Patapedia, Kedgwick and the Mighty Restigouche

June 10, 2009

Patapedia River

(Kedgwick and the Restigouche too!)

May 21-25, 2009

The Crew

The Patapedia Crew

We started out in Fredericton with a crew of six.  We loaded up the trailer with our packs and canoes in the hot spring sun and headed North.  We drove for four  hours to a campsite in Kedgwick where we stopped for the night by the river.

Patapedia River Sunrise

Patapedia River Sunrise

In the morning we got up and headed literally around the corner to where our journey began: André Arpin’s place – Canoe Restigouche.  There we met our skilled guide, Roland.  We got back in the truck and drove on the back roads now for another hour and a half.  The road itself was in good shape, but the recent wind storm had knocked down many trees that bullied us to one side of the road or the other.

Road Less Traveled

Road Less Traveled

Our Guide Roland

Our Guide Roland

I read an interesting article in a photo magazine this week that said that when travelling, it’s important to document our most faithful travel companion – the vehicle we’re in.  It said that it’s one thing that’s often overlooked and stepping out of the car and taking a photo of it with the surrounding landscape is a good way to remember where you were and how you got there.  I thought this was a perfect opportunity to follow this advice.

The truck we rode in on was a Toyota Land Cruiser and when I asked Paul what year it was (it looked like it drove straight here from WWII) he said that the body was an ’85, the engine was an ’82 and the transmission was an ’84.  It also caught the attention of passing fishermen and a few rangers at the campsite.

Land Cruiser

Land Cruiser

We stopped here at a fallen tree and all cheered as Roland cleared the road.  I was barely out of the truck to take pictures when he had the problem taken care of.

Roland Saves the Day

Roland Saves the Day

And then, we arrive at the put in site at the Patapedia River.  There’s a wooden bridge where we stop and unload and we gather our canoes and gear just below the bridge where our trip will begin.

Patapedia River Put In

Patapedia River Put In

I must confess at this point that I’m really not sure what I’ve gotten myself into.  I can feel my heart pounding in my chest as we prepare to embark.  It has only been a month since the Boundary Rock trip (if you haven’t read the story of the Boundary Rock trip, reading this will help you’ll understand my anxiety), and I am still nervous to get back on the horse.  I know I am in good hands though, if anything were to happen.

I try not to let on and continue loading the canoe.

Happy Paddlers

Happy Paddlers

Once I’m on the water though, all my worries disappear.  The water is wide and fast, and consistently only a few feet deep.  There’s nothing challenging about this and I’m able to relax and just have a great time.  The river’s banks are covered exclusively with coniferous trees which reach up and up and up on either side.

Leisure At it's Best

Leisure At it's Best

After less than an hour we have stopped on the bank for lunch and I realize just what kind of trip this is going to be.  It’s all about leisure.  I suggest a spot back in the shade as a welcome break from the heat out in the open.  It was 32° in Fredericton, and it couldn’t be any less than 28° here.

Cross Draw

Cross Paddle Draw

Even being out on the water is hardly work.  There’s really no need to paddle here, all you need to do is keep the canoe straight, and even that is sometimes optional.

We did get a little excitement though right off the bat as we approached a series of ledges.  Paul and Beth were taking the lead and as they came around a corner we could see them get into a sticky spot where they became grounded and then point to the right to indicate for us not to follow them.  They got into a bit of a shallow area but following their instructions, we were able to navigate the ledges perfectly.

The Ledge

The Ledge

They hid right around a tight corner so by the time we saw them (and Beth and Paul’s canoe) we had to just run it and hope for the best.  Running straight through the middle gave us no trouble at all.

Ledge

Ledge

Here Janine and Tess float through a riffle with Beth and Paul taking up the rear.

Paddle-pedia

Paddle-pedia

At one point where we had eddied out we found a very interesting thing.  These cedar roots had become exposed by the water- scraped off by ice most likely, showing a blood red skin underneath.

Cedar Roots

Cedar Roots

We practiced our paddling team communication and eddying in and out.  Here Tess and Janine Eddy out for a rest.  It seemed we were stopping for a rest more often than not, but who’s complaining?

Eddy

Eddy

And here’s our trip-planner-extraordinaire, Paul Meyer.  I know I’m in good company when I see a man so overjoyed by the promise of a few days in the woods.

Happy Man

One Happy Man

Paul did remind us of a Fish Dam below that we should be careful of.  We stopped here to pick some fiddleheads and took a rest by the cabin to skip some rocks and have (another) snack.

Fish Retention Barrier

Fish Retention Barrier

"Rest" Room

"Rest" Room

Fourches

Les Fourches

The colors of the trees against the blue sky were breathtaking.  Then the trees and sky reflecting in the water created another whole series of colours.  This is paradise.

Blue and Green

Blue and Green

Skipping Rocks

Janine Skipping Rocks

“The problem with photographers,” said Moon, “is that then never get their picture taken.”  I suppose that’s true.  So here’s a photo of me (taken by Moon) in my element.

The Photographer

The Photographer

We decided to take our leisure back on the water so that we would eventually get where we’re going, wherever that may be.  Beth tried enchanting the trout out from their hiding places by playing them a tune appropriately entitled “Ode to the Trout.”

Ode To the Trout

Ode To the Trout

I was paddling with Moon for the first day, mainly because I was nervous about the upper part of the river.  Moon was an excellent teacher and after our little stop at the fish dam, I felt like I was ready to take the stern.

Moon As My Guide

With Moon As My Guide

Janine takes a well-deserved break and rests in a pool while nearby, some fiddleheads are being picked for supper.  I also take the opportunity to relish in the laziness of floating in a pool with nowhere to be and nowhere to go.  It’s a beautiful thing.

Hard Day's Rest

Hard Day's Rest

The stillness of the water here offers a look into the world under the water.  Here the greens just pop in the sunlight.  There must be more shades of green than any other colour in the world.

Underwater Greenery

Underwater Greenery

Little did we know that we would be stopping for the night not 100m away on a beach.  It was surprisingly hard to find a flat area that was suitable for camping.  All the way along the river the banks started underwater and shot upward and an angle that was rather uninviting for tents.  I’d say we were lucky to find this spot.  We set up our tents (and hammock) and this green tarp to protect us not from the rain, but from the sun today.

Actually, in the right hand side of this photo, where you can see the trees, and a little bit of the water below them, is where we had picked the fiddleheads and rested in the pool.

Making Camp

Making Camp

Almost immediately after camp was set up it was time for a swim.  It wasn’t something we expected to get a chance to do, but the day was so hot, that everyone thought it was a good idea to go for a dunk.  I started up by where I hung my hammock and floated down around the campsite.  The water was freezing, but SO refreshing.  I got out and had one more go of it before I had had enough.  Once we settled at camp we dove into the delicious appetizers provided by Moon and Janine.  Tonight we had appetizers – Indian style.  Hummus, flatbreads, and a delicious spicy dried bean mix.

Appetizers

Appetizers

Camp

Camp

Wear and Tear

Wear and Tear

For supper we had Salmon Mornay and fresh fiddleheads.  We literally could see where the fiddleheads were picked from where we ate them.  Now that’s fresh!

Salmon Mornay and Fiddleheads

Salmon Mornay and Fiddleheads

After supper we sat around under the tarp enjoying the long afternoon sun.  The sun began to make long shadows across the beach and eventually, the colors came and we enjoyed a seemingly eternal sunset.

Long Afternoon

Long Afternoon Shadows

The way the sun hits the trees

Evening Sunlight

In the Shadows

Beyond the Shadows

Sunset on the Patapedia

Sunset on the Patapedia

As I was taking this photo of the post-sunset sky, two dancers graced the left hand side of my screen.

Sunset Dancing

Sunset Dancing

And as I was taking this 30 second time lapse photo of the night sky, an airplane happened to be whizzing by.

Night Sky

Night Sky

This photo is another 30 sec time lapse of people getting ready for bed, all with their headlamps on.

Headlamps

Headlamps

I believe we all considered day 1 on the Patapedia to be a huge success.

Morning on the Papapedia

Morning on the Patapedia

The next day we continued along in the same fashion as the first day.  That is- a leisurely fashion.

Floating Down River

Messing About in Boats

“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

-Kenneth Graham in The Wind In The Willows

Floating Down River

Floating Down River

We floated down river for a few hours and eventually came to a sign that indicated the New Brunswick/ Quebec border.  From that point on the river was the provincial and we kept New Brunswick on our right and Quebec on our left.  We found a nice rest spot on the Quebec side to stop for lunch.  There was a picnic table on which a tree had fallen, so Janine cleared the branches away so we could sit at the table for lunch.

Clearing a Lunch Spot

Clearing a Lunch Spot

Lunch

Lunch

Lunch was followed by an impromptu siesta, in keeping with the theme of the trip.  Points for consistency!

Siesta

Siesta

After our siesta and back on the river we came to a section where the banks softened and the recent high winds had knocked down a lot of the trees.  I was taking this photo when, on the opposite (the New Brunswick) bank, we spotted a small moose.

Storm Debris

Storm Debris

I managed to swing my camera around but this is all I could get.  Can you see the moose?

Moose

Moose

As the day went on, and we got further and further south, the trees got greener.  Like watching popcorn pop, once it starts, it’s almost all done.

Light and Shadow

Light and Shadow

Popcorn on the Hills

Popcorn on the Hills

Greener and Greener

Greener and Greener

The Quebec side of the river was much more inviting with beautiful cabins and picnic tables all the way along.  This cabin in particular was just stunning inside and out.

Beautiful Cabin

Beautiful Cabin

I saw this rock face and thought, if I were a rock climber, it would likely excite me.  So instead I took this photo for my rock-climbing friends.  Graham, this one’s for you.

Once It Starts

Rock Face

At the bottom of the Patapedia was the registration area for your catches.  It was still boarded up so we took a little rest here.

Rest Again

Rest Again

The wind had blown trees down across the access road and head barely missed the back of the lodge.  It was a close call for this bird house too.

Close Call

Close Call

A few miles past this lodge brought us to the end of the Patapedia and we joined the Restigouche.

Restigouche

Restigouche

The sun lit up the tops of the Birch trees as we float down the mighty Restigouche.  It is much wider than the Patapedia but remains just as shallow all the way along.

Glowing Birches

Glowing Birches

Restigouche

Banks of the Restigouche

Riding the Restigouche

Riding the Restigouche

The Leaves are Coming Out

The Leaves are Coming Out

Rest a Droit

Rest a Droit

Colorful Bunch

Colorful Bunch

Gleaming Green

Gleaming Greens

We were on the Restigouche for little more than an hour before we came around Cross Point and found Cross Point Island, or Île Cross.  It’s a beautiful little island with pebble beaches on either side where the river splits for a few hundred meters before reuniting on the other side.

Ile Cross

Île Cross

Plenty of Firewood

Plenty of Firewood

The inside of the island was sandy with little groundcover.  The trees had lots of elbow room and we even had the luxury of outhouses and picnic tables.

Island Interior

Island Interior

On the Appetizer menu tonight, we have smoked muscles and crackers, apple slices, black pepper boursin, aged cheddar, swiss, mozzarella, turkey kielbassa, olives, mini pitas and carrots.

Appetizers

Appetizers

…and for supper we’re having Alio e Olio with sun dried tomatoes, pine nuts topped with your coice of parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast, or both.  Thirds, anyone?

Alio e Olio

Alio e Olio

After supper we sat around the campfire and enjoyed the view again of the milky way and the sound of the river pushing the pebbles downstream.  We shared stories and jokes, but before long, we all became quite tired and went to bed.

Cross Island Night Sky

Cross Island Night Sky

In the morning, I woke up to the sun shining in from down river.  This was the best camp spot I have had yet with my hammock and tarp.  It was just wonderful waking up with the sun shining in, with the sand below me, and with the constant hushing of the water over the rocks on both sides.

Sunrise on Restigouche

Sunrise on Restigouche

We continued along the Restigouche for only a couple of hours but we were told they were the best three hours (including yesterday) of the Restigouche.  It’s no great mystery why camps like this one pop up everywhere along the Restigouche River.  This place is a fishing paradise, bringing people from all over the world to cast their flies out over the dark clear pools and ripples of the Restigouche.  You don’t have to come here to fish to appreciate the call of the trout and salmon though.  In fact, you don’t have to have any interest in fishing at all to feel the draw of the remote waters and to breathe deeply the scent of evergreens here.  Paradise is here.

Restigouche

Restigouche Camp "Paradise"

The morning light danced over the tops of the trees as we rounded the last few bends of the Restigouche.

Light Play

Light Play

Two Brooks

Two Brooks Landing

We ended the Patapedia part of our trip at Two Brooks where Roland happily greeted us this morning.  We loaded up like we had done it before and in no time, we were back on the dusty bumpy road headed to Arpin’s.

Like We Had Done It Before

Like We Had Done It Before

to be continued…

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3 Responses to “Patapedia, Kedgwick and the Mighty Restigouche”

  1. Muriel said

    There are so many things I love about this account… your humour, the “Popcorn” spring happening around you, the culture of leisure and good food, and of course the great photos that capture your journey. Thank you for the time put in to share such a look into a place I will likely never visit.

  2. Josh said

    I went canoeing down the Restigouche two years ago, and I can’t wait to get back. Your pictures really helped convince my girlfriend to come with me this year….I can’t wait.

    • gypsyproductions said

      Hey Josh,

      Thanks! Haha, anything I can do to help! It really is a beautiful place. I hope to go back as well. Have a great trip!
      Paul

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