Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Kayaking the Petite Peribonka River

All the waterways around Lac Saint Jean are large. Even the Petite Peribonka River.

You can easily access the Peribonka River and the Petite Peribonka River, from . . . guess where? The town of Peribonka, located on the north shore of Lac St-Jean at the mouth of the Peribonka River.

The Peribonka River (French: Rivière Péribonka) is a river in the Lac-Saint-Jean area in Quebec, Canada. It is about 450 kilometres (280 miles) long. It flows into Lac Saint-Jean at Pointe-Taillon National Park and is the largest tributary of this lake.

There is a public boat launch in the town of Peribonka and parking nearby. Just stay on Hwy 169 to Peribonka. The launch is right next to the road at Rue Edouard Niquet. You'll see the docks. A company at the launch also rents kayaks for day paddles along with a small plastified map of the area. If the captain isn't there, just pick up the VHF radio on the door and call him. The instructions on how to reach him are posted. He's usually nearby. There is a public restroom in the small blue and white building on the dock where you rent the kayaks.

To access the Petite Peribonka, you can head out on the Peribonka River from the public boat launch and track along the shore until you come to the opening of the the Petite Peribonka.

As you paddle, look out longingly across the open water (on your left) to Point Taillon National Park. If the open water crossing and weather report looks good to you, a visit to Point Taillon may be of interest. If the wind is up and motorboat activity makes you think twice about crossing, you might prefer an easier little cruise up and down the 12 kilometre stretch of the more protected waters of the Petite Peribonka.

The Petite Peribonka has a sandy bottom, some cottage development, marshes and lots of wilderness along the way.

We didn't see any rocky shoals along our route. No islands and very few places to stop for a break.
You can paddle about 12 kilometres of this winding river to a waterfall where your route ends. Then, you'll have to turn around and slog back the same route. I call it a slog because, on a hot day with little or no wind, it is a slog with few beaches to stop for a swim or places to picnic. We never did make it to the waterfall. The day was just too hot for a long paddle without any wind.

Current was negligible in August, which means, we didn't feel it in either direction.

The high speed boats and SeaDoos scream through the Petite Peribonka like bats out of hell so be careful if you cross from one side of the river to the other. You can usually hear them coming from a distance. There is plenty of room for kayaks to paddle on the sidelines and for the speed boats to tear through the middle. You'll have some boat wakes to ride.

If you're looking for a larger trip than a day paddle, Equinox Adventure offers multi-day guided kayak tours on the larger Peribonka River.

I found this paddle on the Petite Peribonka River so BORING! Head to Saint Gedeon on Lac Saint Jean to paddle the bigger water, interesting craggy bays and islands!

You can click on the link below to my post on paddling off Saint Gedeon:
Kayaking the dreamscape of Saint Gedeon

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Cycle to the Chutes a Michel in Saint Felicien, Quebec

When we arrived in Saint Felicien, Quebec (Canada) with bikes and sea kayaks, wondering what to do and where to go, several locals asked, "Have you been to the Chutes a Michel yet? No? You really should go. You'll like it."

So we did. We changed our tentative plans to cycle the Veloroute des Bluets around Lac Saint Jean and headed off trail to find the rapids and falls.

When more than one person is convinced you'll enjoy the place, your curiosity won't let you pass it by. We easily found the almost hidden access to the cycle trail that leads to the falls with directions from the owner of Maison Banville Bistro where we were having lunch in Saint Felicien, and now I'll help you find it too: The Chutes a Michel on Rivière Ashuapmushuan.

From downtown Saint Felicien follow rue Sacre Coeur (street) towards Beaudoin Street. At the end of rue Sacre Coeur in a quiet residential neighborhood, look for the little off-road trail hidden in the trees and bushes. It feels like a trail only the locals would know about. And that's how we found it. Locals told us about it.
The first thing you'll come across are formidable walls of raspberry bushes flanking the trail. In season, in late summer, they are full of large, ripe, sweet, delicious raspberries.
Stay on this trail, about 3.5 kilometres until you reach the lookout at the Chutes a Michel. You can Google it with the GPS coordinates at: N48.6853,W-72.4871

This is a pleasant wooded trail on packed gravel, and makes for a nice cool cycle on a hot day. But, what impresses me more than the cascading water at the falls are the massive granite outcroppings surrounding the area. They are an incredible sculpted work of nature's art and worth a visit.

And of course, this neat spot inspires a yoga pose or two on the imposing granite.
From downtown Saint Felicien to the Chutes a Michel it's about a 6 kilometre cycle so you can enjoy an easy, scenic round-trip 12 kilometre cycle and a waterfront picnic.

Enjoy!

You can click on the link below if you'd like to read more of my stories about Saint Felicien:

Where to stay and eat in Saint Felicien for kayakers and cyclists

Happy trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, September 11, 2015

Where to stay and eat in Saint Felicien, Quebec for kayakers and cyclists

I don't usually talk about accommodations, but when visiting the Lac Saint Jean region in Quebec, Canada for cycling and kayaking, this was my biggest problem!

Figuring out what was available and where to stay. I didn't know the area at all. Internet research left me scratching my head. The most common lodging to be found in this area was B & Bs (gite), my least favourite type of lodging.

B & Bs are hit and miss. But I stumbled across this little jewel, Maison Banville in Saint Felicien, by sheer luck. In the heart of town, you'll find it at 1086 boulevard du Sacre-Coeur. Or visit their website at www.lamaisonbanville.com.
This is where cyclists like to stay while touring the 256 kilometre Veloroute des Bluets that circles Lac Saint Jean. It's perfect for road warriors. You've got services: B & B, bistro with great food and a company called Equinox Adventure shuttles cyclist's luggage from accommodation to accommodation around the Lac Saint Jean region so you can cycle all day and not have to haul heavy saddle bags. It's called "Credit Card Touring."

Equinox Adventure also rents kayaks and bikes. If you don't like travelling with lots of gear or don't own any, you've got options here.

The cyclists I talked to love the Veloroute des Bluets and the local services in the small towns along the way, especially visiting local cheese and chocolate shops and devouring the small, fresh, local blueberries that the region is famous for.

Maison Banville B & B and bistro is conveniently located on the veloroute and is waterfront on Riviere Ashuapmushuan.

We arrived in Saint Felicien hungry and doubting our instincts on where to eat, so we asked cyclists with nice road bikes where we could find a good lunch. They told us the Maison Banville bistro was great. The patio looked inviting and we could keep an eye on the bikes.
The cyclists were right. It was a great stop for food and drink and a relaxing break. Cute, clean, friendly atomosphere, varied menu, reasonably priced, good service and excellent bistro-style cuisine. When I asked for my vegetarian panini extra crispy, it was perfect. The panini combo comes with a choice of one of their wonderful homemade salads or soup. The food was great and fresh.
I met the owner of Maison Banville, David, who manages the B & B and bistro with his wife, Aurelie. I asked him if he would give me a tour of the B & B so I could share information about this neat little spot.
He was a gracious and friendly host and gave me a wonderful tour, answering all my questions. I'm a blogger. I ask lots of questions! Since this region is very French, I asked him if he also spoke English, he replied, "Yes!" He spoke English very well. So no worries if you need help with the French menu or information about the area.

The locals and local merchants in the Lac Saint Jean region seem to really enjoy the cyclists and kayakers visiting the area. They are proud of their beautiful region and are curious to learn where you are visiting from. I was often asked, "D'ou viens tu?" (Where do you come from?) We found the region a very welcoming environment, and you meet people visiting from all over.

I found the interior of Maison Banville B & B (gite) cute, quaint and clean. It has 5 bedrooms, 3 with private bath, 2 with a shared bath and a charming common room for meals with waterfront views.

Of course, I asked about the water access for kayaks. Behind the B & B they have a nice, private waterfront access on the Riviere Ashuapmushuan. No, I can't pronounce the name of this river either! But you can paddle down this pretty little stretch of river towards Lac Saint Jean, about 4 kilometeres. 
Now lets look down from this beautiful view and see how we'd launch kayaks. Opps. A little too steep and nasty for us with 17 foot long fibreglass sea kayaks.
But the good news is, just up the street from the B & B is a beautiful, public boat launch with free parking and clean public restrooms.

Maison Banville has it's own, private parking in the back so you don't have to park on the street. Two thumbs up.
We drove to Saint Felicien from Alma (about 75 kilometres) to explore the cycle route along the way. The two sea kayaks and gear were of course along for the ride. We were ready for what attracted us most. Cycling or kayaking.

Next up I'll share a great place to launch a kayak for a pretty paddle, and a favorite section of cycle trail we found in Saint Felicien.

Happy trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Paddleboarding with lightning vs paddling with the sunset

The glow on the paddleboard is so different.

With lightning strikes in the distance refusing to let night fall, the board, the lake, and the sky emit an eerie, electric glow.

At sunset, in the absence of impending storm, the board has such a warm glow.
But, both signal it's time to head home.

Safe and happy paddles.
The BaffinPaddler

Friday, September 4, 2015

Discover a cute kayak launch in Val Morin, Quebec, Canada: Paddle Riviere du Nord to Lac Raymond

When you stumble across a nice place to launch a kayak and someone with a smiling, friendly face comes out of a beautiful little mountain theatre across the road to greet you and asks you to tell others about this place, how can you say no. And he didn't even know I was a paddle blogger.

Remember the beautiful facade of this building. It's right across the street from the small public launch on Riviere du Nord in Val Morin, Quebec. Or Google the address of Theatre du Marais and put it in your GPS: 1121 10th avenue. Free parking is on the street next to the theatre.

Sorry, there is no public restroom in the Parc de la Riviere at this launch site.

We visited on a day with constantly threatening black skies of rain.

Here's another jewel of a place I really don't want to share because I like it. I want to be greedy. It's a day paddle route. No camping along the way. But, I'll let go and share it in the hope that you save some of the time we spend exploring good places to launch a kayak. And, as a kayaker, I want to keep on moving and find another new place to paddle. It's in our blood to explore.
This route is a great for kayaks. No speed boats on Riviere du Nord or Lac Raymond in Val Morin. Hop onto a little stretch of river with light current and head to a moderately-sized lake (Lac Raymond) with no speed boats only 3 kilometers away. The river flows in the direction of Lac Raymond. Riviere du Nord is fairly shallow, sandy bottom, some rocky shoals, perhaps a deadhead to avoid, some cottage development along the way and lots of wild and ducks. Not many beaches though. The beach pictured above is the only one I found with any space, so if you see it along the way, grab it! If water levels are exceptionally low, you might have to drag your kayak. It just depends on when you visit. We had no problems in August.
Perfect scenario for some kayakers. Stay on the Riviere du Nord and paddle from Val Morin to Lac Raymond - about 3 kilometers from this launch site in Val Morin on 10th Avenue, across the street from the theatre or paddle in the opposite direction of this launch towards Val David on Riviere du Nord, about 4 kilometers away.

When the wind is up, play in the waves of Lac Raymond and paddle where you like. No speed boats or SeaDoos to worry about. Easy to navigate and hard to get lost. This is a very straightforward, simple paddle. A great paddle for viewing the spectacular fall colors in the Laurentians. If you see me out there, please give me a wave and say, "Bonjour!"
Should I tell you this tidbit? OK, why not. When we returned to the launch site at the end of the afternoon, a big wedding party descended in high heels, dresses, and suits hauling a heavy tandum kayak and gave a happy send off to a newlywed couple heading down river in it. The couple finished their wedding party and started their new life together on this little stretch of river - in a tandum kayak . . .  I can't help but wonder, how long will it take before they look into each other's eyes and say, "Honey, I love you, but I want my own kayak!"

Happy paddle trails.
The BaffinPaddler

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Are you prepared for fishing lure encounters?

Remember me?

No I forgot to look.

Are you prepared if you step on me?

No, not really. I guess I could take off my paddle bootie if you aren't stuck in my foot. I left the wire cutter in the car.

Now that you found me, what are you going to do with me?

It doesn't happen often, but this is the second time I almost stepped on a big fishing lure with multiple barbs. This one is bright red and easy to see, but with all the interesting scenery surrounding me, it was easy to miss. I only noticed it when I knelt down to take a photo.

Location: An island in Baie des Girard, off Saint Gedeon, Lac Saint Jean, Quebec, Canada

This is why I wear a good paddle bootie with a thick sole and not neoprene paddle socks. Protect your feet!

Now what to do with this lure?  I can't leave it on an island shoreline to wash back out into the water unattended or leave it where it sits for someone else to step on.

I planted the fishing lure firmly into a dead tree.
I thought I'd tell my blog readers where I found it so someone could go hunting for it. The kayaking geocache crowd loves that.

But, I showed it to  my paddle partner and he said, "Hey, that's a nice lure. It's coming home with me."

I wouldn't stick a fishing lure with live barbs into a kayak hatch for obvious reasons. We weren't prepared with any type of container to bring it home in. What to do?

We embedded small, soft bits of loose shoreline driftwood into the barbs to keep them busy, then wrapped the lure in an empty snack bar wrapper. Not a great fix, but good for the short term, and put it into a kayak hatch.

Now, every time we paddle I ask my paddle partner, "Is that fishing lure still in your hatch?"

Yes.

Remember me?
I stop to think about fishing lure encounters from time-to-time because I've had to tow a paddler across a lake and drive him to the emergency room of a hospital when a fishing lure with multiple barbs got embedded into his hand. It's really not that uncommon if you are removing a lure with multiple barbs from the mouth of a lively, flopping fish with your bare hands. It's pretty upsetting to look at and it's very painful if you're the one with a fish hook in your hand. You are stranded. You can't paddle. You can't pull it back out.

And, when this little accident happens, it may make you freak out a bit. Take a moment to breathe and think. Easier said than done. Especially when you see blood and are far from outside help.

Fishing lures with multiple barbs dangling from your hand invites you to snag yourself a few more times or to get caught on something else. So cutting yourself free of the lure and only going to the hospital with the embedded barb is one option. When I didn't have a wire cutter handy on an island, I actually used duck tape to wrap around the other free barbs to immobilize them until we got to the hospital.

All this is very painful. In my first aid kit, I also keep Advil or some type of common temporary pain killer. It's better than nothing.

I remember, the hospital didn't have a wire cutter handy. It took them 30 minutes to locate one after an already long wait time to be admitted. Seriously!? I learned to keep a small fishing wire cutter in the car and one in a kayak hatch.

If you do decide to cut yourself free from a fishing lure before heading to the hospital, the doctor said not to cut it off close to the skin, otherwise they have more trouble removing it. They numb your hand, then push the hook through in the direction of the barb, not pull it back out where it went in. That barb has really got you hooked! If that doesn't work, they have to do some surgery. After the fishing hook was removed, there was a course of antibiotics. That wound is ripe for infection.

It's good to test a new wire cutter. We bought one, tested it on an old fishing lure at home, and the new wire cutter broke in our hand. Some are cheap and don't work. Best to buy a good one and test it on an old lure before trusting it on a trip.

Remember me? Yes I do!
Are you prepared for fishing line and fishing lure encounters?

Me? Not always. And I know better. Here's another reminder to keep the small fishing wire cutter tool in the kayak. The duck tape, and the tow belt I never forget.

Below are links to more of my fishing line and lure encounters:
Happy paddle trails!
The BaffinPaddler

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Friendly duck alert

I thought I'd take a close-up picture of a cute little duck swimming up to my moving kayak on a cold mountain stream with light current. My hands on the camera, the paddle in my lap.

The nose of my moving kayak kept getting closer to the duck, surely it will divert? But the duck did not change course. It turned directly towards the nose of my kayak and kept swimming towards it. We were headed for a nose to bill collision.

Yikes. I can't run over a duck! I dropped my camera and grabbed my paddle for a quick stop (back-paddling). My waterproof camera is attached to my paddle jacket and has a paddle float for good reason.

Yes. I brake for ducks. Some are a little too friendly. "What's in your lunch bag buddy!"
Happy paddle trails.
The BaffinPaddler