Grandboucle Chouchocouane

Route description submitted By:

General Info

Difficulty Ratings

Distance: 123 km
Duration : 6 days
Loop Trip : yes
 
River Travel : intermediate
Lake Travel : intermediate
Portaging : Moderate
Remoteness : intermediate

Portage Info

Maps Required

No. of Portages : 25
Total Length: 7500 m
Average Length: 300 m
Longest Portage : 800 m
 
Topo Maps (1:50,000)
31 N/14 31 N/15 31 N/11

Other Maps
Federation quebcoise du canot-camping Carte #6; Reserve faunique La Verendrye (both available at la domaine or at outfitters)

Handicapped Accessibility

GPX Data for this Route

SuitabilitySuitability : poor


 
no gpx data found

Route Description

Put in at Lac Elbow
Travel south east up La Riviere Canimiti
Wade or portage three sets of swifts to Lac Rivard.
Continue SE to 295m portage (which we waded)
To Lac Gladu
Through narrows to Lac Fourmet
Then 2 km to rough 800m portage to Lac Denain.
Continue SE, portaging and wading to Lac Ypres.
East from Lac Ypres on steep 500m portage to Lac Amyot, following map to find a series of muddy portages along a chain of small lakes to Lac Mercent.
Unmarked cascade must be lined South from Lac Mercent to Camitakit Creek, which leads to the Chochocouane for a downstream run, with numerous rapids class 1-5,
Travel up the Canimiti back to Lac Elbow.
 

General Comments

We did not complete the loop back to Lac Elbow on the Canimiti. We continued on the Chochocouane for a pick up. See trip log for details. Do not even think about doing this trip without map #6, basic Whitewater skills and wilderness experience.
 

Trip Log / Diary

This is a log of the trip I took with my son Luke, 13 years of age, in Parc La Verendre, North of Maniwaki, Quebec, in a partial loop from Lac Elbow to Camping d Outouais on the Dozois Reservoir via the Chochocuane River (pronounced shock-oh-quan). Kevin Callans book, Further Up the Creek, provided initial inspiration for our trip, and I further researched the trip the winter of 1999-2000. The Federation quebecoise du canot-camping has produced an excellent map (#6) of this portion of the Park. Kevin gave a positive review of the River, but if one includes the north-eastward portion of circuit 63 on the Park map, the trip becomes arduous. There is plenty of excitement on the River proper, which has very fine runnable white water, but trip planning for the loop must recognize some difficult portages, poor and sparse camping spots and atrocious bugs, which I believe last all summer. The Park map indicates that circuit 63 is not maintained and that passage is not guaranteed. I probably would not have tried it, but we had perfect water levels, due to the damp spring and cool summer of 2000. The Park staff at le Domaine said the route was open, so it seemed a go.

Parc LaVerendre is a vast park, on the scale of Algonquin, and mostly unraveled by canoeists. The car camping areas off Hwy 117 are crowded with RVs. Quebec car campers are a sociable bunch, and congregate in RV villages. Despite the advantage of relative remoteness on the canoe routes, the park lacks that Group of Seven white pine scenery common in Eastern Ontario. The route we travelled flowed through rough bush country, similar to that found in Northern Ontario. Luke and I saw few other people on the trip except the inhabitants of occasional cottages and hunting camps on the lakes. On the Chochocuane River, we saw no one.

Luke and I had taken numerous flat and white water trips before, including the Mattawa, the Madawaska, the Spanish (east branch) and northern and eastern parts of Algonquin Park. We paddle between 20 and 30 km per day depending on conditions and consider ourselves fair whitewater paddlers with good wilderness camping skills. We took our Swift Dumoine whitewater boat, a good river canoe. The trip described below presented up with every opportunity to try our skills: we paddled, portages, lined, tracked, waded and cursed. I had assumed that the worst of the black fly season had passed, so I left the bug shirts behind. Bad, bad move.

Day 1, 8 July; Lac Elbow-Canimiti River. I arranged a shuttle service with my two older sons, so Taylor and his friend Mathieu drove us on 8 July to the main park HQ, le Domaine, then on to Lac Elbow. Nathan and his buddy Ken were picking us up the following Saturday at Camping d Outouais on hwy 117. It is useful to have basic French for checking in at le Domaine for park passes, which cost about 6 dollars per night per person on the canoe routes. The access road to Lac Elbow from Hwy 117, exit 41, was atrocious and the car, heavy with all our stuff, touched several times. Taylor and Mathieu dropped us off at a put in on Lac Elbow for a short paddle to the Canimiti River. As the deer and black flies started in to us, I began to wonder if they would present a problem on the trip.

We paddled up the Canimiti River and waded the canoe up a number of what the map called swifts, but would more correctly be called "cascades" to keep with subsequent map usage. One can run swifts downstream, but that would not have been possible on the shelves of these rocky cascades.

We camped on a poor site at the start of the portage on Lac Rivard. We had a very good meal and started taking turns reading aloud the first Harry Potter book. Lacking the tent discipline that Luke established later, we had let in hundreds of black flies. Our book still provides a trip souvenir and last resting place for 37 black flies, attracted by the light and squished between the pages.

Day 2, 9 July; Canimiti and Lakes. We rose at 0700 and were on the water at 9 after a short portage from the campsite. We met a guy and his son from Rouyn, who were mostly on the trip for the fishing, which they reported as excellent for pickerel and pike. Those two headed south from Lac Gladu to the Riviere Denain for a shorter loop as we continued east through a narrows to Lac Fourmet. At the edge of the lake we found, with some difficulty, a muddy 800m portage to Lac Denain. Like most of the portages on the loop, it had been maintained at some earlier time, but the logs covering the muddy trails had pretty well rotted through, making footing treacherous.

We waded and paddled up a shallow sandy creek and through a large road culvert to enter Lac Ypres, where we spent the night. I donít think we found the site marked on the map, but stayed on a pretty good beach with an on shore breeze. We ate some couscous stuff I had made with chicken I dehydrated in the oven-it tasted pretty good. I have started packing in zip lock bags to save bulk, and it makes quite a difference fitting everything in. I pack food in white detergent pails with those yellow threaded lids to seal them. They have a wide mouth for easy access and stay watertight. At night I take them a couple of hundred yards to a low area to store and in a half dozen trips, have had no problems with animals.

Day 3, Nasty Portages and Bugs. This was our toughest day; maybe the hardest day I have had canoeing, as we portaged to the height of land leading to Camitakit Creek, which flows south to the Chochocuane. We rose to strong headwinds on Lac Ypres that became so bad we tracked the canoe along the sandy southern shore to the start of the dayís first portage, 250m steeply up, then 250m down, but to a nice sandy put-in (good for a swim). After 10k of lake travel, we came to the portage the map called boueux, (muddy). This portage is unmarked and difficult to pick out of the rest of the bog. It was not really muddy at all, but set in an actual swamp with semi-sunken logs that may have once served as a crude boardwalk. Our canoe moves like a leaf on the water, but it feels like a fridge on my back. Cannot wait until Luke is a little older.

The swampy trail led to a tiny lake where we had lunch on the water to escape the flies. I was feeling philosophical by this time, thinking, "I wonder what bugs do when we are not here. They must starve." And so on. Lunch on the un-named lake signalled nature to open up the sky and drench us through, then drive us to shore with thunder and lightning. This was not our finest hour. Luke informed me that he didnít really like canoeing any more. He already had 45 fly bites on his neck, and even a hot cup of tea did not cheer him much. I reminded him of the freezing cold April trip on the Skootamata when, in the dark, brother Taylor and friend Mathieu drank a tepid mix of river water, camp soap and Kraft dinner particles, thinking it was hot sweet tea. Taylor: "this tea is not as good as it was last night." Mathieu: "it is not even hot. I am putting mine back to warm up". That memory and the sun coming out for the first time in the trip put a better face on the day, at least for the moment.

We portaged out of that little lake to Lac Ucciani, enjoying the warm sun, but found our exit blocked by the beaver dam marked on the map as, "barrage de castor". The creek below, our route out, held 4 inches of muddy brown water over a foot of loon shit. Our only recourse was to let some water out of the dam, which provided great fun as we pulled apart the top two feet, flooded the creek and continued on our way. This meandering creek led us to the last, and in some ways the worst portage, from Lac Madonna to Lac Queran. It was not long or difficult, but we were tired and Luke somehow strayed off the path and got lost carrying the large canoe pack. I credit him for perseverance as he found and followed the rocky, brush filled creek to the logging road, (not marked on map #6), that marked the end of the portage with a drop into a narrow creek on the other side of the road culvert. It was as we were re-loading the canoe that the blackflies came at us with an absolute fury. In my irrational haste to get loaded, I had left the paddles in the bottom of the canoe, tucked into the floatation bags for the portage, and now completely inaccessible. We had somehow managed to float the canoe and were stuck sideways in the little creek with the bugs fully aware of our disorganized state. This was not our finest hour, either.

Following some recrimination on both our parts, we continued down a very narrow winding creek until we obtained the blessed relief of some more open water and a breeze. We ended this most difficult day on a sandy beach campsite on the south shore of Lac Mercent where we were able to swim and sun. In the evening, a display of northern lights and a good campfire made the harshness of the day seem worth it. Luke disagreed.

Day 4. Camitakit Creek to the Chochocouane River. The sun was shining, warm in a blue sky as we had a quick breakfast and prepared for a short paddle to the mouth of Camitakit Creek, our route to the Chochocouane. The exit from Lac Mercent to the mouth of the creek has a steep 75m cascade that must be lined or waded. The otherwise excellent park map #6 does not mark this obstacle. We lined done in the shallow water. The Camitakit had concerned me because of the possibility of low water. As it was, the creek held plenty of water, but could be a serious obstacle in a dry year. The creek presented nuisance barriers such as deadfalls and beaver dams, but was a good paddle for the most part. We lunched at the bridge where Kevin Callanís book recommends starting the river trip. Luke left our roll of toilet paper there, which we discovered at a critical time later on. 20 minutes down from the bridge and we finally entered the River, our first rapid in sight. We scouted the rapid standing and ran it straight down, with one eddy turn to scout the end bit, which provided a good run of haystacks. We camped one km east of the former Indian camp marked on the map (we stopped to check out the Indian camp-it is nothing special, thats for sure). This site was fair, with a plastic barrel serving as a thunder box, but had a steep take-out and we had no toilet paper. Sticks work surprisingly well. Despite persistent deer flies, Luke had worked out a very effective method of keeping pests out of the tent, and we were by now deeply into Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.

Days 5+6. On the River. Once we started our River travel, our days were much the same, as we made our way down roughly 60 km back to highway 117. The River winds through rough bush with heavy undergrowth right to the shore. There are extensive areas of cutover, where the loggers made little effort to establish a buffer of trees to the shore. We paddled long, lazy stretches where Luke slept with his heels resting on a paddle across the gunwales, and ran terrific rapids where I was grateful for safe techniques learned with the Ottawa YMCA. Camp spots, even when marked, looked marginal, with the exception of the Island spot just west of Lac Gustave, which provided a large level area with a network of paths leading to a spectacular chute. Luke and I swam in the strong eddies at the base of the chute, letting ourselves be carried down on the current and swept back in the reverse flow.

Day 7, Friday, 14 July. Dozois Reservoir and Trip End. The best rapid running came on our last day, a few km east of the entry point of the Canimiti River. Luke and I powered across sharp vees at an angle to eddy out, then ferried to the next vee to miss ledges. Good fun, and I admired Lukes paddle skill and rock spotting ability. Between the continuous rain and the odd splash picked up along the way, I had to do a bit of bailing. I was thinking of the amazing amount of water than had seeped in, when Luke started laughing. He had a Nalgene bottle open and was filling up his end as fast as I was emptying mine. Lukes duplicity led to a fairly severe paddle fight, which did nothing to dry us out. I say I won, but once again, Luke disagrees and has been very persistent on this point. Perhaps this was our finest hour, on our best day.

We did not arrange for pick-up until Saturday, but we were soaked and Lukes love of camping was now sorely tried. We decided to stretch out the day and get to Camping d Outaouais Friday. We were disappointed in the camp area; it was another RV village with lots of big boats. Kevin Callan described accurately the Dozois reservoir as a wasteland of blackened stumps, and the camp was a real eyesore. It even had an on site gravel pit. We spent Friday night there and when Nathan came to get us on Saturday, we convinced him to pack up and head for home instead of staying there that night.

If I were doing this trip again, I would shorten it to four days and do the river route from where the Camitakit enters the Chochocouane. The full circuit down the Canimiti back to Lac Elbow would have been OK with a lighter canoe and in a season with fewer black flies (if there is one). Waiting for late summer or fall to miss the bugs may produce problem with water levels on the Canimiti and Camitakit, but all trip planning involves some trade-offs. The Chochocuane loop provided in full what I seek on these trips-an honest chance to travel under my own power, with my own skills to guide me, knowing that my son will remember the river.

Rick Thompson

  

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User Submitted Information

THIS IS AN OLD VERSION OF 'ROUTES' & THEREFORE IS NO LONGER OPEN FOR ADDITIONAL COMMENTS.
 
 

Submitted by:  Dave         on 0000-00-00

My wife and I made this same (almost) trip in '92. We took longer and did some fishing , which was awesome. Our trip was in early July and the black flies were, by far the the worst we had ever seen. Our two sons were too young to go then, and probably that was a good thing, it was great for us but I duobt if they would have enjoyed it at 7 and 10.......There are other routes more suitable for younger ones. We have spent much in this park and it has great has a lot to offer. Do your homework before going. email me . talk to others......... Surely not wilderness but I hace spent many many days there without seeing any sign of man or ever encountering another person.........i truly enjoyed reading this log......... brought back some nice and not so nice memories....Dave

Submitted by:  Mathieu         on 0000-00-00

We did, my friend and I, this trip during august of 2004. We canoe the whole loop and we didn't have the bug issue. So I guess if you don't like them, going during the end of summer is your best bet. The rapids weren't powerful because of the low water but navigating between the rocks and reading current were extremely important. I remember one rapid we hit a rock under the water that moved our canoe sideway and we got pin on a rock and all our drybags and stuff went out...! The RI-RII are very easy or cant be done, but RIII and up are very challenging because of the rocks and difficult lines. I gotta agree with Rick that a few camping sites are really bad (I remember one time we were directly in the middle of the swamp) but when that happened, we were usually moving to the next one and it was alright. I only remember one camping site that was ok, the others were very nice and they were very different. We did the whole loop in 7 days, and I can't see how you can do it faster especially going against current at the end if you are in highwater. In august, going upstream wasn't a big deal, we almost couldn't notice sometimes but expect to portage every rapids except a few ones where we could walk and push the canoe against current. It's a good trip, especially if you are looking for a long one, it can easily be done in 8-9 days paddling 7-8 hours per day. We were starting usually around 9am and stopping around 7pm and it took 7,5 days. It depends also how fast you portage, it's usually there you lose time. If you are looking for exciting rapids, I would go in highwater. I think some were very technical in low water (lines are very small between rocks) and some couldn't be done because no lines at all, too many rocks. Tips for your trip: -If you don't like camping spot, paddle more (usually 1-2hours) and next one is usually fine. -UPDATE YOUR MAPS where you check in. The cards that you are buying changed a bit and need to be updated, so bring a good pen to spot new camping site and rapids. -We didn't see much animals, only nice birds. -We saw nobody during trip except on the big lakes where there was some cottage. It's pretty nice to be alone during 5-6 days...! -Expect some mud in 2-3 portages. You can't avoid it... I recommend it for people that want to try a longer trip and have at least medium experience in rapids, so you can skip a few portages. I like the combo of starting with the lakes and enjoy/relax for the first days then get in the rapids. A very nice river. Mat

Submitted by:  Pierre         on 0000-00-00

Hi, I found your trip very interesting, My family owns the camp on the south end of lac Ypres, I have spend many summers there with my dad, uncles, cousins, and grandfather! I could have told you about the blackflies and the pickerel too! ;-P it seemed you had problems with the campsite on ypres, once you get out of the portage stay left, go past long island on the left, along that shore there are three points in sucession, i dont know what the map says but its the second point after the island. The portage from lac denin is porbably pretty bad until you get to the logging road but after the road if you stay on the left of the stream you will find that the portage is well maintained all the way to the lake. Hope this was a help, It is such a beautiful area even when the black flies are out for blood! Cheers, Pierre.

Submitted by:  Will         on 2009-04-16

I paddled this trip solo last july-august. I took 9 days to do the loop, allowing for the unexpected, and ended up with a couple of lazy days at the end (bonus.) Several of the portages at the begining were very muddy and I sank past my knees on a couple of occasions (possibly because of all the rain we had last year.) The portage to the Camitakit river (marked as 80m sur roches) was impassible due to high water, so I ended up bushwacking to the "ancient road" marked on the park map and put in from there. From there on I had beautiful sun to enjoy while playing in the rapids. The triple set around a raised campsite on the Chouchocouane was spectacular. I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone looking to go a little beyond the well travelled paths for adventure.


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