View topic - Bazin River May 22nd-29th (Very High Water)

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PostPosted: June 9th, 2017, 6:16 pm 
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Maps of the Bazin River were from Cartespleinair.org. This site is pure gold for maps of Quebec Rivers! Only major change I would make is a DANGER note at the Class 5 Falls as noted in this report. At lower levels it is likely simple and easy. At high levels it is simple and challenging but an accidental dump would be really bad news with no way of getting out before the falls...something to consider.


The Bazin River has been on my "TO DO" list for awhile now. I had been close to paddling it several years ago with Serge88 but my plans fell through. This year Recped and I were having a hard time deciding on routes given the unusually high rainfall in Ontario and Quebec. Since it was Ben's turn to decide on a route, he suggested Section 1 and 2 of the Gens de Terre River in Quebec. After some quick research we determined that neither of us wanted to paddled the canyon section in high water. So we scrapped that idea. Then Ben suggested the Groundhog River, another river I too was interested in. But as our trip date got closer we noticed the river level got higher and eventually was at flood level again. I expressed my concerns about the river being too "pushy" with Ben and he kindly thought of another option, the Bazin River.

This trip was 8 days in length door to door from May 22nd - May 29th, Ben driving from Toronto and myself driving from Oshawa. We agreed to meet at the take out point on the Gatineau River at Trinite Rapids around 2:00pm Monday May 22nd...I told Ben I would likely arrive hours earlier and maybe grab a nap (I had worked a 12 hour 10-22 shift on the day before) and Ben stated he may find himself at the take out around 1pmish. I arrived at about 7:00pm and Ben shortly after...this was typical tripping time for us...arriving several hours after our planned time! At Trinite Rapids we loaded my Esquif Pocket Canyon and Bens Mohawk XL 14 on Bens truck in torrential downpour. We then began the slow 3+ hour drive to Parent, where we would put in on the Bazin River.



Monday May 22nd - Driving/camp at Parent

This day was all driving. For me it took about 7 hours to reach Ferme Neuve and another hourish to get to the take out on the gatineau, Trinite Rapids. From there after loading Ben's truck with both canoes we drove to Parent where our put in under a bridge crossing the bazin was located. We arrived in Parent close to midnight. It took us about 15min driving around to locate a somewhat decent spot to camp for the night...initially hoping to camp right at the put in, we could not locate the put in during the night and Ben's memory from paddling the river over 20 years ago was not substantial enough to remember where exactly the put in was...turns out he did remember correctly we just couldn't find the turn onto the dirt road during the dark. Ben had not eaten much that day so he cooked up a meal in a bag. I had ate not too long ago and so stayed up to chit chat with Ben while he ate. It rained off and on this day but stopped for the most part where we camped. No Bugs!


Tuesday May 23rd - Parent - Camp at Bridge

I had slept in my MEC Manta and was the first to rouse around 10am. Ben slept in the back of his truck and I knocked on his cap shortly after waking. The day was overcast and no bugs. We drove to the put in which was just across from where we had camped for the night...same side of the road as the air strip. Turns out the put in has a large turn around and would make a good place to camp if arriving at Parent late in the day. As usuat it took us several hours to unload the vehicle, organized gear that had already been organized days before, packed up the canoes, re packed the canoes, and departed on the Bazin River. From the put in the river heads under a bridge and through a series of slow twists and turns left the small town of Parent. Heavy logging activity while present for most of the river was particulary present around Parent...most of the townfolk likely worked for the logging company. Both Ben and I were aware of the higher then normal water levels this spring which had changed our paddling plans a number of times over. Ben is very easy going and I don't believe he raised any concerns about the levels on the Bazin...remembering back 20+ years ago and for the last third of the river he had paddled several times about 10 years ago. He was confident it would be a drama free trip. I on the other hand was very curious as to what our first rapid would look like. About 5km down from our put in we came to our first rapid and I made quick note of the full sized tree standing in the middle of the river with it's bottom part completely submerged underwater...it was obviously part of a mid river island but the island was completely under water...not even visable from surface view. Our first class two had a large wave train that both Ben and I had to bail water out of our canoes afterwards. Ben had to bail a bit more than me for the duration of the trip since he did not have air bags in his canoe. I had front and back air bags which would prove their worth down river a few days away. We both commented on the volume of this class 2. The river was very high...not flood level but also not normal high either. After paddling through some washed out swifts we came to our first class 2-3 of the trip which turned out to be class 3 at our levels. We took out river right before the drop. The water was well into the alders along the shoreline making landing usually deep and often times with some downward current. We scouted the rapid carefully, Ben lined his canoe down river right which proved difficult with our high levels but nevertheless managable. I noted the difficulty of the lining and the mass amount of blowdowns where a portage trail likely existed and decided to have another look at the rapid. The run involed starting in river center, then slowly to river left, then hard river left to avoid a large hole mid river, and immediately after passing the hole, a quick ferry to the right to avoid a large diagonal wave with wave train at the bottom. As difficult as the run looked, I ran it without a problem and Ben commented if it was as easy as it looked! My spirits were raised and we continued down river. From here the river took on a somewhat "narrow" character with twisty class 3 rapids...normally class 2 at lower water. Of this trip report this is the only real part to pay attention to and likely a good update for the map on cartespleinair.org. On the map there is an island visible almost 1km past the 100km mark. Upriver from this island is a sweeping class 2-3 which the river then makes a hard bend to the right...with a view blocking island in the middle of the river. My suggestion to my loved ones if they planned on paddling this river would be to take out river right before the island, portage about 20m to the take out before the class 4 and continue the portage to below the class 5. The initial portage would be bushwhacked but from the class 4 take out and beyond there is a reasonably good trail to follow. For those who hate portaging and enjoy taking needless risk the run is as follows. Before the island there is a large eddy on river left, paddle to this eddy (very easy to do). From here and especially in high water you will see the river sweep hard to the right with very fast current and a blind corner. Option A as Ben did was to paddle river left of island and eddy out below the island, then a river center paddled through the second rapid and eddying out river right almost immediately. Take note that in high water level this eddy line is strong so be prepared to stabalize the canoe. In this eddy on river right is the portage around the class 4 and 5. Also take note that although this eddy is sizeable, the river has a strong pull to the center and down the class 4. Option B and what I did was paddled river left of island in the center, very slowly, but instead of eddying out, I very slowly paddled river center down the next rapid, and eddied out maybe 2 canoe lengths down from the eddy start...I did this because I noted the strong eddy line up top and that it got weaker towards the bottom...I hit this bottom without much difficulty...I also noticed that as I made my eddy out, the canoe was being pulled river center. The cartespleinair.org map of the Bazin should read DANGER at this class 4. Neither Ben nor myself were prepared for what we saw below the portage. The class 4 had a smoothed out appearance and seemed pretty easy really but the class 5 it flowed into was a very nasty, very fast, rock ladened, log choked, 5m falls. I have seen video of this falls at lower level and it looked like a small creeky falls. At our levels it was dangerous...it even came with a torn canoe a few hundred meters down stream! So be careful especially in high water! While Ben and I made our eddies text book style, a simple flip or loss of control here would have been devastating. Shortly after this falls is a class 1 that actually had some pretty good waves to it...I wasn't expecting this (my older map labelled it a swift) and had to sponge some water after it. After paddling over some washed out class 1's we came to a bridge over the river that Ben exclaimed must be new. We saw that a rapid started just under the bridge and since the day was alread growing late from a slow departure we took out before the bridge on river right. The rapid under the bridge labelled a class 2-3 turned out to be a class 3 with a very nasty hole river left. The water was very fast under the bridge and a large wave before the whole gave worry to us both. So we unpacked our canoes, walked north up the road about 100m and camped alongside a branching logging road. We heard logging machinery working all night long and often times saw their lights in the distance. The sky itself was clear and full of stars. No Bugs!




Wednesday May 24th - paddle from logging road to Dam

Today we awoke to hot sun and no bugs! We dried out any clothing/gear that was damp from our previous day's adventure. I cooked up some pancakes and bacon. I brought three packs of bacon so that we would have one pack per day for the first three days. Ben exclaimed that it was too much bacon.....seriously? Who complains about having bacon on a canoe trip?! After packing up we portaged around the bridge to below the rapid. There was a well defined trail here river right. We soon came to our next obstacle of the trip. It was a class 3 rapid that ended in a class 3 ledge. The rapid was easy enough, Ben and I both picked the same route down however just above the drop and where most of the water was pushing, there was a sweeper. It left just enough room to run the drop. But we both remarked how easy it would be to get too far river left and hit the sweeper... . We opted to portage this rapid river right. Looking back I think both Ben and I might have run this rapid since we would be running much harder and bigger rapids in the days to come. That being said we portaged, we were safe, and we continued on down the river without injury or gear lost...you cannot argue against that right. From the end of this rapid to the dam at about km83 there were no further obstructions. We paddled river left towards the dam and the take out we choose was river left a fair bit upstream of the dam. Apparently there is also a take out river right but from my angle I thought it was somewhat close to the drop itself. We portaged on a road to the other side of the dam and bushwacked a decent site just on the other side of the road that runs over the river via a new bridge. The camp was actually prettey decent with pines and moss and mostly flat tent sites. If you chose to instead follow the dirt road over the bridge, there is a "day use" spot on the other side...it would make for a good camping spot but you may have some road crew circling around there...we saw at least 2 separate parties. I slept in my MEC Manta (I slept each night in this tarp/tent...it has an open floor and a mesh front providing easy bug free cooking and a sizeable spot in the back to lay out a sleeping pad) and Ben slept in his Marmot tent.



Thursday May 25th - Paddle from Dam to screen porch

Today we awoke again to sunny skies and warm temps. I made pancakes and bacon again and Ben again complained about too much bacon...he ate every bite I served up though...makes you wonder. From our site we loaded our canoes. We then lowered our canoes down to the river via rope taking our time not to let the canoes seal slide down. We then ran the washout of the dam. Today would be an exciting day of whitewater with the last section of whitewater being so far, the best whitewater I have ran to date. First we came to a class 2 ledge on the map, it was totally washed out and paddled over without realizing. We then paddled through some washed out swifts and class 1's. With the exception of the class 2 ledge that disappeared it was safe to say all of the class 2 rapids we encountered could easily be considered class 3's at our higher than usual water levels. We than came upon a beautiful long set of class 1-2 whitewater ending in a class 3 drop. So once again at our levels the final long class 2 of this set turned out to be a solid class 3 with a big class 3+ finish. Bother Ben and I ran it perfect and took time to bail at the end. I shouted out with joy as I hit the final drop. It was a lot of fun!!!!! I actually didn't really need to bail much, but Ben filled his canoe pretty good. We got out on river right at a cabin to bail. From here to our camp it was flat water mostly but with our high levels the current was really good. I believe we paddled around 36km today. We started at about km83 and paddled to about km47.There is a bridge going over the river at km45. We expected to take out here and camp for the night. However there was no easy way to land the canoes and get out...banks were steep enough to be a pain in the butt and there was alder coverage too. So We paddled past here a bit and then took out river right at a nice looking cabin. Unfortunately the cabin was surrounded by clear cut. It drizzled a bit that evening. Ben and I slept in the cabins screened in porch. I made a staple of Ben's normal dinner supply, puke in a bowl. It is made with a pouch of prepackaged indian food that looks as described over a bed of rice. I actually really enjoy this dish so I made two of my dinners with this, Ben brought one too so we ate indian food 3 of the nights we were out. Drama time! When we arrived at this cabin I spotted what appeared to be a red bottle of unopened powerade. The wrapper was not really discolored so it would seem that it hadn't been dropped too long ago..and the expire date was ok. I new that whoever dropped it would not be back for it so I broke the seal and took a swig from my better judgement. It tasted mostly good with what I thought was either a real fruity finish or mild bitter taste.Later that night after dinner puke in a bowl became puke in the woods. I started feeling unwell after dinner, I was sitting with Ben chatting away when I suddenly became dizzy and felt like I wanted to vomit. I made a mad dash for the screen door, ran outside and had a projectile vomit episode until everything I had ate that day was on the ground... . Once finished I came back inside the screen porch, apoligized to Ben for the gross sounds and went to bed early. No bugs!!!

Friday May 26th - Paddle from screen porch cabin to wilderness camp

Today would be a wild day of "scary" whitewater. Well actually it would be a really fun day pushing the limits of open boat tripping. We ran numerous class 2 and 3 rapids. We ducked under a bridge while paddling a solid class 2 rapid. We choose the right side of the big island to run. We didn't get to look at the class 3 on the other side. From km32 to km17 (map from cartespleinair.org) we ran numerous class three whitewater. While the rapids where big they mostly involved dodging some large holes and then bracing through big wave trains. In most of these rapids the paddler going first would disappear from sight in the wave troughs from the paddler coming from behind. BUT in this very high water level there were virtually no rocks to hit! I think I scrapped one rock near the end of the trip but otherwise the rocks were burried deep below the water surgace. Brace and play or maybe it is brace and pray? At about km16 we arrived at another obstacle on the river, a labelled class 3 rapid, with a class 3 drop followed by a class 4 drop. On the approach to this rapid there is a massive amount of trees down on river left...river right I believe was the same...this made the idea of portaging not even an option (for us). Lining at our levels was also not likely. So as Ben and I paddled up towards this rapid, Ben exclaimed "time to creek it". This was a well known paddling tactic that I have learned from Ben. It involved paddling very close to shore, bumping and scrapping, and broaching, and nearly tipping the canoe down whatever rocky mess the shore provided....I am not a fan of this paddling tactic but seeing a horizon line appear before us with large sprays of water in the air, I chose the same tactic. Well...we started river left along the shore. Ben is famous for his "spinorama" move (involves broaching on a rock and then spinning the canoe left or right to get off the rock and around it...lets say this is a last resort move that proves to be so common one could say it is the first resort!) but chose on this day and on this particular rapid to employ an altogether new and not much improved tactic called "ramming speed"! Sure enough Ben plowed full tilt into a rock that was clearly straight in front of him. He slammed into the rock so hard that his gopro fell off his head and his spare paddle almost fell out of his canoe. This tactic allowed Ben to stop (a dead stop!), put his gopro back on his head, put his spare paddle back in the canoe, take a few deep breaths, and continue on flawlessly down river! Actually from here he chose to wonder out in the deeper waters...and...he completely disappeared from my line of sight!! I came to the same spot where Ben chose "ramming speed ahead" but I chose "maneuver around the rock" instead. I also understood why Ben had disappeared. After this "creeky" section, the clear path down involved moving out from river left into more of the center of this run...sort of left of center. I found myself in huge waves coming from every direction! I have never been in such waves before and I could only "brace and pray". And I made it down. And even more impressive, Ben made it down too and upright! An impressive run for me and an even more impressive run for Ben who had no airbags. Ben with canoe half full chose to continue paddling and ran the next class 3 without hitch. I chose to eddy out river left and bail out before paddling the immediate class 3. It was easy compared to the last one! We camped a few km's down on river left. This would be our "wilderness campsite" since it was the only place on this trip where we camped without signs of logging or cabins or roads. It still had some left over metal treats from the early logging days but the old logging road was now full of new trees and the rusted metal found here or there were more a historical sight than an eyesore. The landing site for this camp is easy enough to spot with some flagging tape and obvious trail but the landing was in mud, it was steep, and the water dropped off almost immediatly. That said the site itself was flat and the escape from human contact was appreciated by us both!Ben cooked up a pesto pasta dish complete with fresh peppers and onion. It was very good. No bugs!!!!!

Saturday May 27th - Paddle from Wilderness Camp to Pike Rapids

We awoke to grey skies and warm temps. Ben made up some eggs for wraps. The eggs were fresh and it was tasty. Ben was laid back as usual about todays paddle stating it wouldn't be too much and would be a lot of fun. Ok...it was fun. But DRAMA time!!! We ran numerous class 3 rapids. Big waves, some big holes to dodge, very few rocks. The rapids were often long and the stretches in between were very swift currant. All was going well until about km10. Here was the start of a few kms long class 3 rapids.This entire stretch was in a sort of canyon with steep rocky cliffs on either side and very little shoreline. We ran the first half without incident. Exactly halfway through this section (the section just before the long class 2 that leads into a class 3 that leads into a class 4 ledge) Ben eddied out river right and bailed out his canoe. Since I had airbags I took on very little water and continued on down river. The last half of the class 3 looked the same as the first half, it's just that I dumped almost right away missing a brace (remember that tricky class 4-5 rapid earlier on with the must do eddy out river right? Well it makes you think...). In slow motion my canoe was lifted up into the air by a rather large but braceable diagonal wave. I went under right away, came back up, went down again, drank some water while down and came up again. As soon as I knew I was going over I said to myself in my mind "don't panic" and I didn't. After resurfacing I immediately pushed the canoe in front of me, held onto my paddle and put my feet up towards the surface of the water. I took a big gulp of air when I could and held it where I couldn't. I still managed to drink a lot of water as with each big wave that hit me I went under water. After what I thought was the end of the rapid I began swimming to shore already thinking that I needed to get out before the start of the next very long class 2. As I thought this I went over another drop in the river, flipped over underwater and popped back up on the other side of my canoe. I was hacking and coughing from this last dunking real good. I again pushed my canoe in front of me, grabbed the painter and begain swimming to shore again. After what I thought was a good amount of time to be closer to the right shore I looked around me to get my bearings. I was still in the middle of the river no closer to the shore. The current was really pushy. Thoughts of Serge88 appeared in my head and so I swam harder but not panicky. I realized that I was now at the top of the class 2 and started to feel an even greater pull down river. I made a judgement call. I knew that if I was swept down the class 2 that I would swim the entire set including the class 4 finish. I felt exhausted. I let go of the canoe. I swam harder. I let go of the paddle. I swam harder. I made it to shore. I got pulled back out again by an undertoe. I swam back to shore. Once on shore I threw myself on some rocks and spent a good 5 min hacking and coughing and near puking up river water. Lungs expelled I looked down river and saw my canoe very slowly making it's way down the center of the river. I actually felt sad, that canoe was dear to me, it was my first real whitewater boat and I have many memories with it on many different rivers. So I started making my way down the shore. I was so tired, my body felt like lead. Ben eventually paddled past me, tapped his head as the sign for "you ok"/"you hurt". I gave him a thumps up and pointed down river towards my boat. Ben went on down river after it. Fortunately the boat got hung up broadside on a rock downriver close to river right shoreline. I noticed this at some point during my scramble down river and it made me keep going. I was pretty well throwing myself over fallen trees on the cliff side. I had very little left in the gas tank. I made it down to the canoe and with the strong help from Ben we retrieved the boat...we both remarked how valuable the air bags were in keeping the boat upright on its journey down river! Any lower in the water and it would have wrapped! I still had my spare paddle so after I shook my jitters off, we ferried over to river left and carefully approached the class 4 drop. This we lined river left easily. A few more km's down river and after some more 2' and 3's Ben spotted my paddle up on shore river right. Amazing!!! The dunking had left me without a boat and paddle. And now I had my boat and paddle again. I felt whole lol. We continued on carefully down to the confluence of the Gatineau River, slapped paddles, and went to shore to bail/sponge our canoes. From this confluence to Pike Rapids are numerous class 1's and swifts. At lower levels I'm sure this would be a gravelly run with rocks to avoid. At our levels we simply pointed our canoes down river and enjoyed. We made it to Pike Rapids in no time and set up camp at the red roofed cabin on river left. We camped out on the lawn. That night I made puke in the bowl again and kept it down. We ate in my MEC Manta. Upon getting ready for bed, Ben and I spotted some slow movement at our feet. There was a beatiful salamander very slowly inching his way towards us. He had a purple hue to his color and was holding the tiniest piece of grass in his mouth. Funny enough he reminded me of Ichy (my little pitbull paddling buddy) and the way Ichy will creep very slowly at times when I take him outside to go to the washroom...he creeps along looking at a particular spot on the lawn where a mouse appears at times. It is just so cute, full of character, funny. Yeah a salamander reminded me of my dog. At that point in the trip I grew sad and felt anxious. My dog is always with me when I paddle. This was my first trip ever without him. We called it a night. I heard rabbits running around my tent for most of the night. I slept little thinking of Ichy. Some bugs.


Sunday May 28th - Paddle from Pike Rapids to Trinite Rapids

Today we woke to very hot, humid, and buggy conditions. First real bugs of the trip you could say. We dried out most of our wet gear and clothing, me especially after my previous days dunking. We had a simple breakfast. Ben made oatmeal. I made cream of wheat. From that cabin the river had about 10 or so kms of gravel swifts. It was a real pleasure and looked pretty with the distant hills. But after that the river took on a lazy lake like feel and we had a headwind...not really strong but enough to have to keep paddling or risk being blown upriver. The paddle went by fast thought and we made it to the take out at Trinite Rapids. The take out is on river left and about 500-800m upstream from the actual rapids. There is a second take out down from the first that could be used but it doesn't offer any real advantage. I recommend staying close to the left shore and taking out at the first portage...it has some flagging tape and an obvious trail on shore. We loaded our boats on my truck and began our long drive back to Parent to pick up Ben's truck. We arrived after dark. From here we loaded Ben's canoe on his truck and agreed to stop and meet at the Lievre River take out. It took us awhile to find the small road but Ben eventually found it. After the salamander incident I had to get home to Ichy. I knew I had made the right choice leaving him behind with the big and pushy rapids we paddled but I still felt bad and missed him terribly. I thanked Ben for the awesome trip and continued my drive home while Ben camped at the Lievre take out for the last night.

Monday May 29th - Arrive Home

I arrived home at about 8:00am. It had been an excellent trip. I had a lot of fun. I learned a great deal. I improved my paddling skills. And as usual it was an absolute treat to paddle with Ben.


Prologue

It's been a few weeks since I came home from the Bazin River. I am now exactly 1 week away from paddling solo down the Groundhog River. I have already packed Ichy's life jacket.

The end of one adventure and the beginning of another.

Sam

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PostPosted: June 9th, 2017, 11:45 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3473
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Some additional technical data

Chart of daily distances and times

Attachment:
time-distance.JPG
time-distance.JPG [ 55.73 KiB | Viewed 1283 times ]


There is no gauge on the Bazin, there is a reasonable correlation with the Gatineau.

Attachment:
Gatineau_water_levels_May24-29-2017_040830_Debit_600px.jpg
Gatineau_water_levels_May24-29-2017_040830_Debit_600px.jpg [ 262.98 KiB | Viewed 1283 times ]

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PostPosted: June 10th, 2017, 2:19 pm 
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Joined: June 26th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: scarborugh, Ontario canada
COOL


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