The Shelburne River - Tobeatic 2017

Posted on May 30, 2018 in Paddling Multi-day Paddling Adventures

Thursday April 13, 2017

Late start to the day but we eventually left the city. We arrived in Weymouth in the dark and continued down the deteriorating woods roads towards Fifth Lake Flowage. They were in better condition in the Summer of 2016 when we were here last. We only have a Honda Civic so the roads are a challenge. Especially with the weight of us and our paddling bags. We made one wrong turn and had to do a 500-point turn on double track to get the car turned around. We continued until we came to some deep ruts in the road. Had to get out and analyze the road for softness and where to put the tires. I found a way and slowly moved the car through with no issues. We then came to another section of ruts that were much worse and decided that it was not worth it to go on in this little car. We were two kilometres from the lake so this is where we would park the car. Found a little spot for it clear of the road and sent off an OK message with the Spot to my Dad would know where to find the car. He is going to move it tomorrow to where we plan to finish the trip. We slept right there in the car. We do the portage to the lake in the morning. One rabbit and one porcupine were seen on the road.

The Strava link for the entire trip:

Day 1 - Friday April 14, 2017

We woke up at sunrise from a rather shitty sleep and made the first trip to the lake. We planned for two trips each on every portage since there are two of us and we have four heavy items. The boat, food barrel, tool bag, and shelter bag. Back at the car after one trip we make breakfast of eggs and bacon and we leave the dirty dishes in the car to deal with later. As we push into the water a Bald Eagle soars over us. We paddle and portage our way to a nice campsite on Oakland Lake. Most of the portages were in good shape although ground in as usual. We are lucky there are not leave on the shrubs so the trail can be seen. Today we saw many Swallows and ducks along with some Mergansers, geese, warblers, Common Grackles, Palm Warbler, Painted Turtle, owl, and a salamander. The road from the car to the lake.

Day 2 - Saturday April 15, 2017

Oatmeal with maple sugar and dehydrated apples for breakfast on this cold frosty morning. There is still a small amount of snow on the ground near the campsite. I heard things dropping into the water al night. Apparently, beavers like to make a disruption when camping in their turf. There is no shortage of beavers and their dams near here. As we make our way from lake to lake we must pull the canoe over one after another when we paddle the small streams between the lakes and portages. In one section, today the woods near the portage were flooded and we could float halfway along the portage until we were forced out by rocks and less water. Like most lakes back here East cranberry had an obscene number of erratics. Nowhere else in Nova Scotia have I see erratics like these secluded lakes of the Tobeatic. Many of them are the size of houses as they tower out of the water in dominance. East Cranberry Lake also had a good number of swallows flying around. Nice to see birds I don't see often near where I live. As we neared the portage I checked the map, only it was not there. Shit. There was a bit of a breeze and I figured it got away when I was looking up at the swallows. We turned around and retraced our route on the GPS and found it floating in the water down wind of the swallows. Good thing it was in a good map case. Although next time, I should use laminated maps in a waterproof map case. Back to the portage. We started using a new method of measurement and reference for portages, and the next one we are going to do is 1.5 arseholes in length. 1 arsehole is approximately 1 km. The two portages from here to buckshot were shitty and grown in. Luckily there were well flagged and getting to the end of them at Buckshot was a great momentum as it was the beginning of the Shelburne River. We had a delicious lunch of smoked salmon from some fancy meat place downtown at the beginning of the Shelburne. We headed down the river slowly over one beaver damn after another to Stony Ditch Lake where we setup camp for the night. As we did this, a beaver made a run for the water past our camp. The beaver had the entire campsite torn to shreds. Holes in the ground everywhere and cut shrubs littered the place. Pasta for dinner with dehyfrated mushrooms, peppers, herbs, and sausages. It's also only fitting to have beer with paddles on the can. Our beer was from Nine Locks in Dartmouth, NS. Delicious food and drink! The stove needed to be torn apart and reassembled after dinner. I'm not so happy with my Primus stove. Always comes loose and never worked properly with white gas. Had to convert it to canister gas before the trip as the pump and jet was so unreliable. We always have a backup, plus fire just in case. A Northern Flicker calls from across the river at the top of a tree. Such a beautiful bird. We both hit the sack with sunburns today. Weather has been nice and the tilly hats were forgotten at home. Smoked salmon on Triscuits from the fancy meant place on Gottington Street.

Day 3 - Sunday April 16, 2017

Today we paddled from Stony Ditch Lake to the Cofan Cabin on Sand Beach Lake where we are going to spend two nights to accommodate a day trip to the most remote old growth forest in Nova Scotia. We woke to some drizzle and rushed camp tear down in case of more rain. We were not using a tarp for shelter this day. Full rain gear on only to later see the sun break through and us sweating on the portages. Todays portages left a bit to be desired. Very little flagging tape and more grown in trails. We pulled out the saw and hatched to clear several fallen trees from one of the portages, but we didn't put any effort into more flagging. We could skip two portages today. The second one after Pine Lake and the tiny one before Sand Beach Lake. There seems to be lots of water in the system up here. Wood Ducks and Common Mergansers on Pine Lake. Only a few minor rock strikes so far. At the west end of Pine Lake there is still a massive beaver dam which had a significant portion of the forest and portages flooded. One River Otter as we neared Sand Beach Lake. We arrived at the cabin, now fully restored as opposed to the last time we were here, when it was between work parties and in no condition for guests. The Cofan Cabin is simple and small log cabin. Room for six to sleep, a table with bench seats, a wood box and a small wood stove. One front door and small windows on each of the four walls. The inside is dark, but cozy and comfortable to cook and sleep in. There is a very welcomed thunder box outside, up the trail and behind a tree. I'm paddling at the top of a massive beaver dam.

Day 4 - Monday April 17, 2017

The first small can of gas is emptied over oatmeal and apple slices, which means we won't have fuel shortage for the rest of the trip. First thing after breakfast is thunder box birding. Today is more adventure. After taking pictures on top of a large erratic we moved onto our day trip to North Bingay Lake and back. Several portages to get there and one of them is two and a half arseholes in length. Luckily it was really easy to follow and recently trimmed in 2015 by Johnathan Riley and crew. We saw a Northern Goshawk fly around us in the forest while portaging. One of the smaller portages was confusing and it turned out the brook in m GPS was in the wrong location. The actual portage trail was on the other side of the brook! The old growth on the island on North Bingay Lake was impressive, but we don't think it's more impressive than the one at Sporting Lake Nature Reserve not far away. The island here is a bit small and there is an edge effect throughout the entire island site. I read somewhere that this may be one of the only forests in Nova Scotia that has never been logged. As remote as this place is, there has been extensive logging here throughout history. We think this lake is the most remote lake in Nova Scotia excluding Sable. On our last trip to the Tobeatic we traveled to nearby West Bingay Lake which could possibly hold the same title. After photos and chat about the value of such special places we begin to make the trek back to the Cofan Cabin for stew. Wind picks up a bit and makes the portages and lake crossings a bit more difficult but we make it before sunset.

Day 5 - Tuesday April 18, 2017

After oatmeal and pictures of us at the cabin we depart. The plan is to stop at Granite Falls or Masons Cabin (on the very southern and remote edge of Kejimkujik National Park) to meet up with our paddling friends, Craig and Lyse. We took pictures at the plaque at Granite Falls. It talks about the Shelburne River being a Canadian Heritage River. We take note of the vast amount of water flowing at this point compared to our last two trips to this point. We then head over to Masons Cabin nearby to attempt to use the cell phone and find out where our other paddling folks are. At this far edge of the national park there is limited cell coverage, but the first time in days we have any service at all. The time before this that we had service was while we were still in the car in Weymouth, NS. We get a few text messages, but are unable to send any out. Nobody is meeting us here. New meeting point where the Mersey River flows into Lake Rossignol in a could days. They know our progress because they are tracking us on the Spot Satellite Transmitter. We have soup in the cabin then depart for Irving Lake. We make note about how much water is in the system now and we think we can skip the first small portage before Irving Lake. We know what we are doing, we think. Down the rapids we go, and then slam into one log across the river and instantly the boat is rotated sideways, filled with water, grinded and wrapped into a rock and jammed under a log. One of our three bags floated away. We are both ok and stable in the water. I throw our paddles and amazingly still had all four to throw! The water is strong but I'm able to stand while holding onto the boat or log. It's waist deep. I unhook two bags with the help of Lylia and make my way to shore and amazingly can scoop up the other lost bag as it got caught in some branches only a couple meters down river from the boat. All bags, paddles, map, GPS, and Spot are safe on shore. We are going to be ok, boat or no boat that is an amazing bit of luck to have all of that in one place and still dry. After a wet assessment of attempt at moving the jammed boat we think we need to cut the log loose to free the boat. A canoe full of water with the river pressing it against the log and rock simply cannot be moved. After some time, we cut through the log and it shifts enough to rotate the boat a bit. We are then able to slowly move it towards shore. it's fully intact with only the gelcoat damaged. The Basalt fibers went back into shape with no tears, or cracks and barely a dent. The gelcoat stuttered and looks like an earth quake fissure around the boat, but that is only cosmetic. No damage to the aluminum gunnel, thwarts, or yoke. We change our clothes and continue on thankful we made it unscathed. We practice a little more caution for the next day or so. After crossing Irving Lake the rapids and water become more intense as the river travels through a ravine for a few kms losing significant elevation. We skip some of the portage but are eventually forced onto them by sweepers or big rapids. We are in a remote area with no cell service, no roads, bridges, cabins, houses anywhere nearby so we really should be using more caution. The sun starts to go down and we camp on the side of the river at the end of a carry.

Day 6 - Wednesday April 19, 2017

We depart quickly and skip breakfast for warmer breaks. We hit the moving water and come to a portage half an arsehole in length. We have snacks and be thankful the red boat in three pieces spread over half a km in the river is not ours. From here the river is moving and we fly. Only a couple small portages to deal with. We see many ducks and joke about all the ducks we continue to spook all fly down river and Lake Rossignol is going to be a sea of ducks we chased down river. We start to see some new ones like Buffleheads and Goldeneyes as we make our way closer to Lake Rossignol. As we portage over the final rapids of the Shelburne River we see two canoes paddle up to us from on Lake Rossignol. Three older men just came across the lake and are going to paddle up the Shelburne. Have fun with that! They judge our GPS, boat and rubber boots. They are clearly seasoned and know the land. They say the lake is calm and good to cross and we make a calculation to keep going while we can. The original plan was to camp here, but there is still daylight, and we figure we can get the meeting point in a little more than an hour. We arrive to a beautiful campsite on the lake with stone tables, fire pit flat areas for tents, and a million cranberries for Lylia. We have cell service here so we send a message to the others that we are here early. They are on their way and arrive just as the sun sets to breezy conditions. Beer, fire, and sleep. Craig and Lyse are joining us.

Day 7 - Thursday April 20, 2017

A late start to this day. We wake up to snow, have oatmeal with apples, and continue towards the Christopher Lakes. We are now two boats and four people strong. We stop at Low Landing for a look around. We find a cabin with signs on it saying how booby trapped the place is. We read reports about the clearcutting on the portage between Carrigan and Apple Tree Lake and how difficult it was to get through. Craig looked at his map and saw a road near the brook, so instead of doing the actual carry, we paddled up a nearby brook to a point where it was as close to a road as it would get. We carried to the road through a beautiful forest with ease and stopped for lunch before moving on. We carried down the road to an area where it was close to Apple Tree Lake and again, a clear forest with easy walking to the water. It was slick as snot. No clear-cut jumble to portage through. Many lakes and small streams to line later we arrived to Laurel Lake where we planned to stay in a cabin. Some jokes where had that we hope it was still there and not burned down, but as we got closer we could see nothing but rubble. The cabin was burned. Light was fading so we camped here anyway and had a nice roaring fire with drinks of beer, whiskey, and rum.

Day 8 - Friday April 21, 2017

We had one lake to cross and my car would be waiting. Lylia and I brought our trip to an end here. We drove to Kejimkujik to get Craig's van so they would have it nearby. Craig and Lyse opted to continue paddling and camping since their trip started late. Lylia and I packed the car and finished our trip to Paul's German Bake Shop and Restaurant in Liverpool for delicious schnitzel. Fifth Lake Flowage in Weymouth, NS, Oakland Lake, Stony Ditch Lake, Sandy Beach Lake, Irving Lake, Lake Rossignol, Christopher Lakes.

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The Shelburne River - Tobeatic 2017

Our(Former and I) First Tobeatic Trip in October 2015