In high school, I was fortunate to experience a canoe trip through the school’s outdoor-ed program. Since then, I’ve always wanted to get back out on the water in the vessel that predates the existence of our country to re-create that adventure. After a lot of research and planning, I decided to take on a 40 km expedition through the calm water and fierce rapids of the Coulonge River.
My brother and I left noon, Friday, to begin our journey. We first stopped at Esprit Rafting to pick up our white-water canoe and any additional gear we would need. Proceeding to our start location, the Jim’s Lake Outfitter, we packed the canoe and began our 40 km trek along the water. We encountered our first portage at a dam flowing from Jim’s lake into the Coulonge River. Maneuvering through the swift waters and C I’s of the Coulonge, we decided to stop at a sandbank for a snack and a refreshing swim. After more paddling and a 260-meter portage around a technical C II, we arrived at our campsite at “Les Chutes de l’Ours”.
We set up our tent and got things ready for the morning. The campsite was located at an incredible spot, the roaring water from the chutes and C III – C IV rapids created a beautiful harmony, a lullaby, peacefully singing me to sleep.
We started the next morning at the break of dawn, fog rising from the water created a vast white blanket which covered the river and nearby forest. We began the day with a portage at the “Chutes de L’Ours”, just to put in and portage again around the Guenette rapids. Followed by a 5 km run of absolute enjoyment, a straightforward C II flowed into endless C I’s and swift water, the main channel was a ride you wouldn’t want to end. The big hills, trees, and wildlife slowly turned into farms and cottage as we closed into the end of our journey. We took one last break on a rocky shore to hydrate, eat and cool off. Slowly making our way to the Chutes Coulonge Park we were greeted by the waves of the river locals enjoying their beautiful Saturday sun at the cottage.
We made it to the chutes, loaded all our gear, and headed home. I can’t express with words how much I enjoyed my trip. I’ve already begun planning a trip for next summer but decided to double the distance. The trip was well worth the preparation time.
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