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La Verendrye, Off-Circuit
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Author:  skookum [ March 2nd, 2016, 10:54 pm ]
Post subject:  La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

My 8-year old daughter has been busy planning one of our summer canoe trips for a school project (to the Temigami region), so it's gotten me deeply into canoe-trip-dreaming land. That always seems to start with the old maps of La Verendrye showing obsolete routes, and dreams of exploring them (as LV is my first love). I thought I'd share a few of our brief off-circuit explorations that we have managed to do here.

Circuit 15 connector to Circuit 34 (Baie Des Rapides to Coulonge headwaters).
We paddled this old connector route in 2007 for two reasons: we wanted to leave the car somewhere secure for 20 days (Le Domaine), and we wanted to start at the tippy tippy top headwaters of the Coulonge. There's satisfaction in starting at the absolute top, and as far as we could tell, that was the way to do it. The route is actually shown (sort-of) as recently as the April 2005 Circuit Map #2, but not later, and I have portage distances from that map.
To get there we paddled north on Jean-Pere, under Rt 117 and down some wonderful rapids on the Riviere Des Rapides. We camped on an old site on a point of land in Baie Des Rapides, and in the morning paddles to the creek that would take us to Lac Taiga and back under 117. We attempted to drag the creek, but that was foolhardy so we easily portaged up the road and into the woods when we could see the lake. 265m, super easy. It was a pleasant paddle through the culvert, into Lac Brotel, over a million beaver dams into lac Chalain, and then a short 95m portage over a road into Lac Laporte. Lac Laporte was a very pretty lake, narrow, with cliffs lining the eastern shore. From there it was an easy 60m portage into Lac Coutelles (with an old visible trail), and then a 215m portage into Lac Alvimare. This was the only tricky one to find, despite being right where is was supposed to be, as you had to cross some marsh to get to the trees. There was an old trail sunk into the boggy ground, and even an old portage sign (in the middle of the woods, on the ground). From there it was a straight forward 125m bushwack portage to Lac Aigny through pretty, open woods, and a 65m portage on a nice trail out to Lac Fada and Circuit 34.
All-in-all, it was a very simple and useful alternative cross-over to access the central part of the park from the south. There are two other routes shown on older maps, one from Lac Poulter (which I've seen mentioned on this site) and another one through Baie Des Rapides through Lac Retty.

Creek From Lac Du Portage (Circuit 34) to Lac Camatose (Circuit 37).
This route is also partially shown on the 2005 Map #2. I paddled through here with a camp group several years ago out of curiosity. There is a creek that drains Lac Du Portage on it's north-western shore and into small Lac Obel. It was a very runnable creek, with a little bit of adventure. The first chute out of Lac Obel seduced my co-leader into running, and gave the campers the experience of seeing how nicely an ABS boat unfolds after it bends in half. I don't recall any other big excitement, there were some fun runnable rapids, not too many blowdowns, and one huge log jam against an old bridge. I unfortunately twisted my knee badly clearing the portage trail here on the right, only to discover that the left side was the way to go. It was the last day, so no big deal!

Dozios Reservoir to Lac Cawatose, across to Lac Camitogama (Circuit 37), then back to Dozios via Camitogama River.
I had noticed these connections from Circuit 37 to the Dozios reservoir, and we included them in a little exploration trip in 2012. We had to keep it tame that year for our 1-year old! We put in at Natagam on Dozios, at the end of Rt 34, at 6pm. We paddled 1.5 km across the bay and easily lined up the creek into the northern bay of Lac Cawatose. We made it to our site by 9pm, (nice large rocky site with picnic table). The next day it was across the portage into Camitogama, then down the river back to Dozios. There is portage about three km into the river that I don't remember at all (odd), my notes say that we had lunch and it was "almost runnable". An old map says RIV, but it was a small river, more of a creek so it couldn't have been massive. Likely just rocky. There is another drop at the end back into the Reservoir that we ran. Both the in and out on this little loop were a piece of cake, and Dozios is an interesting place, so not a bad little loop. Certainly a useful way of accessing the northern part of the park by canoe, or the other way.

Dozios through Baie Mazo to Lac Steton to Lac La Loche to Lac Chartier (Circuit 78).
Later in the same trip, we attempted a portage route shown on old maps from Dozios to Lac Chartier on Circuit 78. We successfully navigated to Baie Mazo at the south eastern tip of Dozios - not the easiest thing to do with the fluctuating water levels of the reservoir. Down into Baie Young and up was the way to go, rather than straight across. At the far end of Baie Mazo there is a dam, with a nice little site and picnic table on the left, not part of the campground which is across the bay and north a bit. The next day we portaged the dam and found the marsh at the far end, where we tried in vain to find the trail to Lac Seton. I was made paranoid by the presence of my one-year old, and probably gave up quicker than I would have otherwise. It was a swamp, with fairly easy walking, but the kind of terrain where every direction looks the same. No GPS and limited flagging tape (we did have compass and map though, so no excuses), so we headed back and spend some nice days exploring Dozios instead. Looking at the route on Google Earth, it seems like there is a clear portage trail on the eastern edge of the swamp. Despite finding an old campsite, we did not find the trail, although after looking at Google Maps again I don't think we went east enough. Anyhow, I don't think it would be very hard to push through the swamp trail or no. One day....
Later that year I did explore up the other side of the route with a camp group, we paddled from Lac Chartier up to Lac La Loche. It was a very clear creek, very paddle-able, I don't remember any blow-downs. Some small rocky sections in the middle, easily navigated/dragged. The campers counted something like 95 bends in the creek.I did paddle a few minutes up the creek to Lac Seton, and the thing is narrow! I have no idea if it is navigable all the way through, but according to the old maps, it is. Word of caution, the topo makes it not obvious how to actually get into the creek from Chartier - do not go into the little swamp pond, the mouth of the creek is along the eastern shore of the bay. There is a beautiful, beautiful beach site in the narrow inlet on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche, I'd paddle all the way back up there just to camp there again.

Modification of Circuit 63 - Creek from Lac Yser to Lac Gustave and the Chochocuane River.
This, along with the Denain river, is a route I've been looking at for a while. This route is shown on old maps, while the Denain is not (curious!). We had a few extra days at the end of a trip in 2013 that ended just to the north, so we decided to do some creek exploration. We put in on the portage on Circuit 63 between Lac Denain and Lac Ypres, paddled down Ypres and camped at the end. In the morning we portaged to Lac Yser, and paddled to the end of that, where there is a big parking area and several cabins (good to know for the future!). Immediately out of the lake there is a nice little covered footbridge that we paddled under, which began a couple kilometer ride down some fun, easy rapids (water levels seemed slightly high, and were slightly high on the Chochocuane). The only tricky part was immediately under the road bridge, where the kids and my wife walked about 100m while I pinballed the canoe down, somehow staying out of trouble. Coming out of the next lake (Diegem) is the only portage that we had to make, around some falls. An old logging road made for an easy portage. Following this was a fun. long rapid which we scouted around a corner and ran with no issues. After the rapid the creek changed character and became a sandy, windy creek, very beautiful with wooded, instead of swampy, shores. Easy paddling brought us to Lac Gustave and the wonderful beach site there, where we took a day off. We scratched the plan to return via the Denain, and instead took the traditional route, turning left off the Denain and going up to Lac Gladu (Circuit 61). One day we'll paddle the Denain, but I'd rather go downstream. I'd also like to find a way to do it without involving my least favorite portage in all of La Verendrye, the 800m bog fest from Fourmet to Denain. I'm not sure what I have against that portage,



Author:  MikeD [ March 3rd, 2016, 6:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

I too am a fan of LV. And the best part........all those beaches along the eskers!!


Author:  Robin [ March 3rd, 2016, 7:57 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

Thanks for that, I will be bringing out my maps and thinking about/planning this years trip to LaVerendrye. I have lost count of my trips there, and I miss the place, your routes might be more than this old timer can handle with the old wood canvas Chestnut I still trip with, but it will be fun to dream and compromise is always a good thing.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ March 3rd, 2016, 8:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

Wow.. I have to dig out some maps of La V. Its been a while and the area is so accessible for us from New England.. The exchange rate helps :rofl:

Sorry. I promise to buy gear in Canada.

Author:  Ted [ March 4th, 2016, 9:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

thanks for the excellent reports.
Where did you put-in? Is La Vérendrye 38 still drivable?

I want to check out the Lac la Loche and Lac Seton area in late spring/early summer in preparation for a Lac Carrière to Baie Mazo to Lac Chartier and back solo. I have a grandiose plan for 2018 and my 70th birthday but want to make sure the route is totally doable first!

If that no-name creek doesn't pan out, my maps show a direct trail between la Loche and Seton, maybe 2K and a bit long. If it's still there, it would make for an OK portage.

I see that Google does show a trail from the dam to Seton. Should be fun trying to find it as none of my other maps show anything. My 1985 map shows it as part of a route but nothing else.

I thought that Ruisseau la Loche would be a beaver dam nightmare so I'm really anxious to check it out.

thanks again.
Cheers Ted

Author:  gcc_mtl [ January 28th, 2018, 9:45 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

Beautiful! Thanks so much for this.

I love bushwacking and these sorts of trips.
Good job, I will try some of these with the guys this summer. Feel free to post up any other cuts through the woods you have tried, or would like others to investigate.

Author:  John S [ June 17th, 2018, 2:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

Before today I don't know that I've posted here at myCCR since around 2004. But an email from a long dead topic that someone posted brought me back.

I don't recall if I posted this comment 14 years ago or not but in 2002 my friends and I did an old route that's shown on our 1985 map but was not on our 1995 or 2002 map.

This route is in sections 26, 27 and 25 in the far southwest side of La Verendrye. From Rt 20 south down the Riviere De L'Origional and then north up Baie a L'Origional to Lac Antiquois to Rt 20 again.

My main impressions were.

It was July 1 that we reached Indian Point at the junction of the river and the big lake. We thought that there was supposed to be a camp site and we searched around a bit but then gave it up. We observed that because it was Canada Day the big lake was populated with many motor boats from outside the park and we wanted more solitude so we left continuing the route north on the big lake.

It was an exceptionally hot week going up into the mid-90's F for several days and still the black flies were worse that I had ever experienced in La Verendrye. On my previous trips we had almost no insect problems.

I recall that on our second night (and 3rd and 4th) we camped on an island campsite in the lower bulge of Baie a L'Origional. We were exceptionally lucky. It had a long rock peninsula where we were able to put up the sun tarp and the breeze was a life saver. Grand views. Toward evening and into the night we could hear the swarms of bugs venturing slowly up the peninsula as the wind died down. I went to bed when the bugs reached our hang out location at the top of the peninsula.

During the days the incredibly populous dragonflies were our heroes. I recall under the tarp watching a black fly heading straight for me when off from the right a dragonfly snatched it 3 inches from my nose.

Many campsites from the 1985 map we were never able to find. Having been unable to find our next planned site we passed our planned take-out at the intersection with Rt 20 and continued north on Lac Antiquois. Our 1985 map showed 3 camp sites but we were unable to find a single one, or something that would even make due as a site. No place to land and camp. So after going the full length of Antiquois we went south again to the take-out with a day to spear. The place was not at all attractive and the bugs were still terrible so after camping that night we actually left a day earlier than planned. I wish we had stayed on our island one more night but hindsight is hindsight.

I've only been to La Verendrye in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 2002 and 2003. In 2004 my wife and I adopted three young children out of state foster care. I have not been able to make a trip to La Verendre since then. At one point I had high hopes for a 7th trip and have it all planned and the waypoints are still in my new GPS. But I don't know that I'll ever be able to do it. The friends I used to go with are now scattered across the continent and one is now disabled. Will my two boys ever want to try such a thing with me? I really don't know. We now use my vacation time to go to the old family homestead in Maine on the sea coast. I've tried to teach them how to Canoe but they just cant seem to grasp it. Going down a river seems a terribly risky idea and besides, I'd need a 4th person and a second car to make it a 2 canoe trip. I can't see doing a La Verendrye trip with only one of my boys and only one canoe.

Such is the reason for my 14 year absence from myccr.

Author:  skookum [ August 12th, 2019, 5:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: La Verendrye, Off-Circuit

Finally, an update to the Off-Circuit routes. After taking a year off from canoeing and La V. for the "Great American Road Trip", we found a week to get back up here to finally explore the Denain River. The Denain drains lakes Denain and Ypres on circuit 63, the "Big Loop" of the Chochocouane. It has never been an official route in La V. as far as I can find in old maps, although the Yser creek just south was in the past. The Denain, if runnable, makes yet another loop option with the Chochocouane, either extending 64 or shortening the upper part of 63. Anyhow, it also allowed us to paddle 64 since it was technically "full"; 4 parties had started out on the southern end that morning - rather surprising to us! We drove the Chemin Chino to the portage between Denain and Ypres and put in there. We immediately headed into the unknown part of the river, prepared for bushwack portages and bush campsites. The park map and the topo map both show portages into the first three lakes, and on our way to scout the outlet we were pleased to see that the first one actually exists. As it turns out, they all exist and are unnecessary except for the one from Lac Caoui into Lac Barthou. The first two creek sections were interesting wide shallow sandy/pebble runs, no lining or portaging necessary. It seems that each lake has one cabin on it (this section is out of the park), and the portages if needed are maintained to standards needed to portage motor boats - so wide. We did run into a large logjam on the section into Barthou, so used the portage trail (mugged for the trail cam at the salt lick), and camped at the end. The next day we completed the route down to the campsite on Circuit 64 with the 3 small falls. Along the way there were 5 or so very short drops that we lined or ran - none longer than 10 meters or so and no drops greater than a meter. The bottom half was twisty swamp (complete with HUGE bull moose), and we sawed our way through about a dozen minor blowdowns - assuming no tree ever blows down again, there is only one huge trunk left for anyone else. All in all, it was a great creek, easily run in a day (we had 4 kids between 4 and 11 with us, that slowed things down), and one I'll certainly come back to. There is the added bonus of getting to do my least favorite La V. portage (that I seem to keep coming back to) - the 800 meter mud slog-fest between Lac Fourmet and Lac Denain. Two 8-wheel amphibious vehicles were busy keeping the mud bottomless when we portaged through, although got stuck more than we did.


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