View topic - Mistassibi NE - June 23-29, 2012 - From Lac Froget

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PostPosted: July 10th, 2012, 10:08 pm 

Joined: November 16th, 2007, 1:11 pm
Posts: 109
Location: Mid-coast Maine
Christian and Carl stayed in a hotel in Roberval on June 22 and met Gilles (Aventuraid) shuttle at intersection of forest road and Rt.169 in Dolbeau-Mistassini at 9am on 6/23. Took about 1 hour to reach take-out, dropped off our vehicle, switched boats and gear to Gilles’ truck and continued to put-in at southern end of Lac Froget. No clouds, beautiful day, leaning to the hot side. We said goodbye to Gilles, had boats loaded, and were paddling north on Froget by a little after noon. Current and wind against us on Froget. First portage was simple – 10 yards through a little scrub. Second portage was a little difficult – more like a ditch between ponds – a few trees to lift over, lots of knee-deep mud – but mostly we slid the boats right through. Had a late lunch after portage #2. Bugs getting tiresome. 3rd portage was a bear – approx. 500 yards, over a hill, through ground that was broken by machinery, and littered with limbs, stumps, rocks, and roots – footing very unstable. Took 5 or 6 trips each to carry everything across (we travel heavy – paddle solo, each have a cooler, croquet set, etc.). Addition here to leDuc map – a road traverses this portage in a east/west direction and it ought to be possible to be dropped here, and forego portage 1,2, and half of 3. Do NOT plan to camp here where 4D site is marked. 4th portage – morale and energy dwindling – not quite as bad – perhaps 250-300yards - ground much better – slight uphill to steep slope down – we got the boats to the slope, threw everything back in, then slid the boats down loaded, almost to the water. 5th portage – I can’t remember. 6th portage – perhaps worst yet. Small winding rocky creek, no water in it, lots of downed trees and limbs – absolutely back breaking work to get boats through. Finally hit the river exhausted. In camp at 3C site about 7pm. Made camp, took a bath, drenched ourselves in deet, grilled steaks for supper. Bugs disappeared with a little campfire smoke. No energy for croquet. Loons kept us company. Christian won trivial pursuit.
June 24 – paddled 15km to campsite 5B @ km153. Hot day – in the 90s. Level was around 180cms – seemed very bony. Another 6inches-1foot of water would have helped tremendously. Ran first R2-3 down left side – trees down in main channel at bottom end of rapid forced us to run hard left over cobbles. Ran R3 down left for lack of good line on right (could see where the good line should have been on the right). Water level just a little too low to find good lines. Scraped our way down left then back into main channel after ledgey drop. Last R2-3 was barely worth mentioning. Campsite at 153 was nice – no shade, but no weather. Carl fixed chorizo-stuffed chicken breast for supper. Christian croquet and trivia winner.
June 25 – paddled 17km to 4B camp on S5 ledge – overcast and rain. Took very conservative lines today. No one wanted to swim. Or to clean up after one. Ran R2-3 down left side of right channel, then moved to center line. Ran R3 right down the middle. Steady downpour began right after R3. Lasted the rest of the day – was very disorienting in the long R2s and R3s that followed. Ran long R2 down easy left line, and S3 at bottom on hard left (could have gone anywhere over this). Took easy granny lines through R3 on left. Made camp above S5 ledge in the rain. Let off long enough to get a tarp and tents ups, and make a fire. Carl’s morale super low – cold, tired. Water level at its lowest today at about 170cms. Begins to rise tonight and continues to rise for rest of trip, maxing at about 200cms. Can't imagine paddling at a lower level, but they say 130 is minimum - seems like that would be horrid. Carl fixed sautéed chicken breast. Christian trivia winner.

June 26 – overcast – paddled to Mario’s cabin @ km115. A little chilly, rain on and off. No current in the flat stretches, but bounced down R1-2 stuff very quickly. Found Mario’s unlocked - woodstove, gas range and grill – provided much-needed respite from cold and wet. Dried out all our gear, cooked supper without bugs in it, and slept on bunk beds. THANKS, MARIO!

June 27 – Another overcast morning, the sun semi-victorious in battling its way through the clouds. Debated stretching the trip a day and crashing at Mario’s for an extra day. Doug and Trish paddled past around 9 or 9:30 while we were still debating. Their nonchalance about the river’s challenges seemed to inspire Carl. We loaded the boats and were on our way soon after. Rain had abated. Paddled through the remaining flats, and dove into the bigger water. Obvious in bigger rapids that the level had risen – much pushier than upstream. Ran first R3 down right/center. Ran R2-3 starting right and working left to avoid the pour over, then ending right. Ran R3 (which I would humbly assert was a hell of a lot closer to an R4) right down the middle tongue, ferried left through the wave train, then cut back hard right. We celebrated successfully negotiating all the big water of the trip, and no sooner had we uncorked, that the clouds opened again. So we quickly moved on and pushed through the quickwater and flats to the sites at km92. Map NOTE: the island beach site at 92 is underwater at around 200cms & the rest of the little island is not very suitable for camping. The GB site on river right is quite large, and this we shared with Doug and Trish, each group very comfortably setting their own tarps and fires, and very enjoyably sharing a little river comradary as well. The rain quit as we were pitching camp. With the big water behind us, and the rain, for the moment, abated, Carl’s morale improved dramatically. Kielbasa and kraut for supper. Carl took the croquet games, and Christian again trivia champ.

June 28 – Doug and Trish had moved on early and were gone by the time we awoke. After our usual leisurely breakfast of eggs and sausage, we headed downstream. Lots of flatwater. Didn’t look like there was much at campsite 5D at km84, but we didn’t get out of the boats, either. Moved through the R1-2 stuff lickedy-split, and passed Doug and Trish who had just made camp at the GB site at km68. Said hello, but kept on moving and caught the beach site furthest from the road at approx km66. Nice sandy beach site on an outside bend – made camp and settled in. Pasta and whatever was left in the coolers for supper. Christian retook the croquet championship, leaving him the Mistassibi croquet title. Christian took the big fish trophy as well, landing a big northern pike at this site at dusk. Christian also nailed the trivial pursuit game at this site, and walked away with the triple-crown.

June 29 – pretty morning, but by the time breakfast was finished, a thunderstorm system was headed our way. Doug and Trish said hello on their way past, and we put-on about 20 minutes behind them. Map NOTE: last two marked beach sites are underwater at 200cms, and don’t look nearly as nice as the one we stayed at. Last 16km were a slog through flatwater with a thunderstorm and headwind. Eventually the rain broke, but not the wind. We caught up to Doug and Trish about a km before the takeout, and shared the landing with them. (The takeout is not as user-friendly as it could be.)

Gear: We paddled Esquif Canyons, which I think were great boats for this river. I generally paddle a 17’ Old Town Tripper, which is a hair longer than the Canyon, a hair lighter than the Canyon, but not nearly as rockered as the Canyon. I decided to borrow a friend’s Canyon and was very happy I made that decision. It handles beautifully in whitewater, though it was a pig in the flats and the headwind. The Tripper tracks better, portages better, makes a better kitchen table, but it is not nearly as gracefully maneuverable in the big water. We brought collapsible Mohawk double blades to knock out the flat stretches. I paddled the rapids with a Norse Guide Stick, and Carl used a Werner Bandit (I think). We both took video of the rapids and camps and I will post those as soon as I figure out how to do that.

Great river!

Thanks to all the CCR voices who helped make the trip happen.

"There is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." - WATER RAT, The Wind in the Willows

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