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 Post subject: Bartibog Canoe Trip
PostPosted: June 8th, 2009, 6:18 pm 
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Joined: March 20th, 2009, 6:26 am
Posts: 5
Location: Miramichi, NB
RON AND HELEN’S TALES AND TRAILS ISSUE #9
Canoe Trip Down The Headwaters of The Bartibog River [May 20th to May 23rd, 2009]

Dear Friends,
Being unemployed from early March 2009 until this present time and struggling hard to find another job, I thought it wise to try to get a spring canoe run in before I might have to leave again to take on another work assignment in western Canada. Hoping that the spring run of sea trout might be about to commence up the Bartibog River I suggested to my wife Helen that we spend a few days canoeing and fishing the headwaters of that river. Although this area is not far from home it is remains isolated as there are few places to access the river except at the put in and take out points which are approximately twenty miles apart. Helen loves wilderness camping and was eager to jump at my suggestion. Although she has been my wife and best friend for many years through thick and thin she has but one minor fault and that is bringing along too much gear for most of our camping trips and on this particular trip it proved to be a real hardship on my part as I will soon explain.
In my trip reports I always refer to my wife as Constance rather than Helen, the reason being that she is constantly behind me in all of my crazy adventures, but on this particular trip I thought for a time that it might be more like “Mutiny on The Bounty.”

Wednesday May 20th
Although Constance packed the night before she was still packing on this morning of our departure and we ended up getting off to a late start. Our neighbors Will and Ed came over and helped me load the canoe as well as the rest of the gear on to the truck. We never left the yard until noon. Just as we were leaving Constance said ‘’Look at Gismo over there with that; please take me with you look on his face, we should bring him with us”. Gismo is our Scottish terrier who has, up until this time, always proven to be a loyal and steadfast dog. I agreed with Constance and decided to bring Gismo with us, another ten pounds in the canoe could hardly make a difference. The plan was for Will and Ed to drop us off at the headwaters of the Bartibog River near the mouth of Campbell Brook. I would call them three days later by cell phone to come pick us up about twenty miles down river at the Bailey bridge on the Green Brook Road.
The logging road which leads into the headwaters of the Bartibog river had not been maintained for more than two years and as such it was very rough driving. In travelling to the drop of point I am sure that all of the loose rust was shaken off my old 89 Ford ½ ton truck. When we arrived there I noticed that I had no power steering and upon investigation discovered that a fitting was leaking on the power steering hose. Nothing to worry about, I topped the reservoir off with spare fluid I had in the truck and asked Will to get it fixed when he got to town.
The boys helped me unload the canoe and our gear at the mouth of Campbell Brook. We wasted no time in unloading as the black flies had come out in full force. I knew I was going to have problems when I could not shove the canoe off shore with all the gear including Constance in it. I got out, hauled the canoe into deeper water, jumped in and waved good by to our neighbors. The headwater of the Bartibog River is a very narrow river less than ten feet wide in places with lots of rocks and abrupt turns so one has to be constantly watching for rocks and prepared to navigate away from the alder bushed and deadfalls which flank the shore of the river and extend into deep water.
Everything seemed to be going pretty good for the first mile or so, lots of fast water, deep pools and I stopped to fish at a few of the prominent looking pools. I managed to catch at least one sea trout, but the rest were all brook trout, perhaps it was a little too early for the spring run of sea trout. Gismo did not appear to mind the canoe although his position in the bow with Constance must have been uncomfortable. There was a slight breeze blowing on the river and it kept the black flies away while I fished and Constance and Gismo relaxed on the bank in the warm spring sun. When the fish stopped biting we decided to resume our journey as our goal was to reach the Jam camp site before dark. As we were floating down river the swift current combined with a sharp turn in the narrow river forced us up onto the side of a big rock. When I put my leg out of the canoe to stand up I misjudged the depth of the water and the current. I fell side ways and my other foot was caught in the canoe causing it to upset in the direction of my fall. The canoe quickly filled with water and Helen and I had a heck of a time to keep it from drifting away from us in the swift current. Although the water was warm it was utter chaos trying to hold the canoe and keep all the gear in place so that it would not float away. In our anxiety we did not notice how scared and nervous Gismo had become. I finally managed to stabilize the canoe and got it close to shore where we could unload the gear and empty the water from the canoe. I saw Gismo suddenly jump from the bank and swim to the other side of the narrow river. He then disappeared into the thick alder bushes. Thinking that he had only gone to the opposite side to dry off because it was flat ground with lots of thick alder bushes I paid no attention and continued to unload the gear from the canoe. It took the combined efforts of both Constance and I to turn the canoe over and empty it of water. Once this was done we reloaded the canoe with all our wet gear. Although the blankets and extra clothes were in plastic bags the bags got torn and everything was completely wet. I should have listen to Bob Doyle and taken him up on his offer to loan us some water proof bags.
With all the wet clothes, blankets and pack sacks we now had a much heavier load to content with. After more than an hour we finally managed to get everything reloaded into the canoe. It was then that I noticed Gismo was missing. I called and called his name but he would not come back to us. I told Helen that I would walk ahead of the canoe and guide it until we found a favorable place to camp and dry out. As I walked slowly down the river with Constance in the canoe I continued to call out for Gismo but he did not return. Constance came to the conclusion that Gismo would not come back because it meant getting back in the canoe and he was not going to be put back into the canoe. We hoped that he had decided to make his way back to the drop off point to await our return. My concern was that he would never find his way back there as the shore along both sides of the river was a jungle of alders. I feared that a coyote or bear would get him whence he reached the thick woods. Still optimistic that he might follow us down river I continued to call his name. I walked about one mile down river looking for a good place to camp but could not find anything. As evening was coming on and we did not want to go too far away from where Gismo abandoned us, we decided to camp on the shore of the river amidst the alders.
As luck would have it the breeze died down and the black flies came out in full force. We managed to get a fire going but there was not much wood near by to keep it going and it did little to dry our clothes and blankets. By the time we pitched the tent I was beginning to get dark, damp and cold. I was so discouraged I told Constance to forget about supper as I did not feel hungry. She felt the same way. All I could think about was the dog and what had become of him. How was I going to tell our daughter in law that we had lost her favorite pet. We crawled into the tent with wet clothes and under wet blankets where we shivered all night long and neither of us slept a wink. Sometime during the night it started to rain which further contributed to the dampness and chill we were experiencing.

Thurday May 21st
Daylight came early at 5:00 AM in the morning and I was quick to get outside and start a fire. I walked a ways into the bush, found some dry wood, got a fire going, boiled some water and had coffee ready for Constance. The two of us scanned the clutter around the camp site and decided we had a real job ahead of us in gathering everything up and repacking it in the canoe, nothing was dry. I continued to call out for Gismo and heard nothing, not even a distant bark. I put on my water logged wading boots and loaded the canoe with a heavy heart.
I decided to guide the canoe down the river by walking in front of it with a rope. Constance sat in the bow and enjoyed the scenery as I guided the canoe along. It was slow going but if we could find a good open spot with flat ground we could rest and dry out. I took advantage of this opportunity to study the pools we came upon as I was looking to find the renown Cascades Pool which Father Murdock described in his book ‘‘Far Away Place”
‘Cascades pool is one of the most picturesque place on the Bartibog River, where the river abruptly turns to make the pool, the bank slopes quickly to the high ridge and that bank is wholly covered with green and tawny moss and over it cascades a thin apron of water that whitens as it descends.’
I had a number of potential sites marked on an aerial photo where Casacdes pool might lie and I was closely studying each of those potential sites which we came upon. As we were just beginning to feel the warmth of the morning sun we came across an abrupt turn in the river followed by a long gently sweep. I looked at the pool before me and the high moss covered sandstone bank to my right with the flow of fresh spring water gushing down over the moss covering and realized that I was standing in Cascades Pool. It was just as Father Murdock had described it, but in the most unlikely place. I had not noticed it on previous canoe trips because we were moving too fast and I was looking for its location at an abrupt turn in the river and not on a long gentle sweep. I took a GPS reading on the pool and recorded it as N47 deg 14.883’ and W65 deg, 32.8752’ . Although I had endured some hardship on this trip I had at least found Cascades Pool. I noticed that it was not that far from the logging road on the south side of the river and thought that I might invite the Bartibog team [ Bob Doyle, Father Leon, Norman Richardson, and John Gordon ] in for a future visit. Our good friend Jack Connell who cherished our Bartibog adventures would be with us in spirit along with Father Ben.
I regret not taking the time to get a picture of the Cascades Pool but the sun was not quite up and Constance was on my case to find a good place to set up camp and dry out.
I continued on down the river walking in front of the canoe with the tow line over my shoulders. Every once in awhile I would stumble over an unseen boulder and look back at Constance in the bow of the canoe admiring the scenery. I thought to myself “does this woman know how lucky she is to have someone hauling her down the river while she sits in the canoe”. It reminded me of the early colonial politicians and army officers who brought their wives with them on fishing trips into the New Brunswick wilderness.
We were soon at Birch Pool and the trail which led to Father Murdoch’s North Brook camp site. The sun was now directly overhead and it has turned desperately hot. As I was sweating profoundly we decided to stop here for a rest. I contemplated the idea of leaving the canoe on the shore and walking into Father Murdoch’s North Brook Camp where it would be shady and cool but decided it was too hot for walking in wading boots. I knew of only one other open spot close by where we might camp and it was at the old bridge site near the mouth of the North Brook, about ½ mile further down river. I had to find a place quickly before the noon day sun would take its toll on us. The temperature felt like it was in the 30’s, which I later found out was indeed correct.
Finally we reached the old bridge site and found a nice shady place to set up camp. I strung a close line for Constance and helped her pitch the tent. It was so hot that the blankets and all the clothes were dry in about 30 minutes. Constance started dinner while I followed an old logging road to the top of a near by mountain with the intention of trying to call out on the cell phone. It was difficult walking over blow downs and alders in the heat and I had to stop a number of times for a rest. I knew there was a large clear cut at the top and I felt certain that there would be cell phone service from that point. When I reached the top, I called our neighbors Will and Ed and told them what had happened. I asked them to take my truck and go back to the drop off point to see if they could retrieve the dog. They said they would and I told them that it would be another day or so before we could get to a pick up point. I learned from them that it was 30 deg C in town. I returned to camp dead tired and found Constance cooking over an open fire with a bathing suit on and wearing my army boots. I waded through the pool to the camp site on the south side and laid down in the shade under a big spruce tree. After a few minutes I reached for the camera in my packsack and took a picture of Constance in her bathing suit with my army boots on. She attempted to hide behind the clothes line and said that these were the only dry clothes she could find. We shall all laugh about this picture in years to come. I have labeled the picture “Does Your Wife Wear Army Boots “
I can’t tell you how many times I had to listen to the declaration “This is the last time I will ever go on a canoe trip with you”. I told her that she was beginning to sound like our 21 year old son who complained in a similar manner more than three years ago when I took him on this same canoe trip and like wise upset the canoe in a similar incident. At that time we had lots of water in the river and we canoed till dark to reach the pick up point twenty miles down river at the Bailey Bridge. Since then all he talks about, during fishing season, is returning to the Bartibog to catch the big sea trout.
Constance cooked up the mess of sea trout I had caught and they were some tasty with new potatoes and fiddle heads. We slept in the shade for the remainder of the afternoon as it was too hot to fish. There was a gently breeze blowing through the trees which reminded me of Meryl Haggard’s song ‘Listening To the Wind’. .In the evening I fished the pool at the old bridge site and at the mouth of North Brook but did not catch any tout worth keeping. We retired to our tent with lots of dry clothes and blankets but it was so hot we did not need the blankets. What a change in temperature.

Friday May 22nd,
We awoke to a cloudy day. It looked like it might rain so we broke camp quickly as my goal was to reach the old Jam Camp site where there was supposed to be a walking trail from there to the Wild Cat Road . I continued to guide the canoe down river over and around rocks. Although the river picked up more water at the confluence of the North Brook there was still not enough water to float the canoe with the both of us in it. I took breaks every so often by stopping to fish a pool here and there but did not have any luck in the early morning.
At Blanket Pool we stopped for a rest and as I fished the pool I recalled Father Murdoch’s story of Blanket Pool in his book “Far Away Place “
A big spring flows into the pool. On one very warm summer day Father Murdoch and Vince Keoughan decided to follow the spring to its source to get a cold drink of water as they were very thirsty and as Murdoch describes, it would be hard to find better water than that of the springs flowing into the Bartibog. They had gone only a few steps and were about to pass a large granite boulder partly embedded in the sands and forming a damming of the swiftly flowing outlet, when suddenly dozens upon dozens of large trout raced from the deep water near the rock and into the wide waters of the pool. Murdoch estimated that there were at least three hundred large trout that raced by him into the pool, some weighing more than five pounds, but not one would take any of their flies. Murdoch mentioned that it was hard to return to Jam camp with empty creels, aware of the great numbers of large trout reposing at ease in the cold waters of that enticing pool. A few days before there were about to leave Jam camp two men called at the Jam camp and Father Murdoch told them about the trout in the pool. When one of the men suggested the idea of using a blanket to scoop some of the large trout out of the pool Father Murdoch quietly dismissed the idea as he felt it was comparable to netting, something a true sportsman would never do. From then on father Murdoch and Vince Keoughan named the pool Blanket pool.
I also thought of our friend Jack Connell and how he and I, three years ago, made that long trek up river from the Jam camp site to visit the Blanket Pool for the first time. Jack had a real talent for wading rivers and as hard as I tried I could not keep up with him. I kept tripping and stumbling over the rocks which I could not see on that hot blistering day. I recall a great sigh of relief when we finally reached Blanket pool on that day. I wondered if Jack was now looking down upon me and my sorry ass predicament. Constance beckoned me to stop fishing and continue on. Another mile would bring us to the Jam camp site where we might find a place to camp or a trail from which to remove the canoe and get it close to a road for pick up.
I continued to guide the canoe down the river and we soon came to a number of small islands in the river near the Jam camp site so named because this was the site of continual log jams during the days of the log drives. There were so many jams and pile ups at this location that the lumber company built a permanent camp on the hill above the bend in the river. When it was no longer used by the lumber companies, sports fisherman started using it.
Father Murdoch’s description of the Jam Camp site is described as follows;
Jam Camp was a small log cabin located high up on the North bank of the Bartibog River, not far from it boiled an ice cold spring of excellent water. Jam camp was located between Blanket and Bogan Pools. Blanket Pool was a mile upstream and Bogan Pool was less than a mile downstream. By 1950 Murdoch mentions that the Jam Camp is now laid low and many fishermen must regret that fact. For during many long years anglers and hunters, including millionaires and men with hardly any money took shelter in the lone cabin, high on the bank of the Bartibog.
Bob Doyle told me to look for a big granite rock on the north bank of the river as sports fishermen had a walking trail from that rock to the Wild Cat Road. Thinking that it night be a short distance to the road, I followed the trail a ways through the bush to determine if it might be possible to remove the canoe and our gear by means of this access. I had not gone very far when I decided it would be an impossible task for Constance and I. Perhaps I should rephrase “an impossible task for me”. I returned to the river and told Constance that we would continue down river to Shanty Brook pool where there might be a better trail to the Wild Cat Road.
At the first turn in the river downstream from the Jam Camp site we came across a massive spruce tree which had blown down and was blocking the entire width of the river. It had hit the ground so hard that it was completely severed from the trunk and the large end lay resting on the river bank. I surveyed the site for a means around the tree but saw only a small opening under the large end very close to the bank. The water was up to my waist as a cut away enough bottom branches to allow the canoe to pass under the tree. As I was cutting branches I noticed the heavy tree move and Constance asked “did the tree move”. “A little” I said, “now lay back and don’t move a muscle while I guide the canoe under the tree.” Luckily everything went well and we were on soon on our way.
Not far from the Jam camp site we ran into some deep water which was backed up from the big Bogan pool less than a mile down river. I told Constance there was now enough water to float the canoe with the both of us in it and in I jumped. The canoe sailed along nicely and Constance remarked that someone must be looking down upon us today. Within minutes we were at Bogan pool where we stopped and I fished for a bit, this time having much better luck with the catch. Very near the site of the Bogan Pool is a series of springs of a mineral water that animals from great distances come to drink. For miles converging from almost every direction to the pool are narrow paths cut so deep that long ago they had cut right through the sod.
As we continued to canoe down river I noticed that the current was carrying us right along such that we barely had to paddle and only navigate around the big rocks. Constance, for the most part, proved to be an excellent spotter and warned me within seconds of our approach to all those big rocks hidden just beneath the surface.
Shortly after dinner we arrived at Shanty Brook pool and I asked Constance if she wanted to stop and set up camp. “No lets go further she insisted as the canoeing is so good.” As we passed the mouth of Shanty brook I showed Constance where our son Josh fished and caught all the nice big sea trout. Although I was anxious to try my luck at Shanty Brook pool we paddled through the deep pool without stopping.
We finally stopped at a sharp bend in the river just above Goodfellow’s Pool and I caught four nice twelve inch sea trout while Constance sat on the sandy bank of the river. The onslaught of black flies soon forced us onward. Constance remarked that her good friend Nancy Cripps would go out of her mind if she was placed in a similar situation with black files. The trend today is to use Listerine instead of fly dope to keep the flies away. Constance brought a bottle of Listerine along and I was surprised as to how well it worked.
Goodfellows Pool had a large volume of water backed up and I suggested that we camp there but the boss did not see an adequate spot for camping so we pushed on, mile after mile !!!. As most of you know the Bartibog takes a long sweep after Goodfellows Pool before it straightens out on it south easterly course. Pool after pool we passed with no sign of a good camping place. As it was late in the afternoon I told Constance that we might as well continue on to the Bailey Bridge which was our initial pick up point. This we did and finally arrived at the bridge at 6;00 PM. Constance and I were so stiff and sore that we could hardly walk when we beached the canoe. There is a small camping spot at the bridge and as it was late we decided to spend the night there and have our neighbors pick us up on the following morning. After pitching the tent and moving all the gear, canoe included, to the camp site Constance called Will on her cell phone. I was disappointed to learn that Gismo was not found. Will told me that he had spent the entire afternoon at Campbell Brook calling the dog but no luck. With a deep feeling of regret I collected some wood and made a fire for Constance to cook supper. Constance cooked all the trout I caught and after supper we went to bed. No vehicles or visitors through the night and it turned very cold, too cold for the two blankets we each had.

[u]Saturday May 23rd
We awoke cold, damp and shivering. When I emerged from the tent, I noticed frost on the canoe. I managed to get a small fire going even though there was very little wood in the area, campers from previous years has burned all of the dead wood. Constance had just finished her coffee when our neighbors Will and Ed arrived. We quickly loaded our gear on the truck and I told them that I would like to return to the drop off point to have another look for the dog before heading home. Will made the comment “Ron, I think we are going to find your dog today.” “I don’t think so,’’ I replied. About two miles up the Green Brook Road , Constance spotted a small brown animal in the middle of the road running away from us. ‘That’s Gismo” she said. It turned out to be a brown rabbit which from a distance looked a lot like our Scottish terrier. On we drove in silence until we were less than three miles from Campbell Brook, the drop off point; suddenly we spotted another small brown animal in the middle of the road running toward us. ‘That’s Gismo By Golly”, I shouted and sure enough it was. When Gismo spotted our truck he turned and started running in the opposite direction. I rolled the window down and shouted “Gismo” and he stopped dead in his tracks, recognized me and came running over to the truck. When I picked him up he was so excited that he peed. I gave him to Constance and he tucked his head under her arm. Three nights in the woods and Gismo managed to stay alive and find his way out to the road. He was heading for home when we came across him but appeared to be spooky of all vehicles. After a few miles I stopped the truck and dug out the left over turkey breast which was in the cooler. Gismo devoured it in a few seconds. “That will have to hold him until we get home,” I said. For the remainder of the trip our talk was of Gismo and how remarkable it was that we managed to recover him.

Late that afternoon when I was putting our gear away, Constance made the statement “ I wish we were was back on the Bartibog, I would like to go back there, but not to canoe, just to camp.”
As I complete these trip notes I am contemplating a summer camping trip into the old Jam Camp site located high up on the banks of the Bartibog River near the coldest & purest fresh water spring in all the country. We would pitch a tent, clean up the old site, relax in the shade, listen to the breeze blowing through the popular trees and fish the pools in the early morning and late evening, just like Father Murdoch and all the other sports fisherman did so long ago in this tiny hamlet that has long since been forgotten about.
A special thanks to our friends : Ed, Will, and Brenda of Miramichi and Jessica of Bartibog who travelled to the drop off point to call and search for Gismo. Their calls helped Gismo find his way to the road and without them we would never have recovered our dog.




Remember
The campfire is always burning bright, all we need is a date when we might hang the sprunghungle over that fire in typical Richard Dashwood "Chiploquorgan or Life By The Campfire" style.
Until The Next Issue of Ron & Helen’s Tales and Trails
[There is no better place to be than on the Miramichi]

_________________
Ron Robichaud
Miramichi, NB
[ ronnyr@nb.sympatico.ca ]


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 Post subject: Re: Bartibog Canoe Trip
PostPosted: June 9th, 2009, 11:58 am 
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Joined: July 17th, 2002, 7:00 pm
Posts: 1593
Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Well,
It certainly brings back memories of all those small New Brunswick streams and brooks!!
I spent a few summer vacations traipsing across the province in the 70's and well remember the "back country".
Driving on the logging roads and coming across logging camps and good fellows I met there, rocky rivers, mountains, hills and of course, the ocean!

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When a new source of taxation is found it never means, in practice, that the old source is abandoned. It merely means that the politicians have two ways of milking the taxpayer where they had one before.
H. L. Mencken


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 Post subject: Re: Bartibog Canoe Trip
PostPosted: June 9th, 2009, 4:35 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2006, 11:21 pm
Posts: 1056
Location: Burns Lake, BC
Sorry, I'm a dog lover.

Very irresponsible for you to expect your dog to take care of itself for 3-4 days? Screw the boat and gear, you were respsonsible for that dogs life. You let him down!

Sorry for the rant. I enjoyed the TR, just not the dog part. I hope you learned something.

I'll shut up now.

Ted.


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