Ashuapmushuan River

CanadaQuebec06 Saguenay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Trip Date : 
August 2020
Additional Route Information
180 km
7 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
3000 m
Longest Portage: 
1750 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

The put-in is located off Highway 167, just past the bridge over the River Ashuapmushuan if coming from Saint-Felicien on the way to Chibougamau.  Turn right after crossing the bridge onto a dirt road, then immediately turn right again on to a narrow forest road that leads to the put-in.  There is a campsite there.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Writer's note:  nothing in this trip journal is intended to be a technical guide.  Any rapids noted to be easy or difficult reflect our personal experiences and will differ greatly depending on skill level, equipment, water levels, etc.  We relied on Eric Leclair's 2010 cartespleinair guide for our trip until we reached the end of the wilderness reserve.   That guide is available here:


DAY 0 8/21/20

This is the trip report for a run of the Ashuapmushuan river in August 2020 by Seth Wayne, Sean “Marsean” Martin, and Luke Nelson of the Brambo’s Privateers crew.  We had run the Du Chef + Ashuapmushuan with a larger group back in 2014.  This would be a shorter trip on the Ashuapmushuan alone.  Today we started the trip by loading up the Highlander and our newly-purchased trailer with our two canoes (Nova Craft 17’ prospector “Flo” and Mad River 14’ solo boat “Tan Solo”) and gear, for the drive from Toronto to our AirBnB in Saint Francois-de-Sales, QC, about 45 minutes from Saint-Felicien and two hours from the put-in.  Sean had ordered a new 4-person tent that we were supposed to use on the trip, but because of Covid shipping delays it hadn’t arrived yet.  This morning it was “out for delivery” but with no timetable, we couldn’t afford to wait all day.  Instead, we borrowed a massive 8-person “Ventura” tent from Sean’s roommate, hoping it would stand up to the weather.  We got on the road and picked a point along the 401 that would be too far for us to turn back for the new tent.  Sure enough, a couple hours past our “no going back” point, we got a text that the tent had arrived.  Oh well.  Not a great start, but still optimistic that the replacement tent would work out.

Drive was pretty uneventful and boring until we turned north at Trois Rivieres, when it became very beautiful.  Had a funny run-in with a francophone gas station attendant who accused us of not paying for gas (“Payez! Payez!”) until we showed him our receipt.  Fair to chalk up to anti-Ontario bias?  Just kidding. Otherwise folks were friendly and most people thankfully wearing masks and taking precautions.

The trailer turned out to be a fantastic purchase.  Worked like a charm.  Functional and attractive, we nicknamed her “Salma Kayak.”  We arrived at our AirBnB which was down a gravel road from the town and found it to be a small cabin with nice touches (granite countertops!).  Marsean was masterful at backing up the trailer.

Drank some beers and whisky and sorted the gear.  Tomorrow the paddle begins!

DAY 1 8/22/20  KM: 180

Got a decent start in the morning, and were packed and out of the AirBnB by 9am.  Stopped in Saint-Felicien for gas and a couple small items.  Luke stopped by the “Information Touristique” booth which had been incredibly helpful on our last trip 6 years before (with its legendary attendant, Florian).  Luke spoke to a nice woman there who unfortunately didn’t remember Florian, who no longer works there.  Wonder what he’s up to now?

Luke asked for recs for food after trip and among them was “La Chouape,” the same place where we started our epic celebration after the 2014 trip (that ended up with some of us wrestling on the floor in an underground after-hours karaoke bar, but that’s another story).  Unfortunately “Mike’s” where we had our infamous post-trip meal of Hamburza (hamburger with pizza for buns) was not among the recommendations.  We also found out from the internet that hamburzas are no longer a thing at Mike’s or anywhere else.  Well, we’ll see about that.  We drove from Saint-Felicien to the put-in, reading on the way a funny French language review of the Hamburza from 2014. 

On the way we stopped at the park office, the “Accueil.”  The woman there spoke no English and our French is pathetic so it was a bit of a struggle, but we showed her our receipt from purchasing permits online, and signed our releases.  Nice selection of merch there too.

The put-in is just past a bridge on Highway 167 that crosses the Ashuapmushuan. Turn to the right after the bridge and rather than follow the road leading right, you turn right immediately again onto a small forest road leading back toward the river.  The road goes for about half a kilometer to a campsite with a gazebo and kybo, and from there you can drive a rough road to the river’s edge with a makeshift boat ramp, or (as we did), portage about 100m down a steep path.

We stopped for lunch in the gazebo and then rolled rocks down the hill to see who got the solo boat for the first day.  Sean’s big rock won.  My small, nimble rock put in a pathetic performance and got hung up on a stump right below where we dropped it.  Sean in the solo for day 1.

We parked the Highlander and trailer on the road, then prepped the boats and put away all our timekeeping devices (no watches/clocks is a crucial trip rule of ours), then launched onto the river just below a Class I-II set shown on the map that crossed under the bridge, but that we couldn’t see from where we put in.  Great weather, low 20s, mixed clouds with no rain and few bugs.

As soon as we hit the water we were impressed by the strength of the current.  Even in medium water levels and flat water, we were rocketing along.  After about 5 kilometers we hit our first set, the class II-III “Rapide des Cedres”.  Ended up running it ducky style without scouting.  Pretty tame despite the class.  After about 1k we paddled under some massive power lines hanging above the river.  Really broke the sense of nature immersion but a cool experience as you could hear the buzzing from the sheer power flowing through the lines.  Next was Rapide Quartier de Biche.  We pulled up to scout from the portage River L and found it to be overgrown and hard to see the river.  Made it to the end and had a look, then came back and ran the whole set, following the water flow.  At the gnarliest section the plan was to power from river R to L, but Luke and I in the tandem couldn’t make it and ended up powering through big standing waves in the middle, taking on a lot of water and nearly swamping.  Luckily we had the spray deck to keep us from being fully submerged.  Would not recommend that run in an open boat.  Marsean in the solo had no problems.  After the big stuff it was just a wave train and then kilometers of swifts and Class I rapids.  Easy, fast stuff.

A great day.  Pulled in to a nice campsite on a high bank with a creek running right through the pull in.  It was the middle of three sites marked on the cartespleinair on river L.  First site was nice too, but a little swampy so we chose the second.

Had ribs, potatoes, and beers for dinner.  Tried a game where everyone had to say “oui” instead of “yes” or else drink.  Took a LOT of sips.  Plan was to do that every night but ended up giving up.  We are not good at French.

DAY 2 8/23/20 KM: 163

Woke up to decent weather in the morning and no bugs.  How glorious it is to not have bugs!  Had a quick breakfast with no fire and Starbucks Via packs for coffee (true for the whole trip), stashed a Smirnoff Ice in Luke’s wet shoe and watched him chug it to start the day.  As we packed up and started paddling, we found the third campsite marked on the map.  A little overgrown but nice as well. 

To choose who got the solo boat second, Luke and I had a stick race in the creek.  He won handily as my waterlogged stick could barely get above the water.  So Luke in the solo, Seth in stern with Sean in bow of the tandem. 

The day started with kilometer after kilometer of easy rapids, just rocketing along until we hit the Sault Mazarin set of rapids.  And the Sault Mazarin was really just more of the same, kilometers of super fun rapids with lots of water and waves, cruising along the river at breakneck speeds dodging rocks.  Our plan was to stop and scout before the Class III-IV section at the bottom of the set, but Sean and Seth in the lead boat didn’t see a good spot to pull up, so we just ran it without scouting.  Very fun, with big waves!  Took on lots of water just plowing through the middle.  Again, would have swamped without the spray deck.  The tandem canoe “Flo” is a real beast and able to just saunter through big stuff and stay upright.  Probably if we ran again would try to run river R of the big wave train.

Luke followed did the same route but took on less water dancing through the waves in Tan Solo.  Luke’s take is that the solo boat is tippier but more forgiving, and he was able to stay upright by keeping a paddle in the water.

After the big water we got to a flat section.  Wanted to stop in the solo to bail but realized Luke had both bailers, so we ran the rock garden after semi-swamped.  Ended up getting hung up on rocks on the final ledge to river L.  Couldn’t tell from upriver but there was basically only one spot with enough flow to get through without hitting rocks.  We worked our way free and directed Luke to the only good spot.  He ran through fine, then we bailed for a while and high 5’ed to celebrate an awesome rapid run with no dumps.

After bailing, we blazed along through the flat water with the fast current, easily running a few small swifts and CI sets.  We hit the confluence with the Du Chef and stopped by an old campsite where we had stayed in 2014 nearby.  Something about the epic surroundings inspired us to think of the Lord of the Rings scene where they paddle down a river, and we had the LOTR theme in our heads for much of the rest of trip.

We got back in the boats and had lunch onboard floating with the currents. Probably made about 2k distance just floating while we ate.  Eyeballing the flow, I thought it was faster than a regular running speed. The scenery was beautiful, and our lunch featured some tasty Irish cheddar cheese, which would end up coming back to haunt me stomach-wise for the next couple days.  

After lunch we ran a CII-III ledge to river L, hit the main V then cut to the R.  After that set paddled another 10k quickly then camped at a huge and beautiful beach site.   We dubbed our enormous borrowed tent “Spluigi’s Mansion.”  No need to explain.

With plenty of daylight left, we hung out in the river, drank whiskey, propped up a big wooden tripod that had been left on the beach and used it to hang our water filter and clotheslines.  We scrounged driftwood and sat by the fire, looking at the amazing starscape.  Biggest downside to the site was its proximity to a logging road across the river, and we regularly heard cars and trucks driving along, ruining our sense of immersion.  I guess nothing is perfect.

All told a fantastic day.  Canoe trips really are the best thing in the world.

DAY 3 8/24/20  KM: 127

We woke up to an intense fog covering the site and the river, so much so that we could barely see the opposite shore.  It was very cold.  We were instantly reminded of the downside to beach sites, as we found sand absolutely everywhere and in everything.  We had cold starbucks via coffees and a highly caloric oatmeal for breakfast, laced with peanut butter powder, hot chocolate powder, and maple syrup.  Luke took a run around the site to warm up as we waited for the fog to clear.  This morning we were pretty slow in getting the site packed up and ready to go. 

Today I (Seth) was in the solo, with Sean sterning Luke in the tandem.  I struggled to find a good kneeling option with the low clearance of the solo seat, so just ended up sitting on the seat for rapids with my legs out straight braced against the sides of the boat.  Was nervous about it being too unstable but ended up working great for the whole trip, even in big water.  Nicknamed it “Lazy Joe” style paddling.  And today had some huge water!

The day started with about 2k of flat water, followed by a couple easy warm-up sets.  The rapids got a little more intense as we built up towards Rapides des Iles.  When we got there, we ran them in their entirety, pulling up periodically for some quick scouts on the rocks.  Started out by sneaking L, then popping over into the main V.  We stopped, took a look, then did a hard ferry across the river to hit the big V with large standing waves.  A good skill tester and tons of fun!  This is where I went from being super nervous in the solo to extremely confident in my skills.  After that a pretty straightforward series of wave trains.

Fer du Cheval rapid follows Rapides des Iles, and we ran it with no problems by avoiding the big wave train on river R.  “Stopped” for lunch at the 100k marker on the map, eating in the boats again.  Drifted more slowly than the previous day but still made a couple kilometers while we ate our tortillas with sausage and cheese.

After lunch we paddled a couple of kilometers of flatwater before we hit Rapides des Deux Portages, or as we call it, Rapides Pas de Portages.  Our extreme avoidance of portaging really shined here.  We scouted the rapids from the middle island, then ran a huge V to river R.  Took on some water, so we eddied out to bail.  After that, we ran another 100m or so before ducking into a little offshoot to river R where we lined a ledge.  Due to a miscommunication, Luke and I dumped the solo boat while lining.  Our first dump of the trip and we weren’t even in the boats.  This will be punished by chocolate squirrels later (eating a chocolate-covered almond while clinging to a tree, our traditional punishment for misdeeds and bringing useless gear).

We got the water dumped out and scouted the rest of the set, which had some pretty big water.  Plan was to blast across to River L working across some big action to hit an eddy in the middle of the river, and from there get to the main V.  From our position we could only see the huge wave train below but couldn’t quite see the end of it.  Feeling overconfident maybe because of our success so far, we thought this was a fine plan.

Luke and Sean went first in Flo as I watched from a high rock.  They made it to the eddy, then the big V.  I saw them get tossed in the wave trains but make it through the big waves fine.  But then they hit the absolutely massive souse hole at the bottom of the wave train that we couldn’t see from our scout.  The boat teetered at the top as they tried to power through, but having already taken on water they turned sideways, then dumped spectacularly into the hole. 

Luckily, they were both fine, and I saw their heads pop up way in the distance, and there was a large flat area beyond the hole.  They drifted across to the far shore get the boat upright.  No injuries, nothing lost.  Phew.   I, deciding that discretion is maybe better than valour, scrapped the plan and snuck down the R side running some small ledges with no problems, avoiding all the big action.

As Luke and Sean struggled to ferry back across the river with the strong current, I pulled up to the beach site marked “GC” on the cartespleinair, and found it to be absolutely garbage.  Nowhere flat to put Spluigi’s Mansion, all sand, and swampy water with seaweed.  So we backtracked to the portage where a couple other sites were marked.  About 50m back up the trail was a fantastic site marked “3C” on the map in the woods overlooking the rapids, where we set up.

Another great day.  We drank whiskey, took our chocolate squirrels as punishment, and Luke and Sean did an extra punishment of a “fuzzy mufftard” (fuzzy peach candy with mustard) for dumping.  Mashed potatoes and chorizo for dinner prepared by Sean.  Delicious.

Once again, beautiful weather and no bugs.  How sweet it is.

DAY 4 8/25/20  KM: 94

There was a big thunderstorm overnight, heard lightning strike near the tent with a huge, tent-shaking boom.  As a result, I had storm-related dreams.  The wet morning turned into a wet day.  Chilly and windy with on and off rain.  We had granola for breakfast and got out of camp quickly and efficiently.

Ran a CI-II set right past the campsite then a few kilometers of flat water.  A site marked “GB EB” (low water excellent large site) on the map turned out to be trash, a sandbar with no wood access.  We continued on, reaching the Petits Chutes Chaudiere, where we ran a CI-II at the top then eddied out river R to the beach portage to scout.  We decided to run and line the set (pas de portages!).  From the portage we ferried over to some rocks in the middle of the river.  Ate fresh blueberries we found here then decided to run the chute to the R of the rocks.  Marsean in the solo first, then Luke and I in the tandem.  We both hit the middle of the chute then powered through some curling waves.  Tons of fun but risky given the huge action further down the river.  No dumps, thankfully, and Luke and Marsean’s dump the day before would be the only one of the trip.

After the chute we eddied out river R to line the final section, which we did on the R side with no problems in a small side stream.  Paddled about 800 m after that to the Chutes Chaudiere main portage.  Ran a CII set hugging the right shore, mostly just dodging rocks.  Once we hit the portage, we carried bags first to check out the campsite marked “GA.”  The GA campsite is great!  Has a picnic table under a gazebo, with a small sauna/kitchen structure with shelves and a roof, with a great view of the falls. There was even a decent kybo about 100m walk away in the chutes parking lot.  Decided to stay there and make it a short day.

The Chutes are spectacular.  We ran into several visitors who had driven in to see the falls, then went back for the boats for the 1.5k portage.  Seth carried the beastly Flo, while Luke and Marsean took the difficult-to-portage Tan Solo and the remaining bags.  The solo boat with no yoke is a real challenge.  Flo has a yoke, but is incredibly heavy with the spray deck on, meaning we were all pretty beat by the time we finished.  We spent the rest of the day hanging out by the rapids, drinking whiskey and trying to stay warm and dry in the chilly and wet weather.

As we were checking out the last portage section, I cut my knee pretty deeply on a rock.  We cleaned it and Sean covered it with a bandage of Tegaderm.  It wouldn’t stay with my leg hair so I trimmed it off with the small scissors in my med kit then reapplied it.  Worked like a charm and the cut was no problem for the rest of trip.

We threw a big log into the river to watch it run the falls, and carved our names into the gazebo alongside the many others already there. 

Because of the cold and rain none of us felt much like cooking a big meal, so we had some pre-packed backpacker MREs that just required pouring hot water into the pouches.  Better than expected!  Very chilled from the winds but the rain finally stopped.  As always, no bugs.

DAY 5 8/26/20 KM: 84

We had  some water in the tent overnight.  Two drops fell right on my forehead!  Guess Spluigi’s Mansion is really quantity over quality.  But because of the size we were able to sleep in a “triforce” pattern.  The day broke cold.  Same weather as the previous day, with constant alternating bands of blue sky and dark rainclouds, with a very cold north wind.  This persisted all day until nightfall when things cleared up.

We had a quick breakfast of caloric oatmeal at the picnic table, and marveled at the sheer power of the chutes.    Luke generously donated one of our toilet paper rolls to the parking lot kybo.  Because of the cold wet weather, we hustled to get moving and get out of camp.  As with the whole trip, the cold breakfast/coffee plan and not needing to light a fire in the morning got us packed out pretty quickly and efficiently.

We portaged the gear and boats over the rocks to a rocky beach at the bottom of the chutes.  The rocks were a little slippery but we got down OK.  We set out at the base of the chutes for a short 20k day in fast current “flat water,” but really basically continuous swifts punctuated by CI and CII wavy sets.  Marsean in Tan Solo, Luke and I in Flo.  We were all getting pretty chilled by the cold wind, even with the constant paddling and our rain gear on.  We paddled a long straightaway with few landmarks, before reaching L’Épinette Blanche Rapids, which were very fun!  Kilometers of continuous wave trains getting bigger and bigger.  We paddled through dodging waves and pillow rocks.  A great way to practice your skills and pick lines while improvising in moving water. 

The tegaderm held up well on my cut knee, and the spray decks were crucial to keep waves out of the boats.  We had no dumps or swamps.

After the rapids we drifted a ways past some cabins on river R, still moving fast while drifting.  As periodically on the river, the biggest downside was occasionally hearing vehicles passing on the highway.  We reached a site marked “GB” on river L and found it to be really great (we had stayed there in 2014 as well).  Up on a high bank with a picnic table and yet another gazebo.  There was also a kybo back in the woods were we found “Brambo’s Privateers 2014” (our crew’s name) written on the door.  We also found “BP2014” carved into the picnic table.  Great memories!  We added 2020 to both to make our mark.

We hung out at camp and had a great time. Played paddle ball (an invented game involving paddles and a small bouncy ball for which we make new rules every time we play) and backwoods bocce ball.  Chilled by the fire while Luke read funny anecdotes from his book about Teddy Roosevelt’s South American adventure.  The funniest/scariest moment came when I got trapped in the kybo.  The winds blew the stopper shut on the outside and it was too far from camp to call for help.  I ended up having to bust the door open with my shoulder or risk getting stuck in there indefinitely!  My apologies to SEPAQ but I wasn’t staying in a backwoods outhouse waiting for rescue.

We had fried salami with rice and beans for dinner.  The high wind made putting up Spluigi’s Mansion fun and difficult.  We could see the continuous bands of rain and sun progressing down the river before they hit us, very cool to watch.

By night it was clear, and we sat by the fire talking and reflecting on an amazing river, and the friends who weren’t there with us.  Also, we finally ran out of alcohol.  Tomorrow off—and sober—into the “uncharted territory” beyond the cartespleinair and the Reserve Faunique and toward Saint-Felicien.  As we don’t have any printed maps or know where rapids, portages, or campsites are it’s going to be a new kind of adventure.

DAY 6 8/27/20 KM: 65

High winds overnight shook the tent and made it hard to get a good night’s sleep.  It was still blowing hard in the morning, so much so that we snapped a tent pole in the process of taking down the Mansion.  Apologies to the owner!  Fixed it with some duct tape.  The day started out cool but not as cold as the day before.  Overcast but no rain and an occasional blue sky.   We had granola for breakfast, and before leaving Sean fixed up the kybo I had broken open, also with duct tape. 

We started out the day with Luke in the solo boat and Sean and I in the tandem.  Later in the day, Sean and Luke would swap because Tan Solo’s seat gave Luke a sore butt.  We ran Pas de Fond and Pemokan rapids ducky-style with no problems.  Just picking lines through large waves in a wide river of moving water.  Sean and I blasted through the middle of the big standing waves on river R at the end of Pemokan—accidental (I meant to cut harder to the R) but fun!  Luke went L and had an easier go.

We paddled past Isle du Notaire and the Bleuetiere take-out point and then were officially off our map.  We named this section “Riviere du Doubt” in honour of Teddy Roosevelt’s “River of Doubt” south American journey.  The river got very wide and shallow with occasional sand bars.  Because of the epic scale we got back to singing the Lord of the Rings theme, and gave ourselves LOTR names:  Seandalf the Orange, Lukeolas of Splooge Mountain, and Sethwayne Badknee. 

We paddled kilometers of wide, flat river.  Using google maps satellite pictures that Sean had saved on his phone, we were able to get a big-picture sense of what was in front of us.  Eventually we reached the first set that looked small on the satellite pictures but turned out to be fairly long.  We ran it bit by bit, going from eddy to eddy on the R side of the river, and scouting each section before we ran it.  There was a second set shortly after the first which was even bigger.  We were able to run a side channel to the R that snuck around an island and avoided all of the bigger action. 

Almost immediately after came the much larger “Rapides de la Roche” which had huge action in the middle.  It looked risky to run, but instead we were able to line it in sections periodically scouting from exposed rocks.  Lining might have been difficult in higher water, but at our medium water level it was totally doable.  After lining and dragging down a ways we were able run the final section, a very fun but straightforward line with medium wave action down river R.  As always-pas de portages!

The next major feature on the map was the Petits Chutes de L’Ours, and we figured we wouldn’t be able to run that.  We also started looking for potential campsites.  We stopped by a big sand flat that we identified from the sat photos as a potential site, but found it disconnected from any woods by a channel of water and so decided to press on and take our chances at the Chutes about a kilometer farther down.  This turned out to be a good idea.  We pulled up on the rocks at river L above the Chutes, and walked around to check it out.  We found a bunch of portage/ATV trails, as well as several campsites that suited us perfectly.

We set up on a site at a woodsy point with a great view of the massive falls.  Only downside was garbage, graffiti, and view and sounds of the highway with occasional large trucks passing.  Sad reminders that we were returning to civilization.  We picked up all the garbage we could find at the site to clean things up, and then portaged our gear and boats over the rocks on L bank. Sean went and sat in a little grotto with a small waterfall.  Very cool, but too cold for me and Luke to do the same. This was the final night of our trip, and we were rewarded with a beautiful orange sunset.  We ate leftovers with more sausage by the fire and talked about what river we should paddle next.

Tomorrow, there is some more Riviere du Doubt before we make it to Saint-Felicien and I need to find a way to get a ride back to the car, while Luke and Marsean paddle the boats to our riverside AirBnB a few km past the town.  Always a little sad to end, but we’ll all be happy about a hot shower and good food.  Luke and I have decided to, if at all possible, create our own Hamburzas to relive our 2014 experience.

DAY 7 8/28/20  KM: ???

We woke up early to start our final day on the river from our campsite at Petits Chutes a L’Ours.  We knew we had some big portages ahead of us as well as the uncertainty of getting to the car once we reached Saint-Felicien so after a quick breakfast and pack up, as well as finishing the portage over a narrow trail to the river near a highway bridge, we were back on the water.  Nice weather, fairly warm and sunny (which would come back to bite us as after being diligent all trip we all forgot to put on sunscreen for the final day).

After crossing under the bridge the river hooked right and entered a wide bay for about a kilometer and a half, before entering the larger, main Chute a L’Ours area.  We approached from river L because that is where google maps seemed to show the roads.  We weren’t sure how long a portage we would be facing or if we would have to bushwack to the road.  But luckily, pulling up to the left side of the river we found a hiking/portage trail that came right down to the river’s edge.  We left our boats and explored the trails, finding a network of trails and staircases including some gazebos (the Quebecois seem to love gazebos) that progressed along toward the main falls.  After scouting along the trail we realized we could paddle closer to the falls skirting the L shore and cut several hundred meters off the portage.

We went back to our boats and, hugging the left shore, ran (Seth in solo) and lined (Luke + Sean in tandem) a small ledge into a little bay with a sandy beach, then paddled further along the left shore and eddied out at a small rocky outcropping just above the falls where we had left ourselves a marker.  From those rocks we pushed through some brush about 5 feet and found ourselves on the path.

Once on the path, we portaged all our gear to a second gazebo (with an outhouse), and then picked up only lighter bags to explore further.  The path along the river eventually led through a small gate on to a road that progresses through a campground/neighbourhood with tent spaces, cottages, and a pool, ending up on some rocks at the bottom of the falls where you can put in.  Total portage around a kilometer?  We ran into a few folks walking around (it was probably pretty early in the morning) who definitely gave us weird looks, but were friendly.

With a couple more trips we portaged the boats and the rest of the gear.  I took the solo boat and a barrel and found it possible to carry the boat by resting it on the barrel, albeit having to walk kind of stooped-over.  Worked for a kilometer but wouldn’t want to do it for much longer.

The end of the portage also had some historical plaques about the river that we snapped photos of for later translation.

Shortly after putting in at the base of the Chutes we ran a small and easy set, then paddled a couple kilometers of flat water before encountering another short set next to a couple cottages.  Looked like big water on river L so we pulled up on some rocks river R and ran/lined our way to the bottom.

After that set the river got very wide and shallow for about 6.5km.  We paddled and drifted along next to sandbars and passed an island on river R with a bridge over a tributary that we later realized leads to the Saint-Felicien zoo.  After another island on river L with a large sand bar (passed wide to the right) we reached the Chute a Michel. 

For Chute a Michel there appeared to be a road portage on river R, but we pulled up on some rocks on river L and were able to do a short steep rock portage/carryover to a small pool to avoid the chutes.  We then paddled the boats down under the railway bridge and pulled up on some rocks in the middle of the river to scout the Rapides chez Arcand.  These rapids are fairly wide and long with big water in some places and several options for running/lining. 

Because we were being cautious without a lot of information, we decided to run what appeared to be a small ledge/chute on far river L.  Paddled upstream back under the bridge then curled around to river L and ran a smallish but bumpy line along a narrow channel hugging the L shore.  We then entered a bay and, after scouting, ran another ledge along the L shore then hooked left dodging through the rapids until they petered out.  All told a fun set that I would love to come back to and possibly run a different line. 

About 500m down from the Rapides chez Arcand are the final set, the Rapides des Lafrance.  I can’t remember quite what we did but I think we pulled up river R, scouted and ran the whole thing.  There may have been some lining involved.

After that we ate a quick lunch on the river and then drifted and paddled past houses and docks to the large Saint-Felicien bridge.  Despite it being a beautiful Friday afternoon, we didn’t see another soul on the river, and only one or two people along the shore.

After crossing under the bridge we looked for a good spot to dock and walk into town.  Unfortunately it didn’t seem like there were a lot of good options.  We were hoping for an easy take-out at Parc Sacre-Coeur near the Hotel de Ville but it turned out to be a steep rocky shore and a chain link fence.  Nevertheless, without other good options we stopped on those rocks, did a quick change of clothes, and then hopped over the low fence into the park to the surprise of several older park-goers.  A weird and fun way to end the trip!

Luke went and grabbed beers at the dep, while I went to the Hotel de Ville and asked the extremely friendly and helpful young woman at the Information Touristique kiosk to call me a taxi to take me to the put-in (about an hour and a half drive).  She did so and told me the $200 price tag, which I agreed to.

An hour and a half of a dusty, hot, silent taxi ride with a driver who spoke little English (and me speaking next to no French), I was back at the Highlander and trailer, only to find that the passenger side window had been left wide open all week! And we had a snarky message from “Soccer Team 51,” (another group of paddlers apparent from the carvings we’d seen at the campsites), left on the dash.  Whoops!  Luckily, all our stuff was still inside including my wallet and laptop, and there wasn’t too much water in the car.  Disaster averted.

I drove back to the AirBnB, and was pretty dehydrated and exhausted by the time I got there.

Luke and Sean, meanwhile, had completed a fairly boring paddle from downtown St. Felicien about 3km to the AirBnB, where they pulled up on a neighbour’s dock (who luckily was friendly and welcomed them as “Voyageurs”) and began the process of airing out all the gear.

Once I was there we headed into St. Felicien to our old hangout “la Chouape” to execute our plan of making our own Hamburzas.  We got there just as the kitchen was about to close but managed to get in our order of beer, pizzas and veggie burgers.  Hamburza success!  I thought it was actually delicious, “too cheesy” for Luke however.

Back to the AirBnB for whisky and card games, then to sleep for the long drive back to Toronto the next day.

All told Ashuapmushuan is an awesome river to flex/practice your whitewater skills with big water/low consequence sets, beautiful scenery, and some very nice campsites.  Would definitely love to paddle again for a third time some day.

Happy paddling and stay safe,


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