Bonaventure-River-Canoe-Trip-Vance

by Vance Gustin,

Deep into the wilderness of the Gaspé Peninsula of south eastern Quebec and nested in the foothills of the Chic-Choc mountains lay the crystal clear headwaters of the famed Bonaventure River. The shuttle up to the headwaters began by weaving its way up along the neighboring Cascapédia river on a paved road that seemed like the twisting back of a giant snake. As the road turned from asphalt to gravel the ride became quite a bit rougher and the canoes on the trailer bounced around with a muted thumping akin to the eager beating of our hearts. For some the journey had started in such faraway places as Wisconsin while others had made the somewhat shorter trip up from Portland Maine.

Far below the crest of the hill our tents appeared no larger than a child’s toys and the lazy wisp of smoke from the campfire was barely visible in the dying light of the sun.  Liam and I had raced up the rocky slopes of a hill adjacent to our campsite to catch the beautiful vista of the Bonaventure river valley at sunset.

“We should start heading back down before it becomes hard to see.” I said to Liam.

He quietly nodded and we began the trek down to camp. About halfway down we met Bo, Bence, Steve and Josh on their way up and I quickly snapped a group photo before encouraging them to join Liam and me on our descent. The first day on the Bonaventure had been interesting: we’d crossed both Lac Bonaventure and Petit lac Bonaventure and made our way down a narrow mountain stream to the gravel bar we now called home. Over the course of the next couple of days we’d be paddling through the maze of dry-ki (standing or fallen weather beaten timber) covered banks and shallow class one and two rapids.

Three boats were manned by father-son teams; Bo and Bob whose names I always confused usually were the first boat behind Dave who was paddling solo and the lead guide.  Bob had just retired the previous Friday and had plans for many different river trips this summer; he and Bo always seemed to have a smile on their faces as they weaved their way down between the rocks. The second father son pair was Steve and Bence who had done this river together some thirty odd years ago.  The final father son pair was Brian and Liam; Brian was introducing Liam to canoe camping for the first time and it was awesome watching them take their canoeing partnership from its fledgling stages all the way up to a fully functioning team.  The other boats in our entourage were Chris, a master of the Black Spruce pole, Josh and Tim who were very funny and warmhearted and myself. The group was a mixture of family and old friends. Most having paddled with Chewonki over the years,  a shared experience across the generations of the joys of the wilderness, a passing of the torch.

The trip down the Bonaventure River is an experience we won’t soon forget.  Early in the morning the birds start to sing their melodious sonnets and the fresh smell of spruce and fir trees mixes with the smoky smell of the fire. Soon the coffee would be ready and the warm feel of the cup in your hands was a welcome counter to the crisp cool air of the break of day. After a hearty breakfast had been served, gear was packed and loaded into the canoes.  The river itself was a translucent flow of water over a kaleidoscope of slate grey, reddish-brown and white striped gravel and rocks.  At times the water was so clear and calm it seemed as if you were floating on air. The river seemed to murmur gently encouraging the dancing canoes as they navigated the swift flowing waters. We ate lunch on gravel bars, occasionally skipping a rock or two across the river.  Tim, Bo and Bob were always on the lookout for the legendary Atlantic salmon and many a dark shadow or flash of silver was quickly investigated.  Some of the bigger class two and three rapids were scouted from shore and Dave would usually set up at their base to take pictures. The Bonaventure gorge had a couple of drops which the water level would not allow for safe passage and we promptly lined our boats along the shore.  The lower section of the river transitioned from shallow mountain stream to wide river cascading between salmon pools.  A large rapid would be followed by a deep pool and occasionally a friendly fisherman in his boat.

The second to last day on the river a thunderstorm sprung upon us from the south and we spent an hour or so huddled on shore in a stand of alders. Dave and I lit a fire to warm our companions and provide a distraction from the storm raging around us.  Tim and Brian managed to gather enough firewood to burn down a small village while Bo and Bence picked around the gravel beach looking for souvenirs.  Chris, Bob and Steve quietly conversed while huddled under their rain jackets.

“The storm’s about to let up” Tim would say in a hopeful voice during each small break in the rain.

Eventually the storm did pass but not before Tim had hopefully proclaimed our salvation a half dozen times.  The day did an about-face and the sun burst from the clouds in radiant joy.  The river cooled by the rain immediately released a thick fog about six feet high which lent an eerie feeling to our afternoon paddle down to camp.

Our last day on the river was an early morning affair with breakfast being finished before 6:15 AM.  A long drive lay ahead for all of us and we were eager to once again join the world of the twenty first century. It was a bittersweet feeling shaking hands and heading our separate ways.  However, I am sure that it won’t be long until we all once again heed the call of the river.

Vance has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, E.I.T., and is currently a Graduate Research Associate at the Ohio State University, William G. Lowrie Department of Chemical and Biomolecular engineering.

Visit Canoe the Wild for more information on paddling the Bonaventure River, Next trip scheduled for June, 2018 

 

Canoe the Wild seven day Bonaventure River canoe trip, June 6-12, 2017 One of Eastern Canada’s finest rivers with lots and lots of lively and class I-II whitewater yet with 2 short portages and only a couple linings. The Bonaventure starts out as a swift moving mountain stream with many sharp turns growing in size as we descend through a valley of Black Spruce. The Bonaventure is a great choice for groups & individuals with good paddling skills. It’s also a great river for poling. The views of the surrounding hills are spectacular. Not a physically demanding trip when paddling in medium and medium/low water. Next Bonaventure River Canoe Trip is June 7-14, 2018

 

Our May 27-29, 2017 St. Croix River canoe trip.

Maine Canoe Trips with Canoe the Wild guided by Dave Conley & Tammi Matula. Choose the St. Croix River for 3 to 5 day paddling adventures for your family or group, or join others on a already scheduled 2017 Maine canoe trip! Everything is provided including instruction as needed, trip logistics, gear and meals. All you will need is a few changes of clothes and a warm compact sleeping bag. Contact Dave Conley of Canoe the Wild at 207-551-8729 for more details or visit the web at http://www.canoethewild.com

100 participate in Adventure Race under Sunny Skies!

East-Grand-Adventure-Race-John-Bergman-biking

Saturday, May 13th marked the 13th annual East Grand Adventure Race, held the 2nd Saturday of May every spring in Danforth, ME. This year’s course featured all the events racers have come to expect and more: a mile-long compass run, followed by a 10-mile bike ride, and ending with an 8-mile canoe and kayak race. Many exciting challenges took place between the biking and paddling legs including the familiar mud pit crawl and log rolling in Baskahegan Stream. New challenges included a paintball challenge, scaling wall, partially submerged 29’ culvert to crawl through and an environmental challenge where racers had to identify evergreen tree samples. The new family division opened up the race to parents and adult mentors taking part with younger children which included all elements except the biking portion.

Orono High school students along with numerous adults were well represented at the event with the high school boys team of Kellen Doyle & Ben Allan-Rahill not only winning their division, but the race overall with a course time of 2:28:02 before time deductions. Kellen also won the door prize, a new Vapor kayak, paddle and life jacket donated by Old Town Canoe.

Perhaps the biggest personal accomplishments of the day came from race participant Jill Plummer, a teacher at East Grand School, losing 100 LBs and getting into shape in preparation for the race. After helping out with last year’s race, Jill set a personal goal of getting in shape, losing the weight and taking part as a race participant this year. Jill achieved that goal while taking part on the relay team of Tammi Matula, Danlen Espenscheid and Erika Napoli and was all smiles the whole time!

Ben Randall of Sabattus set a record in the 34 mile Baskahegan Stream separate canoe & kayak race with a time of 4:33:47. In second place was the four person team of Terry Wescott, Chip Loring, Ander Thebaud and Bob Hesser narrowly winning by only 13 seconds over the four person team of Marc Ranco, Justi Wardwell, Bill Deighan and Eve Dana. River Robertson came in 4th place with a time of 4:58:53

Up Next, Now that Dave Conley of Canoe the Wild  has finished overseeing the adventure race for another season, the focus has shifted to upcoming canoes trips this spring and summer in Maine on the St. Croix and Allagash Rivers. Contact Dave to discuss joining up on a trip or bringing your group.

 

East Branch of the Penobscot River canoe trip through the new Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. Our three day canoe trip begins just below Grand Lake Matagamon and ends at Whetstone Falls. there are four mandatory portages around Haskell Pitch, Pond Pitch, Haulling Machine and Grand Falls. You’ll want to scout Bowline Falls. you’ll want to be in good physical shape for  this trip. High Water difficult & dangerous (over 600 CFS) medium water recommended (300-55 cfs) and low water (100-150cfs) skinny but runnable. Canoe the Wild offers this trip for First timers and seasoned paddlers alike. First timers will want to run it at medium to low water and will receive instruction as needed for paddling in whitewater.  All equipment and meals are provided when signing up for this canoe trip with Canoe the Wild.

Maine canoe trips, Maine summer vacations, weekend getaways, discover Maine

Maine is a great destination for adventure recreation seekers of all ability levels and first timers including, weekend getaways, day trips, overnight and longer paddle trips on Maine rivers for your family, friends and custom group outings. The St. Croix River, Allagash River, West branch of the Penobscot, and the East Branch of the Penobscot through the new National Monument known as Katahdin Woods and Waters are all great Maine destinations that can be paddled all summer long. For those looking for a little more adventure, Canoe the Wild offers trips into Canada on the Bonaventure River ,NE Mistissibi River., Liard River in the Yukon and remote fishing for Brook Trout on the de Pas River in Quebec.  Canoe the Wild is an outfitter that provides everything you need to make your trip safe and enjoyable including experienced registered Maine guides whom have great people skills, equipment that is new or like new including Old Town canoes, tents, group tarp, cooking and eating utensils and meals that are top notch! Visit out website and 2017 summer schedule and discover why Maine is a great destination for all ages. vacations.  CanoetheWild.com 

 

Dave’s Maine Wreaths and Trees has been selling Christmas Trees and Wreaths in Lynchburg, Virginia since 1990 with Two locations serving the central Virginia area. 20722 Timberlake Road, Big Lots parking lot and next to Joe Beans Coffee shop and 19018 Forest Road (route 221) next to Auto Extras in Forest. Hours of operation are Monday through Saturday 9AM-9PM and Sundays 11-8PM. The 2016 season with be the 27th year of sales in Lynchburg. Along with trees and wreaths of all sizes. Dave sells pine, fir, and mixed greenery roping (garland) in rolls or cut to desired length, centerpieces, window sill sprays, arches, memorial wreaths and bows made to order in numerous fabric, colors and sizes. For more information and to Place an order (large trees, wreaths and window sill sprays made to order) contact Dave at the 19018 Forest Road location cell # 207-551-8729 and at our Big Lots location, call Jason at 434-258-5096. Visit Dave’s website at http://www.canoethewild.com/daves-trees/