Previous Post – Day 4: From Tall Pine Rapids (Km 183) To Km 157
- distance: 36 km
- time: start -9:30 a.m. ; finish – 3:45 p.m.
- portages/rapids: 0/1
- – W-R40 C1
- weather: Sunny with clouds; hot!
- campsite: CRCS05 confluence of Coulonge and Corneille Rivers; room for multiple two-person tents and possibly 2 or 3 four-person tents. Best site so far!
This would prove to be a great day on the river! While it certainly meanders, especially from Km 155 to Km 130, we made pretty good time thanks to the long stretches of swifts! The gps track for the morning shows 8, 9, and 10 km/hr. speeds as we made our way down river to the day’s goal – the junction of the Coulonge and Corneille at Km. 121.
In 2015 we had paddled the Steel River system above Lake Superior’s north shore. Near the end of that trip, we spent a day paddling about 35 kilometers of the meandering river as it cut through a massive glacial sand and gravel deposit. Classic Canadian Shield rock outcrop it was not!
And now on this stretch of the Coulonge memories of the Steel – similar high sand banks and even the occasional tree collapsing into the river. We had already noted the sand lining both sides of the road as we drove up Highway 117 to the put-in at Lac Larouche. It really brought home the fact that the Coulonge is a river bed carved through one vast glacial sand deposit. Apparently, the next river up, the Noire, is more of the same and it is likely that the third of the so-called Three Sisters, the Dumoine, is too. All of this sand bought back memories of our childhood playing in the massive sand pits on the edge of the mining town of Noranda in the Abitibi to the north of the Coulonge.
The pix don’t do it justice but we passed by a majestic white pine tree on the bend of one of the many meanders and beached the canoe while we took a closer look. It had somehow survived the loggers’ axes but you could see that its sand base was being eroded and that in time it too would suffer the fate of all living beings. In the meanwhile, it exuded a most positive energy and we sat in the shade it provided while we sipped on the Coulonge Nouveau that we had just filtered and bottled!
Later when we took a look at the Google Earth satellite view of this stretch of the river we located our pine tree on the meandering stretch of the river – and we saw what else was happening in the neighbourhood! The Google satellite image below reveals all!
More river – and more sand!
We finally stopped for lunch around 1:15, finding a bit of shade in the spot on the river bank as in the pic below. After our Wasa crackers/mushroom paté/Thai soup lunch, a bit more paddling brought us to our campsite for the day. We were hoping that it would be available, thinking that perhaps other canoe trippers had already laid claim to it for the day.
We need not have worried. Except for the summer camp group of five canoes that we had seen on Day 1 on Lac Grand – and then again on Day 2 on Lac Giroux – we had seen no one else on the river. In fact, we would do the entire Coulonge without meeting any other canoe trippers, somewhat surprising but perhaps the result of it being a bit late in the season. It may also be that canoe tripping is just not the way that 99.9% of people want to spend their time. It certainly involves a time commitment that goes beyond the one week that seems to be a maximum these days.
As we approached the confluence of the Coulonge with the Corneille, we dealt with low water combined with a CI set of rapids that made getting over to river left a bit awkward. We had to walk the canoe through the boulder garden you see in the pix below to get to the take-out point on the NE corner of the junction.
A path there leads up to a flat camping area above the river; there is room there for multiple tents. We chose a spot on the edge of the clearing that provided us with a bit of tree shade and cover. We were home for the day and unlike the previous day put up the tent immediately. Only then did we put out some gear to dry and spend a bit of time cleaning up the campsite which was a bit messy thanks to the thoughtlessness of some previous paddlers.
Next Post – Day 6: The Coulonge/Corneille Confluence to Km 99