(*I’m having some cpu issues with uploading pictures so for now you can follow this link for the full album http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=196778&id=513672373&l=c6baa255c1 )
I haven’t been blogging much as a result of all my efforts being dedicated to the cafe. However, I thought I should catch up with a couple quick photo journals.
I had long dreamed of paddling the Saguenay Fjord that feeds into the St Lawrance river after seeing pictures from a co-worker who had hiked some of the plateaus above it. The stunning views and grandeur of the Fjord carved through a deep gash in the Precambrian rock about 2 km wide and over 275 m deep in places. The Fjord Fjord’s carved by glaciers from the last ice age 10 000 years ago have been called Majestic by many. With tidewaters surging 100km’s up the Fjord as far as Chicoutimi, up to 6 m at the equinox (We arrived the day after the equinox) it is a Sea Kayakers playground. The Saguenay’s waters are also the breeding grounds of the Beluga and Minke whales which are often seen leaving an opportunity to get close to some mamals I’ve only seen from a far. All combined there was a lot of stoke for this trip built up over few years of Dreaming.
After a lot of Research I set out a Route that would that would see us paddle from St Rose Du Nord to the mouth of the St. Lawrance over 5 days and then up along the shores of the St. Lawrance through the Marine Park to Escoumins. Along the way providing many opportunities to enjoy the area’s rich marine life and splendid views, where Porpoises and Whales are plentyfull and playfull, as well as a mutliple birds taking advange of the platter of food available for them.
After strategically packing for what was going to include travel by plane, bus, train, kayaks, boots and bicycles for a little over two weeks Jess and Myself arrived in Montreal late on a Friday night in August. We met my cousin Anthony and the next morning armed with 70ltr packs, a camelback, maps, itineraries, contacts lists, and gear for the multiple adventures ahead and off to the train station to truly start the adventure. In Quebec City we’d meet up with Cam and Katie who where going to round out our team to takle the Fjord and enjoyed visiting “Le View Quebec” before working our way to Tadoussac by Bus to meet our Outfitter to shuttle us to St. Rose du Nord with our Kayaks and gear.
Dropped off at St. Rose du Nord with 7 days worth of supplies and camping gear we started loading our three Boreal Design expedition kayaks. After after some strategic packing we were slicing through the waters of the Saguenay with the excitment of an adventure into the unknown with where contact with the modernized world would be minimal! No cell phones, email, or GPS and feeling at relaxed, comfortable, and trully at home. We set a bearing for the West bank of the Fjord which is slightly less exposed in case a sudden turn in the weather happened and worked our way towards our first campsite at Anse du Gros Ruiseau a short 14KM paddle. The Fjord isn’t something to tackle without any backcountry or paddling experience. Their are multiple guiding companies you should consider if you don’t have the confidence to execute a trip on this scale. The backcountry campsites require you to have some basic navigation knowledge of Topo maps as the sites are simply marked by a Quebec Flag often tucked behind a point. Also the waters of the Fjord need to be treated with respect. The area has a significant tidal influence as well as the ability for storms to catch you off guard turning the Fjord into complex waters.
We spent the next 5 days enjoying blue skies, amazing views, stunning campsites, Sunsets, and some delicious dehydrated meals (yes it is possible, especially after a day of traveling under your own power.). To our pleasure yet a little surprissingly we only ran into one other group of paddlers from the US who where guided by www.h2outfitters.com. As we navigated our way through spending nights at Anse du Tabatiere, Anse du Cheval, Anse David we where quite lucky seeing multiple pods of Beluga’s and Minke whales on the last day in the Fjord. Our biggest challange throughout the trip was timming the tides. Traveling the week of the Equinox put us in the situation where the tidal effects where the highest, and effected our launches/landings with a few hundred metres of sand and mud at low tide to contend with. This time of the year also creates a larger effect on the point between Anse du Cheval and Anse du David the Fjord where there’s a bit of a plateau in the Fjord. The waters turned into a choppy mess at least 3 feet high changing the Fjord into a large rapid (*This point is very obvious on a Marine Map, as the Fjord quickly looses more then a 100 metres of dept over a very short distance creating a plateau that creates this effect at low tide.) We pulled ashore for a about an hour to wait out the turbulant conditions before we carried on. From Anse du David we left early to coordinate getting to the mouth of the St Lawrence at high tide to avoid what can become turbulant waters, as well as paddle accross the sandbars that appear at low tide that would have added multiple KM’s to what turned out to be a 30km day already. We squeazed out of the sandtables just as the water reached a low point. We where getting nervous that we may end up looking like beached whales as the water moved out but we reached deeper waters just in time with the bottom of our kayaks scraping the rocks as we lunged into deeper waters.
This next day and a half was met with mixed emmotions, as we paddled through the St Lawrence Marine Park. This area undoubtedly allowed us to get the closest to marine life with multiple pods of whales and I’d estimate we saw 50 or so throughout the day, paddled with porpoises, and watched birds of prey dive for fish. However, this area is also where you leave confines of the prestine Fjord and are met with hordes of Tourists at campsites looking at these strange people who have only bathes in waterfalls for the week, baffled that you can traveled unsuported for a week, and where the sound of the wind and waves are interupted by the sound of motors, as they take their Zodiac tours chasing whales down, as Cam tagged the Japanese Whaling fleet in discuss as they hunt down the whales for a couple snapshots.
Day 6 saw us arrrive in Escoumins wich was the ending point of our kayak tour. After a last night with our paddling team, sitting around the campfire with beers in hand for the first time in a week to celebrate our trip which saw the end of our backcountry adventure. Jess and myself traded in wetsuits and paddles, for hiking boots and 70 ltr packs again as we took off on foot to the Ferry to catch the train to PEI in Trois Pistoles.
This Second half of our trip, was a little more tourist like as we met Dave to take a quick tour of PEI, before he drove us to his home in Halifax where we toured the city by bike, (as a side note I highly suggest Two if By Sea in Dartmouth for a latte and the best Almond Croissant you’ve ever had!), Ran Cape Split along the Bay of Fundy, and then moved on to the Cabot Trail for some hiking, and 100KM bike ride from Cheticamp to Ingonish which was as amazing as all the stories cyclist bring home from the Cabot trail, with a few BIG climbs, some gorgeous scenery, laid back people and great cycling roads. We ended the last 1/3rd in the storm that washed out the bridges to tip of the Island. Cold and wet we arrived in Ingonish for a wet night of camping and laughing before working our way home to reality. Dreaming of the next adventures that lay ahead with a few big plans in the works for the next couple years as we Dream of Float planes dropping us off in the around the Beaufort Sea, a chance to discover some adventure in the southern Hemisphere over the next Twelve, and as much ski touring as I can find room for.