Archives for posts with tag: Bonaventure River Canoe Trip

Just completed 2 Bonaventure River Canoe Trips and 1 of 2 NE Mistissibi River Canoe trips in Quebec Canada! Next up is  our West Branch of the Penobscot and East Branch of the Penobscot River canoe trips along with three St. Croix River and four Allagash River Canoe Trips of which 2 are all adults! See full details here 2019 Summer Schedule 

Day canoe trip on the St. Croix River with East Grand school students. Check out our 2019 schedule for St. Croix, Allagash and Bonaventure River canoe trips!  Trips are fully outfitted and guided.

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