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 Post subject: Mistassibi North West
PostPosted: July 26th, 2019, 1:47 pm 
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Joined: October 16th, 2008, 9:20 am
Posts: 1411
Location: Oshawa
Mistassibi North West
July 18th - 24th

July 17th
Left home in Oshawa at about 8:15am. This is a solo canoe trip with my dog Ichabod. Drove through dark skies out east on the 401 before it cleared to blue sky around Montreal. Got flipped off by a guy on a chopper...think he was just mad my truck was louder than his bike...whatever! Took about 12 hours before checking in at the motel in Mistassini that overlooks the Mistassibi River and a series of big falls/chutes. It was a dog friendly motel that cost $160 plus an extra $50 charge for lord knows what? Ichabod and I ate McDonalds for dinner. We also scooped out our meeting place with Gilles from Aventuraid in the morning. It was just down the road from the motel. I called my wife before bed to let her know all was well. Ichy enjoyed sprawling on the bed under the covers.

July 18th. Woke up at 5:45. Took some pictures of the falls. I went for breakfast at the diner where I would meet Gilles at 9:00am. Came back to the motel and fell asleep for another hour. Met Gilles just after 9:00am. He is a long haired, earring wearing, chiseled, Frenchman! Unfortunately his English was just a little better than my French and I couldn’t pick his brain on the area the way I wanted to. He is an extremely nice person and I highly recommend his services...he is very pro wilderness and making it accessible for paddlers. I followed him on the bush road to the take out at km80. The logging road is terrifying and the dust that kicks up makes visibility zero at times. So drive caustically and give plenty of space to the vehicle in front of you! We then loaded my gear into his truck and drove for roughly another 100km before a bridge crosses the Mistassibi NW. This land is beautiful with towering cliffs and steep valleys. I fell in love instantly. Even Ichy seemed in good spirit and made sure to give Gilles a few friendly licks! We unloaded my gear, I gave Gilles a farewell handshake, and he drove off. I was alone on a river I have dreamed about paddling for yours! As usual I had brought too much stuff...enough food for 12 days and gear to survive a snow storm. No booze and no dope...I would be sober the entire time hahaha! I loaded my pocket canyon. Freeboard looked good, these canoes can hold a tonne of gear and still perform! As I pushed off the sandy bank and started paddling down River I immediately developed a huge smile. The river had a sandy bottom, surprisingly good current (I expected there to be none until the final 60km), and the large valley scenery was beautiful. I grinned ear to ear the whole trip! We paddled up the first tributary on river left and after a few kms, arrived to a spectacular waterfall complete with a sand beach campsite opposite to it! Ichabod and I shared beans for lunch then bannock and rice and chilli for dinner. We cooked over our campfire. I believe I sent Ben my first message this night to check in on him. He was on a 40 day paddling trip in Labrador! All was well with him. These InReach devices are great! As usually I told my wife if she stopped hearing from me it could be a mechanical or battery failure and to pay more attention on if I’m home on time. If I’m late I’m in trouble...then worry. She sends me messages like texts on a phone...2-5 word messages that eat up the data like crazy! Even after asking her to send longer messages and not as many she gets carried away...what can I say...she cares about me and I rather spend the extra money to keep her happy.

July 19th
Wake up early around 8:00am. Pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Ichy eats dog chow and shares my food too. We depart our beautiful camp to paddle maybe 4kms and arrive at a 1.5km sand beach I had preplanned on camping at. It was complete with huge sand cliffs opposite of it. I set up my 4 person north face talus. It’s perfect size for 2 people but even better for 1 person and a dog or two. I also set up my Manta tarp since rain is in the forecast. Sure enough, it rains. I spot a rainbow. The inside of the shelter leaks badly but it’s warm and I get over it. Beans for lunch. Bannock for dinner. 1 cup whole wheat flour. 3tbsp milk powder. 1 tsp baking powder. Handful of brown sugar. Handful of raisins. And sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top and bottom when done cooking. Cook in olive oil over stove. I go to bed early after checking in with my wife. Ichabod enjoys a few swims today.

July 20th. Awake to dark skies. Granola bars for breakfast. We paddle maybe 5km before the rain hits us. Thunder then starts. It sounds close. I paddle closer to shore when a strike of lightening blinds me very nearby. F&$k this! I head to the next beach for cover. It’s a beach...there’s no cover. I attempt to rig a tarp. The wind rips it down, the rain comes down really hard. Ichy is just sitting on the beach looking miserable. I then realize there are some open spaces back in the trees I move all gear there and string up the tarp in time for the sun to come out! It’s hot out. Beans for lunch. Candy bars to snack on. Bannock for dinner. I go to bed early again and it rains off and on.

July 21st
Awake early at 7:30am. Pancakes for breakfast. Ichy enjoys a healthy serving too! It rains off and on today before the sun makes a final stand. We paddle about 20km to the beach at the start of the 20km lakes. It gives you a remarkable view down the lake complete with a waterfall in the distance coming down from a cliff! I pull the canoe way up onto the beach to block some of the wind hammering the tent. I even stake out extra lines on the tent cause the poles are bending rather fiercely. I cook in the vestibule and place a large barrel in the tent to help support the poles. A one stop bear shop should they desire! They don’t. Off to bed again after messaging Ben and my wife. She tells me I left ambulance keys in my work pocket! Oops!

July 22nd
Up around 7:00am. To note, the bugs have not been bad at all this trip. There are these flies...not black fly’s, not noseeums, not deer flies, not horse flies. They look like a house fly but bite. They pose the biggest PITA. Pancakes for breakfast and on the water early to paddle the full 20km lake section. The wind of course changed directions this morning and is coming from the south. I guard the left shore, take smoke breaks in between cliffs and really make decent time. I believe 5 hours and I’m done the lake. I camp river left high and in the forest where a creek empties into the river. I am glad to not be camping in sand tonight. I have sand everywhere! I set up a great spot for the tarp. Put up the tent and put on dry clothes. It rains off and on that night. Bacon and bannock for dinner. Ichy has a healthy serving of each. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve paddled with Ichy. I took a foster dog down the groundhog last year. And this spring I took Pippa girl down the Spanish river. Actually the last trip I had Ichy on was the Ashuapmushuan river. Another Lac Saint Jean River. So this was fitting. He was now settling into the grove of camping and enjoyed barking at his echoes in the canyon for hours that night! We were alone with no one to bother anyways.

July 23rd
Awoke a bit later around 9:00am. We had breakfast skillet in wraps for breakfast. So far I hadn’t ate any of the tuna I brought and wraps for lunch...I need to stop bringing lunches on camping trips. They just don’t get ate! Today marks the beginning of 60kms of whitewater river travel. Today we had one c3 and two c4s to get past along with numerous class 1 and 2 rapids. Forgot to mention, that night on the beach at the start of the Lake. Well the following morning the water had rose 2-3 feet! This created bigger waves in the rapids to follow. It also put the rest of the sand bars underwater. We pushed out and enjoyed long stretches of whitewater. We came to the S4 ledge. Did a quick lift over river left. Paddled the outwash. My plan was to pull over river left at the next class 3 and likely portage it. This rapid came up fast and had class 1-2 rapids leading into it (thanks to higher water). I saw no signs river left or right to pull over so we ran the rapid close to river right shore successfully. We then came to the class 4 rapid and pulled over river right to lift over. There was adequate rocks to get out in and lift over but a lot less rock exposed than I had seen on YouTube videos of the same spot. After that we paddled to a class 1 rapid with a surf wave and camped at a nice group campsite river right. It had rained more that day but stopped when we pulled into camp. More bacon and bannock for dinner! I had a quick fire to burn trash. But the wood was wet and it didn’t last long. Ichy and I napped that evening and went to bed for the first time after dark hoping to see the was overcast and no moon to see. More messages with Ben confirmed he was ok but camped on a tiny gravel spit with just inches to spare from the water. I had to make a big deal of the large site I was camped in that night.

July 24th
Last day on the water. Breakfast skillet for breakfast. Day started cloudy but ended sunny. More whitewater today including two class 3’s. The first is preceded by a class 2 rapid. We spoted a moose swimming across the river here. It’s amazing how the Bull could swim a straight line across in that current...incredible! We paddled the c2 without issues and lined the first c3 river right. We got in the boat and paddled the final c3 river right which was a class 2. We then paddled a long class 2/2+ at our water levels and a final class 1 before ending the whitewater for the trip. We passed the Mistassibi NE then came to the next tributary river left and paddled up it to our truck and a bridge over the river. I cooked bacon and pancakes and pasta and soup and coffee and we pigged out! We then napped for an hour in the cap of the truck and drove about 12 hours home. I surprised my wife coming home nearly 5 days early and she nearly cried she was so happy to see me. I was equally happy to see her!

The Waterfalls:
I did not really talk about the waterfalls seen this trip. I would like to leave them as an element of surprise for anyone reading this and decides to paddle this river. I will say this. Not only was the most impressive waterfall I have ever seen on this river but so were the next 4-5!!!

End Notes:

The Mistassibi North West is a spectacular river offering stunning scenery, beginner/intermediate whitewater, great campsites, and a long long drive to get there if coming from Ontario. It’s totally worth it and I plan on going back one day.

Sam and Ichabod

"It's healthy to be dirty" - Lars Monsen

PostPosted: July 26th, 2019, 8:59 pm 
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Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 197
Location: Kanata
Sounds like a good trip. I think those flies are stable flies - the biggest PITA. First encountered them about 5 years ago in Woodland Caribou, they suck!


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