View topic - Mistassibi NE - June 28-July 3 - 2014

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PostPosted: September 10th, 2014, 8:33 pm 
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Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 197
Location: Kanata
Our annual trip this year took us to the spectacular Mistassibi NE river. The two weeks leading up to the trip saw the water levels drop from about 500cm/s(leading to thoughts about whether we could run the river in open tandem canoes) to about 180cm/s(leading to thoughts about whether there would be enough water). We were hoping for slightly higher water, but in the end the rapids were still great. The amount of moving water on this river is unbelievable. The scenery on the trip far exceeded everyone's expectations, not that we really had any, but we weren't really expecting the steep topography that bordered much of the river.

Day 1
We left Ottawa on Saturday morning around 9am after rigging our home-made rack into the back of our rental truck, loading all the gear into the box and squishing 6 men, all 6 feet tall or taller, into the cab of the truck. We were sorely disappointed not to get the king-cab version of the truck we had requested. We made it to Dolbeau-Mistassini around 4:00pm after many stops along the way to strech, bug fishing licenses and cheaper Quebec beer. We ended up camping at Chutes des Pere. Ate dinner in town. Stayed up too late around the campfire and got destroyed by blackflies and mosquitoes. Doug, having not been bitten very often by blackflies had quite the reaction, check out the photo of his legs below. He said they weren't painful, but hard to believe.

Day 2
We organized a shuttle with Gilles from Adventuraid. The cost was $850. Our most expensive shuttle yet. The shuttle driver met us at the campground at 7am and after moving everything into the van and onto the trailer we were off around 7:30. The logging road to the river is essentially accessed right in town. After about 1.5-2 hours we reached the take out and left our truck behind. The logging road was in great shape-lots of active logging in the area- and it is being pushed further north every year.

On the drive in we noticed some smoke and a couple of helicopters flying around dropping buckets of water on the fires. The fires that we could see were quite small and didn't really worry us. The driver however was quite worried and insisted on pulling over and talking to the firemen 'working' the fire to make sure it was OK that we were planning on running the river. It was quite comical to see these 20 year old guys 'fighting' the fire with their shirts off and smoking cigarettes.(I wish I had taken a photo of them) Anyway, the firemen didn't seem to give two shits as to whether we canoes down the river or not, so on we went.

As we approached the put in the terrain changed from green forest, to burned out forest, to what appeared to be clear-cut burned out forest. The area around the put-in itself looked as if a bomb had been dropped on it. We had never seen a more inhospitable looking area.

The entire road to the put-in was in excellent condition. I think we arrived at the put-in(km 158 on Leduc's map) around 11, but it could have been closer to noon.

When the van left we ate a quick lunch marveling at our surroundings and then quickly loaded the boats and headed down stream. The river at the put-in is quite narrow. That afternoon we paddled down to approximately km148/147. We passed several marked campsites on the map, but none of them appealed to us so we kept on going. We finally found a small rock outcrop we could put our kitchen on and enough flat spots in the burned out forest to erect our tents.

The rapids down the first 10km were fairly low volume and full of rocks. I don't think we needed to ever got out to push and shove, so even though the water was quite low it wasn't as low as it was last year on the Pontax! This year's trip was off to a good start.

We caught a couple of small pike in the pools below the rapids and one decent sized one, though we threw them all back to swim another day.

Day 3 km148-km136

Short day on the water km wise, but we didn't actually get to camp until 2pm. We hit the water around 8:00, early by our standards, and stopped at the bottom of every rapid to fish for brook trout. We caught a bunch and had a shore lunch of trout and pike. Very tasty. Plenty of fun rapids today. Volume of river started to get a bit bigger, river not quite as narrow as where we put-in.

Camp was made at the S5 rapid, we were hoping for some great fishing there, but didn't really catch much. It is a well used campsite, with a fire pit up in the trees, but we chose to have the kitchen on the rocks so that the blackflies would be kept at bay.

Day 4 km136-km92

Big day on the water. Lots of moving water, some great rapids. The morning consisted of 12km of enjoyable class 1 moving water. The next 14km was spent paddling a long narrow lake an extremely beautiful lake with lots of waterfalls pouring down the cliffs. The pike fishing was pretty good on the lake with several large pike caught as we trolled our way down the lake.
We stopped at Sylvain and Mario's cabin for a pike lunch and then kept on going.
Somewhere between between km102 and km96 the skies opened up and a torrential rain began to come down. It soaked us to the bone and began to fill up the boats. Luckily the weather had been and still was very warm, so we weren't uncomfortable. The only thing to do in a rain like this was to stop and drink a beer, so we did. The rain stopped after about 45 minutes and we carried on down to camp. It rained off and on the rest of the night. We talked to some fire fighters the next day and they said the area received about 40mm of rain during that storm. Despite all the rain we really didn't notice the river levels come up very much.
The day was a fantastic one, with some great paddling in the afternoon. One rapid that sticks out in my mind is the one that starts at km108 and ends at km102. It starts off as a class 1 and ends up as a class 3. Awesome rapid, 6km of pure fun.

Day 5 km92 - km72

Short day on the water, though we had a slow start as we were trying to dry our stuff. We heard a few trucks go by in the night and throughout the day, as we are now quite close to the road. Even though the road is close by, it didn't take away from the beauty of the area. The morning paddle started off essentially on a lake, no moving water again until km82.

We stopped for lunch at km75 on the tip on a large island. Just up stream of there, on both sides of the river, was evidence of the forest fire that was burning when we had driven in. The torrential rains from the day before must have put all the fires out. While checking out the new burn on the river right side, 5 firemen walked out of the bush, they had been walking the fire zone to make sure the fire was completely out. Needless to say it was quite surprising to see them appear in the middle of 'nowhere'. While we were eating lunch a helicopter flew in to pick them up. Quite entertaining. These were the only people we were to see on our entire trip down the river. An interesting thing about the burn was that the fire obviously moved down the hill as the uphill side of the trees were burned up to about 8ft in height and the downhill side had very little bark burnage. The ground however was totally burned - mostly spagnum moss, but really only the top 4-6 inches of the moss was buned, once down deeper into the moss it looked still alive, though I doubt it would survive.

We decided to camp on a gravel bar on river right, just down stream of our lunch spot, as we weren't sure what the camping would be like further down stream. In the future, if the water levels allowed, I'd just down stream of km72 on river left right where the second stream comes in the river. More scenic view and some potential for hiking up the stream bed. As we arrived at camp early we took the opportunity to swim and finish drying out our gear from the rain yesterday.

Overall a good day, even though the whitewater was essentially over.

Day 6 km72 - km50.

Up and out of camp around 8:15. Bright sunny morning. Great scenery. Current, though slow, the entire way to the take out. We had the truck loaded and managed to jam ourselves back into the were on the road for Ottawa around noon. Made it back to my place, in Kanata, at 11:30pm.

Great trip, would definitely come back and run this river again, though I think that about every river we paddle. Too many rivers, not enough time.

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PostPosted: September 10th, 2014, 9:03 pm 
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Joined: May 2nd, 2011, 2:29 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Ruperts Land
nice post and ya, ive never seen that kind of reaction from blackflies before but looks painful.

PostPosted: September 10th, 2014, 9:44 pm 

Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 1974
Location: Manitoba
Excellent report and photos.
I agree, too many river, not enough time...



PostPosted: July 2nd, 2017, 12:07 pm 

Joined: April 8th, 2013, 8:37 pm
Posts: 10
Good read and great photos. That guy has some serious bug bites! We're running this river in August, can't wait as I've heard great things.

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