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Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7
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Author:  sbaillie [ September 19th, 2019, 3:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Fri August 30th: 17km, 2 portages: 150M, 400M, 100M

Up to another dreary looking day, with the wind already howling. After breakfast and packing up, we said farewell to the gorgeous beach and paddled across the small lake into a narrow bay at the north end of the lake. We anticipated carving a 150M portage through a swamp to a couple of lakes that would bring us to the bottom end of one of the large Lac Mesgouez arms. We were surprised to find a couple of fishing boats cached at the end of the bay, and a nicely carved trail across.

After the quick crossing (and gorging on more blueberries) we were heading due west into howling headwinds. We hugged the shore looking for some respite, but found little. It was an arduous paddle down one small lake, then some relief as we paddled through a good sized creek connecting to the next bay. After squeezing through another narrows we were now in Lac Mesgouez proper. As we travelled further west, the bay opened up even more and the howling headwind now came with breaking waves as well. I lost all forward momentum at one point as I rounded a point and hit shallow water with 2 feet waves crashing on the bow. I jumped out and took a rest on the sand/cobble beach of the point and the other guys pulled into shore just ahead of me. By now it was pouring rain as well as howling headwind, making for a very memorable paddling experience.

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We were planning on crossing the large bay in front of us to check out what looked like a cabin on the satellite images. We did briefly discuss abandoning the idea in the awful maelstrom in front of us, but decided it was worth pushing on. The crossing was less than a kilometer, but the waves had a full 3 kilometers to build up at this point, so it was very challenging. We eventually made it to the cabin, and were surprised to see it looked like a fishing lodge. There were a large number of aluminum boats around, but the lodge itself while fairly new, didn’t look to be well kept from the outside.

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We took a look around, and ate some lunch before steeling ourselves to push off again. Briefly we were heading back the way we came, which meant a refreshing tailwind. Soon we turned south and headed to the bottom of the Lac Mesgouez bay, and entered a narrow marshy channel for the next 5 kilometers or so. Unfortunately the wind had swung to come from the SW so we largely faced headwinds again. At the bottom of this paddle it entered a larger lake where we would turn to head east back towards the channel we had been in the day before. We paddled to the east end of the lake to cut a portage and were surprised to find some kind of winter trail in the bush. There was no trail on the ground, but the trees were cut down in a relatively straight line about 10 feet wide. It was nice to have a clear line of sight, although we were largely walking through spongy peat moss and bushes which is still quite taxing.

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At the end of the 400M portage we paddled across a small lake, then had a short 100M crossing to part of the channels we had been in the day before. Again the winter trail existed, so we used it and walked across the spongy ground.

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We were now in a narrow section heading north and east with the wind at our backs for a couple of kilometers. At the end of this stretch was a decent sized beach destined to be our camp for the night.

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It was a nice deep beach, with some good spots in the trees to setup sheltered from the howling wind. The rain had stopped and some blue was visible in the sky here and there, but the temperature was definitely plummeting. This would be our only beach landing that wasn’t accompanied by a swim.

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After setting up in the most sheltered spot we could find, we sat down to start dinner, but were all feeling frozen. Everyone dug out all their warm clothes, and wore rain gear on top to seal in the heat. One member had on at least 4 layers and was still cold, so we brewed up some nice hot Labrador tea, which helped thaw out the core. After tea, we made another pizza dinner, this time chicken bacon pesto which also felt good going down nice and hot. After dinner we were all so cold and exhausted, we skipped our usual dram and stargazing in favor of crawling into warm sleeping bags.

Sat August 31st: 23km, 1 portages: 3000M

Got up to nicer looking conditions, still howling wind, but a lot more broken up sky. After breakfast and packing up we set off into familiar waters. Just behind our beach was the north south channel we were in a couple of days ago. We paddled south through the channel, which was narrow enough to have some respite from the wind. I lined up the small rapid, while the other guys were able to paddle furiously and pole through it. As we continued south we entered the top end of a very large lake. The total lake was around 10km long, but only 2km at the widest. It also had some long narrow arms heading off to the east, but we would be travelling due south all day. The wind was still largely from the SW, so we stayed close to the west shore as much as possible to reduce the effects. I trolled much of the upper end of the lake, before we had to cross some of the larger open bays, and landed a few nice fish including this generously sized pike.

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We took shelter on an island in the middle of one of the large open bay crossings for lunch and some rest. After lunch, we pushed on and had much more sheltered shoreline as we headed all the way to the south end of the lake.

At the end we went looking for what appeared to be a 4 wheeler trail on the satellite views coming from the road to the launch on Lac Courseron. We quickly found a couple of fishing boats stashed at the edge of the bush, but that was 100 meters away from the edge of the lake through a marsh. The marsh had a mishmash of old pallets, doors, and timbers thrown down for walking on so you wouldn’t sink into fathomless bog. It was tricky footing, but we managed to get our boats and gear to the edge of the bush where there was a very good 4 wheeler trail. Except for 2 more marshy crossings balancing on old timbers and junk, the trail was very good. We hopscotched the 2km or so with a couple of rest stops in between. Then we finished our portage travelling another kilometer down the gravel road, which was nice walking even though slightly long.

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After finishing the long portage, we took a quick rest to catch our breath before heading back into yet another headwind for our final leg of the journey. The last push into the wind was only 3km back to our vehicle, and it was a relatively enjoyable paddle as the clouds had mostly blown away and it was nice and sunny. When we hit the road, we ran through a small rapid in one of the large culverts to a small beach landing on the other side where we had stashed our vehicle. It was now around 4:30 in the afternoon, and it felt good to have completed exploring such a vast amount of new territory.

After squeezing all our gear and 2 canoes into the tiny car, we spent an hour or so picking blueberries and Labrador tea in the cut under the power lines. Afterward we hit the gravel road for the 200km back to the highway, then another hour down the highway back to Chapais and our usual Motel Clossi for the evening. After cleaning up we went in search of a beer and some wings to cap off our trip.

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Sun Sep 1st

In the morning we headed out right away, and traveled for a few hours before stopping at Lebel sur Quevillon (the first significant town since leaving Chapais) for breakfast. There is a small restaurant there that does great breakfasts including my favorite hearty petit dejeuner poid lourds. It has a little bit of everything; eggs, bacon, ham, toast, sausage, beans, crouton, a very refreshing, if somewhat shocking to the system change from 7 days of oatmeal!

On the uneventful trip home we reflected more on the trip, and in my head I was already trying to determine which area to explore next year; can’t wait to go back!

Author:  Ralph [ September 20th, 2019, 10:08 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Looks like a great area for paddling. It's good to know that we're not the only ones who get headwinds no matter the direction of travel.
Thanks for the trip report.

Author:  sturgeon [ September 20th, 2019, 9:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Great report! Thank you for posting it and letting me live vicariously through it.

Author:  Odyssey [ September 21st, 2019, 5:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Spectacular! I see why you're in love with this area, great scenery, fishing and paddling.
Thanks for sharing it with me.

Author:  martin2007 [ September 21st, 2019, 1:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Big landscapes and big weather. An area of Canada of which I know very little. Off my radar.
It looks as though you had a fantastic trip. Thanks for sharing your report.

Author:  littlegreencanoe [ September 22nd, 2019, 9:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Nibiischii Trip Report Days 6 - 7

Excellent adventure, thank you for sharing your experience.

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