Northern Quebec Canada
Where to go for a week trip based out of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on">Ottawa</st1:City> <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Canada</st1:place></st1:country-region>?
The Trans Labrador highway was the plan but with its completion set for next year it seemed a shame to go and do it this year. So where to? Dan sends me an email with a link to the Trans Taiga from Wikipedia.
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<st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Trans-Taiga Road</st1:address></st1:Street><o:p></o:p>
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia<o:p></o:p>
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The <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Transtaiga Road</st1:address></st1:Street>.<o:p></o:p>
The <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Trans-Taiga Road</st1:address></st1:Street> (French: Route Transtaïga) is an extremely remote wilderness road in northern Quebec, Canada. It is 582 kilometers (362 mi) long to Centrale Brisay and another 84 kilometers (52 mi) along the Caniapiscau Reservoir, all of it unpaved.<o:p></o:p>
The road's northeastern terminus is almost at the 55th parallel, making it the northernmost continuous road in <st1:place w:st="on">Eastern North America</st1:place>. Though the terminus is also the furthest point from any town (745 km or 466 miles from Radisson) via road in North America, it is nonetheless relatively close - 190 kilometers (118 mi) - to Schefferville geographically. It does not, however, provide access to it, as the intervening terrain is unpassable even in an all-terrain vehicle. The road's end is also close to the southern limit of Nunavik, <st1:State w:st="on">Quebec</st1:State>'s Inuit region.<o:p></o:p>
The <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Trans-Taiga Road</st1:address></st1:Street> branches off from the James Bay Road (French: Route de la Baie James) at kilometer 544. It was built as an access road to the hydro-electric generating stations of Hydro-Québec along the La Grande River and Caniapiscau River. Several outfitters are established along this road, providing wilderness hunting and fishing expeditions, and some may also provide fuel, food and lodging. Otherwise, there are no services along this road.<o:p></o:p>
While the <st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Trans-Taiga Road</st1:address></st1:Street> is reportedly drivable by ordinary passenger vehicles for its entire length, Hydro-Quebec recommends use of 4WD vehicles for the section between Brisay and <st1:place w:st="on">Caniapiscau</st1:place>, which is of a rougher grade than the rest of the road.<o:p></o:p>
As the name of the road indicates, this road winds its way through <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Quebec</st1:place></st1:State>'s vast boreal forest, characterized by stunted spruce and pine, bogs and rocky outcroppings. Taiga is the Russian term for the same type of forest.<o:p></o:p>
Within minutes I had replied to Dan saying count me in one hundred percent. A few emails back and forth and we decided to invite some folks from advcanada.com
This website opened up a while back as a way for folks from our neck of the woods to meet like minded people and to share riding areas with. Basically it’s an email distribution list that you can use to find people to ride with or to share new areas. A group ride usually takes place once a month and can have as few as 2 to as many as 15 people show up. It’s turned out to be a great resource.
Within a few days Stephen replied and said he was definitely in. Chris responded that if his trip to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Morocco</st1:place></st1:country-region> falls threw he is in (it did fall threw and he was in). John joined later in the month with an “I’m in” and Maurizio emailed the gang a week before departure and confirmed he was in as his planned trip in the spring didn’t materialize. We didn’t expect this response thinking maybe we would get one or two people at best. So there we are with 6 of us committed and ready to go.
Many, many emails bounced around for a few weeks on routes, times, camp locations, sites to see, departure dates and what not. A meeting over pints at a local pub was set and logistics were sorted out. Most of us didn’t know each other to well other than a few off-road days during the summer so everyone kind of got a feeling for who each other were.
The trip was determined to be a 7-9 day ride with a few destinations as the goal. The first goal being to dip our tires into James Bay which is a part of the <st1:place w:st="on">Arctic Ocean</st1:place>. The second goal was to ride the Rue Du Nord (The North Road) which is a 400+km gravel road and camp at the <st1:place w:st="on">Rupert River</st1:place>. The Rupert is one of the last free flowing big rivers in <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Quebec</st1:place></st1:State> and is destined to be damned up this fall (the way of the world I suppose). The third goal was to ride to the end of the Trans Taiga road and back. This road is 666 km long, so a total of 1332 km’s of gravel.
In total the plan was for approximately 1900 km of gravel roads and 2700 km’s of pavement in one week.
Here is our proposed route
After much packing and planning we are set to go. Typically I am the kind of guy who packs the morning before leaving, but on this trip we are heading to some pretty isolated areas where buying missing items may not be feasible. That being said I forgot to pack a few items even though they were on the “to pack list”, arg.
That road looks awesome. At the end, you are basically 1200 miles away from civilization.
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The plan is to meet at Chris’s place downtown <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ottawa</st1:place></st1:City> at 4pm. A bit of a late start but a few of the guys had to work that day. The thing that best describes the mood of everyone is excitement. Getting to leave work and family behind for a week isn’t always easy for us working stiffs. With all the planning, packing and anticipation I think everyone was raring to go.
A few introductions for those that hadn’t met each other, a last minute pack and away we go. Our destination was somewhere in the Verendrye Park approximately 300-600 km from Ottawa.
The bikes loaded up and ready to go.
1 Ktm 950 adv
2 Bmw gs 1150
1 Bmw dakar650
1 Bmw Funduro 650
1 Kawasaki KLR 650
Happy campers ready to go. Big smiles and clean bikes.
And off we go, a bit of rush hour downtown traffic to deal with prior to hitting the open road.
Heading up highway 105
A quick stop for some gas, beers and chips before heading out into dusk to find a campground. I think it was around this point that I realized I didnt have any head or tail lights. A quick pull over revealed a melted fuse. Electrical gremlin or something I shorted while prepping the bike? Time will tell.
We checked in at the Lac Rapide campground and setup camp. A few brown bottles and small talk before hitting the hay. A great campsite on a lake, it cost 30 bucks per site but they let us put 6 tents on a site! Oh ya Chris I think I still owe ya 5 bucks from this night :thumb
Dan not used to me being in his face with a camera yet :evil
All in all a great first day, I think we only made about three or four hundred clicks.
You might notice we are all carrying gas canisters, a few of our days will have 600 + km days between gas stations. My KTM only gets about 300 km per tank on a good day (read easy throttle day which tend not to happen :D ) so I carried and extra 25 litres on my bike.
Gotta see this :thumb
a) nobody is waiting for me to get the bike started up (that probably won't continue...)
b) the right side pannier is still attached (that definitely won't continue for the whole trip)
c) the rear brake light is working (that is probably the last time it will work properly for the rest of the trip)
Alright let's build some anticipation then.....also note my front rim is still round and so is the one the klr, the left fork on the dakar is holding oil, the panniers on the dakar and the blue gs have no dents or scratches and the dakar is not spurting oil from its engine :)
Looks like its an amazing trip.:clap
Ted, if i do the trans Lab with you next year will you be buying light beer for that trip too?:huh :1drink
Ah you know me Pelvis, not much of a drinker ya know ;)
Back in Pain
I'm the guy in the silver jacket on the green KLR in the photos.
Here's a little back story from my side.
Rewind about one week to the Sunday before we leave (we left on a Friday) and boom! I bent over to kiss my girlfriend who was sleeping on the couch and out goes my back. There I was lying on the floor in the living room unable to get up. Somehow between packing and walking with a new pair of shoes I had put myself in quite a predicament.
After what seems like a bottle of muscle relaxant and lots of help from my very patient and loving girlfriend I had managed to make it from the floor to the futon in the living room. In the end I took both Monday and Tuesday off work as I progressed from rolling around our apartment on my desk chair to walking with a cane then finally walking unaided if a bit hunched.:clap
This put me in a scramble to finish packing and to get new rubber on my bike before Friday. Yet again, and only because of, the help of my girlfriend I managed to pack the last thing and somehow get my tire and oil changed on the bike.
Friday roles around and we are off! I did wear a back brace for the rest of the trip but luckily I had no further back troubles.
We all gathered at Chris' place and from there up to La Verendry for our first night of camping.
On the way we stopped at the depanneur and grabbed beer. Having no way to hold the beer I poured the water out of my cammelbak and shoved the beer bottles in there. Right then I knew that this was going to be an awesome trip!
Bring it on. :lurk
Let's hear it:clap
Deadly, increase that font size in your cut'npaste so us old farts don't have to find specs:lol3
The proposed route (in)as shown on google maps:
Return trip skipped the Route du Nord and just followed the James Bay Road south all the way.
Woke up to an amazing sunrise.
A quick pack up and we were on the road by 8 am. This time seemed to be a compromise between the morning guys and the sleepers and became the norm for the week.
We jumped on the highway and did a few hundred km's before stopping in Sennetere for breakfast and some gas.
We did the next stretch of highway at speed. I think its about 300km to Chapais and we made it there in about 2 hours:huh Gotta love these remote roads, no police anywhere. Quotes from a KLR "my bike can't go any faster, its been pinned for the last hour" :clap .
In Chapais we were to meet our 7th companion for the trip. Mike was coming from Nova Scotia on a Transalp but had his clutch begin slipping to the point where he had to turn around a few hundred km's from Chapais. Mike ended up doing about 3200 km in 3 days and I am sure had a good ride although not the one he intended to take. Bummer Mike, you missed out on a good trip :cry
Downtown Chapais (wouldnt want to live here, bit of a desolate rundown feel to it). We topped up with gas and made our way to the next town of Chibougamau (your guess is as good as mine of how to pronounce it) to top up with supplies (SAQ the french version of a liquor store). Bikes packed with vino we were off to the start of the North Road. Our plan was to camp at the Rupert River which is about 258 km down the North Road.
A few quick cell calls to our significant others as this would be the last area with cell coverage for a while (note half of us had Rogers phones and they get no coverage for the better part of trip, something to consider of you head this way, Telus phones get coverage in all kinds of crazy and remote areas).
Looking down the North Road its hard not to grimace as the road has been freshly graded with maybe one set of tracks on it. Ah well its only 258 km. Funny how a trip like this starts, at first everyone is a bit apprehensive of the gravel and speeds are kept low and the pack close together. Well soon enough the dust forces everyone to spread out and within a short while everyone is hitting it Dakar style. This is truely one fun road. The surface changed from loose marbles of gravel, to oiled down almost pavement style road to a section about 50 km long of deep silty sandy terrain that guarantees pucker factors no matter what speed you were doing.
We stopped to regroup every 50+ km or so. Maurizio was the only one of us to not be riding on knobbies so he understandably had to go a bit slower. I wouldn't have wanted to have been riding his big bike with worn out tourances on it, kudo's to you :clap I am sure he must have had many more pucker moments than the rest of us, and we tallied up many of them for ourselves.
Reading the ridges in the road between tracks becomes an art that we were all mastering with an hour or so. Hammer the gas, lean back a bit and let the bike squirrel around under you. Seems easy, takes a bit of practise to feel comfy with it at speeds in excess of 130 km/h. But once you do....nothing but grins poking out from dusty faces :D
This is how you could tell how far you were from the guy in front, look for dust clouds as you come up over hills.
Chris looking a bit tired, this is after about 800 km for the day.
You know you are starting to get into Indian territory when the signs begin to read in Cree. They must be very devoted to Christmas as it constantly seemed as if half of their words consisted of candy canes :wink:
We made it to the Rupert just as the sun was going down, approximately 11 hours on the bikes and just over 800 km's for the day. We setup camp just before the river on the right hand side. A nice free lttle camp site Dan had read about on a ride report somewhere. Came with firewood and everything. When we first stopped the black flies were out in force but as soon as the sun began to set and temperatures began to fall they disappeared. I can't imagine what it would be like during summer when the nights are warm. Note: early September is a good time of year for this area as long as you dont mind cold nights.
Kicking back by the fire after a long day.
Dan damn proud of his new spork
And hence begins a cold night and frustration with my darn air matress. I normally travel with a thermarest but after a trip last year where everyone else had airbeds (large double bed sized air mattresses with a velour top) I picked one up for myself. Well after sleeping for about 2 hours I woke up with one hell of a cold hip from the large tent sized rock under me and no air in the matress. Toss, turn, screw this, I brought a small back up air matress (not planned just threw it in the pannier on my way out the door). 2 more hours and damn, this one leaks too. Toss turn where's the damn sun.
Chibougamau = Sha-boog-a-moo
I have gone freakin crazy trying to tell people the names off all these roads I been down, looking forward to Ontario tonight and the goodtimes sure to be had:freaky
Clean clothes won't hurt anything either.
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