Gaspe Peninsula: Bonaventure River
Wednesday, July 4, 2001 to Thursday, July 5, 2001
length: 18.0km, 2 days
participants: Beth Baskin, Cara Robinson, Heather McCance, Jessie the Wonder Hound, Keith Nunn, Liam Nunn, Morgan Baskin, Tripper Dave,
Three canoeing expeditions were to be had on our trek east. We paddled in 2 canoes... good thing half of those on the participant list weigh under 60 pounds.
The third outing was on the Bonaventure River from St. Alphonse to
Cime-Adventure, a tripping/outfitting place outside of the town of Bonaventure with a small camping area where we were housed for two nights.
The outfitters shuttled us, our gear and boats to the put-in, and told us it was about a five-hour paddle. While the shuttle vehicle left to return the car seats to our base camp, we applied appropriate amonts of sunscreen, changed a few diapers (try THAT through a wetsuit), donned PFDs and set out at about 10:30 am.
The river really moved, and seemed an almost endless series of class one boulder gardens. Picking a line in such low water was good exercise for the brain (Beth at one point: "My eyes hurt!"), and although there was the occasional bump, neither boat grounded.
It was quite beautiful, trees and rocks galore. There was the occasional salmon fisherfolk boat to dodge, but they were really good about telling us which side of the boat their lines were on and had been careful to leave adequate depth for canoes on the other side (presumably with the outfitters running regular shuttles on this river, they're used to it). It was a nice change from being sworn at by fishermen on the Credit, Duffin's Creek, etc.
We'd been told there was a great lunch spot with a waterfall at Duval, but we were on the wrong side of the river when we spotted it with no way to get across in time, so Dave shouted that we'd stop for lunch at the end of this rapid... which went on and on and on, we were all wondering whether lunch mightn't be back at base camp! But we found a rocky point for lunch and dined on hummus, tabouli, fresh Gaspe goat cheeses, good bakery (pardonez-moi, boulangerie) bread, a feast.
The river continued more or less the same until about 30 minutes before the outfitters. There was a small island mid-river, and we did a boat scout and took the left-hand side. Oops. It was great until the end, where there was a largish hole with much waves.
Both boats took in a lot of water, which was okay except for the presence of rather small people (Cara had been asleep when the wave came over her head as I braced, and she ended up sitting in chest-high water, not a happy baby. Liam, further astern in his boat, fared much better, and Morgan, sitting high on the solo seat, got her feet a little wet!).
We eddied out on a long pebble beach river right to dump out the water. Keith and Beth headed back out to surf the wave, and we watched another group (with a guide from the outfitters) come down the right-hand channel with no problems at all. The only lasting damage was losing Cara's moccasins which got left behind on the beach when we'd removed all her wet outer clothing to put her in a fleece jumpsuit to warm her up again. Dave drove and hiked back to the beach later, but they were gone (the socks that had been in them were still there, though). :-(
Got back on the river, passed a number of little waterfalls coming down the river banks and ended up back at the outfitters by about 3:30. Considering we were close to an hour at lunch, we couldn't figure how they'd thought this a 5-hour run...
We'd spoken with the guide who was enthusiastic about the possibilities of
the upper river, especially in the spring. It sounds like this might be a worthy destination for a week-long trip sometime, the only problem of course being the 12 to 14-hour drive to get there!
Previous installments at http://vvcc.ca/vvcc/logs/report.php3?trip=41