View topic - Nibiischii Trip Report Days 1 - 2

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PostPosted: September 19th, 2019, 3:29 pm 
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Joined: February 26th, 2009, 11:13 am
Posts: 121
Location: Eganville, ON
Sun August 25th: 18km, 0 portages

Up and out by 7AM on our way to the last town before hitting the gravel hydro road: Chibougamau. We were surprised to find the Timmies closed, so backtracked to McDs for breakfast as everything else was closed. Topped up the tank as much as possible, then headed to the Route du Nord hydro road. The turn off onto the road is only 10 minutes past Chibougamau, then our destination was 180km down the gravel road. The road was in pretty good shape, however the car was still sandblasted by rocks for 2 and a half hours. We attempted the road into the boat launch on Courseron, but found it too rough this year for a car with little to no clearance, so had to turn around and park right off the main road and launch in the Marten River.

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A quick unload, and carry down to the water’s edge and we were off on our 2019 adventure just after noon.

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It was a very hot and windy day, but even so we still noticed some blackflies trying to feast on us. We proceeded upstream on the river, past the launch we tried to drive to earlier and into Lac Courseron. The lake is quite scenic with lots of islands and huge sand beaches. It is roughly a kilometer wide, and 10 long, however we were turning north into a deep bay after the first few kilometers. At the end of the bay we entered a 2km long navigable stream that meanders through a burnt out marsh.

After the stream we entered a good size lake that had a large beach at the end of it, our destination for the night. We reached the beach around 6, and started to setup our first campsite. There were enough blackflies and mosquitoes to convince us to setup the bug shelter for cooking and relaxing in. While I prepared the mashed potatoes, the guys got the fire going to cook up our lamb chops; delicious first dinner. We had a nip of Bruichladdich single malt scotch while watching the sky for some northern lights and shooting stars, then off to bed.

Mon August 26th: 12km, 3 portages: 300M, 300M, 1000M

Woke up to another beautiful bluebird sky, had a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal and candy bacon along with a good cup of coffee and Bailey’s. Got everything packed up and set off from our beach upstream into another nice creek. This one was navigable for the first kilometer, and paddled along a picturesque white rock ridge, but eventually the last 300m petered out into a jumble of boulders that the creek flowed under.

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We prepared for our first portage of the trip, loaded up a light pack and found a path along the jumble of boulders. It was a bit of a rise to the next lake, and certainly tricky footing hopping along the boulders with off balanced loads and canoes, but it was a clear path. After reloading we pushed off in a small pond, then hopped a beaver damn into a small lake. Got a few small pike while trolling and casting across the lake. At the end of the lake was another creek, although unfortunately it was only navigable for the first 30 meters or so before it was swallowed up by the bushes. We tried to portage along the creek with packs, but the bushes were so thick we picked a different path along the edge of the marsh for our second trip. This was much better walking except for climbing over numerous spruce trees that had fallen down after the forest fire. All in all the 3 trips through this 300 meter portage were quite exhausting, especially as it was close to lunch, and getting quite hot. We paddled out into the small lake, and found a nice sand bottomed point where we stopped for lunch and jumped into the lake as our core temperatures were getting way too high. The cold water of the little lake was wonderfully refreshing and after floating around for 10 minutes or so we all felt much better.

After lunch and swimming, we checked out the next creek which looked to be another alder choked walk. After much deliberation we opted to hike a kilometer long overland route rather than another 4 alder choked creek portages. Aiding our decision was the fact that the long overland route was relatively clear as we could see on the satellite images how heavily burnt over it was, and confirmed with a quick scout at the top of the first hill. There was not a single mature tree for miles, and the fire looked to have gotten so hot that a lot of the rocks had fractured surfaces. Even the ground itself was still a mix of sand and ash.

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It was very interesting terrain to portage through, nothing but small jackpines, alders and blueberry bushes. The blueberries were some of the thickest I’ve ever seen.

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Our route through the burn was relatively straightforward, as we could see such a long distance it was easy to plan our path. However because everything looks much the same, on the second trip my fellow porteurs somehow ended up on the wrong side of a small pond, and had to cross back over to the main route. All the climbing over fallen spruce with heavy loads in blazing sun really takes its toll. I had a couple of nasty hamstring cramps on the second trip, convincing me that we weren’t drinking enough water. Before going back in the barren baking wasteland of a portage for our final trip, we all jumped in the lake at the far end to cool off, and filtered and drank copious amounts of water. By the time we had finished portaging the last load, our wet clothes were again dry as a bone.

After a hard day of portaging, we were all in pretty good spirits knowing that we wouldn’t have any more walking for a couple days. You can truly paddle for days on end up here as so many bodies of water seem to be endlessly connected together with creeks and rivers. We were now in a ranging lake that would eventually merge into the Rupert River, which would then dump into Lac Mesgouez. We paddled on until evening then looked for a potential campsite. We found a nice point on the edge of a large bay that had a small sand beach, a cobble beach, and just enough flat spot for our tent. Our screen house was pitched right on the point, even had to guy a few pegs into the lake!

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We got everything setup, had another wonderful swim to cool off, then prepared for dinner. We made a small fire on the cobblestone beach, and cooked up some filet mignon, and another batch of garlic mashed potatoes to go with it. My aunt had provided me with a wilderness spice kit form silkroad merchants so I seasoned the steaks with some of their Inca fire salt blend, and it made for some of the tastiest steaks I’ve ever had.

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While cleaning up after dinner in the dark we noticed a ton of movement in the water’s edge around us. The lake was full of leeches, toads, and minnows of all kinds. After dinner we enjoyed another dram out under the stars, then packed it in for a well-earned rest.


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