Joined: Jul 2007
Day 5: Wednesday 8/25/10-Radisson, QC, to Mirage Outfitters (Trans-Taiga), QC, 440 miles
I could hear light rain on the tent fly at , but it had mostly stopped by the time I got up at 6. Cloudy sky and breezy, a shame after yesterday afternoonís perfect riding weather. Iím on the gravel for most of the day and would like to ride it dry. Iím packed up and loading the bike when one of the guys from the RV comes over to visit. From Montreal and speaking good accented English, he is very interested in the trip and wants the full rundown. I get a beaming smile when I say that I am enjoying my travels in Quebec, and a laugh when I tell him what happened in Gatineau, and then Val-díOr. ďYes, but if you want to see really beautiful women, you must come to Montreal.Ē The citizens of Quebec are very proud of all things Quebec. Goodbye with a handshake, theyíre headed south too. The skies are starting to clear.
I had some breakfast bars with me and the bike was fueled. This was going to be a solid day of riding with two gravel roads and some high speed paved sections. Once again, I was concerned that I might run out of daylight, so by 7 I was started south to the Chisasibi road. I see fuel pumps when I pass the airport, but I donít know if they sell to the public. West towards Chisasibi, but I donít intend to ride to the village. Iím watching for the turnoff to Centrale La Grande-1, a dam about halfway out the road, and the start of the Longue Pointe gravel road which will take me 30 miles northwest to James Bay.
The access road is paved and after I pass several maintenance buildings, the dam is in sight. I donít known how many of these dams Hydro Quebec has built in the province, but most donít have the access that this one does. Iíve been across the top of dams before, but hey, itís a lot more fun to do it on a bike in northern Quebec, especially with adventure on the other side.
There are some maintenance crews working and everyone turns to look as I ride by. Iím sure bikes get out this way, but most riders going to take a look at the Bay probably go through Chisasibi. Not me, Iíd rather ride this gravel bush road out to the Cree landing at the end. The gravel starts right at the dam, and after just a few miles, I can see that this road is going to be tricky. The surface is coarse crushed stone, and doesnít look like it has been used much lately. This road is the first real test of the ER6C and Iím cautious to start, getting a feel for how this loaded bike is going to run in the marbles. Prudent, it sure doesnít look like thereís anyone out here. Damn, this is big country, it seems to go on uninterrupted forever.
Concentration is the key to riding these roads, and as the speed increases, so does the peril. Your eyes are burning a hole in the road, probing for anything that can hurt you. Thereís plenty that can hurt you out there, so if youíre slow to learn and recognize the hazardsÖbad things can happen. Iíve been on thousands of miles of these roads and still run into occasional trouble.
The road winds towards the coast, passing many Cree camps, some tidy and most not. Iím unsure how and when these camps are used, maybe moose or caribou season only. No one around today, and some of the camps donít look like they have been used for years. I run up on a section of freshly graded gravel, deep, and you sure as hell better be watching for these, or down you go. I find the grader that churned up the road parked on the side, good, and then finally just a few miles to water.
This landing is used exclusively by the Cree and their boats are skidded up the gravel shore far enough to be safely above the storm line. The grader operator had made several passes between the waters edge and the storm line to make it easier to launch and pull the boats.
In eastern Canada the boats are called freight canoes, but when I used this same boat in northern Manitoba, it was called a scow by the locals, although it doesnít fit that definition anywhere else. Iím surprised to find a fiberglass panga style boat pulled up with the rest. You would find this boat from Mexico south, and I fished from this same boat in the Sea of Cortez. Amazing to find one way up here.
And a makeshift anchorÖ
The Cree must have camps on the islands or up the coast. This material was neatly stocked and covered, ready to load, but itís weathered from sitting there awhile.
There were snow machines and sleds left all over the place, indicating a lot of activity at certain times during the winter.
Men in small boats, and itís big water out there, this I know. I almost lost my life in northern waters running the same boat I see at this landing.
You need some luck in most ventures, but if it runs out, maybe someone will remember you.
I put a boot in the saltwater, and then back on the bike for a fast run to the dam. I have this road pretty well figured out and can maintain good speed. I pass a pickup headed to the coast and I think itís the grader operator, the only person I would see. A ptarmigan flushes at the shoulder and flies right along with the bike just outside the mirror. I could have reached out and grabbed it. I get back to the dam and have a chance to see it from the other side. This is a small dam compared to others in the area, but still an impressive structure.
Across the dam, out to the Chisasibi road, then east to the Baie-James, Iím on the move. Unfortunately, I need to run back up to Radisson for fuel. Iíve used over 100 miles of fuel and wouldnít come close to having enough to reach the dayís destination without refueling the main tank. Thereís no fuel between here and the Trans-Taiga intersection.
(To be continuedÖ)