Last weekend everything lined up for a perfect canoe trip along the South West Miramichi. The SW Miramichi is just one many branches of the Greater Miramichi System. We settled on a two day trip between Boiestown and Upper Blacksville. Friends and a local outfitter O'Donnells, tolds us that it was sure to have lots of water, no serious rapids, and enjoyable scenery.
All 14 paddlers, across two generations, met Friday night at a friend's cottage on the river near Boiestown. We enjoyed a relaxing evening on the shore watching the sunset around a bonfire. The sun was cooking in the morning as we loaded the canoes and pushed off into the first shallow rapids.
The river carried us along, passing beaches, hardwood stands, and camps. We dodged a handful of fly fishers and zipped through some mellow rapids. We stopped for a picnic lunch on cobble beach under the shade of maples. Later on we stopped for a swim at a narrow spot where we had fun floating with the fast current. I think we were all surprised how warm the water was.
After a full day of paddling ( and floating!) we passed Doaktown and began our search for a campsite. We had heard you could camp on the islands but weren't sure which one to pick. Of course flowing downstream doesn't give you much chance to compare islands. Once you're past an island it's gone. We landed on a cobble beach that looked suitable but found uneven cobble. There was head scratching, speculating, pacing, and canoes began searching the nearby shores. We heard of a better site downstream so a gang went investigate. We found a cathedral growth maple forest with ferns up to our waists. Nearby was a better cobble beach which held some hope for camping. We signalled for the other boats. I was determined to make this site work but luckily others were less into it since further exploring discovered a beautiful sandy site nearby.
I think everyone was pretty relieved at that point to have reached a consensus. It was a wonderful spot to pitch tents and have a bonfire. We felt quite remote despite catching glimpses of a cottage on a the far bank. It was amazing arriving at this perfect camping site without seeing any trace of human's having been here. I think part of the wilderness feeling is the sensation that you are the first person to have touched a place in a long time.
We had a gourmet supper, including salmon (from home! not fresh!) and salads, thanks to many great cooks. We sat around the fire on logs we plucked from the river, laughing, and watching nighthawks swoop for insects in the darkening sky. The wind carried a hint of rain and brought dark clouds overhead. But even the rumbling thunder didn't prepare us for the explosion of wind and rain that ensued. I think some sleep was lost while the sky danced but we stayed dry in our tents. I woke up in the morning to a oppressive heat. Ross later described the feeling in our tent well. "I felt like I was in a muggy greenhouse, I couldn't get a breath of air." For the second day in a row the pressure was high and the sun was hot.
The group on the second morning. Look at that Sand! What a Campsite!
Leaving our campsite for day two on the river.
The second day on the river took as through steep valleys again, past cottages, down mellow rapids, and a into widening river. We sped down the Miramichi with the wind at our backs. For lunch we stopped on an another island, nestled down behind a knoll and picnic'd in the sun. We enjoyed pickles, peanut butter, cheese, and hot pepper on pitas. Which as you can probably tell signified the end of our food reserves.
We pulled out at the Upper Blacksville bridge after traveling around 50 km in our day and a half on the river. O'Donnell's, a local outfitter, shuttled our drivers back to Boiestown where the cars had been left. It was impressive to drive back to Boiestown and see how far we had travelled.
I think the consensus was great company, perfect weather, good food, and next year we're going to go bigger!
Thank you Joe, Gudi, Lee, Ruel, Mike, Laura, Linda, Dave, Cathy, Lenny, Mom, Dad, and Ross for all the laughs. I look forward to next year!