Greetings from the Richelieu River! We portaged our canoe from Montreal to the Richelieu River, because that is what won the last Cast YOUR Vote. Portage means to carry a canoe and supplies over land from one body of water to another. We loaded our canoe, Sig, onto our cart and walked for 14 miles instead of paddling 100 miles.
We found a nice road with a big shoulder to walk on. The road was quite flat and straight. Cars whizzed by. Part of our walk was on a sidewalk, past houses and stores. Whenever we saw someone else walking, they would comment on how surprised they were to see a canoe in the city or they would point to where the river was.
On Wednesday afternoon Amy and I took Sig off of the cart and carried it down a steep bank below a large cement bridge. We launched the canoe in a narrow stream lined with steep banks and large trees. It felt great to be on the water again, but then we fit our first rock. The water was cloudy and we couldn’t see the rocks lurking just under the surface. We quickly realized this stream that looked so inviting on the map was way too shallow to navigate—especially in a canoe covered in signatures.
After about 20 minutes of slow progress with lots of rock dodging we saw a man by the edge of the river and we stopped to ask him about the stream. We learned that the stream would be small and shallow for about five more miles. He said we were welcome to camp in his yard, so we set up our tent right there next to the stream.
That night we made a new plan. We looked at our map and found a route that did not involve paddling on the stream. If we walked for 5 more miles, we would reach the Richelieu. I had a hard time sleeping that night because I could hear traffic on the nearby road. I kept thinking about the hundreds of cars and trucks that had raced past us as we walked and the cloudy water in the stream that was too polluted to drink. It feels like we are a long ways from home. I miss northern Minnesota. Now I appreciate our clean water and wild spaces more than ever.
The next morning, we loaded Sig on the cart and began walking again. We passed many farms and entered the city of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. Today, we launched our canoe in the Richelieu River and began paddling south. With the weather getting colder, we are glad to be heading south. Soon we will be back in the United States. I have always wanted to paddle on Lake Champlain, which is between Vermont and New York, bordered by Quebec in the north. We will be sure to tell you all about paddling on this large lake next week!