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A 4:30 AM start through three hours of hard-driving rain was an inauspicious start to this trek to the far North. Even with very short driving breaks, I met up with Yong in Tadoussac around 2 o’clock, doubled up the kayaks, and drove another hour and a quarter to Sainte-Rose-du-Nord. We would start our river safari the following morning. Most of this group of nine paddlers got acquainted over a fine repast at Rose Café, after which we dispersed to our various overnight lodgings of tents, bed-and-breakfasts, and local hostel, the latter of which served up a fine musical display by a talented young man.
Day 1: Sunday morning’s 8 AM launch time was delayed slightly by hot-out-of-the-oven
delicious pastries. We left the harbor and northern shore to explore the southern side, our destination Baie Eternite, an uneventful 14.3M mile paddle under sunny, muggy conditions. We enjoyed lunch at the empty Anse du Gros Ruisseau campsite
10-20k south west winds were predicted over the VHF, but never materialized. Information from the VHF continued to be wrong on ensuing days, and we relied heavily on Amy’s phone weather app, including radar.
We landed at our campsite at the lower half of the tide cycle, and paid for it dearly, as we slipped, sunk, and plopped (Pam) in the plaster-like mud. The campsite was otherwise supreme, with six well-spaced tent platforms and a
picnic table, completed with our added awning.
Day 2: The tarp was most appreciated early the next morning, as heavy showers pestered us from 5 AM to 10 AM. Amy’s radar promised a 2- hour weather window, so we did the skedaddle at 10 AM,
with careful consideration of potential bail out locations (Slim Pickens along this steep-sided [>1000' height], deep [>600’] fjord). We stopped for a quick snack/bio break at the deserted Anse de Tabatiere campground, before eventually crossing to the northern shore. Before our scheduled lunch stop at the halfway point of Anse de Roche, we were surprised by a small pod of belugas swimming near us, an immature dark-colored torpedo passing just beneath my boat. Of course, no pictures, but several witnesses.
We took cover under the fine pavilion at the pier,
filled our tummies, then paddled on. Again, we never saw the forecasted 10-20 (Gusts up to 35 in squalls), but were quite startled by a solid wall of approaching rain behind us,
within 10 minutes of our next campsite at Anse a’ Tanis (des islets Rouge). We paddled “with intention“ and the clouds quickly emptied out, as the signature Quebec flag and pole welcomed us to a dining pavilion structure (a perfect location to later pitch my 2 x 7‘ tent, sans fly) and 5 tent platforms. By mid-afternoon, there was enough sun to partially dry out the wet gear, then gather on the ledges by the river to chat and relax.
Near-complete track Day 2 (14.7M)
Day 3: A light drizzle greeted us the next morning, forcing a wet and slippery boat loading.
Intermittent showers were forecast again, with the promise of clearing by early evening. We paddled without haste, sometimes breaking (unintentionally) into separate pods, fascinated by different geological displays under clearing skies, to Pointe a Passe- Pierre campground.
The rocky, seaweedy, first potential landing site thwarted us, and we settled on two separate landings on the other, eastern side of the point.
Brent and I thought otherwise of climbing up the rocky shore to the numerous tent platforms, he settling on the nearest “islet” towards the river (later coined Brentwood), and I, determined to be as close to the river as possible, pitched my tent far out on the rocky point (later dubbed Yorktown by others).
Mossies were trifling, as we watched the sun set, at our shoreside gathering spot on the point.
Hours later, an obnoxious cruise ship interrupted many of our snoozes in the middle of deep slumber, a stark intruder to this wilderness-like setting.
Track Day 3 (9.7M)
Day 4: An early morning hike before the 10 AM BIB was a delicious challenge for our legs, but not stomachs-a steep climb with rewards of bountiful blueberries (Brent picked 2 cups and ate?) and panoramic views, including Pointe a Passe-Pierre.
In no hurry to finish the 6M last day, we dilly-dallied in the large bay before Tadoussac, and were treated to occasional ?Minke (I see a lot of white) sightings,
before timing our crossing between ferries, then on to a group landing at the sandy beach around the rocky point. Autos were slowly retrieved at various parking lots, and plans for the next chapter were shared: Nova Scotia for hybrid biking and camping; Bold Coast to join another paddling group; touring Quebec City; biking near QC; whale watching up the St. Lawrence coast; other.
Approximate route Day 4 (5.7M)
Saguenay map download with our complete route: Saguenaytrip2018.pdf
Thanks to Troad for organizing a spectacular trip-a great trek with old friends and new!
-VHF forecasts were not very accurate for our time there. If you are lucky enough to get a signal (spotty for my Verizon plan), bring up a local radar plot, and carefully plan a safe route with possible bailouts (there are few), then roll the dice. There is no shame in being pinned down for another day if Mother Nature forces your hand. Depending on the potential wind direction, small, rocky projections on your chart might provide the smallest bit of shelter from wind/waves if weather comes up.
-Shuttle services were provided by Ferme 5 Etoiles in Sacre Coeur (~20 mins from Tadoussac) All were pleased with their services, which may include bailout possibility at L’Anse de Roche, as they are N of there.
-Water temps were warm enough (?65F) for swimming (for some), more fresh water westerly, becoming saltier and colder eastward (Tadoussac T ~ 50F [ave 57F]). Most were comfortable wearing summer apparel during this warm, muggy trip.
-Water can be filtered from numerous streams indicated on your nautical chart, if you don’t want to haul it from home (I did, and hauled 7L, drank 6).
-I was pleased with my hostel room in Sainte Rose du Nord. Others stayed in local B&Bs, or campground up the hill (no reservations required).
-Tadoussac landing: Time your arrival here carefully. We chose flood slack-ish. Nautical charts show that the spring ebb max can throttle to the neighborhood of 7k!
Oh yeah, I almost forgot! Despite what I naively thought, don’t expect to see any whales in the western Saguenay, but sightings are common close to St Lawrence, including from the Tadoussac ferry. If you have the time to hang around after the trip, take a <1/2 hour ride N of Tadoussac to watch whales from the shore, at either Whale Interpretation Center , Paradis Marin , or Mer et mode (free kayak launch), where I spied Razorbills, Gannets, Minkes, Humpback, and possible Fin. Yeah, it’s cool to say you were paddling with the whales, but the shoreside elevated views afford better vantage points to see the action.