Saturday, August 25, 2007

13th Kayak Outing

Three days and 2 nights of rustic kayak-camping at l'Equerre camping at the Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park. See post below for link to SEPAQ site describing this jewel of a park.

As impressive as the Saguenay Fjord can be (particularly with all the seals & whales), les Hautes-Gorges is in many ways more spectacular. The escarpments of les Hautes Gorges are higher & steeper and the valley is narrower. You really feel like a tiny dot floating on the 5 mile long reservoir between the dam and l'Equerre (T-Square: a 90 degree bend in the river/valley).
You can clearly see the "7" shaped river in the top left corner of the map below.

The following view with contour lines shows just how steep & narrow the valley really is.

And here is a Google Earth view from l'Equerre

Vehicles aren't usually permitted in the park, see map below (click to enlarge). You drive in (red line) leave your vehicle at Parking #6, register & a shuttle with a trailer picks up your kayaks, equipment and drives you (along green line) to the dam near the put-in.

There are three campsites in the park. Camping Le Cran is near the park entrance, Camping Pin Blanc is by the river below the dam (rapids therefore not the best place for kayaks & canoes), and Camping de l'Equerre is on the reservoir created by the dam, about as far as you can go before reaching the first set of rapids.

It's about 5 miles from the put-in (by the kayak/canoe rental cabin) to the Equerre camping. L'Equerre is a rustic campsite with two-dozen sites large enough for one tent. Only a few have direct access to the river, which means that if you're staying at one of the others sites, you have to park at the beach and hike up your stuff up to your sites. We had the left-most site on the river-side of the access road. This road is used by hikers & bikers (and parc maintenance vehicles). Otherwise everyone else paddles in.

The kayaking was great, and we really enjoyed this fabulous experience.


L'Acropole des Draveurs

After 5-1/2 hours of driving, had a quick lunch then drove another hour to reach the SEPAQ's Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie National Park in the Charlevoix area of Québec.
See details.

It's a difficult 4 to 5 hour hike from the river up a steep 3000ft escarpment. When you get to the top there are 4 summits you can climb within 1/2 mile distance.

The view was spectacular !!! Click on pictures below to enlarge to full size.

Here is a short 360 degree video from the first summit. The background noise is from the wind.

Here is a short 180 degree video showing the Malbaie river from downstream of the dam, past the dam and up the valley to the 90 degree bend (l'Equerre: T-Square). By now the wind was really howling and it's loud in this video.

I've heard this is one of the most difficult hikes in Quebec, I don't have too many doubts that's true...


12th Kayak Outing

Perfect conditions: blue sky, setting sun, mirror lake :)

As I paddled by my neighbor's place and he saw me in my kayak, he said it would have made a great picture (had he had his camera with him).

Paddled around the bay at the end of the lake, had to turn on my night-lights to finish the ride after the sun had set.

11th Kayak Outing

With my wife, in preparation for an upcoming trip, paddled out onto Blue Sea lake and around 4 miles, past Pointe Belcourt, around Ile de Montigny, around unnamed island in middle of map, past Ile Orlo and Ile Belcourt.

10th Kayak Outing

With my youngest daughter, paddled down the creek at the end of Blue Sea lake (shown as Blue Sea River on the map below).

She was able to squeeze past the first wooden bridge in her smaller kayak, unfortunately I wasn't :(

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

9th Kayak Outing!

The stars must have been aligned, we finally had our first self-guided kayak-camping trip :-) In reality, it's the scorching heat/humidity that drove us out of the city into the relative wilderness of Gatineau Park.

We camped for two nights at site #6 at Lac la Peche (see 4th Kayak Outing for map & details). It has a gently sloping rock at the edge of the lake that makes it easy to get in/out of a kayak. You can swim there until the edge of the rock where it meets the weed infested sandy bottom. Getting out of the lake is a bit of a challenge as the rocks are extremely slippery under water, probably from a thin coating of algae. Our solution was to tie a rope to a nearby tree and to let the rope float in the water for use as an aid to get out of the lake.

Speaking of weeds, most of the lake is pretty well surrounded, at least where we checked. That's a bit surprising given that there are no cottages on the lake, very few boats, no obvious farming nearby nor any other obvious source of pollution nearby. We did find two good rocks where we could jump in & out (deep water) without getting near any weeds.

The picture below shows campsite #6 (actually has 4 camping spots & a nearby outhouse) and the two swim spots we found. From there we were able to relax & enjoy a refreshing swim. Click on picture to see full size details.

We checked out the most western bay where it's obvious a tornado passed by, uprooting at least a hundred trees, most near the abandoned cabins of Le Haven. You can see many broken & uprooted trees at the point of land North-West of campsite #6.

The sunsets were great on both nights, real fireballs! There were severe thunderstorms that passed North-West of the park, we easily saw 1000 lightning flashes but we barely got a drop of rain. We could have used some cooling off as the temperature in the tent was unbearably hot even with all the windows fully opened. Turns out those same storms caused damages in the Gatineaus, the Laurentiens and all the way to Quebec City.

Overall, we enjoyed our stay. It was a good warm-up for our next kayak-camping trip at a much more scenic location...stay tuned for details :-)

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