"We accept it as normal that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and by the very nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated.......We take this as a given for it is the foundation of our system, the way commerce extracts value and profit in a resource-driven economy. But if you think about it, especially from the perspective of so many other cultures, touched and inspired by quite different visions of life and land, it appears to be a very odd and highly anomalous human behavior."
-Wade Davis in The Wayfinders

Oct 12, 2009

Romaine-1 Construction at the Grand Chute

Hydro Quebec Strategic Plan 2009-2013

Here are some excerpts from Hydro Quebec's Strategic Plan 2009-2013 concerning rivers along the North Coast.

-The Romaine Complex will enable Hydro Québec Production to increase its exports to markets outside Québec.

-One of these projects is located on the Petit Mécatina, some 250 km east of the Romaine. The company has already carried out the preliminary studies and some field surveys. Draft-design studies are set to begin in 2009.  These will allow us to determine the final configuration, features and cost of the facilities, and carefully assess their environmental impacts.  The working hypothesis calls for two generating stations (Petit-Mécatina-3 and Petit-Mécatina-4) with a total capacity of 1,200 MW. 

-Other projects totaling more than 1,750MW round out this first group.  They include Tabaret generating station, which is planned near Kipawa dam in the Témiscamingue region, and another project to be built on the Magpie; both of these have yet to undergo a detailed environmental assessment. The addition of a third generating unit at Sainte-Marguerite-3 is also being considered, along with refits that would yield capacity gains at Manic-2 (commissioning: 2013 to 2016) and Manic-3 (commissioning: after 2015).


3,500 MW BY 2035 

3,000 MW of hydropower 

300 MW of wind power 

200 MW of emerging renewables

-Hydro-Québec Production has been present on wholesale markets in the Northeast since 1999, and now wants to extend its sales activities to the U.S. Midwest.  

Jul 26, 2009

This Is The Place, Now Is The Time

Paddlers wanting to experience this amazing place don't have very much time left.
This photo taken just upstream of La Grande Chute. You can see more photos on the Hydro-Quebec website. www.hydroquebec.com/romaine/travaux/routes.html

Jun 1, 2009

Info For Running The Romaine River

Special Note: Boreal River is offering raft trips on the Romaine in August 2009. Visit their website for information on this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Romaine before it is dammed. www.borealriver.com

*To see the trip report with lots of pictures please continue scrolling down the page.*

Romaine River:
Length: 130 miles

Difficulty: Whitewater is mostly class IV+- V with some spicey class V+ (if you're feeling up to it) @ 200cms. Lots of class III-IV boogie water and even more sections of moving current and flatwater. Portaging is done with moderate effort on all rapids.

Flow: according to http://www.myosis.ca/ 70cms-low, 110cms-med, 250-high, 400-too high
link to gauge: http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/Suivihydro/graphique.asp?NoStation=073801

Remember the river is mostly done as a canoe trip with portages. It can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. One thing is for sure, regardless of the whitewater the Romaine is one of those classic "Trippin' Rivers". Floating through the Romaine Valley is an experience you will never forget. Around 200cms seemed to be a nice medium flow for the river. Difficulty would increase with more water obviously. Perhaps 300cms would be an interesting flow for adventerous groups to try. The first and second canyons had 4-5 scouts. Options exist on all the rapids from portaging to running the meat. Recommend kayakers put-in just above first canyon near 51.23' N 63.35' W. Then its a nice six day trip to the bridge at highway 138. Trying to camp at Fowlersville on Acid is highly recommended. If you go all the way to the ocean there is a hostel for a room and showers. Havre Saint Pierre has grocery stores and good eats like La Promenade on the street next to the water, and of course some excellent Casse Croute's to satisfy that poutine appetite.

Flight Info: Labrador Air Safari in Havre Saint Pierre ph: 418-538-3866 Fax: 418-538-3805
Located a couple kilometer's east of HSP exits on 138.

If you want the .kmz file for Google Earth with rapid names and waypoints for the hike out option, etc, etc. e-mail me at fredcoriell@gmail.com Thanks to Boyce for putting it together.

May 30, 2009

Useful Beta For Running The Petit Mecatina

For these rivers the best time of year to go is late August/early September. No bugs, good water levels, and lots of blueberries.

Petit Mecatina River:
Length: ~100 miles, plus 20 miles on the ocean
Difficulty: V(V+) and lots of flatwater. I remember only a few other portages besides the stuff in the canyon.
Flow: 200-350 cms @ "The Split" gauge
link to gauge- http://www.cehq.gouv.qc.ca/suivihydro/default.asp you will have to navigate a bit to find it. Click 07-Saint-Laurent nord-est and then the second red dot from the right.

The canyon is the crux. It is possible to portage on river left, but skilled rope work and time are the issue. This was done on the late 80's descent. The (V+) describes the ferry for life move in the canyon. Waterlevel could make or break this section, it is very committing and highly consequential.

Alternatively, it is possible to land downstream of the canyon in the first big flat water section near Iles de William (51.14' N, 59.42' W). This misses some of the more difficult whitewater on the upper river, but still makes the run great IV-V with no unportageable rapids, and one could spend a whole afternoon surfing at Rapid de Pahtapistnakan which would also be a great camping spot.

The skinny about "The Split". If you go left try and hook up a boat ride to Harrington Harbour. This way puts you more in the middle of nowhere, but closer to Harrington Harbour. If you go right you end up at Chevery, a small fishing town and can pay someone to give you a ride out to Harrington Harbour. You are farther from Harrington Harbour, but I don't know of any kayakers that have gone this way so perhaps some good whitewater and definitely a fifty footer into the ocean. The canoe trip in 2003 went this way.

-stole this off Google Earth, Netagamiou Falls near Chevery

Ferry Information: Relais-Nordik operates the ferry from Natashquan-Blanc Sablon. On Saturday it docks in Harrington Harbour on the way back to Natashquan. Reservations are required and they will give you the number for Harrington Harbour. Larry Ransom is the wharf manager and a good contact for boat rides out of the Mecatina. Relais-Nordik phone numbers are 418-723-8787 or 418-692-5000 or Toll-free 1-800-463-0680. In 2007 the ferry cost about $70 CAN per person with kayaks

Flight Information: Labrador Air Safari operates the only float plane in Natashquan. 418-538-3866

Magpie River: See Alden Bird's new guidebook for a great write-up on this river. There are a bunch of pictures at the bottom of this blog too.- http://neguidebook.com/

flight info: Labrador Air Safari in Sept-Iles: 1-888-463-9511 or (418)-548-9511

May 29, 2009

Romaine River

We made it back after a great couple weeks in Quebec. The Romaine was remarkable. We had great water levels, blue skies, and good times. Five days, 100 miles of river, and 2 miles of bogging. We were surpirsed by how runnable the river was. Some of the group only made three portages. Others a few more, but not once did we have to leave the riverbed and charge throught the forest. I am going to say this once, and I'm sure Boyce and Greg would agree, because it could become a point of contention. The Romaine has the best, most runnable, whitewater of the rivers on the North Coast. Better than the Petit Mecatina, and better than the Magpie. The scenery is spectacular as well. Can you say one place is more beautiful than another right next to it. Perhaps. Rolling granite hills, cliffs, waterfalls, gorges, huge ledge drops into enourmous pools with shagri-la sand bars. It is sad that this river will be changed from its natural state. According to the Romaine Complex pdf most photos taken of the river below will be flooded with the exception of a flatwater section between Basin Des Murailles and the upstream side of the Romaine 1 Generating Facility. The price of progress I guess. Enjoy the photos and stay tuned for more information of the Romaine Project and other updates on whitewater kayaking on the North Coast. It is a special place. At least we can preserve it in our memories.
We flew in late in the day and were treated to some twighlight TV

Not too shabby of a sunset

The first morning we awoke to a dew-full sunrise.
As the sun warmed the air we were treated to a misty show.

We pushed off down the Romaine. The first 10 miles contained many easy rapids. A nice warm-up. This section will be flooded after construction of Romaine 4.

It sure would be nice to have access to this gage. There are four Hydro-Quebec gages along the river. All at ideal dam sites. We assume they indicate general placement of each dam. This is confirmed by looking at the Romaine Project pdf.
After lunch we entered the first canyon. It contained some great whitewater. This section of whitewater will be flooded by Romaine 3 Generating Facility.

The first rapid had a nice lead-in slide

Then some big waves in the runout

Looking back upstream at the first rapid

The next rapid was one of the longer more complex ones. Most of us scouted on the left and ran a side channel most of the way. Toby scouted right and found a line down the main flow.

The bottom of the rapid had a tricky ferry move back into the main current.

Boyce navigating the ferry.
Grace paddling out the bottom of one of the first day's rapids
Greg doing the same
Amidst the Romaine's whitewater

Toby scouting the Micrometer of Doom. He ran center.

The rest of us boofed off the nice spout on river right.

There was a lot of rapids in this style. To tempt the main current or relent to the side channels? It was a common theme.

At camp that night Boyce shows off the Jet Boil. Notice in background John and Boomer getting ready to use a more primitive method of cooking. It is called Burning Stick.

A great sunset at for the second night on the river.
We awoke and paddled around the corner to find an impressive falls.
The hole at the bottome was huge. It looked like Fowlersville Falls on the Moose River, but on steroids.
The far right channel had a fast and dynamic line.
Jake in middle of it all. There was also an easy slide in the middle of the river.

Greg found some cool minerals in the bedrock

There was a long strectch of flatwater after Fowlersville on Acid.

The scenery was incredible.
We lunched above the next big rapid. The reservoir behind Romaine 2 Generating Facility will flood this section of whitewater. Toby is running the Levitator Line. The first part of the long rapid.

Willy boofing the second part of the rapid. Then a nice set of crashers to the bottom.

Looking upstream at the boof

The view from below the rapid.

The first drop of Double Mister. Two misting horizon lines. We couldn't believe both were runnable. Below is the first drop. The line was at the top of the photo on river left.
Boomer and Toby getting in above the second drop of Double Mister.

A nice lead in boof.
Then down the slide.
At the bottom of a watery ramp you wanted to stay left.
The sun was setting behind the canyon walls as we paddled the last few rapids of the day.
It was classic Romaine whitewater
The last rapid came to at the end of the day was also the first portage. We camped on the rocks and scouted it for hours. That night was an incredible display of northern lights.

Mr. Toad was checking us out.

Nice camping on the rocks. Notice the burning stick technique at work.

A few tough guys about to portage

There was a line, but it was difficult. The consequences outweighting the risk of a run.

Most of the third day was moving current. We paddled 38 miles on the Romaine this day. A long straight away above the third canyon held a few easy rapids.
Boomer a few miles above camp psyched on the granite walls we passed all day long
And again a colorful sunset.
Day 4. The third canyon. Anticipation was high since this was going to be the biggest whitewater we had seen thus far. Of course there was a gauge at the top of the rapids.

The Spike Rapid was run in its entirety by Boomer and Toby. Not without a couple of good beat downs though.
Boomer ready to get swallowed by the curler.
Toby about the throw some high speed cartwheels.
The next series was impressive. John firing up Freebird down the middle.
Toby flying off the falls.
Willy running the right side of Hawaii 5-0. Toby and Boomer ran the middle riding the curling wave through a big crasher.
Around the next corner we saw the first signs of constrcution activity on the river. We had seen a helicopter the past couple hours and wondered what it was doing. These guys are doing seismic work in the river. They had just set off the charges as we came around the corner.

A-Star in the woods

The last rapid in the third canyon is called Les Murailles. It is an incredible piece of whitewater. We snuck into it and portaged down the right. There was a line the whole way and it ended in a lake. The Romaine 2 Generating station will divert water from this section of river.
Someone tossed out Land of Giants to describe the whitewater. Many perfectly shaped large holes one after the other.
Boomer decided to try the bottom part of the rapid.
The only way through the hole at the bottom was...... Fortunately it landed in a lake and it was easy to pick up the pieces.

We ate lunch at the bottom of Les Murailles.
As we ate helicopters were long-lining loads over our heads.
That afternoon we paddled another section of calm water.
This awesome boof was 100 meters above our last night camp spot on the river. Clouds were encroaching. It was going to rain soon.

There was an little alcove to camp in. Rock benches and crazy potholes abounded. Tarp City kept some of us dry that night

Jake bouldering in the alcove

The next morning we ran the lead-in rapids to La Grande Chute. According to the Romaine Complex map this whole series will be flooded by the Romaine 1 Generating Station

This rapid had a tight left to right move to avoid a serious beat downIt was fun wide open ledges. Pick your down and hope there wasn't any big holes.
Then came La Grande Chute. Not really runnable, but very impressive. Romaine 1 Generating Station will built near this falls.

The portage was really slow. There were so many blueberries we barely made it back to the river.

Toby walking down the stone stairway back to the river. The portage was easy.

Greg and Boyce posing in La Grande Chute

John paddling away from the fallsThat afternoon we paddled another 10 miles of flatwater. Notice the Werner glamour shot. Great paddles for a great river.

Then we got the crazy idea to try and bushwhack to the road. 2 miles of solid bogging using the tractor pull method.

Finally Highway 138Willy's expression sums it up. Beautiful River, beautiful trip, would go back in a heartbeat.

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