Trip Report – 20-23 Aug 2010 – Coulonge River

This was my first (and only as of 2022) trip down the Coulonge river. The Coulonge, Noire and Dumoine are tributaries of the Ottawa river, in the same area and good for whitewater oriented trips. For this trip we had 12 participants: Burg, Gibe, Wissell, Sylvain, Val, Master Trooper (Dan), Dan’s father, Julien, Marty B, Matt, NFL and myself. This was also the trip where I got the “Sunshine” nickname :).

Day 0 – 20 Aug – Getting there

Since it is a roughly 4hr drive, our objective was to meetup at the outfitter late afternoon and make our way to the put-in. Unfortunately on the way, the trailer one of the vehicles was pulling had a tire blowout, luckily it was close enough to town that we were able to pull out at the next exit where there was a service station. Unfortunately that meant waiting several hours for repairs before we could hit the road again. At that time we either had no cell phones, spotty service or just didn’t have each others numbers because when we arrived at the outfitter we saw this note on one of our friends cars:

Note in french on rear winshield wiper of car with message - Late Bastards! You better have a good story! Gone to Fort Coulonge for Dinner (Cell #)
“Late Bastards! You better have a good story! Gone to Fort Coulonge for Dinner (Cell #)”

We unloaded our gear and camped at the outfitter that night sharing our exciting story about waiting in the parking lot for hours.

Day 1 – 21 Aug – First day on the River

The next morning it was raining as we were getting our gear ready. We took a quick look at the canoes layed out for us and noticed many of them were in rough shape. We though it wise to spend a good amount of time taking pictures of the damage and serial numbers to make sure we wouldn’t be blamed/charged when returning the canoes. The outfitter later apologized, he kept beat-up canoes for paddlers with no experience – he had frequent international renters, perhaps through an agency – who don’t exactly know how to run rapids and tend to wrap/break them but accidentally had those ones out for us.

In any case, we loaded up the canoes, our gear and got dropped off just in time for lunch. While loading up the canoes and departing we made a little mistake which could have been big! One of the small barrels we kept food in was forgotten behind, we didn’t notice until we were making dinner and looking for it. Thankfully it was just bread so after searching everywhere and confirming we had it at lunch (via pictures on our cameras) we jokingly attributed blame (all your fault Gibe!) laughed and didn’t suffer all that much. After the trip was over, we were able to go back and get the barrel.

Finally we were able to hit the water and get through the first couple rapids, get some swimming time and a group picture. It was a good afternoon on the river despite the on-and-off again rain.

We set up camp making sure we made ample time to dry our gear as much as possible. Dinner that night was bacon-wrapped pork roast with potatoes cooked in cast-iron on the fire, delicious stuff. Cleaning with cast-iron is easy too 🙂

To make the night complete and relax a bit after the rainy day we decided to make a sauna. Basically heating rocks in the fire, making an enclosed space with a tarp, placing the hot rocks inside and a bit of water to create some steam. A refreshing dip in the river to cool off and repeat! Finally, we decided to have a firework show to close off the night before going to bed.

Day 2 – 22 Aug – Roping, swimming and rapids

The day started off with a bang (literally) setting off fireworks without even crawling out of the tent. (Smoke gets in the tent when you do this, probably not the best idea).

Eggs and bacon were in order for breakfast and you don’t get much more macho than opening bacon with a machete! Patience was in order as everything was cooked on the fire but the final result is english muffin, hollandaise sauce, bacon egg and cheese. We weren’t in a big rush and stayed up late the night before so it was a nice and relax morning.

After breakfast, we packed up and set off shortly after encountering some rapids and falls which had to be roped and lifted-over. We took the opportunity to take a few pictures and after a bit of scouting figured we could swim in the current just after the falls.

After that relaxing and refreshing swim, we headed back down to assault a few more rapids! Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures until later that evening when we set off some more fireworks!

Day 3 – 23 Aug – Songs and Cliff diving

A fairly clear day awaited us on the home stretch of this river.

During breakfast, we were all sitting around the campfire and for some reason, I was wearing my headlamp. But, like an idiot, my headlamp was not pointing at the ground like usual, I had put it on backwards and pointed it up at the sky (it was off). Why I did that, no idea, perhaps I just put it on quickly in a daze, confused, sleep deprived? In either case it was on my head, in daylight pointing up at the sky.

So clearly NFL see me looking like a complete idiot, points out my mistake and theorises that I’m trying to signal the sun to come out. Everyone had a good laugh, and some started calling me sunshine. And then… the song started. Every single song you can think of that has “sun”, “sunny” or “sunshine” in it (in french or english) was sung but replacing the sun-word with my name.

We took another lazy day as it was mostly flat water. When it’s flat water, we often get bored and start singing or doing random things to keep entertained. I remember we kept singing a song while paddling which we would sing people’s names and find things that would rhyme. Something like “Sylvain ça rime avec, un bain. Un bain ça rime avec, Sylvain. Sylvain ça rime avec un bain. Ohhhhhh” (Basically in English it would be something like “[person’s name] rhymes with [thing]. [thing] rhymes with [person’s name]…” and then keep going with the next person. There was often a small pause when we were thinking of what rhymed and in some cases we would just spurt out random things. However when we got to Master Trooper (Dan), there was no pause at all but his father rapidly yelled out “Pussy” to complete the song. It was a moment where everyone was surprised, laughed and then completed his section of the song with big smiles.

The entertaining part of this day was finding a rock ledge where we could jump off into the water. We started testing it out and eventually jumping in groups off this ledge which was great fun.

We eventually made it back to the outfitter, took a few group pictures, discussed our favorite and least favorite parts of the trip and headed back home. (where in the car, everyone sang songs with “Sunshine” in it but replaced the word sunshine with my name)

Although this was a little less intense trip than some others, it was enjoyable and relaxing with a great group of friends and a new nickname!


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