View topic - Lepallier River - June 2010

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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2010, 8:57 pm 
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Location: Midland, Ontario Canada
Wanapitei CANOE ran an exploratory trip down a small James Bay river in Quebec this spring (the Riviere Lepallier). I was one of the participants. As far as we know, this was the first documented canoe trip down this river. (At least in the modern era - perhaps there are references in some tattered notebook in the Hudson Bay Company archives).

I am long delayed in writing a full trip report, but I thought I would at least post a little summary of the logistics and links to some video for now.

Here is the video, in two parts:

Part 1:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9f-IasxFLw

Part 2:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyCzbMYBYQ8

Here is the brief version of the trip report:

The river can be accessed from the Lac Rodayer campground from the James Bay Highway. It runs generally parallel and slightly to the north of the Nottaway River for much of its length, before heading north and meeting the Broadback River.

We shuttled a vehicle with a canoe trailer to Waskaganish and arranged to leave it in the parking lot of the inn there. While the vehicle shuttle was ongoing, the first two canoes started out and the two drivers followed in our third canoe later that day. From Lake Rodayer, we headed for Ruisseau Rodayer in the north-west of the lake. This small creek had some deadfall, but it was generally passable (a few get out and push moments, but many could be paddled over with a bit of scraping. We camped on that creek before continuing to Lac Chaboullie and a second larger creek labelled Ruisseau Wemistikushiiuch Kawichitwaw on the topo map (32K/13). Camp Two was along this creek.

Continuing along the creek into Lac Lepallier and up that lake, we joined the Riviere Lepallier itself. The river is quite rocky and shallow. It's definitely a spring run only. Lots of technical rapids up to about a Class II+ level. There isn't enough water running through this small river to create dangerous hydraulic features - the main risks are wrapping a boat (see the video) or foot entrapments in a dump.

There were a couple of lift-overs at ledges and a couple of points that we lined, but no real portages. Which is good, because there was no sign that anyone has been down this river in the last couple of decades at least.There are no organized campsites, no hunt cabins (except on Lac Lepallier, before joining the river) and few signs of humans at all (a trapline appeared to cross the river at one point, having been marked with flagging tape).

We spent five nights on the Lepallier itself. The last of those nights was right at the mouth of the river, where it joins the Broadback about 10 km upstream from Rupert Bay (James Bay). At the mouth, there is a Cree fishing/hunting camp and across from the mouth of the Lepallier on the Broadback, a hunt cabin.

On the Broadback, we had a couple of big water rapids before reaching Rupert Bay. The volume in the middle of these rapids was big - our routes involved sneaks down the sides. We had planned to camp at the mouth of the Broadback, but once there the winds were favourable for canoe sailing and it was only lunch. The distance to Waskaganish is about 25 km. We rigged the canoes together and put up a sail and got about half of the distance covered under sail. The remaining paddle on Rupert Bay became a bit of a slog due to tidal conditions and the outwash from the Rupert River - bring tide tables (we had them, but it's pretty difficult to time both sides of your trip to avoid tidal currents).

In total, our trip took eight days. We had planned up to ten given the unfamiliar river, but our fears of large falls and other hazards weren't realized. The river drops fairly steadily and keeps your interest up most of the time. Don't bring a canoe you value too much - the shallow rocks gave our boats quite a beating. Don't expect much in the way of campsites. We just looked for signs of clearings and often had to camp away from the river, behind the dense growth at the shoreline. There were few rocky outcrops or other features to provide prime campsites.

Thanks to Shawn Hodgins of Wanapitei for finding this new route!


Last edited by Damian on November 4th, 2010, 2:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2010, 10:48 pm 
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Thanks for posting and I look forward to the full report.

Sounds to me like an nice alternative to the Broadback in the Spring which can be a little crazy in high water.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2010, 11:41 am 
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Awesome videos, thanks so much for sharing! The weather looked really good for you guys.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2010, 1:55 pm 
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Location: Midland, Ontario Canada
Weather was very good for the time of year. Often dipped below zero at night, but pleasant temperatures during the daytime generally. Only one rainy day (and one morning snow!). Few bugs because of the cold nights.

The spring was very dry, as you may recall. There were fire bans in central Quebec at the time. So, our water levels in early June were probably a bit lower than average. It could have used some extra water - the river might be a bit less bony in an average year.


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2010, 2:56 pm 
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awesome trip video.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2010, 4:14 pm 
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great video..must get me a helmet cam..yes some of those chutes were pretty bony, I started clenching my teeth knowing you were about to hit the boulders.


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PostPosted: March 4th, 2011, 9:32 am 
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Thank you, Damian!! Very nice river, amazing videos (including editing).


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PostPosted: March 7th, 2011, 8:30 pm 
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Great job on the videos. It looked like a good but rocky trip. :clap:

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PostPosted: November 24th, 2011, 6:31 am 
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Great report and excellent video. I have to ask how the Mistral made out? Was the canoe salvageable? I think that the fact it was serviceable enough to finish the trip is amazing.


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