Manicouagan Reservoir kayak trip

CanadaQuebec07 Lower St Lawrence, N Shore
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Liviu Rus
Trip Date : 
21 June 2018
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
200 km
Duration: 
14 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Advanced
Lake Travel: 
Advanced
Portaging: 
Not applicable
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Flood
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Clockwise trip around the René-Levasseur island on Manicuagan Reservoir, QC, Canada

Technical Guide: 

The water does not flow, but the wind can shift very quickly and I've seen waves as high as 1m; when present the cloud ceiling is very low and the fog could be very dense in the morning.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Hi everyone,

After studying previous trip reports and realizing I wouldn’t rather do something else with my vacation time I’ve decided to take the challenge and complete the round trip of Manicouagan reservoir in kayak this 2018 summer. I told all my soccer friends and some were interested but none convinced so I went solo and parked at the Uapishka station; I was presented the emergency beeper and I decided it’s worth the price: 5$/day when you rent it for more than 10 days

Equipment bought for the occasion include: k2 explorer inflatable kayak, Pelican carbon fiber oar, Yannes one-person tent, military knife and axe, folding shovel, self-inflatable mat; also got with me 2 propane cylinders, and one burner stove

Food: dried fruits, dark chocolate and nuts, canned fish, quinoa, 12 eggs, coffee and white wine

1st day: departure from Montreal, non-stop until Tadoussak, took some nice snaps with the landscape, even seen a whale from far; arrived at Baie-Comeau by 20h00, filled the tank and an extra 10L cannister and this was enough for the trip to Uapishka station and back; the night came and I’ve only managed to make 80km on the 389, but there was a lake on my left with a parking space and visible traces of a fire pit, so I lay down my tent and started a camping fire; a noisy big truck passed by every 3 to 10 minutes

2nd day: up at 6AM, arrived at Uapiska station by 11AM; talked to the station keeper David, registered and understood I need to press the ok button on the GPS tracker in the evening where I set the tent and in the morning when I leave the shore: there was also a non-emergency help button and an emergency button – linked to the police I was told; the weather started to go bad, light rain started by noon, but I was set to at least cross the lake on the René-Levasseur Island, which I did, but at a hefty price as I realized later, I’ve got frost bites on almost all my fingers, the water was so cold, the light rain and the side wind took a toll on me; 4 hours later I was on the island (3 o’clock) and started the fire; luckily the sun came back and dried my stuff, I was able to take breathtaking sunset pictures; also tried to fish but in vain

3rd day: I was set to pass the Memory Bay and the weather was excellent, which I wrongfully took for granted, so I’ve advanced at a steady pace taking picture on the cliff formation of the biggest Island in front of Relais-Gabriel; made me think of a large temple arch whit a door at the base, the door was so dark that Dantes inferno phrase “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” popped into my mind; thankfully the other side swept by the sun gave me hope and the quality oar proved a good return on investment; Memory Bay behind I’ve passed two more small bays until I decided to settle for the closest shore of yet another large bay (about 4 and a half o clock on the map); the sandy shore had a steep slope, so I’ve used a folding shovel to make it comfortable; camping fire, portioned food and wine, tried to fish again to no avail; realized I forgot a wooden spoon, so I’ve improvised one using the military knife.

4th day: Just realized it takes at least 90 minutes to pack and be ready to paddle; left the shore after the classic boiled egg and coffee breakfast and when I looked back I’ve seen a large cottage in walking distance from where I spent the night… if I only knew! the weather continued to be excellent, I even took advantage of the back wind and used my downwind paddle, so I’ve advanced, I took a break on the sandy shore with a hunting cabin, wanted to get there but to many fallen trees cut my walking path so I’ve returned; two caribous were visible on the shore and I’ve managed to put on my zoom lens and get the picture taken before they disappeared; I’ve decided to set tent not far from the caribous, thinking if it’s safe for them, must be safe for me J (I believe this was just passed 5 o’clock);

5th day: In the morning I’ve seen other caribous tracks that politely went around my tent at a safe distance ; A large and deep inland bay was in front of me, the wind not very helpful, small waves, but doable for now; so I’ve paddle and paddle; only those who paddled inflatable kayaks know how hard it is especially when the wind is not your friend; remembered some military songs but didn’t help, then remembered every important person in my life starting with my 10yrs daughter (now in shared custody), my parents, brother, nephews and every friend I could think of and I’ve dedicated a good paddle for each; started over the list to see if I forgot anyone ; thank you guys, you kept me going; I love you! So I’ve passed the large bay and I wanted to continue, but bigger waves sent me to the shore, just after a small hunting cabin, on a small bay where I hopped I could catch a pike or something… but I’ve just realized I don’t have enough water and the waves made the lake water dirty so I walked to the inner bay where I say a small stream; managed to get there when I heard a big splash… A bevor let me know there wont by any catch of the day, this is his bay! thankfully he let me fill my bottles with clean water from the stream.

6th day: I tried to get ready as early as possible; the nice weather in the mornig turned into a windy one and by noon the wind was so trong against and the bay in front of me so large that I had to try some bay surfing; after an hour lunch break deep inside the bay I tried to use again the downwind paddle which worked until the wind was too much on the side; with all the remaining streingth I managed to live behind the big bay at 6 o clock and settle for the night on a narrow beach; the forest was kind of too close for my taste, but exhosted I decided to abandon my body to the nature and you know..."if I die before I wake, pray the Lord my soul to take..."; this was also the first night when all kind of flies and moskito forced me to eat with the net on; some frost bites healed, but at least two did not close while band-aids fell as soon as I get my hands wet; it was painful to do the zippers on the tent, on the backpack using my fingers middle instead of finger tips; I guess I knew this was a mission and once a solder always a soldier, right?

 

7th day: getting ready as fast as I can, aiming for the straight in front of me, taking advantage of the mild wind, lunch break on the lake I managed to reach the island at 7 o clock which luckily had a small inlet with little vegetation, a bit rocky but no pb for my tent mat; at least 10m of deep enough watter between my inlet and the island, so I finally felt safe; another nearby bevor let me know this is his teritory, wich I conceeded loudly in my language and he seemed to understand; first time without camping fire, just heating some quinoa leftovers with a can of sardines on the stove; did I mention I had garlic at every supper? I believe it must be a natural antibiotic and also keeping werewolf away :)) Felt asleep quickly after religiously checking the map both on paper and on downloaded GPS maps, also watched the International Space Station passing by at about 10:15PM

 

8th day: the wind from the day before did not change direction and started to be annoying; there`s a big bay in front of me and the wind is getting stronger; by no means I will return now almost half way through; getting on the opposite bay shore with draining efforts but well rewarded by a hot and sandy beach front, a falling birch made it look like palm tree so I decided to call it Palm Beach; after fixing  my stomach with some cold lunch I took a walk and scanned the horizon with my binocular; if only the shore could be as welcoming as this one as often as I needed! Oar in the water and paddling hard to the next bay; I spot a line of shore without vegetation and that became my host for the night; rocky and peninsula shape, so I felt quite safe; this was about 8 o’clock on the map.

 

9th day: The ground being too rocky I couldn’t bury the fish can so I took it with me; when l was looking back from couple of hundred of meters away I’ve notice something shiny: binoculars on: a tent nail – sorry for the litter, hope I did my part by burning and burying my trash all along; so I was aiming for the island formation at 9 o’clock and with some help from the my friend the wind I’ve got there only to notice it shifted direction when close to it; with all my strength I got to the narrow straight between the two islands which was well rewarded by the wind that let me use the downwind paddle and also partially helped me cross the large bay up to a “king of the hill” rocky cliff formation at 9 o’clock; this became my camping ground; here I’ve seen some caribou tracks but could’ve also been visited by wolves as part of it was easily accessible from the forest; I camped on the north west part of it hopping the fire camp and the smoke that hopefully will last over night will keep me safe; also did my bath routine and some laundry with the price of staying a bit too long barefoot on the icy water.

 

10th day: aiming for the longest distance possible today, I’ve managed to find a welcoming small bay at about 10 and a half o’clock on the map; I’ve docked in a light rain using a big rock but didn’t manage to stay dry on my feet while getting stuff off the kayak and by doing so all the time until now I believe I got some urinary track infection as my urine showed traces of blood; took some Advil’s and tried to stay dry and warm from now on; this happened by the time all my frost bites healed, so luckily one pb at the time ! this night I only felt partially safe as the peninsula formation wasn’t far enough from the forest; I took lots of pictures of the landscape here as the beach was scattered with large and round stones, some looking like chocolate muffin – lava from the volcanic eruption caused by the meteor must have rolled over stones of different color hence the muffin chocolate look like; I’ve called this place Omaha Beach in memory of my teenager time when I read all I found about the Pacific war.

 

11th day: all other interests left aside (fishing, pictures, exploring walks) and encouraged by the love for my daughter and the joy to see her again asap, I was set for an even longer distance; this happened in spite of mild wind with some strong gusts and threatening waves until I reached a large bay at midnight on the map and settled for the small island inside the bay; I’ve called this place Midway atoll; here some seagulls sang me for long time and I’ve notice eggs laid on the rocky ground so I knew why, but I’ve talked to them and I guess they understood I won’t bother for long. I took a video with my cell (religiously charged with the folding solar panel) and so I’ve notice how my look changed by the beard, the streak of effort and the wind; I’ve figured at this pace I should have no more than two nights left on the lake; the wind shifted over night and woke me up by 4AM; already daylight, I’ve checked again if the kayak was well anchored on the ground, face down and tried to get some more sleep;

 

12th day: in the morning the wind calmed down a bit, but still gusting against my course; so I’ve got to do some bay surfing and giving it all I managed to pass the exposed part of the bay; I took a lunch break when the wind was too strong in hope this will calm down which it did but only for 20 minutes or so at the time; this was a painful distance and by 5PM I decided to give up; for the past three days the wind was always against me, only now the intensity had no mercy; time to see what my guardian angel word is worth, so I’ve pressed the help button on the GPS tracker (not the SOS); overwhelmed, I shed couple of tears; then I started to pack the kayak and then I waited until the stormy clouds were clearly headed to my way, so I set the tent and knew David would not come to my rescue today; I didn’t press the button lightly, it was really caused by the blood stream in my urine and the exhaustion of my strength; my GPS map showed straight distance to Uapishka station was 32km; I was at about 1 o'clock on the map.

13th day; early in the morning, at 6 AM David came to my rescue with two students in a zodiac. Thank you, David, thank you guys, I appreciate! I knew this will cost me some fees but wasn’t so bad; the total bill was reasonable including one-night stay (the 14th), supper and breakfast, also the GPS tracker rental. I had some kind of jetlag for the rest of the day, the sensation that I'm still leaning left and right like in the kayak remained for couple of days.

 

For the record, I don’t claim neither victory, nor defeat; it is what it is, a personal challenge and memories for the retirement.

Hope this help others, just beware the water level is set to increase about 2 meters which will probably make the shores less welcome for several years to come.

Cheers!

Comments

Post date: Thu, 10/04/2018 - 14:07

Comments: 

My next chanlange: Crossing Ungava peninsula on foot.