Trip Report – Noire River 30 Jul – 2 Aug 2011

My first (and only so far) trip down the Noire river (Black river) near Fort-Coulonge, Québec, Canada. This was organised to be a more leisurely trip with many being introduced to whitewater canoe-camping and several girlfriends coming along for the trip. The Noire river, is a good easy introduction to canoe-camping, there are a few somewhat challenging rapids but none that are really dangerous. The river does tend to meander quite a bit around sandy banks so camping spots with beaches are plenty.

Day 1 – Getting to and on the Noire river

With a fairly large and new group, a bit of coordination was required to make sure everyone had the correct equipment, knew what they were getting into and had a good time. We all met up and carpooled to the outfitter, since there were 13 of us, we needed 7 canoes with one person (MAS) being solo for this trip.

Once all the gear was packed up and the shuttle dropped us off, we had to go through some teaching on basic paddling techniques and how to navigate rapids. All those without experience were paired with an experienced teammate. For me, this would be the first trip/time at the stern so I was paired with someone that had experience at the bow. Some hard decisions were made with couples, some prefer to be in the same canoe, others do not to avoid a blame-game if there is any upset and we also had to deal with experience levels and balance of canoes.

This day had essentially no rapids (ok there was one or two), mostly just nice calm water, sunny and relaxing. We set up our camp on a beach and rested after the relaxing day.

Day 2 – Some rapids and the 50-50 rapid

As all good camping morning begin, this one started with Bacon. I was proudly assigned to cook said bacon and did the manliest thing possibly by opening it with a machete. I also remember having a discussion about bacon cooking methods with Guillaume and high quality vs low quality bacon (apparently my high quality bacon cooking method was too slow :P). Regardless we had a great breakfast with eggs, English muffins, cheese and sausages to go along with our bacon. While we were at it, we also prepped a salad for lunch (in a small waterproof barrel) with an inordinate amount of feta cheese.

We headed down the river a few kms before we hit some rapids, taking in the nice scenery and making our way to the 50-50 rapid. This rapid is rated Class III and named 50-50 because there is a large rock right in the middle. It’s possible to go either right or left of the rock and it’s quite a short rapid so a good spot to portage back up and run multiple times.

I ran this one at the stern with our canoe fully loaded without any problems at all. We portaged back up and wanted to run again but this time I was in front with Sylvain at the back. Unfortunately on this one, I did my usual screw-up and called “Right” when I really meant “Left” (it was fairly clear we couldn’t go right and I did my move to go left) however, Sylvain listened to what I had said, even though he questioned it out loud and did his move to the right. Essentially we did a sharp turn and went over the side of the big rock sideways and had a swim. We didn’t know it at the time, but Sylvain, who had a heart operation in the past, had a small heart attack as a result of this cold-water shock. Once we got to shore he was completely white and needed several minutes to recuperate. Thankfully, he was ok for the rest of the trip (and many more!).

We stayed and played around in this rapid for a little while before continuing on.

After a great day on the water, we set up our camp. Made some spaghetti for dinner and a watermelon for desert (cut with a machete, watch your fingers)! The entrance to the campsite was fairly steep and not easily accessed so we really had to work as a team to get everything up and set-up. I remember pumping (filtering) water in the canoe for everyone while waiting for our turn to be able to unload our canoe. I think we ended up tying all the canoes together and left them in the water overnight due to the lack of accessibility of that particular site.

Day 3 – Manitou Rapids, Jam Rock Rapids and return home

This day started with the Manitou Rapids (series of Class I to III rapids) shortly followed by the Jam Rock Rapids (Class I to III rapids). Afterwards it was moving water with a couple Class I and Class II rapids all the way to the takeout.

Overall this was a great trip, very leisurely but that was perfect for introducing people to canoe-camping and navigating rapids.

Group picture of canoe-campers after completing Noire river
Group Picture at end of Noire river

Return to List of Trip Reports


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *