View topic - Trip Report Circuit 77 - extended

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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 12:42 am 
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Location: Montreal
Left Montreal August 2nd 2019 - Returned August 9th

https://gopro.com/v/B2mkK3W0PVLvN

This is the second year in a row we do this loop. Last year was consistently with the wind against us, so we decided to add a day to the loop.


Started off from Bay Barker - 4km
-After the 3 hour drive from Montreal and another 1hr from Le Domaine, we finally got to the put in at Baie Barker at 3pm. A quick row to 77-03 where we met 4 Americans from Up state New York. Super cool dudes with cigars. They helped us out, as they were on their last day, and informed us of a small island site for the next day. This was great as it saved 3-4km from our intended destination, a beach site on loop 70. Joel made picanha steak, potatoes and zucchini, absolutely amazing.. We were in bed by 10, tired from the days long drive and our bellies full.

77-03 to the island 20km
-Awake at a decent time, we made it on the water by 9am. We paddled past the opening of Lac Victoria with ease and turned north. Last year, this section posed problems with large waves, but this year was kind. By turning north towards Grand Detour, we extended our loop and also avoided the long portages from Lac Victoria. Lovely eskers to our right, with beaches extending outwards. There is a site on one of the sandy coves, and I hope to make it there next year for our first day stay. Im sick of the island site 77-03, and this beach is about 10km from Baie Barker.. definitely withing reach for a first day paddle. We stopped for lunch and found wild cranberries. As we looped around Grand Detour, the wind was now in our backs, and we popped our sails open. Easy drift to the island.

Great small site, no bugs, but wind cuts through. Chili and fresh baked bread. We went to bed a little late, excited to finally be alone and in the wild. We all awoke at night, cold. Our gear is ultra light, and hence skimpy on the insulation. At any rate, this site is a must for anyone doing the loop.

Island to Chute Big - 16km
Day three was a lazy day. We were slow to get up. Bacon, hash browns and omelette (as is every morning) and off for a quick row to Chute Big (2 hrs of rowing). Our spot was taken by fisherman having a shore lunch. To my knowledge they arent allowed to do that, but we werent willing to argue. We went to the falls and fished. Excellent fishing. I caught a pike, and while removing the rapala, ended up with the 2nd hook in my finger. Raphy is a ER doc, Karl a pharmacist, Im a dentist; needless to say the first aid kit is very well stocked. Anesthesia with 4% Astracaine, and Raphy did his thing. Definitely not an experience to relive, but glad to see we dont carry that massive First Aid kit for nothing. Raphy caught all 4 walleye, and Karl smoked them to perfection. Great fish and wine night, maybe too much wine, what a great site.

Chute Big to Chute Henault - 20km
-Again a late morning; id love to blame the wine, but this became a repeating theme this trip. I like my early mornings, with a calm water paddle, and a day at the site. Nonetheless, its a group effort, and the guys seemed to enjoy their sleep. Overnight, a different weather system installed itself, reminiscent of last year, the wind was once again against us. Raphy and Joel are monster rowers and usually sit at the bow, there is no way we would have moved if it wasnt for them. The wind made the day difficult, the prior wine's consumption even more so. We hugged the shore line, hiding behind islands and used every trick in the book to punch out our required kilometers. Finally made it to Chute Henault, and that last 2km was a beeping beep of a beep.

Last year this site was a mess. This year was better. Fishing on the other hand was bad. Our tradition is to bring Genepi, and we shared half a bottle that night after some fire baked brownies. Since I didnt trust the skies, we tossed a tarp and laid our gear under it. We awoke at night to a massive thunderstorm that made my dog nervous. I was glad to have checked for widow makers before pitching the tents, and sat there quietly enjoying the light show.

Chute Henault to Lake Haweskburry - 21km
- Shocker, late morning again! This time its on me. I slept in knowing the water would be tumultuous no mater the time of departure. We did the first 11km and stopped for lunch before the series of portages. I love this section of the circuit. The portages needed some serious tending to, but still lovely lakes, and truly what canoe camping is all about. As we entered Lake Haweskburry I could see the beach site ahead with 2 boats. More fishermen I thought, this time I was going to speak my mind. We didnt just put in all that effort to have our reward taken from us. As we approached the 2 boats, it was obvious they were SEPAQ workers from le domaine. We shared the site with the 4 of them. They were so entertaining and kind. We passed around the remainder of the Genepi, as it was the perfect lubricant to the dynamic that was developing over campfire talk. They had great stories and info, we shared techniques, discussed good sites all over the park and laughed at past misadventures we all had. They couldnt believe that our barrel contained all the food needed for 7 days in the woods for 4 guys.. man those workers pack heavy. By the end of the night I realized that theres some kind of lesson in there for me. I had my 2 fists up ready to fight when I came in but was greeted with kindness and had the best night of the trip.

Haweskburry to Lac Dragon 20 km
-This is the day we all look forward to. The nicest paddle, the most serene views, the most beautiful wild life and flora. Once again we werent disappointed. Haweskburry into Lacs Des Baies is gorgeous, once into the large lake there wasn't a single wave. We took pictures, as the crystal clear surface rippled by the nose of our canoes cutting through the mirror like water. It was noon, with a bright sun over us, and just absolutely amazing. Someone up there made the best part of the loop better. I dont think I will ever see a nature scene as beautiful as that day. Lac des Baies ends in a grassy area, with waterfowl hiding amongst the herbs. I rowed stern silently, weaving between trees and sandy dunes, working my pries on the meandering stream, as Joel put the camera at water level and filmed the scene. I look forward to reliving that moment one cold February night, via a digitally facsimile on my TV. The day's paddle ended as we entered Lac Dragon. The sharp mountains left and right of us reminded me of Norwegian fjords, albeit much smaller. The site here is filled with blue berries, and miniature horse flies. Those little bastards wouldnt leave our ankles alone. The only downside of a very nice site, with towering white pine all around.

Lac Dragon to 78-19 13km
-This wasnt the planned site but the weather started getting dark and we adapted. Once we entered Lac la Perche, we stopped to check out the 2 fishing cabins on a tiny island there. Theres a cool journal in one of them, I recommend you stop by and read it. As I tossed the chicken into the hydration bag for that nights supper, we saw the stormy clouds coming at us. We barely made it to the short portage into Lac Chartier without flipping the canoes on the stormy water. We paused there for a while, until the weather calmed down. We gunned it to 78-19, and had enough time to park the canoes before a torrential downpour began. Tarp up, changed to dry clothes and ate some ramen to warm up. The storm subsided by night fall and we feasted on butter chicken, chickpea masala and a walleye as we gazed over the horizon. A storm was moving over the distant mountains, lighting up the sky quietly.

78-19 to fishing camp
-The day seemed decent as we awoke, and we made it to the first rapid by noon. I looked back and saw storm clouds coming at us. I was still scared from last years massive waves in Grand Lac Victoria, as well as the prior days's hard row in the storm. These rapids would end in that bay, compounded by what would probably be stormy waters and no place to camp other than that island (argh), hence I devised an exist strategy. Theoretically we could hike off the fishing camp, back to road 38, and to Baie Barker to get the cars. We were divided about this plan, but Karl and I went for the hike, while Raphy and Joel stayed with the gear (those 2 say they didnt do the rapid 10 times, but I know I would have, so I dont believe them).
The hike took us 1.15hr, and as we entered the car, the rain began. By the time we got to the canoes, it was a massive storm. We tossed the canoes on top, and headed home (of course we stopped at Grand Remous at Casse Croute du Village, undoubtedly the best poutine in the universe).

I love this loop and since I have been going to La Verendrye for 20 years now, I need something more challenging and wild, This circuit fits the bill. The drive off the 117 is terrible, and my modified WRX cannot handle the stones and pot holes. It seems the winds are never in our favor, but we are not willing to do the loop clockwise, since it would mean forfeiting the rapids. The portages were hard, but we met the clean up crew, hence next year should be better. Looking forward to next year, although I would love to explore the lakes around Haweskburry and Lac Dragon.

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Last edited by gcc_mtl on October 27th, 2019, 11:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 7:56 am 
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OK I see the rational of going north on day 2 - when I drew my map I was gawking at those big portages - I'd do the same as you. I'm going to add that alternative to my map.

Also wondering a couple of things:
- do you happen to have GPS coordinates of that island site on night 2?
- do you happen to have GPS coordinates of that shack in the woods? Or what site is it at? I guess I sort of see from the trip report and it seems like it is obvious when you are passing by

This is the second video I've seen in a few weeks where someone got a nasty hook in themselves while in the back woods. It really makes me think that barbless is the way to go. Ironically the other video was from Jonathan of Backcountry Angling Ontario and he always goes barbless, but somehow managed to miss one lure in his de-barbing.

Great video - well except for the choice of music but to each their own :-)


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 8:09 am 
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Looks like the fishing cabins must be one of these islands - can you pinpoint which one?

47.36986, -77.54506


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 8:36 am 
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Nice trip report, I have done all of or parts of 77 4 times and your report brings back fond memories. Thanks. I met a SEPAQ crew in that area once, nice folks and they did carry a ton of gear. Middle aged guy and a college girl out for 10 days.
I liked your video also, looks like a fun group of guys. Thanks for sharing your trip.


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 10:16 am 
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Prospector16 wrote:

Also wondering a couple of things:
- do you happen to have GPS coordinates of that island site on night 2?
- do you happen to have GPS coordinates of that shack in the woods? Or what site is it at? I guess I sort of see from the trip report and it seems like it is obvious when you are passing by


-beach site we avoided --> 47°36'34.4"N 77°32'42.9"W
-island we went to instead (on new LaV maps) -->47.573236, -77.559498 (entrance on south side)
-island with 2 cabins -->47.369696, -77.542323

and the music was perfect ;)

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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 10:26 am 
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There are new LaV maps? Like the official maps have been updated?


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 10:29 am 
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Aha I already have that island site - it is part of circuit 70 and is 70-66. Last summer I got some photos from someone of the circuit 70 map on the table at Le Domaine.

Thanks for the additional info.


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PostPosted: August 17th, 2019, 10:33 am 
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Nice Video! Cool Dog.


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PostPosted: August 18th, 2019, 8:18 am 
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Excellent video! No comment on the music since I watched it with the sound off!
We paddled against brisk winds down L. Victoria in 2015. When we took a break for a snack we watched a bear swim across the channel.


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PostPosted: August 19th, 2019, 9:06 am 
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Hiker Neil wrote:
Excellent video! No comment on the music since I watched it with the sound off!
We paddled against brisk winds down L. Victoria in 2015. When we took a break for a snack we watched a bear swim across the channel.


Yes, this loop has all kinds of wild life surprises. This year we had one nocturnal ursine intruder, as opposed to last year nightly visits. Although people say that chances of bears increase with dogs, I find his barks reassuring.

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PostPosted: August 19th, 2019, 11:27 am 
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Great report, definitely brings back memories of trips in that area many years ago.

Of all my canoe travels over the last 20+ years, I've never encountered so many bears as there seem to be in LaV. On one day paddling down Lac Henault I saw 3 separate bears; all on shore enjoying the blueberries.

I was interested to see your libation of choice is Genepi? I just had some a couple months ago that a coworker brought back from France; very unique flavor, and wonderful aroma; although the one I have is a bit sweet for my liking.


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