We entered our third drainage basin. The first ridge we crossed, what felt like ages ago, on the Champlain Canal. On tuesday, through three smaller canals, we passed from Canada’s Atlantic drainage basin into the Hudson Bay drainage basin. From there on, we’d paddle downhill.
Our new lures dived too deep. We caught our first fish right away, just as our hosts from the previous night promised. But then the lure snagged on the bottom of the river and the line snapped when we tried to pull it up.
The dam was not a hydroelectric dam, but rather seemed built to force some of the higher lakes to drain into the reservoir rather than down into THE MEGISCANE!
After a short portage, we were on the new river. The Megiscane would hopefully take us to Senneterre.
But it didn’t feel very much like a river, more like a collection of lakes. We paddled from one to another through the system. The tightest connection took us on a path through grass not wide enough to plant out paddles on both sides of the boat.
I had a fish on my line. I pulled it out of the water and tried to force it into my boat. Its head thrashed on one side of the cockpit, its tail on the other, and I pushed down in the middle. Too big, and too strong, for all that I wrestled with, I could not get it into my boat. The fish broke free and swam away.
We saw a motor boat out on one of the larger lakes, but they disappeared by the time we got close. We paddled past a cottage with a dock. A couple disembarked from their small fishing boat with a bunch of fish on a line.
They told us we’d find a beaver dam ahead, and that the way after would be hard. We should go around. The fisherman and his wife showed us a 1,200-foot portage on the map that might or might not have a trail. He said that would be easier than going along the river. Erin and I were dubious, so we continued ahead.
Until we got to the beaver dam. We’d seen lots of beaver lodges, but this was our first dam. It completely blocked the river. Just past the dam, lay another beaver dam, that also obstructed the river. The water in between the dams sat much lower than the water above them, and the water beneath lower still. Beyond the lower dam, a tiny trickle of water lead into a pipe underneath a road.
Piles of sticks packed with mud blocked the river. We looked around, and failed to find a portage. We paddled back to a boat ramp we’d seen earlier. We walked along the road until it went over the puddle beneath the dams. We looked for a portage path over the road, and didn’t find it. We did find a precarious descent from the road onto the next portion of the river, but it would be tricky. To carry the boats from the boat ramp to the bridge could take half a day.
We returned to the cabin. We’d try the 1,200 ft portage tomorrow, and the cabin lay on the way. The folks at the cabin were happy to host us in their guest room for the night, but they decided to revise their advice. They now recommended we portage around the beaver dams. They explained to us exactly where to find the path we’d missed.