Tobeatic 2013 – Lake Joli to Village of Shelburne

Day 1 – April 8, 2013

What a Jolly start

Tobeatic Guide Map Link

We met Hantford Lewis again this year at his shop and headed to Lake Joli, or Lake Jolly depending on your heritage. We were on the water by 2:30pm and it was a nice sunny afternoon of about 8 degress or so. There was still a bit of snow along the shoreline and a few traces here and there in the woods. We exited the lake and paddled up the stream to the first portage of the trip. It should have been a quick portage into Ninth Lake but we took a wrong turn down a woods road, effectively doubling the portage. We hoped for better luck on the many portages in the coming days. With quick paddles and easy portages through Ninth, Eighth and Seventh Lake, we settled for camp at the end of the portage from Seventh into Sixth Lake. Kyle and I were able to shave several pounds of equipment compared to last year allowing us to employ the one and a half method of portaging. I would start out with the canoe and leave it at the halfway point while Kyle would carry two large packs across the entire portage. I would then head back for the food pack and tent pack while Kyle would return for the canoe and finish the portage. We would then alternate on each portage. The previous year we had to make 2 complete trips on every portage. It was a great campsite with lots of room. I was grinning ear to ear while enjoying an IPA in the evening sun. Andrew made us taco salad for supper.

Day 2 – April 9, 2013

Rain Anyone?

We were up early for a breakfast of oatmeal. Our goal was to reach the head of the dreaded 2.8km carry from Moosehide Lake to Sand Beach. The end of Sixth Lake still had a bit of ice on the shore, so we had walk the last 15′ on thin ice. The portage into the Sissiboo River was easy followed and the water was high enough to allow us to paddle into Fifth Lake without having any carries. We decided to drag the loaded canoes through a marshy area to the first portage into Whitesand Stream. We were able to avoid the low water carry by lining the canoe up a small drop. We were now back to paddling upstream again. Rain started about noon before we got to Whitesand Lake and never really let up for the rest of the day. We reached the 1km portage from Whitesand Lake about mid afternoon. After a few more hours of portaging and paddling in the rain, we reached the start of the carry from Moosehide to Sand Beach lake. It was late in the day and we were happy to make camp here and get into some dry clothes. We had smoked salmon pasta for supper and went to bed shortly after.

Day 3 – April 10, 2013

The Long Portage

Woke up to overcast skies and sore muscles. We had a big breakfast of bean supreme in preparation for the long portage ahead. Most of the portage was easily followed and up a slight grade the majority of the way. We began around 9:30 and finished about 1:15 after many trips back and forth alternating the gear. We had a quick lunch on the shores of Sand Beach Lake and decided not to portage any more that day. We made a visit to Cofan Cabin again this year only to realize while reading last year’s comments, that we were here on the exact same day as last year. The cabin is in desparate need of repair and had sunk a bit over the winter. A nice campsite before granite lake awaited our arrival for tonight. The sun made a brief appearance as we settled in for shepherds pie and hot apple cider with 151 proof rum.

Day 4 – April 11, 2013

Hopeless Wanderer

The carry around Granite Lake Falls is one of the nicest carries in the area. I was able to paddle the empty canoe a bit further down river until the drops got too big. I eddied out on river right and started to ferry left when a large black bear took off crashing through the woods. I’ve been seeing more black bears lately while paddling in NB than ever before as well. We ate soup for lunch at the campsite below the falls and soaked up the warm sun. Some mild current pushed us into Irving lake and the beginning of the carry en route to the Roseway watershed. It was my turn to carry the 2 packs all the way across the 700m portage. I noticed Kyle was not far behind me with the canoe. We crossed a small brook on the way and headed up a hill. I finished the portage and returned for the canoe. I completed that carry to find Aaron at the end awaiting his partner. I figured Kyle wouldn’t be too far behind now. About five minutes later, Andrew showed up with the last of his packs. I asked him where he met Kyle on the trail and he informed us he hadn’t seen Kyle since we landed and had just completed the whole portage from the beginning to the end. I thought it was strange because I knew he had made it at least half way across once and the trail from there was fairly evident. Andrew stayed put while Aaron and I walked back stopping every couple minutes to blow the whistle. We made it back near the beginning where we noticed an animal trail that crossed the portage trail. Now most of the portage trails are really nothing more than an animal trail anyway, so they can easily be confused for a portage trail. However, the intersection occured before the small brook that Kyle had already crossed, so I found it odd that he would go very far before realizing he should have crossed the same brook. However we soon found out while walking the animal trail, that it too crossed the same brook at another location. Aaron was sure he could see a footprint but the trail quickly faded and there was no way to follow any further. We continued back and forth the portage trail blowing the whistle for a couple hours. We knew he would be fine for a night or two if necessary as he was carrying the food pack and had a tarp with him as well. We met up with Andrew again at the end of the portage when it dawned on me the GPS spot tracker was attached to the top of the food pack. I brought the GPS along to send real time Google map locations every ten minutes to friends and family so they could follow our adventure and know we were safe.  If I could somehow get phone service, which is unlikely in this area, I could log in to the tracking site to get an exact location providing he was still carrying the pack, a lot of variables to hope for. I walked back the trail at the highest point and climbed a very large rock and voila, 2 bars of service popped up on my phone. I logged into the site and saw Kyle had made it over 2kms away at the NW tip of Sisketch lake, exactly where we were headed. Aaron and Andrew stayed put in case he made his way back while I paddled the mostly empty canoe up the stream. I was in a hurry knowing I wouldn’t be able to get service again along the brook and wanted to get to the last known location quickly. I was making my way up through the last quick water before the lake when I heard a yell from Kyle and I replied. I met him at the side of the brook and he looked tired and exhausted. He exclaimed it had probably been quite some time that anyone was as thrilled as he was to hear my voice. A normal carry through the Tobeatic is not an easy affair, let alone 50lbs on your back through dense brush and swamps for a couple hours. Kyle had a map with him and used the sun for direction to find Sisketch Lake. He never let the pack down and used common sense and good direction to find his way. Kyle said he was never overly concerned, just discouraged with himself for not turning back when he realized he was on the wrong trail. We made camp at the end of Sisketch Lake and enjoyed a meal of burritos and rice while listening to some amusing stories about Kyle’s misadventure, including one in which he professed to singing “Hopeless Wanderer” by Mumford and Sons while labouring through the maze of the Tobeatic.

Day 5 – April 12, 2013

Snow Anyone?

The day started off sunny and calm as we paddled and portaged up the stream to House Lake. This lake has huge erratics rising high above the paddlers. An 800m portage brought us to Junction Lake and the headwaters of the Roseway river system. We would now be paddling downriver for the remainder of the trip. The outlet of the lake was a 200m portage followed by a quick 50m portage. Aaron and Andrew tried paddling the stream, but that turned into grueling drags and rough carries. We made good time portaging and paddling through Halfmoon, Grass and Roseway Lakes. We were able to run most of the outlet of Roseway Lake through some quick turns and small drops into Mink Lake. We intended to stay at the campsite close to the outlet but had no luck finding it. It was after 5pm and beginning to rain when we decided to paddle across the lake in search of another site known as Keatings campsite. This was a very nice site with a sandy beach, improvised picnic table and plenty of room for tents. We set both tarps up that night and hunkered down with some rum and a game of cribbage while the wind and rain pelted the tarps. We had beef stroganoff for supper. The wind, rain, snow and ice pellets were fierce throughout the night. You could hear wind gusts coming across the lake and then smashing ferociously into the side of the tent. I had a hard time sleeping that night wondering if the tent fly would be ripped from the tent. I assumed we would be wind bound the following day.

Day 6 – April 13, 2013

Rapids, Finally!

The ground had a light covering of snow and the rain had mostly subsided but still windy when I awoke. Aaron said he got up once in the night to check on the gear which was all accounted for. The lake looked choppy and the winds would be against us if we chose to leave, but after finishing coffee and breakfast, we could see the winds were quickly dying off. We decided to get moving and it ended up being one of the calmest days. The outlet of Mink lake had a tree across the quick drop into Skudiak Lake so we had to drag around.  We ran most of the outlet into Moose Lake except some low water areas. The outlet of Moose was also runnable and it was beginning to look the portaging may be behind us. We had lunch between Crain and McGill Lake. There is a nice Wardens camp on the hill overlooking the lakes. The door was unlocked and would have made a great shelter but it was only midday so we continued on. The river picked up speed as we exited Whetstone Lake and ran some moderate rapids and Horse Falls down to Upset Falls. We weren’t sure what to expect in the next 3kms as the guide map reads in bold letters “The route from Upset falls through Devil’s run to Long Falls is extremely dangerous. Take out at the bridge above Upset Falls or proceed with extreme caution, scouting and portaging the rapids and falls”. The only alternative to this is a 3 km portage, but the run through Upset falls was relatively easy so we decided to continue on downriver. Here is a short video of the falls. There are some great stretches of whitewater leading to Mountain Falls. We had to portage about a 500m section of this and another drop just below, but we were able to run everything else with gear in the canoe. Click for video.  This was a fun few kilometers that kept my heart pumping. It was also a nice height of water to run this for the first time. In high water, I can see why this would be much more dangerous. The nearest campsite was at Indian Fields which also marked the first people we had seen since Lake Joli. It wasn’t an ideal location due to lack of camp space and a large open sand airstrip beside us. It also wasn’t appealing when our canoes landed on the beach full of dead beaver carcasses that a trapper thought was a good disposal location, but it was getting late in the day and there were no mentioned campsites nearby. A few locals stopped by for a chat. We had chicken curry stew for supper and a chocolate raspberry port for dessert.

Day 7 – April 14, 2013

Pub Anyone?

We started off with a breakfast of eggs fried in the center of a bannock ring with bacon. It was a nice change from oatmeal. The water flowed slowly down to Back Lake. Some quick water led us into Phillip and Jones Lake. These lakes were dotted with several homes and cottages. I was hopeful for a nearby pub or restaurant to quench my thirst for a creamy ale, but unfortunately no such luck would be had as we passed by the small community of Upper Ohio. We were able to run Chris’s falls at the outlet of Jones lake down to the Jones Mill Ledges. We carried our gear around the ledges and ran the canoe empty though the rapids without incident. Click for video. The run around McGills Island was also a fun section. From here the current was slow as we chose the East Branch of the Roseway into Deception Lake as rain began to fall. We found a suitable campsite on the lawn of a camp before Deception Lake. We had a strange mix of drinks that night which included ouzo with cherry drink mix, orange drink mix, and hot apple cider with 151 rum. A huge pot of spaghetti was cooked and enjoyed before bed.

Day 8 – April 15, 2013

Tick Ass!

We woke to sun but clouds had completely taken over by the time we launched the canoes. Deception Lake would be the longest lake we crossed, but no wind made for an easy paddle. The exit of the lake meant moving water and some nice rapids for the rest of the day to our trips end at Bowers Rd before the dam. The sun poked out as we exited the lake and eddied around a small island to open the last of our beer we were saving for just this occasion, a lazy river running day. We were able to save 5 litres of beer from the original 16 we brought, and was it ever worth it enjoying a nice cold IPA before noon as we basked in the warm sun. Our first big rapid of the day was Hemlock Falls, a long rapid with no issues. Shortly after this was Bowers Mill site, an old stone wall dam no longer in use. We first eddied river left and scouted the drop. It was a substantial drop of around 5′ and looked rough and turbulent. We ferried river right to scout a narrow sluice dropping about 5′ over a length of 20′. It was just wide enough for a canoe but looked runnable. Kyle and I ran first with no problems although we both reached out and touched the stone wall for balance as we couldn’t get our paddles in the water for stability. Aaron and Andrew made it look much smoother. We had lunch here and made our way through some more rapids and quick water until ending our journey about mid afternoon above sawmill pitch. A short walk down the lane brought me to my awaiting truck and the Roseway cabins that were pre-booked for the night. A warm shower and a quick trip into Shelburne to the local Sobeys and liquor store allowed us a nice barbeque of steak and cold beer for supper. At some point in the night I awoke to use the washroom. Kyle arose as well to ask if the red sore at the top of his ass was a tick. I told him it was nothing and to go back to bed, truth was I really didn’t want to get my face that close to his ass at 2am, or anytime of the day for that matter. I was first to rise in the morning and chuckled at a note next to the kitchen table which read “tick on Kyle’s ass”. I guess he didn’t want to forget about it. A more sober Aaron examined the spot in the morning as well but didn’t think it was a tick either. It wasn’t until I got a call late that night while back home that Kyle informed me it was a tick after all, with just its ass end hanging out of Kyle’s ass end.

This trip seemed to fly by as they all do, months of preparation for what seems like a blink of the eye. I don’t know why I don’t spend a week on the beach relaxing in some Caribbean destination like most folks do for their vacation,  but I just don’t get the same thrill and satisfaction like I do when I am exhausting myself each day just to get further away from civilization. Luckily I know of least three other people that feel the same way. I really enjoy this area especially knowing there are many more possible routes awaiting to be explored.

Click here for photos. from Mitchell, Aaron and Andrew.

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Tobeatic – Shelburne River (April 6 – 14, 2012)

Since the Kejimkujik trip my wife and I did in 2009, I have been wanting to return to this area, except this time it is Keji’s neighbor I was most interested in. The Tobeatic Wilderness Area in Nova Scotia is the largest wild area in the Maritimes with over 100,000 hectares of protected forests and watersheds.

Serious preparations began in February, where we met at Kyle’s place by means of our snowmobiles to discuss the gear and food required. We came up with a tentative food plan and even sampled an already dehydrated spaghetti supper. With our duties assigned, we started the dehydrating process. I took care of the venison jerky, chicken, sauces, and fruits. Shuttle preparations were made through Hinterland Adventures.

Day 1 – April 6, 2012

After a ferry trip from Saint John to Digby, we met Andrew at the Backpackers Inn. Thirty minutes later we met Hantford Lewis of Hinterland Adventures for our final journey to the Tobeatic. Our trip began on Fourth Lake Dam, at the upper northwest corner of the lake. From here, we paddled about 2.5 hours to the campsite at Sporting Lake Stream. This is a very nice site but has road access, although we had no visitors that evening. I layed awake at times throughout the night in excitement for the days to come and was amazed at how quiet everything was. Aside from a few partridge, loons and owls, the night was very still. I am used to hearing squirrels and other animals moving about, but nothing, not even a single jet could be heard overhead.

Day 2 – April 7, 2012

We awoke to sunshine and a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar. We were on the water by 8:30 am. Our goal for the day was to reach the end of East Cranberry Lake at the start of the portage to Clearwater Lake. Our first portage came early with a 400m carry before Rush Lake. While paddling through Rush Lake, Aaron and Andrew spotted several patches of plump cranberries. They looked like they had just ripened but had in fact survived the winter months and were quite a tasty treat. They were collected and later used in drinks involving 151 proof rum. The portage into Sporting Lake (1000m) was reasonably easy to follow with only a few blowdowns and other obstacles to avoid.  Cold winds picked up as we paddled through Sporting Lake. We chose to eat lunch at a campsite near the portage to Oakland Lake. Andrew started a fire and after a quick lunch of peanut butter and honey wraps, we again unloaded our gear for another portage. Here is where the trails start getting harder to follow with more obstacles to go around. Many hardhacks at about knee level made portaging a bit more difficult as well. The 1300m portage took about 1 hour and 45 mins to complete. We used the relay method to help break up the two trips with gear. I was ready to find the nearest campsite but we all agreed to stick with the original plan and complete the final portage (800m) of the day into East Cranberry Lake. It was, however, a pleasant surprise to find out it was actually only a little over 500m in length, although quite muddy in the beginning. I lightened the load a bit by drinking some beer while portaging, using the “beer” relay method. We gladly paddled through East Cranberry Lake to the campsite at the beginning of the “difficult” portage, as stated in Andrew Smith’s guide book for the Tobeatic. We enjoyed salt cod fish cakes, or fish browns as they turned out to be. After a few more beverages to lighten the load and ease my sore muscles, I set off for bed.

Day 3 – April 8, 2012

Snow. We knew before we left to expect snow and that is what we got. It was only about 2″ but it was enough to cover everything. We ate a big breakfast of doughnut shaped bannock with an egg in the center. There was no sense of staying put as the wind and snow was blowing straight at us from the lake. The trail was hard to follow at times and slippery. More blowdowns, mud holes and entangled brush as we made our way mostly uphill to Clearwater Lake. The map showed a distance of 1000m but it actually measured 1300m, making up for yesterdays gain. I was glad we had this for a morning portage though. We were happy to finally see Clearwater Lake after a couple of hours. Although we were quite warm from the carry, it didn’t take long for our bodies to cool as we paddled in the wind and snow in search of the next portage to Buckshot Lake. Most of the portages are marked with a small white square which had been easy to spot so far but not so easy in the snow covered tress. After a bit of probing around in a cove, Aaron and Andrew found the trail. This 700m carry was certainly easier than the last but still not a gem. Because we were all wet and the wind and snow persisted, we just had a quick snack of jerky and gorp at the end of the carry to Buckshot. It was a nice feeling to reach the head of the Shelburne River. After a few more short portages and a quick paddle through Stony Ditch Lake, we made camp here at a nice spot river right at the outlet. We set up a couple tarps and used the canoes for wind shelter. Firewood was still plentiful and before long we were into dry clothes and enjoying a spaghetti supper. Snow changed to drizzle throughout the night. I could feel the sleeping bag getting wet around my shoulders from the side of the tent, but the rest of my bag remained dry.

Day 4 – April 9, 2012

We woke to cloudy skies with a hint of sunshine trying to make its was through. We had pancakes with jam for breakfast this morning. We didn’t seem to be taking our time, but it was 10:30 before we began paddling this morning and before 11:00am, we began our first portage of 1000m. It looked as though an empty canoe might have a chance of making it through but we could only see about 150m downstream. Kyle and Aaron decided to try paddling through while Andrew and I carried the gear around the trail. After making our usual two trips we found no Kyle or Aaron and the end of the portage. A short walk upriver though and we could hear them dragging and scraping the canoes through the water. We ate a lunch of hummus and pitas and continued on through Pine Lake. We carried around and tried paddling through a few small portages before deciding not to portage the Esker carry. We basically scraped and pulled through most of the day. Sometimes I would carry the gear while Kyle would paddle and haul the canoe downriver. It probably would have saved time to just carry but we were making good time so far this trip. We found a great camping spot as you enter Sand Beach Lake on the right side. It is on a knoll of pines overlooking the lake and a view of Jim Charles Meadow behind. The snow had now all melted and the wind was blowing strong as we hung up gear to dry. We ate mexican couscous for supper and enjoyed a few more beverages. I had my best sleep yet, which isn’t saying much for anyone who has slept within 200 feet of Kyle, let alone 2 feet.

Day 5 – April 10, 2012

Woke up to full sun this morning. Our gear was drying out nicely. We had some oatmeal and got on the water by 9am or so. Winds were fairly heavy at our backs again as we paddled down the western shore and crossed without incident. At the outlet of Sand Beach Lake is Cofan Cabin, an old wardens shelter. We were told by our shuttle driver that someone donated $8000 for repairs. The walls on the far end were reinforced with steel cable and some building supplies had been left there and the wood stove was removed. It looks like more repair work is going to be done this year. Full sun and warm temperatures greeted us as we left the cabin and were able to paddle in t-shirts for the first time. This was also the first time we were able to paddle for over an hour in the morning without having to portage. Our first was at the end of Beverly Lake, although Aaron and Andrew decided to paddle it and only had to get out for a brief push. Kyle and I found the 400m portage a real treat as it was well cleared, dry and easy to follow. We had a quick lunch snack at the end of Granite Lake. We pulled and scraped through a couple short sections that were marked portage before coming to the Granite Falls portage of 1000m. Kyle and I ran the first 150-200m before we were forced to start portaging. The nice thing about this trail is it ran mostly along the river. It too was a much easier trail than we had encountered a few days back. This would also mark the last significant portage of the trip and all I had in mind was sitting back and enjoying a few cold beer at the end, which is exactly what we did. The guys tried some fishing as well but no luck. We probably spent a couple of hours here at a great camp site before moving on Pebbleloggitch Lake and our awaiting cabin for the next two nights. Mason’s cabin is part of Keji Park and is available for rent for a small fee. We booked it for three nights prior to our departure as we weren’t sure which day we would arrive. We decided to spend two nights because we were making good time and it would be nice to have a day of relaxation. Aaron cooked up a delicious pot of Bean Supreme for supper. We played a few games of cribbage and a midnight snack of pancakes with peanut butter, butter and jam.

Day 6 – April 11, 2012

Kyle cooked up a breakfast of puffed apple pancake in the reflector oven. Kyle and Aaron paddled back to Granite Lake falls while Andrew and I relaxed back at the cabin. We had chilli for lunch and burritos and rice for supper. It was a nice day weatherwise. The extra day allowed us to completely dry the rest of our gear. I thought we would see other paddlers today or even a warden, but nothing.

Day 7 – April 12, 2012

We started off early this morning after a breakfast of oatmeal and paddled back through Pebbleloggitch Lake. The map noted a small carry but we were able to push through it. Wind was at our backs again as we paddled through Irving Lake. The water wasn’t quite high enough to allow us to stay in the canoe and enjoy the moving water until Sand Lake. We scraped and pushed through several sections, which still beat portaging. In higher water, this section would be a blast. It is quite narrow and quick and I’m sure some nice waves would be produced. We ate lunch at an old bridge which crosses the river before Sand Lake. Aaron and Andrew spotted a bear wandering the forest floor. The outlet to the lake was a bit confusing. We paddled a short distance up Sand Brook in search of the elusive trout. A few deadwaters later, we came to another bridge which signalled Pollards falls. It was easily run at this water height and we continued to have a nice section of moving water down to the DNR camp. There is a large stand of Hemlock behind the camp. We finally got a fairly strong headwind as we paddled through the deadwater leading to Lake Rossignol. Kempton falls marked the end of the Shelburne River and was also easily run. We camped here beside the rapids and an old fishing boat, reported to have belonged to Zane Grey. The old boat was an eye sore but did provide a good wind shelter. Kyle cooked up a great meal of shepherds pie in the reflector oven. It was a windy but sunny evening overlooking Lake Rossignol. It looked like an ocean in comparison to the small lakes we had paddled so far. We made a decision to get on the water early so we could paddle the 8 kms to the take out in relatively calm winds.

Day 8 – April 13, 2012

We cooked no breakfast this morning, just some coffee and granola bars, and headed out on the lake early. The wind was constant and in our face but wasn’t too strong. We made it to the outlet of the Mersey river and cooked up some breakfast on a small island. Cranberries were abundant here as well. A brief paddle led us to our awaiting vehicle at Low Landing. We stayed the day and night here at a public landing which offered a couple campsites.

Overall, it was a great trip with great company. In total, we portaged about 11 kms. The weather could have been much worse for this time of year, so I feel we were quite lucky. The firewood was abundant and very dry for this early in the year, which also explains why the Shelburne was quite low, although nowhere near as low as it would get in the summer. Probably the most incredible part of the journey was the fact we saw no other people nor even heard another motorized vehicle the whole trip. I will definitely head back to this area to explore one of the many alternate routes into the Tobeatic.

Click here for photos

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Pocologan River (May 21 – 23, 2011)

With so many rivers congested with people on the May long weekend, I yearned for a river of peace and quiet. A couple years back, I hiked from Clear lake to the Pocologan River. Since then, I’ve wanted to head back to this river with a canoe on my back.

Ryan Ward and I set out from Red Rock lake around noon on Saturday morning. Showers and wind greeted us as we made our way into Sparkes lake. I could see and hear a motorized craft in the distance and hoped they were not going to take our planned campsite. We caught up with them at the portage from Sparkes to Clear lake. They informed us they had just caught a salmon and a few trout and told us Clear lake has many large trout and a few salmon as well. We told them of our plans to stay the night at Clear lake and portage over to Porcupine lake on the Pocologan River. He mentioned that a group paddles this river from Pocologan lake every spring. I found this hard to believe as the aerial maps show this as just a trickle from the headwaters to Porucpine Lake, nevertheless I felt reassured that others have paddled this river lately. We made it to our campsite on Clear lake early afternoon and relaxed around a camp fire as the cold winds blew in our direction, trying our best to lighten up our load for the portage in the morning.

The next morning started off cool but the winds had diminished overnight. Ryan caught a large “chubb” before we ate breakfast, loaded up and made our way across the lake to the portage trail. Other than the first few meters, the trail was in good shape relativley flat for this 800 meter portage. It took us two trips to get to Porcupine Lake around noon on Sunday. The sun was making its way through the clouds as we arrived on the bottom of Porcupine mountain. The river looked lower that I had hoped but a bit of dragging wouldn’t be that bad, after all the river is mostly deadwater with a few rapids connecting them….how bad could it be??

The map showed some upcoming rapids after our first deadwater, which I figured we would have to drag through…and drag we did. The river looked as though it had just ended, with large cedar trees blocking the small trickle of water. We were forced to wade through and carry over the jumbled mess of tangled blowdowns for about 100 meters before reaching the next deadwater. Here Ryan was able to land another nice “chubb”. I thought we were through the worst of it when the deadwater abruptly ended again. This time the river divided into 2 or 3 small sreams with even more blowdowns to carry over. Again we dragged and struggled through interconnected cedar trees and limbs to the end of the so called rapid. It now occured to me that the gentleman who told us of previous paddlers was terribly misinformed. He was obvioulsy talking about another river in the area as it was clear to Ryan and I that no one has paddled this river in many years. After two more simliar “rapids” were behind us we stopped for lunch. We were both getting tired and sore from man handling the loaded canoes through the jungles of the Pocologan. We hoped the worst was through as we pushed off from shore to enter another rapid. This rapid truly was a rapid but was too low so we had to line down through the ravine. Lining was a treat compared to what we had just gone through. There was some very interesting rapids that a creek boater would really enjoy in high water. There were several drops of about 4 feet or more through this 100m rapid. We found a suitable campsite shortly after this and were pleased to call it a day. In total travelled only 9 kms in 6 hours. The fried “chubb” was a great way to end the day. Although it was a rough day I still quite enjoyed the fact that we were most likely to first to run this river in many years. Neither one of us complained and made the most with what we had to work with. We arose early Monday morning and paddled the remaining 6 kms to our take out without incident.

Of course I would be a fool to want to paddle this again, but I am happy I was able to paddle it and will stop wondering what lies ahead on the Pocologan. It will be a memorable long weekend paddling trip.

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Magaguadavic River (March 20 & 21, 2010)

Hard to believe we could have such a nice weekend in March. Hugh Croll, Dave Melanson, Kyle Hartley, Mike Christie and myself paddled the Magaguadavic River this weekend from Flume Falls to Second Falls.We camped across from McDougall inlet Saturday night. It wasn’t a bad spot located on a woods road. The level was at a really good height. Not too many rapids on the first day but Long rips and Mcdougall falls had some nice waves. Most rocks were under water through the rapids, including Mike and Hugh through McDougall falls.
After some humming and hawing over McDougall Falls, Kyle decided he would be the first to try. A tight line between 2 large rocks was our chosen path on river right. We opted not to go down the center because of the large holes. Kyle, Dave and myself each had successful runs through the falls.







Mike and Hugh had already portaged their canoe and gear but after watching us they decided to also give it a go, except they chose the center. I took the video from a rock half way down while Kyle and Dave readied themselves on opposite sides of the river. I’ll let the video tell the rest of the story.

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Gounamitz River(May 16 & 17, 2009)

After having no luck in finding a shuttle driver for the Nepisiguit, we decided on the Gounamitz River. Alica, Tyson, Scooby and I left Fredericton around 6 PM Friday night and arrived at Andre Arpins at 9:30 PM. The campground was closed for the night so we found a nice campsite on the Restigouche River. We were the only tents in the campground. There were lots of blow downs which gave us plenty of dry firewood for the night. We set up our tents and had a few drinks.

Morning came early as the temperatures were at or below zero. I was first to get up and started a fire and warmed myself as the others awakened. We boiled some water for coffee and had a quick breakfast of oatmeal. The sun rose slowly over the Restigouche as we packed up our tents and readied ourselves for the trip ahead. Alicia was nervous the river might have too many difficult rapids. We did know there were 3 sets of falls that might have to be portaged. Andre had also warned us that there may be many sweepers on the upper stretch as we were most likely the first Gounamitz paddlers of the year. His shuttle driver arrived shortly after 8 am to pick us up.

The shuttle was around 45 minutes of woods road travel. There were many blow downs across the wide lumber roads that we could barely get around. Our driver had a chainsaw though in case we needed it. Alicia was not long figuring out that if blow downs like these were across the wide roads, the narrow Gounamitz would be most likely be blocked by many sweepers. Around 4 kms from our put in, a large washout about 5 feet wide by 3 feet deep spanned the road. Tyson and I were quickly and silently thinking of ways we could get around this unforeseen obstacle when the shuttle driver told us we would go no further. I’m sure the looks on our faces mimicked that of a child who has just dropped their candy down the sink. Meanwhile, Alicia was ecstatic and glowing from ear to ear. Unbenounced to us she was praying the whole drive that we would not be able to reach the put in. Our only option was to put in at the second falls, about 12 kms downriver from our initial plans. The secondary road was steep and we had to cut and remove a few blow downs along the way. Alicia’s chin was very high as she expressed her exuberance to the shuttle driver about our new starting point, at which time I asked him if he could perhaps shuttle Alicia back with him.

After a little sulking from Tyson and I, we reached our destination. None of us were interested in running the falls this early in the morning. The river ran very clear like many of the northern NB rivers. We thanked our shuttle driver and began packing our canoes for the journey. Shortly after launching, we came to the third falls. The only passable route was on river right but a sweeper hung over the only runnable line. We ferried across to river left and lifted the canoes over the rocky ledge. The river ran quickly at a fairly steep elevation drop. We stopped and scouted some rapids along the way that we ran successfully before stopping at an island for lunch. The sun was shining and the temperatures reached the high teens. Shortly after lunch, we reached the confluence with the Little Main Restigouche. The river deepened here but remained swift. We began searching for a suitable campsite for the night. Our driver told us there were a few shelters along the river. We came to our first around 3PM, but that did not interest us as there was much noise coming from the many vehicles and ATVs parked there. We continued about an hour downstream and came across the second shelter completely empty. The road to the shelter was washed out and had a few blow downs across it. We happily set up camp here. After a few refreshments and a nice supper of marinated venison, chicken, potatoes and vegetables, we retired for the night.

Rain pelted out tents all night but we remained dry and comfortable. We took our time and cooked up a nice breakfast of fried potatoes and eggs under our shelter. We only had about 1.5 hours to the take out but enjoyed ourselves in spite of the rainfall. We packed our gear in our awaiting vehicle and headed for home. It was a very nice trip even though we did not get to run the full length of the Gounamitz. Pics are below.

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South Branch Oromocto River(April 25, 2009)

Kyle and I were in the hunt for a river that neither of us has paddled. We didn’t have to go far to find the South Oromocto. We both knew little about it other than having some nice rapids and a falls about half way down.

We parked my vehicle at the take out at the Smyth covered bridge and Kyle’s friend drove us to the put in off the South Oromocto Lake rd. Water looked promising as it flowed over the dam on the South Oromocto lake, under a bridge and around a quick corner. We launched a little before 9am.

We paddled cautiously in the fast moving current with only a width of 15-20 feet. Some nice rapids and no sweepers put us into the first quiet section. Nothing much to worry about in the upper stretches other than sweepers, although we had no issues on this day. Many quick rapids with quiet pools below for the first couple hours.

We entered a couple large deadwaters, each ending in some nice rapids with big waves. We spent most of the morning scouting any rapid that disapeared around a corner. Neither of us were quite sure where exactly the falls were or how big they were, nevertheless we did not want to take a chance.

It was around noon when we passed under the only bridge before the falls. It is only a couple kms downriver from here to the falls. There is a fairly long rapid before another quiet section and then one short rapid and a quick turn which signals the beginning of the gorge. We first eddied out on river left but could see no signs of a portage trail so we ferried across to river right. There was no immediate signs of a portage here either. After looking around for a couple minutes we decided to start making our way through the trees. Most of this area had just been pre-commercially thinned, making for enough room between the trees but a mess of brush and small stumps all over the forest floor. We decided that we would both take one canoe at a time and man handle through the woods. Shortly into the portage, our path ended at a steep vertical drop to the gorge. We were forced to go straight up the hill. After about a 100 feet or so we stumbled onto an old road. From here we followed the road away from the river until it met with another that headed back towards the falls. He hauled the canoes by rope over the snow down to a lookout spot. From here we had to make our own trail down the steep hill to the river. I’m glad we decided to do this portage in one trip instead of two. It was certainly not an easy portage and porbably the reason why not many people canoe this river. Now I am going to be really pissed if someone tells me there was a perfectly good trail on river left. Well good exercise if nothing else.

The river below the falls is all quick water with no rapids right up to the Smyth covered bridge. It is an enjoyable trip and the most scenic from the falls down. Steep hillsides and large trees make up most of the scenery. Definetly worth doing again but it sure would be nice to have a proper portage trail.

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New Paddling Club in the Fredericton Area

A new paddling club called the Tumblehome Padllers,, has now been formed in the Fredericton area. The club is open to all ages who already paddle or who are looking to get into canoeing or kayaking. For more information on memberships or to attend an upcoming meeting, please email me at
Mitchell AMos
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