Broadback River Trip 2005


Broadback River Trip 2005
Broadback River Trip 2005
 
 Chistamiskau Sipi (the deep river)
 
 
 
TRIP REPORT by Lester Kovac:
 
 
July 30
Lynette & I left Ottawa about 4 p.m. on the 29th & arrived at Chibougamau at 1:00am. We found Stan's SUV in the campground, pitched our tent and slept for a few hours. We woke up at 5:20am, packed, met the others and went to town to fill our gas tanks and have breakfast in a restaurant. Gas price was $1.03 per liter, quite shocking at that time. Then we drove to Road du Nord.
Bridge
Bridge at put-in
There was evidence of many recent forest fires around, especially around Lac Frotet. We found the road to Mine Troïlus and drove on it for 26 km until the bridge. The bridge is over some nice but shallow rapids. The put-in path, marked by yellow plastic, was just after the bridge on the east side. The first rapids (R2) were immediately after the river narrows, followed by shallows and another R2. Lynette and Mike got caught on the rock in the middle of the rapid there. As they struggled to free themselves, it started to rain hard.
First campsite
First campsite
We had lunch beside an R3 rapid, carried over the first drop and ran the rest, with Dave and Stan showing us the first dump of the trip. We discovered an abandoned red canoe in the forest on the left shore. It was raining in sheets from squalls. Shallow swifts followed, then an R1 at the island. Here we chose left channel - it had more water. Later, on the Lac Avranches we encountered a strong north wind. We decided to camp earlier than planned, in a channel of Lac Avranches, on a protected spot. There were some blackflies, but they weren't too bad. Stan made great steaks for dinner. and then we baked 2 loaves of breads. We were also treated to a nice rainbow.

July 31

Second campsite
Second campsite
We had a rather strange bacon breakfast. The weather was beautiful, although it started to drizzle in the evening. We paddled fast through the flatwater section and ran three enjoyable R1 rapids. After that we were on the main course of the Broadback River, heading west. It was a drop and pool river most of the way. We lined one R4 rapid on river right and then had lunch on a beatiful rocky spot - it was my traditional bread and peanut butter. We ran a lot of rapids but we didn't cover as much distance as I expected. We saw one big bear on river right and finished at the Coné Falls - both the portage and the campsite were also on river right. While we enjoyed a bugless day, there were blackflies present at the campsite. We enjoyed Lynette's chicken dinner, plus tea with rum.

August 1

Coné Falls
Coné Falls
This morning Pat made cereal for breakfast. The weather looked grey, but it gradually improved throughout the day. We saw sandpipers and terns and other kinds of birds. First we paddled some easy rapids, then we came to Carcajou Chute.
Carcajou Chute
Carcajou Chute
We first tried to portage on the right side, but it wasn't easily possible – the forest was too dense. Then we tried the left side and there and discovered an old portage trail in an old burn area covered by blueberry bushes. There was deadfall everywhere. As we portaged through, Stan lost his big waterbottle. As I tried to help others with the portage, I found Stan and Dave's canoe to be very unevenly balanced - bow was much heavier than stern. It was torture to carry it down the trail. After Carcajou Chute a long stretch of flatwater followed. We had lunch on the rocky right shore, served by Stan: cheese, veggies and sausage. In the afternoon a headwind slowed our progress and the weather became cloudy as we approached Route du Nord's bridge and hydro lines. We noticed a big hunting camp behind the bridge. Later, we heard some thunder and started to race against the weather. We camped at around km 420 (measured from Waskaganish). As we were cooking, the thunderstorm hit and brought quite a hailstorm with it. It extinguished our fire and we had to eat half-cooked Curri Tandoori , renamed "sandoori" due to high content of sand). The storm ended with a beautiful double rainbow.
Lynette and Mike in the rapids
Lynette and Mike in the rapids
August 2
It was cold and drizzly first thing in the morning. Mike made oatmeal for breakfast and we dressed warmly - I started in sweater & jacket. Wind was from Northwest - against us. Slowly it started to clear,. the sun came out just tbefore we left and the weather became beautiful. At Lac Labeau we first went directly west and then paddled sheltered by the west shore. I was concerned about our progress - Lynette helped me to encourage everyone. After the lake, there were many beautiful rapids and at one of them Pat served lunch - bread, cheese & sausage. My plan was to reach km 390, but shortly before another set of
Campsite
Campsite
powerlines we found a beautiful campsite on river right in the burnt forest. It was overgrown with blueberry bushes and there were photogenic spiderwebs everywhere. We had a blueberry feast & did a lot of laundry. Black flies were present, but they weren't too bad. We had a big discussion about the prostate at the campfire.

August 3
It was a beautiful misty morning, followed by a gorgeous day. We collected 3 cups of blueberries for Lynette's granola breakfast. Cedar waxwings flew all around us. We paddled through all rapids and had a small east wind all day. I saw a tiny pike in the river. We had Dave's sausage lunch on the gravel bank and a bit further on we saw a big black bear on the right shore. Soon after, the

Bear
Bear
Assinica tributary joined the river. From this point on we had some help from the FQCK map. However, it was sometimes quite incorrect and at other times totally unreliable – as a result, we ran a rapid marked as R2, which was actually an R4. There was another road bridge at this point. After the bridge we expected R4; however, it turned out to be an easy R2. We crossed one more powerline (this one is not marked on 1:50,000 topo map). We saw a big moose, near the place we chose as campsite for the night. We camped at km 355, having paddled about 37 km. It was a nice campsite on a gravel bar.









Moose
Moose

August 4
Morning started quite dark, and rain started at 11:00 am. This continued all day and long into the night. We discovered Stan's lost water bottle in a well-hidden spot - squeezed under the bow's balloon-like flotation . This turned out to be our longest paddling day - from 7:46am until 8:02pm. We went through several big rapids.

Shortcut at Quénonisca
Shortcut at Quénonisca
When scouting a rapid from the river right, we saw a bear spying on us, not far from Lynette and Mike who were on river left at the time. We had lunch in old Indian camp. Wind was with us today and it helped us with our progress. There is very nice campsite at km 324. Where the Quénonisca joins the Broadback, instead of paddling the 4-5 km longer way around, we went through a very narrow, shallow and rocky shortcut. Our original intention was to camp at an old Indian camp at km 316, but it was moldy and buggy.
Quénonisca Falls
Quénonisca Falls
Stan definitely did not want to stay there and we were unable to persuade him otherwise, so we jumped back into the canoes and continued paddling. As soon as we were on the water, a group of four fishermen appeared. One of them who was from Senneterre invited us to his cabin, but it turned out to be quite a lot farther after the Quénonisca waterfall. It took quite a long time to get there, but nobody needed pushing! It was raining hard. It was my turn for dinner & fortunately I didn't have to cook over the fire, but on a butane stove in a dry cabin. As I was cooking, the wind picked up and blew Pat's tent farther down the beach (the tent he shared with me). A lot of our stuff got wet and sandy. The fishermen told us that they travel from Senneterre by car and motorboat through Quénonisca Lake.
Cabin
Cabin
A one way trip takes them 12 hours. The owner of the cabin's father died last year (2004) on the nearby Salamander River in a fishing accident.

August 5
We woke up later than usual and everybody was very tired after the previous night. The fishermen made us scrambled eggs for breakfast – a great change. We were told the weather forecast was great for next three days. And it looked like it - sunny and gorgeous. Only the wind was again against us. But the current was strong and for the first 10 km we were progressing quite fast. Then the wind became very unpleasant and shortly before lunch we again got rain.

Crossing Lac Evans
Crossing Lac Evans
After lunch, wind and rain were really vicious and it rained hard the whole afternoon. At the end of the day at a hard right turn, the sun finally showed up and the wind let up a bit. We saw a moose feeding on the left shore. Rain continued on and off even when we landed. We camped on a nice but small flat-rock campsite.

August 6
This was the day of crossing Lac Evans. It was a beautiful day right from the start. After a few rapids we entered Crow Bay off of Lac Evans and met there three fishermen from North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Obviously, they didn't use or have lifejackets. One of them was aware of our trip due to the original announcement on YCCC website

Campsite on Lac Evans
Campsite on Lac Evans
We had lunch at the end of Crow Bay, which overlooked the huge expanse of Lac Evans. Then we had to do the crossing. A south wind over such a big expanse was creating big waves. We crossed using the protection of Fish Island (island visible on the map in the shape of a fish). My intention was to do a fast portage over the Longue Pointe peninsula and camp on the other side. That way we would be nicely ahead of our planned schedule. However, we were not able to locate the start of the portage even though we were on the right spot.
Longue Pointe portage
Longue Pointe portage
Everyone was tired and wanted to rest so they set up the campsite on the sandy beach while Pat and I went to search in the woods for the portage. We still could not find any sign of the portage or any trail at all. However, we did find a small clearing in the woods where we could pull the canoes, so I decided that this is the spot where we'll start bushwhacking our way tomorrow across the peninsula.

August 7
There was rain in the morning but then it turned nice – however, it was windy the whole day.

Lester with a canoe
Lester with a canoe
This was a HARD portaging day. We started portaging just left of the creek at the end of the bay. There was no trail, nothing, just dense bush.. It was very difficult, especially the first 400 m. - underbrush, marshes, fallen trees everywhere. For the first pass we took relatively light loads (e.g. I carried only one food barrel). I walked ahead using my GPS, the others followed, blazing and marking the trail with tape. The GPS worked quite well. After the first 400 m we came to a "top plateau" – a marsh with short sparse trees, small shrubs and pitcher plants (a meat-eater flower).
My shirt
My shredded shirt & my tired back
This easier middle section made up about 50 percent of our portage. I was afraid that the woods on the far west side (the last section before open water) would be as difficult to cross as the east side, but it didn't turn out to be as bad. There was only one problem section- where we had to cross a flooded creek .. At one point I went ahead with Mike, leaving the rest of the group resting in the woods. Unfortunately, I didn't mark this point on the GPS so going back to search for the abandoned crew in the dense bush
Tired portageurs
Tired portageurs
was a bit scary at first, but we managed to locate them in the end. My shirt completely disintegrated during this portage. The first pass (2.1 km) with marking and blazing took us 4 hours one way. Then we all came back for second loads. Mike took quite a heavy load, and I took my pack and Stan and Dave's canoe. I managed, thanks to Lynette who led me and helped me at the hardest places. At this point, only two canoes remained on the east side. After we crossed the second time, we set up camp on a sandy beach a few hundred meters south of the end of the portage. We were all very tired. Lynette cooked pasta and then we spent some time together under the stars.
Lac Evans second campsite
Lac Evans second campsite

August 8
It was a misty morning on Lac Evans. Lynette, Mike and I went back through the portage for the last two canoes. Lynette carried water & snacks and provided any support needed. Mike and I carried one canoe each. It was a very arduous journey. Lynette carried the canoe in the top marshy section. When we finally arrived back at our campsite, lunch and tea were ready. The weather was gorgeous and the water was as calm as a mirror in our bay. A little farther out there was bit of a breeze, but it was with us.

Burnt Hip Falls<br>View from the tent
Burnt Hip Falls
View from the tent
There is a very narrow and shallow spot on the river, but it is possible to go through. Most of the water goes through the left channel of Lac Evans (longer detour). After we left Lac Evans behind, we heard a small airplane land - probably at the last cabin on the lake. After the lake, there were many fresh (this year's) burns. We finished the day at beautiful Burnt Hip Falls. We managed to find the portage on river left, in the freshly burnt forest.
Campsite on the island
Campsite on the island
There was big and fresh bear scat on the trail. On my suggestion we camped on the rocky island just below the waterfall. It was a gorgeous, excellent campsite. The rock is split in the middle by a deep crevasse. I called Carole and Philippe by satellite phone to request that they bring me a new shirt. It was quite calm. Clouds came and then we saw some lightning in the distant northwest. It wasn't easy to hear the thunder because of the noise of waterfall. We went to our tents quite late, past midnight and a thunderstorm came in the night, between 1:30 and 1:45am.

August 9
It was still cloudy in the morning after the thunderstorm.

Lynette and me
Lynette and me
Lynette, Mike and I first returned to the portage trail to take pictures. After we started our day's journey down the river, the weather became sunny; however, there was a strong wind against us so progress was slow. Crossing Lac Giffard was a whole day's task.
Caribou
Caribou
After the lake, we came to our first R4. We scouted first on the right side and then decided to ferry to the left where we found a small rocky island with enough flat space for our tents. We decided to camp there. As we were eating dinner, we saw a caribou swimming across the river. There was a beautiful moon in the sky.

August 10
It was a very nice day at first but then rain and scattered showers came in the afternoon. We lined some R4 and R5 rapids on river left and after that ran a nice R2-3 rapid. We pushed for longer distance, because I was afraid we could get wind agains us the next day (and as it turned out, I was correct). We camped on a nice sandy beach. That was the last night for the six of us together. The next day we were supposed to meet the group for the lower half of the river – bringing, among other supplies, my new shirt.

August 11

Camping at James Bay Road
Camping at James Bay Road
Morning was very cold, rainy and windy. The wind was against us all the way. We nicely ran all the rapids, except for the last double R4 before the bridge. We didn't do it, although there seemed to be a sneak route down river left. We portaged all the way to the rest stop on the the James Bay Road. At about 4:45 Fabien's car appeared, followed by Philippe. Carole and Philippe brought me my new shirt, so you can imagine how happy I was!
Sunrise from Broadback bridge
Sunrise from Broadback bridge
We were informed that our Cree friends will come tomorrow to do the shuttle. We ate very well this evening, enjoying fresh food and some good wine.

August 12
It rained on and off all night long and the same cold, wet weather persisted into the morning and the entire day. Mike, Stan, Pat and Dave were sad that they had to leave for the trip back home.

Campsite on the beach
Campsite on the beach
We waited with them for the Cree driving Stan's car until 11 o'clock. Then we continued our great trip, all of us now with spraycovers (with the exception of the Melanie-Fabien tandem and Hugo's solo). I paddled the lower section with Dan. We had one too many bags than we could fit into the canoe so the extra bag had to be squeezed in front of the stern paddler's knees. We were constantly uneasy wondering whether the stern paddler would be able to free himself in the event of a capsize. We ran and played in some interesting rapids, all in the rain. Hugo (17 years old) did very well in his solo canoe (Vertige X). We camped for the night on an ugly beach, quite open to wind. There was a lot of talk around the campfire about peeing and use of pee bottles.

August 13
We woke up to a very windy day (it was 13th, after all). The wind blew from the west and our campsite was completely open to it. We waited the whole day for the wind to die down and passed the time by playing various games provided by Dara and talking (different topics than the day before, though). The miserable rain and wind lasted until 5 pm. We spent two nights on this not so nice campsite.

Rapid Kakusaschechun
Rapid Kakusaschechun
Melanie picking blueberries
Melanie picking blueberries
August 14
The day started grey; however, it never did rain and there was no wind. Just after the noon the sun came out and the rest of the day was beautiful.
Rooster
Roostertail
One tandem canoe dumped in the initial R1 rapid, when it went sideways into the small ledge. Our biggest rapid of the day was Kakusaschechun (R4). Everybody studied it, looking for a route and eventually
Campsite
Campsite
Fabien, paddling stern, and one partner from each pair paddled bow, ran all the tandem canoes down with no problem. Hugo paddled his own boat down.
Rooster under the moon
Roostertail under the moon
We had a long blueberry stop a bit further down on river left. We easily filled our pots and helmets. We camped on top of Rooster Falls - gorgeous campsite on river right.

August 15
Again, it rained in the night, and a bit in the morning & after that it remained cloudy.

Dan and me in the rapids
Dan and me in the rapids
We lined down the right side of Rooster Falls to a large eddy and liftover. After that we ran a small ledge and then an R3. The next two R2's led us towards Washing Machine Rapid. We scouted on the right side on top of a burned forest ridge (it was hard to get out and walk) . Then we tracked back up a short distance and ferried to river left. We followed Fabien ducky-style, between two large holes and through huge waves. An R1 and then an R2 followed.
Dinnertime
Dinnertime
We stopped on river left and then followed Fabien to the island. We lined a bit into the right channel and then ran the rest. The Dab on the left side looked like a great campsite. We carefully approached the next R3-R5 rapid. It looked quite scary from above. Fabien landed on the island and did some scouting. The he called on us to follow river left.
Tupatukasi
Tupatukasi
We first lined a bit and then ran a steep drop. The river then turned left and a long R2 followed, then a flatwater section followed by swifts. We camped on the left side of the ledge. This is most likely an island at high water levels (well, it was island even now, but the left channel had very little water). There were a few blackflies. Black clouds brought us rain again.

August 16
It rained, then turned sunny, then thunderstorms, then sunny again, then another thunderstorm, then sunny, etc.

Tupatukasi
Tupatukasi
Melanie - our night owl - told us they saw the aurora borealis (northern lights) last night after 11 pm. Morning was again miserable - rain. The first R3-4 we ran on river right; then there was a liftover over the last small drop. The next ledge was an R5 which we carried over and then we ran the remaining R3-4. We went through really high waves.
Fabien sorting blueberries
Fabien sorting blueberries
Finally we came to the spectacular Tapitukasi Waterfall. We set up camp on the right shore, overlooking the falls. The sun was smiling on us, but then, suddenly, thunderstorms came again. Weather changed every 30 minutes or so. We had a nice rainbow over the waterfall.
Tupatukasi
Tupatukasi
Fabien and Hugo went fishing below the falls and on their way back found a hopeful spot on the left side of waterfall. However, no fish were caught. I portaged both my canoe and Carole and Philippe's canoe. Their canoe (a borrowed canoe) was very unsuitable for portaging. The yoke was almost flat and the whole canoe kept sliding down. I had to work very hard just to keep it on my shoulders. Lynette and Dara also carried their canoe through the steep path.
Tupatukasi Waterfall was beautiful from any view. This was an unforgettable, amazing place!

August 17
Today we left the campsite at 8:50am, were on the water by 9:37a, and were off the water at 6:40pm.

Lunch at the cabins
Lunch at the cabins
It was a misty morning, windy, later rain on the water and quite cold. Gradually from lunchtime on the sun started to peek out here and there, and finally, by evening we had full sun. In the morning we spotted a bear just below Tupatukasi Waterfall. We ran the big waters of Submarine Rapids on river left and Rock Nest Monster – on river right .A long, flat section followed, with a strong wind against us. This was the first (and only) time that Hugo was not able to keep up with the other canoes.
Dan and me running Quickie
Dan and me running Quickie
This was solved by him jumping into the center of Fabien's canoe (only tandem without a spraycover) and the three paddlers towed the empty solo, Vertige X. Still, this was the slowest canoe and was far behind. We found a broken, blue food barrel on river right and stopped by a cabin for lunch. It was a very clean, well maintained place.
Fabien and Melanie running Interview
Fabien and Melanie running Interview
We made a fire to warm up and to heat some soup. Then, after lunch, came Cannonball Run , which we ran on river right. We (Dan and I) managed to finish running it backwards, fortunately, without mishap. Then came Quickie - again we ran it on the right side, sliding over a rocky shelf and then finally, Side Door – which we started on the right of a small, rocky island and then below the island we moved towards river left. At a certain point, Lynette, Dara, Carole and Philippe came under seagull attack.
Breakfast
Breakfast
Above Interview we (Dan and myself) managed to get stuck on shallow rocks (it was hard to see with the sun against us). Hugo and Fabien (both wearing drysuits) jumped into the water and liberated us. Interview Ledge we ran on river right, through a good "V" between huge boulders. We camped on a nice rocky shelf.

August 18
There was no rain the whole day. We had a relaxing, slow morning.

Lynette and Dara in the rapid
Lynette and Dara in a rapid
Clouds gathered, but didn't produce a drop. There was a very enjoyable R3 rapid right after the campsite.Next came an R4 which we ran on the right side of the right channel. We were checked out there by an otter swimming nearby. After that we went through some seriously big waves, but the spraycover worked well. Water only got in through my collar, shirt and pants (I was in the bow this day). We had lunch on a beautiful campsite on river left.
Campsite
Campsite
We camped just across from the Natocacamisie tributary – a rocky shore, chosen democratically by a close vote of 5 to 4. It was a gorgeous, sunny day although it was at first windy at the campsite - later the wind died down. We had a beautiful full moon.
One person in our party had an accident - falling when carrying dishwater and dislocating a finger. This person then fainted twice, first time hitting the head on the rocks... But Lynette and Melanie were quick to help and all finished without any consequences. We went to our tents unusually late, after 12:30am.

August 19
It was an absolutely gorgeous and hot day. Finally we got our share of nice weather.

Peace bear during the lunch
Peace bear during lunch
It was enjoyable paddling through some easy but not small rapids. One canoe dumped on an eddy turn. A flatwater stretch followed with a light breeze on our backs. I went with Dan to check out a trapper's cabin with a teepee on river left. We picked some cranberries there.
Nudist colony
Nudist colony
It was hard to find a good spot for lunch. Eventually, we found a small gravel bank on river right. About 500 m farther there was a tiny cabin with a yellow sign - probably some station for identifying water level (or quality?).
Campsite
Campsite
We camped for the night on a rock shelf on river right, by the last set of rapids. Then we played Nudist Colony. We built a nice fire. As always before the end of the trip, I felt very sad...

August 20
There was a bit of breeze on the tent early in the morning. I was afraid of the wind, and what it could do to us on the Bay (James Bay). We left the campsite relatively early, at 7:47am. The plan was to paddle 1 hour with the receding tide and the rest with the rising tide.

Paddling on the shallows of bay
Paddling the shallows of James Bay
However, unknown to me, I had made a mistake (and checked the tide schedule of the wrong location), which put our voyage's time into a very low tide. As we ran the first rapid after our campsite, one canoe dumped in a challenging eddy turn. We (Dan and I) chased after the canoe.
Walking the bay
Walking James Bay
It wasn't easy to catch in the strong current but finally we managed to bring it to shore – but only after a drop and an island. The rest of Good bye Rapid was still challenging - a rocky, dense congregation of boulders. Another dumped canoe slowed our progress a bit (I was concerned with regards to tide schedule), but the day was very nice, with the wind on our back. We checked out a shortcut – a drainage creek - it seemed paddleable. At the corner, on a peninsula, there were cabins and we met some Cree fishermen there. I turned on my GPS and watched our progress.
Waskaganish
Waskaganish
Once we were within 10 km of Waskaganish our progress slowed to a crawl. The Bay was very shallow so we had to walk for kilometers, towing our canoes along. Surprisingly, Hugo in his solo Vertige X led the way and got far ahead. Carole and Philippe went far, far left and we couldn't even see them for quite a while. Finally, we (Dan and I) managed to get into the deeper waters (with Rupert's current against us) and started to chase after Hugo, but it was too late to catch him by then.
End of the trip
End of the trip






Hugo was first at Waskaganish's dock - it was 2:07pm. Raymond Blackned, our Cree contact, was waiting for us at the dock. We took our cars and packed everything. Raymond then took us to his aunt's place (outside of Waskaganish) for smoked whitefish dinner. It was a sad time for me, as always at the end of a long trip... We drove in heavy rain to a rest area at a bridge over the Rupert River (Oatmeal Falls) where we spent our last night camping together. A big rain during the night was our last goodbye...





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