I live in the city. I dream (and dream about living, adventuring, and travel) in the country. Married to Outsideways creator @toesalad.
My adventure life is summarized well by William Lewis Morton, who once observed that the “alternate penetration of the wilderness and return to civilization is the basic rhythm of Canadian life.”
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On our way to La Malbaie we decided to spend a couple hours walking the old city in Quebec City.
After our canoe camping trip we returned home to Montreal to drop off our canoe, shower, do laundry and re-pack our gear for car camping.
By the time we left the house for the Charlevoix region it was mid afternoon.
Knowing we wouldn’t get past Quebec City on day one we set our sights to camp southeast of Quebec City.
We found a great camp spot on the St. Lawrence in the municipal campground of Lotbiniere.
We learned next time to bring water with us, as there was no spigot on site to be found.
A very inexpensive site ($20) and very quiet even though we have neighbors on either side. Loved listening to the river all night.
This is the view in the morning.
Leaving our last tiny portage (115m) on Lac au Barrage, still high from our bear sighting.
Our route to the car is through the channel and to the right.
We arrived at the car 2 hours after leaving camp and damien calculated the distance as 9.7 kms. I’ve learned with this trip that the map distance doesn’t match Damien’s gps calculated distances. But the trip was in the ballpark of 80-85 kms. It is marked as a 76km circuit but that only accounts for the circuit part and not the 5 km access through Lac au Barrage. Those are the pesky details but for us, newbie canoe campers but experienced backpackers, the trip was very doable in 5 nights and 5 full day (6 days with 2 half days on either end).
We did a clockwise loop and this was advantageous for us since the days that we had wind, the wind was largely at our backs. I don’t know enough about the prevailing weather patterns in the area to know the usual wind direction, but it worked well for us.
The park recommends either direction so I think we just lucked out.
Summary: amazing trips on many levels. Highly recommend the area for canoe camping enthusiasts who appreciate and seek wilderness experiences.
And then we saw a bear!
We first saw this bear walking/swimming through reeds but we couldn’t positively identify it as a bear. Big muskrat, maybe? we thought. The animal disappeared from our view and we kept paddling.
We went around the bend and we saw this bear swimming across the channel moving from left to right. Its destination was our first night camping site.
More than 1/2 way across the channel it became aware of us, as we paddled closer. And it turned around to go back to the shore it came from.
In this photo the bear becomes aware of us.
After returning to the left hand shore it ran into the woods, spraying water off itself as it went.
But this bear was determined to cross this channel.
We paddled a little further, maybe 200 metres and around another bend and we see her again on the left shore. When she saw us she turned back into the woods.
The channel is quite curvy here and when we reached another bend we saw the bear had finally made it to the right hand shore. She was faster than us and had finished swimming already, the channel was narrower here, so weren’t able to witness her swim across.
We saw her on the far shore about 200 metres ahead of us before we disappeared into the woods.
Seeing the bear was definitely a highlight for me! And also a wake-up call to the importance of proper food storage.
Last night we were camped on an island, 1/4 km from mainland. I figured we didn’t need to hang our food since the only animals that would want it were the rodents and our SealLine bags are very resistant. So we didn’t hang the food, and we left it just feet from our tent!
Wow, lesson learned (the easy way)! Bears can swim to close islands.
I think I probably knew this already but conveniently forgot to save myself hanging food bags. Yikes.
It’s a beautiful morning for our final day of paddling.
Most of our nights out here have been very quiet and still, with no wind. Last night the wind blew through the trees all night. A very comforting sound.
The wind brought clear blue skies with puffy clouds and choppy waters.
With only 10 km to paddle to our car we took it easy this morning and left camp at 10:15.
Early evening view across the channel from our beach.
The end of day 5 and our last camp night.
An easy 8-10 km tomorrow to the car.
I finally learned that my map distances don’t match @toesalad watch numbers so it could be 8 or closer to 10. Not even 2 hours.
Listening to the loons in our tent as I type this.