Lac Manicouagan (anti-clockwise)

CanadaQuebec07 Lower St Lawrence, N Shore
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Michael Lynch
Trip Date : 
1st September, 2019
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
200 km
Duration: 
8 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Not applicable
Lake Travel: 
Advanced
Portaging: 
Not applicable
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Medium
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Lac Manicouagan, from Uapishka, Anti-clockwise.

Cross the lake to Isle Rene Levaseur on the first day and follow the coastline. Cross again back to the mainland on the last day.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

I had seen Lac Manicouagan on Google Earth a couple of years ago and dreamed about kayaking it. Discovered Rob Rutten's trip report and had been in contact with him during the planning phase. I decided to go with an old school friend - Charles - my best friend from high school.

I bought two Prijon Seayaks and a rack for my truck. The Prijon is exactly the right kayak for this trip and I was very impressed with how they performed. They're solid plastic, not composite, very rugged and stable, especially when loaded with all our camping equipment etc. They certainly took some abuse on our trip, with some rocky shores and being dragged fully-laden, but suffered no damage whatsoever.

1st September, 2019

In a weird coincidence turns out I had met Charles exactly 40 years ago to the day - which was the day we both started high school.

Arrived at Station Uapishka at about 10am, checked out the launch site and headed up to the main building to find David. After some paperwork David explained how to use the Spot GPS which we rented. This is a very nice thing to have with two options for rescue - 1) 'we are here and need help but not urgently' 2) 'danger of death, come immediately' - Option 1 is operated by Station Uapishka who will come and rescue with a boat within a day or two. Option 2 is emergency services, by helicopter. David also gave us the key for the private launch area where I left my truck, within sight of Station Uapishka main building.

First time packing the kayaks took a long time and we were not ready to go until 2pm. The wind was rising by this time, but looking at the lake we could not help thinking that reports of 1 metre waves had been exaggerated. 

After launching, we set out across the bay where Uapishka is located - and realize that the bay affords some shelter. About 3km in we are in the middle of the lake (between the mainland and the first large island), There is a very strong wind from the south, with very large waves hitting us on our left side. I was a little scared as I had done a lot of sea kayaking in practice, but it turns out lake waves are not quite as powerful as Bay of Fundy waves, and the kayak with the weight in it was much more stable anyway. Still, it took some strength to overcome them. My paddling partner had not had as much experience and was looking a little green at this point, I circled back and made sure he didn't capsize, whilst shouting 'keep paddling' :-) I'm sure this was really annoying, but at least he is still alive.

We made it to the first island and found some shelter on the northern side of it, made our way to the next island and the next and the main island (Isle Rene Levaseur) until we finally were in danger of running out of daylight so made camp. We paddled 19km on the first day.

September 2nd

Took our time to get moving and were not ready to launch until 10:30am. There was some wind but not too bad - just enough to make it a little tiring. Sky was overcast. We paddled approximately 24km and made camp at 3:30pm. The sun finally came out just in time for us to see it set. Where we are camped there are impactite rocks all over here. Many crystalline rocks of different colours on the shore and many large boulders of breccia.

September 3rd

Very very windy! I helped Charles launch by giving him a good push off the shore. I was actually washed back to shore as soon as I launched - my kayak was not totally perpendiculer to the waves and I got pushed forcibly back - I will not do that again - launch attempt #2 was successful !

The wind and waves were relentless all morning and we only make half the pace of the previous day.

Eventually mother nature takes pity on us and suddenly the waves and wind are gone and the lake looks like mercury. We push on to make up for our lack of progress and eventually make camp. Thanks to the easier weather at the end of the day, we make our goal of 20km. Nice camp site, lots of big hoof prints and we hear a large animal very close to us, not sure if they're moose or caribou or elk, but whatever it was it was very large.

September 4th

Rain rain rain rain rain! It didn't stop all day, but at least the wind and waves were not bad. We set out early at about 8:30am and paddled a good 29km until 2pm and eventually made camp in less than ideal conditions. The site is very sandy and our tent pegs are not holding very well. Cold and wet ! At this point I wish I had brought a different sleeping bag and worn a dry suit.

September 5th

Very stormy night, thunder and high winds - did not get much sleep and had to keep getting up and fixing the tent, also very very cold. The morning is brighter but still very windy, the waves are crashing against our part of the shore and it does not look like we are going anywhere today. There are fresh moose/caribou/elk prints by Charles's kayak - it looks like the animal walked right up to it, had a sniff, turned around and went back the way he came. Wish we had seen it ! We stay ashore today and thankfully the wind has one benefit as I manage to get all my clothes dry and finally get warm again. We also have a good meal and get well fuelled up! 

September 6th

The day started with calm weather but that lulled us into a false sense of security. The weather here changes in a heartbeat. Most of the time we are trying to hug the shoreline, but there are bays which, if we hugged the shore, would cost us in added distance, so as a rule, if the waves are not too big we cross the bays rather than hugging the shore. On this day though, there were many bays to be crossed and the weather was borderline so we did a mix. Several times I circled back for Charles just to make sure he was still alive and not struggling too much. The day ended with finding a beautiful island and the weather cleared up completely. 57km paddled today! This island had an inukchuck on it, it really is a good place ! We found lots of blueberries, there were lunes calling, and a small hawk visited us several times. The sunset was stunning !

September 7th

Awoke to a thick fog, we couldn't even see the coastline. Rather than paddling around the island, we took the kayaks acrosss the island and put in on the other side, which probably only saved us a few hundred metres, but seemed worth it for just 50 feet of carrying the kayaks.

Waited until the fog had gone and then set out. We did not mind spending a little more time on this almost magical island where even the blackflies left us alone.

Well, the morning started out calm, which is why the fog took a long time to lift, but eventually the wind and waves picked up. We are hugging the southern shore, but there are many bays to cross, some of them more than 2km, so we take a longer route so that our bay-crossings will be shorter. Charles likes to take frequent breaks - I'm ok with that ! We end up paddling 42km and we find a good beach to land and make camp. Because we were late setting out, we only just have enough time to get our tents up and make some food. The beach is stony, again, all angular, crystalline rocks, which I could probably spend many hours finding interesting ones, if I had the time.

September 8th

Started out not too windy but it got increasingly windy as the day went on. We continued our strategy of navigating into the coves until the distance to cross them was not so great, however the waves in the bays were very high and we didn't get much relief until very close to the far side of each bay, as the wind was coming from the north-east. Sometimes the waves would refract around a headland and we'd have waves coming at us from two perpendicular angles, making very very choppy conditions.

By the mid-afternoon we made it to the tip of memory bay, but the waves were dangerously strong and pushing us against the rocks. I decided this was too risky for Charles, so I turned around and instructed him to do the same - we headed back a couple of kms to where we found a nice beach near a hunter's cabin. We explored that area by foot since we had landed quite early, having only paddled a constructive 22km or so (with a further 3 or 4 where we doubled-back). We found a large tarp blowing in some bushes which we gathered up, folded and found where it had come from - and old base of a cabin which someone had been trying to protect with the tarp, we placed it by the remains of the base in case someone was looking for it. We looked at the hunter's cabin, the front door was not locked, but we had already put up our tents, so we camped in our tents since we were in good condition and dry. There are moose or caribou prints here all over the place. Lots of blueberries too, which we ate handfuls of.

September 9th

The plan was to at least get across the lake today, and maybe camp on the mainland.

The weather was much calmer - actually could not have been much better for a lake crossing. We made it to the first island off memory bay, then up the back of the second (the one which looks like a horse's head). We rested at each island. Then started across the lake. We could see the island we had headed for on the first day at this point, but it still looked like a long paddle, By half-way, suddenly the weather turned, it started raining hard and the wind picked up and whipped up the waves to the height they were on the first day. So we are again in the middle of the lake and the waves and wind are in our faces from the north. We head for shore, but it is several kms away and it takes us a long time. Shortly after making it to the shore, the wind subsides a lot and after a quick break, we decide to push on. I checked OSMand on my phone and to my surprise we are not too far from Uapishka. As we enter the bay where Uapishka is, some lunes are calling to us. It starts to rain and a rainbow appears over Station Uapishka - PRICELESS !!!

25km paddled on the last day.

We stay at Uapishka that night. Shower was very much appreciated and needed. Very large hot meal was provided and quickly consumed as was the cooked breakfast the following morning. 

An excellent trip! Each day had its share of adversity and serenity. I would have liked to have explored more - maybe next time !

I will be putting together a website with high resolution images, video, my complete journal, equipment reviews and other things. I'll post the link here when I have it together. Thanks to Rob Rutten for the advice and information, and Liviu Riuz also.

 

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