The first time I heard the name Bartibogue was back oh-so-many years ago, when I met Don Mahoney up on the North Renous. He claimed it was a great river for fishing, but since I am just an occasional angler, I filed the name away in my mind with all the other river bumpf for that magic someday.
I finally looked for it on the map of New Brunswick this winter, and realized it was the small creek I had driven over so many times on my way to bigger rivers up north. I mentioned this to my buddy Riveraddict, and he said he ran it just a coupla years ago. It was small, according to him, but had good current, and he actually caught a nice trout up there somewhere.
Well, I guess I'm like a dog with a bone ... once I get the urge to run a new river, I won't let go.
I posted a quick question on the message board asking for a shuttle driver. Right away, a couple of good ole boys up Miramichi way said they were driving in up-river there all the time, and offered to drop me and my brother at the put-in free of charge. I won't mention their names, they were great guys who said they were happy to help out a fellow canoeist. I promised them I would pay their kindness forward.
I was surprised the river was 60 km long once you figure in the meanders. How come I had never heard of it? I won't go into great detail about the river. I don't wish to cheat any interested folks out of the joy of discovering the stream for themselves. Here are a few photos and accompanying notes.
The river was just wide enough for our two canoes, especially in the upper stretches. I feel a two-person canoe would be too big for this narrow river. A solo paddler can make a decision and act quickly in a tight rocky corner, whereas communication and response between two persons in one boat would take too long and not provide the desired result.
There are no heavy rapids, but you need to pay attention. The current can lead you through rock gardens and looping meanders for turn after turn, and it's wise to steer clear of the ever-present alders.
The Blackville water level guage on the Main Southwest Miramichi was reading 1.6 mid-May. I wouldn't want to go at a much lower level.
The river is bordered by alders the entire length. There are no signs of human habitation for the first two days on the stream. Our shuttle driver did tell us that there is a road on the right bank we could use in case of emergency, but it was not visible anywhere from the stream.
As the day drew on, we started looking for a campsite. The alder thickets looked impenetrable. But Laurie spotted a narrow opening in late afternoon, and we found a perfect spot. I'm not sure I could find it again.
It wasn't perfect, a little uneven, but cozy amid the thicket.
Our next campsite on the second day was here on the inside of a large meander, with lots of room for our two tents.
We encountered a fallen tree on two occasions. We carried around one, then Laurie grunted his boat through the other. It's not as risky in calm waters,but I'll never trust them.
Here's a better picture of my canoeing partner, my brother Laurie. I gotta give him props, he's always eager to go and is a good cook as well. His wife Dawn deserves mention too, for the delicious meals she prepared for us to take on the trip.
The current is steady and level, there are no high cliffs, and campsites can be hard to find in the thick forest. The scenery was untouched and pristine. The only intrusion in the first two days was a vapor trail high in the sky above us.
Junction of the North and South Branches. We scouted the shore on the left bank seen here, there might have been enough room for one small tent in a pinch. Now that I look at the picture, there might be a suitable campsite centre right.
The leaves were just coming out. We enjoyed three warm sunny days with only one short shower in the middle of the second night. No bugs! No fish either ... there is a connection here, I'm sure.
We re-entered civilization on the third day. These homeowners felt they had to chop the forest right down to the river's edge just for the sake of looking out their window. Such a shame.
Shortly after this sight, the river re-entered the forest, and went through several rocky fast-water turns. The river ended in a wide bay, and then we had to paddle, pole and walk our boats for a stretch up the Little Bartibogue River to avoid private property.
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