.

Lunch conversation between Nick and Arnie is where to make camp.A stiff wind keeps us from drifting down stream and as we head out into the Lake we have a head wind and swells  that require some care.

We head out across the bay for the far shore to try to get out of the wind.Campsites don't seem to be available so we bushwhack again. A few blackflies but they are short lived. Tents are erected , campfire is started.A couple of beers thanks to Arnie, dinner of rice and fish. Early to bed for Don and Myself.

 

Day5  Overcast and very windy, 19K

 

Breakfast and break camp, we hesitate wondering if we should wait a bit. We head out into a very stiff wind and swells 2ft and building.Heavy hard paddle to make head way, we get to the other side and tuck along shore trying to stay out of the wind. The odd big bay makes that impossible.We stop for lunch on shore today and find a nice sandy beach, we think about setting up camp, we headed out again into our friend, we pulled off the water at 3.worn out..We found another sandy beach to make camp. The wind died out and we each had a swim although very brief.Very fresh and exhilarating.Very tired, dinner of noodles and early to bed

 

Day6 Cloudy Light wind at our back, 33K today

 

After a hearty breakfast we head out on the water by 9. We paddled the last of the big lake . Bald Eagles join us today and we pass into a beautiful river,heading into Lake Felix.3 or 4 small rapids before lunch, raft up and 5 or 6 more rapids after lunch.Perfect for practicing Eadie in and out manurvers.

A family of 4 river otters entertain us briefly and we continue on.We get onto Lake Felix and find yet another fantastic sandy beach and make camp. Fishing gets no results.Lots of Moose tracks on the beach and bear scat is ever present. An old cabin site and old crap lying around old stove and metal..

Great camp fire and stories of past trips are shared.

 

Day7 Sat Rain most of the night and very heavy in the Morning. Cold

 

Camp fire is tough this am and Nick actually makes 3 different fires before being somewhat satisfied with it.

At one point the rain is so hard we cant see the other shore. I am slow to get out of my sleeping bag.

The fires are hard to keep going and a one point an old piece of plywood is used to scrape the fire on to it and we move it again.So we can set up a tarp to stay somewhat dry. The rain eases up and we break camp and head out with a steady drizzle.Shortly we find the start of the Moisie itself.The Lakes are done.

A couple of fun rapids get us excited for more. Before we know it Nick and I have gone beyond our first portage take out and are force to make a tough traverse of water via some roping and pulling. No big deal but we didn't execute very well and the portage itself is tough as well.This is Rim Canyon,terrific views of white water and hugh rapids as the rivers powers its way through the landscape.

Couple of cold miserable portages and we make camp at the end of a portage.No fish caught here either. frustrating.

 

Day 8 Rain to start the day Sun breaks through later.

 

We break camp early, eager to get into this river.Good flow as we enjoy several swifts and R1 and R2s

3 tough portages as we push to get to our goal for camp site at the junction of the Pekans and Moisie.

 High light of the day is a great long ride on aR2 after a short R3. The R2 was a kilometre long and lots of funs.

We portage around the Five Fingers Falls in record time. I am feeling pretty good today. I was able to keep up with the pace.Nick Arnie and Don are real work horses and at time I feel like am not pulling my weight.I can keep up but barely.

We push across the River and find our camp site. A sheltered little sandy cove tuck into the shore.The roar of the Pekans is deafening.We will explore it tomorrow. Our camp site is just above a big set of R5 rapids that we will portage the gear over.But for now we are going to enjoy a lay day.

Arnie heads off into the bush for firewood despite being thoroughly exhausted from the effort of the day.Nick follows suit. Tarps get set up, tents and campfire. time for dry clothes.  Cappachinos, with cognac and banter about the day. Nick and Don sample some of their scotch, clothes lines is hung to dry our gear.

Dinner is around 8 and Arnie and Gene struggle to deliver punch lines. Some people just cant tell a joke.

Bed times doesn't come soon enough and there are no stars , we wonder about our lay day.

 

DAy9  Sun Glorious Sun 15 degrees.

 

Don breaks out the big rod and Gene and Don spend time fishing.It doesn't take long to coax some speckled trout .There will be enough for dinner and breakfast.The colours are amazing. Nick and Arnie explore the R5 downstream.They have found a way to run it down the L side of the shore. We will hump the gear over and watch the fun.

We head across the river to do some exploring and fishing.An outstanding day of adventure. The power of the water pounding over the falls of the Pekans is overwhelming.Hugh walls of water and waves.The power is awe inspiring. Arnie asks me "What is it about moving water that is so beautiful.' "It just is", I respond. Words truly cant describe the feeling one gets standing there watching and wondering.

Lots of photos taken.Nick and Arnie continue to hike up the Pekans while Don and Gene go back to fish for speckled trout. The view from up top was great.Sky so clear, no bugs, warm sun, the day truly was spectacular.

 

Day 10  Sun and warm but today is windy, maybe a change in weather is headed our way.

 

With a big day ahead R5, R2, Ledge R2 and Portage around a R4 and the fact that yesterday was such a great day we'd do it all again. so we did Nick and Arnie hiked up the other side of the Pekans and Dan and Gene fished again.Not quite as successful but all in all a great day despite the wind.

As Don and I fished the Five Fingers Falls we were surprised to see 6 paddlers from Minnesoda. 2 girls and 4 guys, they were guides during the summer and this was their vacation.They camped above us . Nick and Arnie ran the R5 down the side , both got wet but had fun.

 

Wed Day 11- 56 degrees and steady rain all night and this morning.

 

We broke camp after breakfast and humped our gear over the portage.We paddled through the R2 and then got ready for the ledge. Busy with the canoe Nick and I both failed to watch Don and Arnie go over the ledge, as we were ready to go we saw their canner upside down below the ledge, Nick was anxious to get going, but I held back not wanting 2 canoes upside down, we picked a route down the right side and by the time we got to them they were on shore and had righted the canoe.

We headed down river and had a great ride down a nice R2, next was a portage over 2, R4s and a lift over a falls. Next was a R4 run and line leftWe humped over the backs and Don and Arnie ran their canoe.Close to the right shore was the plan but some big waves ate them up.They were able to paddle the full canoe to shore.Nest Gene and Nick followed taking a closer route we managed to avoid swamping.There is video evidence to support this story. Arnie not to be denied tried a solo attempt. I've watched the video several times still don't know what he did wrong , but got very wet. A quick dumping.

The rest of the day went the same , more R4's R2's R3's a total of 6 portages and 2 lifts.

The line of the Day came from Nick as he and Arnie attempted an R4.After scouting a route they made their attempt.Looking from shore is totally different then from in the canoe.Nick response as they neared the point of no return was and I quote " Holy Frig thats a big Wave"This is as they go over the ledge and run straight into a hugh standing wave.It swallowed them and spit them out upside down

Lunch was at 3 today.We pushed hard today. The highlight was 5.5K R1 rapid which was fun and amazing.

We made camp at the end of a portage at the base of a hugh R5 water fall rapid.

Big camp fire massive star filled night . I caught a 40" monster of a pike. We took a picture and let him go.

 

Thurs Day12  Sunny and Warm Gene and Nick go for a swim Mark 261K (REMAINING DISTANCE)

 

Beautifull day  started about 10am , tricky to get past the runout of the R5 

Short paddle to a L4 and a R2 and R1 without issue.This was followed by a R3which we made but took on water and it ran into a swift: These swifts really move around alot and with the volume of water moving one has to pay attention, not uncommon to have whirlpools and big boils move the canoe around  making control hard to maintain.Once again we raft up for lunch.We really move along with the current. the power of the river keeps building .It has really grown and changed, new respect is require with her. 8K we paddle with a fast current and no rapids. A great set of R2-R3 make for some great fun. We push hard to make our camp site at mile mark 218 which is at the end of a long still section. The wind kicked up and we witnessed a water spout maybe 159 200ft tall. Very very cool.

The rest of the paddle for the day consisted of R1, followed by 2 -R3's the second should really be a R4 . Nick and I swamped then capsized after 3 hugh waved filled our canoe.Each wave was 6,7 8ft high, lots of fun but

nothing to avoid it..

We camped halfway through a portage and got some super pics in the morn of the mist .

The power of the waves over the water fall slash rapid was breathless.Pounding hugh powerful water fall.

The night was clear and the stars filled the night sky

IT was a big day for us as we cover 42K

 

Friday Day13   24K tough day .Lining skills , not the best, room for improvement. Gene goes for a swim.

 

Heavy frost made for some great shot of mist rising. Three speckled trout offer themselves for breakfast along with pancakes . Oh yah they were good.

Break camp and finish the portage , we skirt around a pair of R4's, lining and working our way down the left side. R2 lots of fun, we lift over an R5 and easy 'R3 and we pick our way down the right side of it.

The next was a short portage of 85yards or and we tried with great trouble to line it on the left side. Current strong grabs the stern and Gene goes for a swim unable to let go of the rope.Anyways didn't go well and we ended up doing the portage .Lots of effort with little gain.

We portaged around a R5, paddled R1's and some swifts. The mountains are really big now. elevation from water to top of cliffs is 700 to 1000' according to the contours. It really is spectacular scenery. waterfalls tumble down the faces of shear faces. It really is pristine , untamed wild , wilderness. Birds continue to entertain us, ducks we chase down stream, osprey circle above or sit in perches high above the water.

We turn a corner and in the distance 5 tiny waterfalls tumbled over the edge of the rock cliff face and disappear into the forest of black spruce. Every now and then dotted by the yellow of aspen turning their fall colours..

Another perfect long campfire.Time to enjoy the day with a cigar and stars.

 

Day 14 Sat. marker 194 to 162 on the water 9.10 off at 3.30

 

Must be getting tired as I have less to say about the water.Dozens of waterfalls along the way one starts not to even notice them.We have an R1 followed by a R3. We pick or way down the side as there are hugh standing wave that would swallow us up.R4 we skirt around the left side staying clear of the heavy stuff.No problem, then we have several R2-R3 followed by a R1. We eat lunch and drift along  ,drifting through a swift. We run a R3 with care followed by a bunch of swifts. The current I estimate flows at about 10K an hour here.We stop on an island just past River Caopacho. No luck with the fishing. Big campfire and a cigar. I'm ready for sleep.

 

Day15 Sunday Steady light rain follow by Nice sunny day, On the water by 9.30 off by 3.45

 

 Easy day of paddling today. Just before we get to the fish ladder portage my aluminum paddle  breaks right a the joint of the plastic meets the handle. Don't buy cheap crap from crappy tire especially if you are out in the middle of Gods country and you need it to survive.I go back to my own wooden paddle. We get to the fish ladder and decide to take the left side portage which is shorter. Real challenge to get up the first part of the trail and the end is on an old rotted wood structure about to fall into the water.Very hazardous as Nick finds out as the rail collapses as he unloads the pack to the ground over the side.We still had the canoes to get. Probably the hardest portage Ive ever had.Not fun.The woodland were very interesting, lots of bright green moss very lush growth..

I followed Arnie up one part where he crawled up the trail on his knees. I took the canoe on this portage as Nicks knee are failing him. I struggle with it all and feel the heart rate rapidly rise, so I slow things down to ease the effort . I really feel my age today but with a couple rests along the way we get her done.

We paddle on for another 5K to our campsite on the bank below a high cliff. The map elevation indicates it towers 1700 ft above us. Truly inspiring and spectacular scenery that mesmerizes you. You would think Shagrila couldn't be any better than this as we cast our gaze up and down the river you catch waterfalls tumbling off shear rock faces. Tough site to find firewood but we manage.Darkness swallows up the valley and we are ready for sleep.

 

Day 16 monday Sunny and warm but a stiff breeze blows,distance marker 127 to 92 getting closer.

 

We start the day with a glorious sunny a breeze that blows in our face for most of the day. The first challenge is a tough R3 Nick and I manage to work our way downtime right side, without a spray skirt  trying to stay out of the big stuff.We take on some water but stay upright and bail out.Don and Arnie follow us down. They have alternated sterning duties each day but paddle the same side each day and all day. Nick and I are constantly switching sides. In the really big stuff Nick has better control paddling on his right. Makes no matter to me but I do have more power on my right as well.at the 120K point we do a long R2-R3 with some big waves, we take on some water but manage to navigate our way without problems. A R1 followed by another and them 1.5K of R1 followed by a long tough R3. What a ride, no clear route so constant last second decisions as we go along makes it rather exciting. Taking on a lot of water makes handling the canoe very tough with all the weight of the water.But we keep it straight and carefully ease out on the right side and bail out. Don and Arnie follow us downand ease out to bail as well.

By far the best ride of the trip. Wow!!! Another long R1 followed by another and then  a swift and a R2. We raft up for lunch and are amazed how fast the current sucks us along as we cover a lot of river quickly.

A leisurely paddle follow  for the rest of the way. We pass one of several outfitters. Looks very clean neat and tidy as they have all packed up for the season.

We saw the remains and carnage of a wrecked outfitter canoe. Another upside down half in and half out of the water. A reminder that this river can mess you up if you let your guard down and don't pay attention.

   We paddle on and stop to look at a potential campsite, Don gets out to inspect, but it isn't up to our high standards so we continue on to the next island at 92K mark.

One of the best sites so far. Loads of firewood everywhere, beautiful sandy beach. Fishing is terrific Don is catching some nice trout. I head across the river to some really big boulders and fish amongst them. 8 trout 5 I keep for dinner and breakfast.  Arnie  trys his luck at some climbing but the terrain is awfully tough and very steep.

Another long campfire with speckled trout and cous cous . 

capachino and a cigar to finish the day. What a great day it was. But the clouds are rolling in. What will tomorrow bring?

 

Tues Day 17 Wet and cold mark92 to mark 53

 

Early start after pancakes, bacon, and speckled trout. We head off in a light mist which lasts the better part of the morning.Mostly swifts and an R1. We get invited into shore by a pair of local native hunters for coffee and  freshly made donuts by their wives. Maurice and his long time friend Edward who is 77,has been hunting here all his life. He was born just up river. We sit and chat about the river and they show us their success with the moose hunt. The ladies show me how they use all the parts of the moose.They seem to enjoy hearing about our adventure.We all have an appreciation for this wild country.

  We thank them for their hospitality , coffee and donuts and make our way downstream. We pass several more camps. A nasty head winds beats on us. We finally get to our campsite at the end of a crazy portage.Why is it that for every 2 meters forward you must climb 1 meter. This one is straight up and then straight down. A rope has been run by locals to assist with the effort.

  Nick and Arnie explore the hugh boulder cliff strutter next to the river and get a great view of the R4 rapid. Really should be a R5 as it really cant run run with out serious risk to life..Fishing is futile despite being the ideal location. Big camp fire as usual, the big moon is getting fuller each night.The meals towards the end of our tripare less appetizing but satify the hunger.Must be a cigar night.Scotch for Nick and Don.

 

Wed Day 18 Cold and rain. 53k mark to 20K mark

 

Hot oatmeal with cranberries and raisins with pressed cup of coffee starts the day.Early start as it is raining. Its an easy day of paddling finished off with a tricky R3we take down the right side,taking on some water despite our  skills. During the day we follow the railway now and see several very long iron ore trains .

 

We set up camp and hike up the slope to the railway track and hike 4k to the tressel bridge scouting the rapids that we will face tomorrow . R5 then an R2, R3 plus 2 more R3 then a really big R3-R4. hugh standing waves 7 to 8ft in height with wide gaps in between. the problem is that they are constantly moving and changing shape. There is so much water. Yes I am very apprehensive for the next day.This will undoubtfully be the toughest day of paddling . 5 k of constant rapids.We take pictures and head back. no trains..

We make and eat dinner, its pretty quiet as we each seem to have our own thoughts about tomorrow.A long train rumbles past.Cous cous and tuna and a serving of chilli. Another great fire.

 

Thursday day19 Sunny and gorgeous 20k mark to the take out at the highway.

 

Cold cereal and coffee and we are the water by 8.30.I remember reading somewhere it took one group 8 hr to complete the next 5k of rapids.

We line past the R5 on the left. The power of the water is amazing.It moves so fast.

Then we get into it 2 of the hardest R3. Big water we manage to stay out of the really big stuff.

We head out into the middle of a big smooth tongue and then the big waves. Third wave and I know we are in trouble . too much water. Over we go and drag our ass to shore. I learned something here though use your paddle to paddle to shore works amazingly well. Don and Arnie with the spray skirt fare better and manage to get through it. We all regroup just before the big left turn under the tressel bridge take a few pictures and Don and Arnie head out trying to get over to the left side so that they can make the left turn on the inside of all the crap.I watch in awe as they are pushed right down the right side and up against the cement base of the bridge. They had no effect on the water as there is too much power.They manage to get through though and continue down the last R3 and pull out on the island and wait for us .They have some waiting to do.

I fear the worst as we head into the melee. The waves tower over our heads and there is no clear route as it is constanly changing. as we near the tressell bridge and hugh hole appears that would swallow a volkswagon and then it is gone . We charge into it and manage to get through,heart rate is off the chart with the rush of adrailin. we have taken on lots of water but we are still upright  so we pull out to the right and bailout. We look downstream. Arnie and Don are not is sight as we still have half a k of R3 to fight through. We look downstream and decide the right side is the best for us.

Things are going along ok till 2 large rock appear right in front of me. I freeze unable to decide to go left or right. Ok maybe we can sneak through between them. Nope we get hung up. Out we get and pull our canoe over the rock . Finally we get through it. Not quite the finish Nick had hoped for.Don and Arnie are high and dry enjoying the sun.

Nick and change into our street clothes for the final ride to our take out. We aren't going to get wet so dry comfortable clothes are a welcome. We enjoy our lunch.

The last 15k are time for reflection.There are many private camps for the Atlantic salmon in this area. Each k is clearly marked in zones for the controlled fishing .

Things are quiet today , nobody else on the water.Save for a large flock of Canada Geese we have it all to ourselves.

We pull out at the highway on a large deserted sandy beach. Nick hitches a ride back to the train station and retrieves Arnie's van.

The time is 3.15. 8hrs travel to Taks  for a late dinner . We are blessed with an amazing sunset and scenery along the St. Lawerence is spectacular.A fantastic finish to a fantastic trip with a tremdous crew.

Franz prepares a meal for us and entertains us with stories of her work and other topics.

 

It is so good to sleep in a regular bed.I don't sleep well. The trip is over but still another long ride home.

 

Footnotes.

Spray skirt really helped Don and Arnie especially in the really big stuff. Time was spend though loading and unloading each portage.

Need to find a better way to keep the feet warm.That was the biggest pain for me. Cold feet.the neoprene booties seems to constrict the blood flow.

Needed more wine gums… remember the hot sauce next time. Find better containers for honey and liquids,or make sure they get into the barrel.

Got to get a barrel, it works really well and the harness is actually quite comfortable to carry.

Looking forward to seeing the pictur

Other
Special Comments: 

Lots of pictures available if required.

Comments

Post date: Tue, 07/17/2018 - 13:01

Comments: 

Hello!

I am running the Moisie in a few weeks and wondering who your shuttle driver was from Emeril to Lac De Mille. We are struggling to find transportation to the put in with the train rerouted. Your trip report references Eddie picking you up with a trailer. Would you bewilling to share that contact? 

Thanks so much!

Becca

babuza@chewonki.org

413-320-9161