Trip Report – 27 Jun to 1 Jul 2009 – Dumoine River

Another first for me on this trip, canoe-camping and white water canoeing all wrapped in one! For this trip we were a fairly large group with 10 participants in 5 canoes (Marty B, Ben, Van) and decided to tackle the Dumoine River on a 5 day trip.


Several meetings to plan, discussions around itinerary, training, gear and costs. We made a few waterproof copies of the maps to have in the canoes. A gear and food list was drafted with both personal and communal gear and who was responsible for it.

To prepare for this trip we had a little bit of a coaching session on 21st of June in a pond in someone’s backyard. Three of us had not run rapids before and many hadn’t been on a canoe camping trip in many years but we had some fairly experienced people to team up with. Review of the basic strokes, some discussion of how to read and run rapids. For me personally, I had not been in a canoe for a few years and certainly never run rapids so there was a lot to learn!

Day 1 – 27 Jun – Getting to the Dumoine

We packed our gear and headed out to meet the outfitter. Departure was set at 0530 from Ottawa meeting at the Trailhead depot around 0830. The put-in for this trip is just near a bridge (Bridge Rapids, km 64) and essentially right into a rapid so it was a very nervous trial-by-fire for many of us. At least we had the time to scout a little bit, get our gear in order and eat lunch (Pasta) before jumping in.

I was quite nervous heading into this with a massive lack of experience having only been in a canoe a handful of times for a couples hours at most. I guess I used that nervousness and made some t-shirts for my canoe partner (Burger) and I quoting Oscar Wilde “Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes.” with something like “If that is true, at the end of this trip we will be experts!” it was complete with a picture of the Hamburglar and of Kermit the frog (an Ode to my green polypropylene underwear from winter camping), I think I still have it laying around somewhere… (Update: found it!)

T-shirt logo with Kermit the frog and the Hamburgler quoting Oscar Wilde
T-shirt logo with Kermit the frog and the Hamburgler quoting Oscar Wilde

After all the nerves, no big issues with the first rapid and with the nice sunny day we could take our time to scout upcoming rapids, practice strokes and play in the water a little bit.

canoeing through the rapids view from top
canoeing through rapids view from side

At the end of our first day, we set up camp, pumped some water, made dinner (Gibe’s butcher’s very very hyped up F$%?ing burgers) and enjoyed a nice evening around the campfire. Gibe had been talking up those hamburgers almost the entire drive to the outfitter meeting point and during the day. They had cheese and bacon integrated in them or something like that, they were good but not THAT good.

I remember this zen feeling around the campfire, I didn’t know everyone all that well at this point other then a few I had gone on a winter camping trip with or met in the meantime. Wine portions were allotted (1/2 liter/person/day) and songs were sung, it was a great night although as you can tell by the pictures, a bit buggy.

Day 2 – 28 Jun – Rapids, submarines and capsizes

This morning started the best way possible, with bacon! After that, the usual taking down of camp, packing the gear and setting off for a day of rapid running!

Two pans filled with maple bacon steaming while cooking on a campfire
Maple bacon cooking on campfire

Another beautiful day out on the water. Some successful rapids, some less-so. I can remember singing “we all live in a yellow submarine” after we swamped (but did not flip) in our yellow canoe. It was good times and not super scary, just so hard to get back to shore full of water like that. However, some of our friends did flip over!

Burg + Sunshine traversing a rapid with lots of splashing
Van + Wissell, big splashes when they hit the middle of the rapid
When you want to go into the rapid and eddy out… only to flip oops
Not sure how they thought that was the line???
Van + Wissell successful eddy in and through the rapids!

What a great day on the water! When we got to our camping spot for the night, we decided to go for a nice refreshing swim (of course it started to rain a little bit too). With camp set-up, we enjoyed a little gift from one of our friends who was unable to make the trip this time and spend a good evening talking around the campfire. I wasn’t much of a drinker back then and very quiet, I remember distinctly Sylvain not feeling too trustworthy with me I think he felt like I had something to hide. It only took a few more conversations to break in the friendship. Besides, it was very cold for the time of year, I only had sandals and my socks were wet, I didn’t want to go for my backup pair at the time (it was still raining on and off) so it was a little bit of an unpleasant evening in terms of comfort.

Day 3 – 29 Jun – Exploring a creek, portage the falls

Pancake for breakfast morning! (They tend to take a long time and make a sort of lazy start to the day). We pre-cooked lunch at the same time, pasta salad in an olive barrel so we can distribute at noon. Not quite as nice skies as the previous two days possibly due to the chilly night but the overnight rain doesn’t matter too much when you’re going to be wet anyways! On a head count everyone was accounted for except one. Where the heck did he go? Search and look around and finally, what are you doing over there in the trees… ohhhh.

Let’s hit the river! Today is a bit of a lazier day, we get to explore a creek which led to waterfalls, ate lunch in the canoes and prepped for the “big” portage around Dumoine falls (La Grande Chute).

Next up, portage time! The waterfalls here are not runnable (at least for us?) so portaging around is the only way. I’m not sure if anyone has run those falls, a couple years ago I would have said no way, but now I’ve seen people run things I though were impossible so who knows.

Time for some sightseeing, using the outhouse near the road and carrying all the gear over. We tend to try and do it in 1 shot, 1 person takes the gear, another the canoe and we switch when it gets to heavy.

La Grande Chute on Dumoine (top section)
La Grande Chute on Dumoine (bottom section)

After a more relaxed day (except for the portage), time for a rest around the campfire.

Day 4 – Jun 30 – more rapids capsizes and submarines

Another pack it in and go kind of morning, the day is filled with the last rapids on this trip so time to enjoy!

As you can see, a few submarines, perhaps a bail or two, but all sorts of fun was had!

Pushing the canoe to shore and emptying it before flipping over
Jumping back in canoe (or attempting to)
Canoe incorrectly taking rapids and getting stuck on rock

We stopped for lunch at what was a quick lift-over (instead of a full portage). Took a group picture and set off again. There is a fairly impressive cliff face on this river which gives out a good Echo. Was not able to capture it on video in this trip but there are a few pictures of it (pictures never do it justice).

Group lift-over

We finally arrived at camp and planned out the following day. The plan was to build tri/catamarans out of the canoes by using logs to tie them together as well as a mast and sail. Since there were no rapids between our campsite and the dam where our take-out point was, this would give us better stability and, being with the wind most of the time, would get us to destination more quickly.

Day 5 – Jul 1 – Canoe Tri/Catamarans & return home

Today’s plan is a to use the canoe Tri/Catamarans we crafted the night before and sail into the sunset (or mid-day sun). Unfortunately, we quickly saw that the wind on this particular day was blowing the wrong way, this meant a very very long paddle into a headwind with not everyone being able to row due to the other canoes in the way.

Essentially it turned into several hours of paddling, against the wind in the rain, demotivated and swearing at our idea of setting up the canoes with heavy logs to try and sail. The one good thing they did though is provide stability in the waves and wind, at least there was very little chance of upset like this.

After many many hours of paddling, we decided to pass by our take-out point just so we could get the sail up and sail back towards the take-out.. at that point why not?

Canoe catamaran in rain
View between the canoes in canoe catamaran
Sail deployed on canoe catamaran
Sail deployed on canoe trimaran

Overall this was a great first introduction to whitewater canoe and canoe camping. One canoe kept an easy button (from Staples) on the front of their canoe, after every rapid they would make sure to get a “That was easy”. Somehow that button survived the entire trip, much like we all did!

This trip gave me a taste for more (and there are several other canoe trips we did since then!). When you have a good bunch like we did, it’s easy to “fall in love”.

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