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 :).

Our outfitter for this trip was Michel Pouliot from Expeditions Rivière Noire with a drop-off at Rapides Enragés. Cost per person was approx 85$ for the equipment rental and shuttle.

20 August 2010 – Day 0 – 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:

“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.

21 August 2010 – Day 1 – 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.

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