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 Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd

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max384




PostSubject: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:49 am

The Trans Taiga Road is the most remote road in North America. It is located in northern Quebec. At its end, we will be 463 miles by road from the nearest town, which is the furthest from any town by road in all of North America. It is 414 miles long, all unpaved gravel road. Because it is a dead end road, it means it will actually be 828 miles of gravel. Fuel is very limited. The longest stretch of road without fuel is just under 400 miles, possibly over 500 miles if we are able to take the very little explored south Branch, which I'll go into later. This means we will have to pack a significant amount of extra fuel. The road was built to access the Hydro Quebec dams of the remote north. There is very sparse traffic on the road, and even fewer tourists.

On the way up, we will be riding the Route du Nord, also known as the North Road. It is roughly 250 miles of unpaved road. It meets up with the James Bay Road about halfway up to Radisson, a town that services the Hydro Quebec projects.

The riders:

max384: Max. Riding a WR250R

Neal. Riding a Suzuki Vstrom 650

Neal rode up from South Carolina to meet me at my house in northeast Pennsylvania today. We spent the day prior to leaving prepping the bikes and getting them loaded up. The plan was to leave the next morning at 0400 am.

The bikes ready to go



Neal getting his new tires spooned on



Last edited by max384 on Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:03 am; edited 1 time in total
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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:50 am

Day 1


Hazleton, PA to Route du Norde


887 miles total, 30 miles gravel


We got up at 3:30 am, said bye to the wives, and were out the door at 4 am. The goal today was to make big miles, with intentions of getting as close to Chibougamau as possible on our first day. With that in mind, there aren’t many pictures. We took the super slab, route 81, all the way north up close to the Canadian border, then two lane to the border itself. The border crossing took about 20 minutes or so, and all of that time was waiting in line. From there we headed north through Ottawa, up 117 north, then to 113, through Miquelon and Waswanipi. On our way into Chapais, we got stuck behind a bicycle road race, being escorted by the police. That was a fun way to waste 45 minutes riding 20 mph… From there we made it to Chibougamau right before dark. It seemed like a cool town with a lot going on. There were tons of cool bars and restaurants there. If we weren’t trying to beat the night closing in to get a camp spot, we would have stopped and looked around. However, we got fuel, rode through town, and searched for the Route du Norde.


Stopped to get gas somewhere in NY




Getting ready to cross into Canada




Ottawa




Stopped to exchange cash in Maniwaki, I believe




The many sections of road construction, and Neal’s take on it







Selfie




Beginning the Route du Nord




It was dark by the time we made it to the Route du Nord. We decided to camp at the nearest campground. We were hoping for just some picnic tables, but it looked like a more established campground was closer, and we were ready to get off the road. The James Bay website travel guide said there was a SEPAQ campground at km 12. As much as we looked, we couldn’t find it. We went up and down from km 8 to 16 a few times, and then took a few side logging roads, but didn’t find it. We were just going to wild camp, but we were nearly out of water, and there weren’t any good flat spots next to a water source, so we continued north. At km 32 we saw a sign for Baie Penicouane, which had camping. Perfect! We continued down the road about 5 or so miles and found a very nice campground with running water, bathrooms, the works!


We started setting up camp when we discovered that there was a hornet nest under the picnic table. Three stings later, we decided to pick a new campsite.





We had a couple drinks, had some camp food, and went to bed quite easily after 18 hours and nearly 900 miles on the road.





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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:52 am

Day 2

Route du Nord to Nemaska to Eastmain Rd to James Bay Road.

365 miles, 282 miles gravel.

We had planned on sleeping in, given the long day we had the day before. However, we were up around 6 am. I was up first, and headed down to the bathrooms, which had showers. I enjoyed a long, hot shower, as I knew this would be the last one for a little while.

We made some breakfast, coffee, and talked about the plans for the day. Neal has a French press for his Jetboil. Maybe a couple of issues getting it figured out…



We noticed the skies were looking increasingly black, so we checked the Inreach weather. It said there was a 40% chance of rain today. The clouds tended to make us think that number was closer to 100% chance.


Because we knew rain was imminent, we hurriedly packed up camp, and then we stopped into the camp office to pay for the site. The campground we stayed at was the Baie Penicouane SEPAQ campground. It was actually really nice. It had bathrooms with running water, including hot showers, a sink area, lockers for food and cooking equipment, a camp store, and some cabins. However, it was $40. Which was roughly $40 more than we had planned on spending on camping during the trip.


The campsite




The food hanging in a tree to keep it safe from the bears




As we were leaving, it started raining. We set off up the Route du Nord in the pouring rain. Fortunately it only rained for maybe an hour or two. The road conditions were excellent on the road. We were able to maintain a speed of 50-60 mph on the straights and 40-50 mph on the turns pretty comfortably.






























Along the way, we stopped at this bridge:











After about 150 miles of gravel road, I managed to drop my bike on the only 50 foot section of paved road we came across. I managed to not fully extend the kickstand.


Here I am discussing the importance of taking a picture of a dropped bike before picking it up




Some more pictures along the North Road











The dreaded road graders…







They actually weren’t as bad as people make them out to be. First of all, they’re absolutely necessary to maintaining a gravel road like this. Otherwise, they will be covered in large potholes and washboard. The surface is a bit softer and more squirrely where a grader recently was, but it’s more of a nuisance than anything. The only real danger is the mound of dirt in the center of the road they sometimes leave behind. Avoid this and you’ll be fine. When it comes time to passing the grader, just take it slow crossing this mound of dirt.











I can’t wait to get rid of this extra tire. It’s weight mounted high, and my camelpack pushes against it while riding.




















The plan was to stop in Nemaska for fuel and lunch and then head out to the James Bay via the rest of the Route du Nord. Once we got close to Nemaska, we had to take a left turn to continue on the Route du Nord. At this left turn, the road conditions deteriorated a bit, and we slowed down to about 40-50 mph on the straights. Next up, Nemaska:


The road into Nemaska

















Nemaska was larger than I had expected, but similar to other Cree villages I’ve seen. Most of the larger buildings in the center of town looked to be government buildings of some sort or the other. All of the roads in town (and leading to town) were dirt. We stopped at what we thought was a restaurant in town, but it turned out to be a convenience store.


They then directed us back to the mall in town, which was a fairly large government-building-looking structure. There were no signs on it to indicate it was the mall. My experience has been that the buildings in the Cree settlements rarely have signage, and when they do, they are very small and nondescript. I assume this is because they are small towns without a lot of visitors, so signs wouldn’t really be needed. Anyhow, we headed into the mall, which was really just a building that housed a grocery store, general store, bank, storage area in an empty store front, and the restaurant.














We stopped and I finally got some poutine.





Not the best poutine I’ve ever had, but I certainly finished it!


We also called the Hydro Quebec power plant and set up a tour for tomorrow morning at 9 am. We were still a few hours from Radisson, so we headed north on James Bay Road with plans of getting to about an hour away from Radisson and then finding a camp site.


Multiple people had told us to take the Eastmain Road instead of continuing the last bit of the North Road. Supposedly the gravel was in better condition and it was a significantly longer portion of gravel to ride, so we decided to take this route. We fueled up and set off. Premium fuel was available here, for $1.70 a liter, if I remember correctly.


Crossing the 52nd parallel







Neal doing some sort of weird dance move on the Eastmain Road






There was a fuel stop about 50 miles from the James Bay Road on the Eastmain Road. We didn’t fuel up there, so I’m not sure about prices or premium availability, but it is there if anyone else is taking this route.





Drop number two for me. This time the kickstand sunk into the road surface. Whoops!









The Eastmain Road is great. Conditions were excellent, and it was an interesting road.


















We passed by the large Eastmain Dam














From there we continued on to meet up with the James Bay Road. The scenery was great on this section. I wish I would have stopped to take more pictures.

















After getting onto the James Bay Road, we headed south a few miles to Km 381 to fill up on gas, and then headed north.


Relais outfitter at Km 381 of the James Bay Road
















We found a camp site about 70 miles from Radisson, at Lac Miron.













The first thing we did was scrounge some firewood. There wasn’t much wood to be had here, but we made the best of it.

















We set up camp, and then focused on the most important part of the camping plan for the night… Debauchery. We drank roughly half our body weights in alcohol and stayed up way too late. Neal was drinking Canadian Club (you know, when in Rome…) and I was drinking Everclear mixed with Tang. Everclear is never a great choice to drink, but it packs well, because you only need to pack a fraction of what you would normally pack.




















At about 1:30 am, we finally decided to go to bed. Should be an easy morning…





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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:54 am

Day 3

James Bay Road to Radisson to Chisasibi to the Trans Taiga Road

303 miles, about 60 miles gravel

Rough morning. Rough. My alarm went off at 5:30, so we could make it to the tour. I promptly hit off instead of snooze and then woke up two hours later with a splitting headache in the pouring rain. I took some Aleve, and started getting my stuff packed up. We were both pretty hungover, and didn’t end up getting out of camp in time for the tour. It was still raining pretty good when we set out.

Some more pictures of the campsite









We slogged up the James Bay Road into Radisson in the pouring rain, and got there at about 10:30. I called the power plant and apologized for missing the tour and tried to set up a new one, but there were none in English available. Oh well.

We rode through town and looked around















Then we headed to the gas station to get some gas. Their super unleaded pump was broken, so I had to use ordinaire and added some octane booster. One thing I don’t like about the little WRR is that it takes 91 octane.

The most Canadian beer cooler ever (though it did have Coors light inside)


We decided to head up to the dam and at least check it out. The road out to the dam was freshly graded and muddy. It was quite a chore riding in it, but we made it to the dam.









View from the dam


The spillway was very impressive. It was absolutely massive. During the construction of the dam, they needed to divert the flow of the river, so this was built. Pictures just don’t do it justice.







We then went over the dam and out to some dirt roads north of the dam. Great riding! It went from small dirt roads, to mud pits, to double track. It ended at a small river.

Just past the dam when the road was still wide and well maintained
















We stopped and looked around and then came to the realization that this was the worst mosquito infestation that we had ever experienced. They absolutely swarmed us. I almost dropped my bike swatting them away as I was getting it turned around. We high tailed it out of there and back to radisson.

From there, we rode out to Chisasibi. Chisasibi is pretty happening Cree village with a population of about 5000 people. It was originally located on Fort George Island, a large island in the river that empties into the James Bay. However, Hydro Quebec was concerned about the increased river flow eroding the island away, so they were relocated to present day Chisasibi.

Everyone we encountered here was very friendly and chatty. They all wanted to know where we came from, where we were headed to, and what we thought of the area. We rode around a bit and then went to the restaurant in the civic center.









The outside of the mall




The inside of the mall




The civic center with the restaurant inside






The restaurant


Neal had chicken poutine. I had a pepperoni pizza. Not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but it was hot and filling.



After lunch, we headed out to Long Point, which is the section of land that leads to James Bay. James Bay (which is really just the southern portion of Hudson Bay) is the southernmost extension of the Arctic Ocean. The goal was to make it here, dip our tires in the Bay, and take some pictures.

Long Point:










We then rode to the ferry crossing to get to Fort George Island. I had wanted to take the ferry over and explore, but there was a long line, and we didn’t want to waste time waiting around to ride it, as it was already getting late in the day.



We fueled up at the gas station, with plans to get to the Trans Taiga today. We have 310 miles from Chisasibi to the nearest gas station at Mirage. My fuel carrying equipment I have is my 5 gallon tank, two half gallon Touratech containers, a 2 gallon Rotopax, and two 2.5 gallon Dromedary water bags, for a total of over 13 gallons. Neal has a 5 gallon tank and two 2.5 gallon Dromedaries, for a total of over 10 gallons. Today was the first day that we used the Dromedaries. They worked with mixed success. Mine were absolutely bulletproof the entire trip. Neal’s were a different story that I’ll detail later in the ride report. They do smell of gas, as the fumes seep through. I wouldn’t keep them inside a bag, but strapped to the outside, they worked great (for me).

For this part of the trip, I only filled one of the dromedaries.





We rode down James Bay Road, past the Radisson airport.





A few miles further down James Bay Road was the start of the Trans Taiga Road:











The gravel was very well maintained during the first several kilometers of gravel, and we comfortably set into a pace of about 50-55 mph.

















We stopped for the night at Km 56 at a campground on Lac Sakami. The first order of business was pumping some drinking water from the lake and gathering firewood. I have a Katadyn water filter that I’ve had for probably ten years and many, many gallons of water, and it’s always performed flawlessly. Well, my luck came to an end. It started leaking a bit of water and lost pressure, which meant a lot longer pumping times. As the trip progressed, it got worse and worse, and eventually became the bane of our existence.

After gathering wood and getting water, came the main attraction for the night. Changing my rear tire. I was running IRC TR8 tires. They have great offroad traction, they’re DOT rated, are reasonably priced, and have good onroad manners as well. However, they don’t last terribly long. I can get 2500 miles out of a rear, 3000 if I’m really pushing it, but at that point there’s no tread left. This trip will be about 3500 miles, so I definitely needed to pack a new rear tire with me to change out partway through. I figured changing it out at the beginning of the Trans Taiga would be best, since I would have over 900 miles of gravel ahead of me.







I got the old tire spooned off and the new one mounted. Time to air up.


After the tire was changed, I was finally able to get rid of this damn tire in the dumpster! What I also noticed was that there was a ton of bear shit around the dumpster. The dumpster was a couple of miles from camp, but we knew there were plenty of bears around.



We hung out, made a fire, and then hit the sack for the night. We did make sure to hang our food for the night since there were bears around.

Our campsite




Food hung up out of the way of the bears, or at least we hoped!




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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:56 am

Day 4

Trans Taiga Road to Caniapiscau

385 miles. All gravel.

We woke up to beautiful weather. In fact, it was the first day that it didn’t rain in the morning. We packed up, had some breakfast, and hit the road at about 9 am. Road conditions on the Trans Taiga were very good. However, the conditions on this road can change quite rapidly. One minute you’ve got perfect gravel going 60-65 mph, then it all of a sudden changes to deep squirrelly gravel that requires a pretty rapid slow down. Overall though, the conditions were good, and we were able to maintain a speed of about 55-60 mph on the straights and 45-50 mph on the turns.

I will stop and discuss riding gravel briefly. The biggest danger in riding these long gravel roads is yourself. A bike will naturally want to stay upright and going in a straight line. When you hit deep gravel, the bike gets squirrely. When the surface changes, the feeling in the handlebars changes. When you hit gravel ridges, your handlebars get pulled side to side. It’s very easy to overcorrect and make things go badly. All you really have to do is stay on the throttle, let the bike do what it’ll do underneath you, and keep it pointed in the right direction. The bike will stay upright. You just have to fight the urge to overcorrect when things feel squirrely.













Making sure the river doesn’t run dry


















Some softer road surface




We stopped in at Nouchimi Outfitters. It advertised a store, restaurant, motel, and gas. However, when we stopped in, the guy said they only do fuel. We were going to stop at Mirage about 30 miles or so down the road, so we opted to skip out on buying fuel here.











On a few more miles until Mirage



We arrived at Mirage at about 2 pm. It sits right next to a large river and reservoir.









Mirage is VERY nice and a lot larger than I expected. There is a small gift shop, some odds and ends, a hotel, their guide service, fuel, a bar, and a restaurant. The restaurant is cafeteria style. It is served three times a day during posted hours. However, we got there outside of the posted hours, and they were more than happy to make us up a plate. Lunch included a broccoli cream soup, turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and gravy, plus a soda. All for $22. Most of the food tasted like it came out of a can, so the price tag seemed a bit steep… But the food was hot, service was good, I was able to drink a cold beer with lunch. I had to step back and remember where I was, and all of a sudden, that price tag didn’t seem so bad.















My meal


After lunch, we fueled up. This was the long stretch of 380+ miles. We both filled up all of our fuel containers. This gave Neal 10 gallons and I had 13.5 gallons. We were basically fuel tankers at this point! This gave Neal a range of 500 miles, assuming he’s getting a very respectable 50 mpg, and me a range of 675 miles, assuming the same gas mileage. Given the remote nature of this road, we are going to figure out our actual range as we go. We are definitely going to the end of the Trans Taiga at Caniapiscau and back. However, we’d also like to explore the road south of Brisay. The maps show this to be about 50 miles long. However, satellite imagery seems to show about double that length. There is a float plane base at Caniapiscau called Air Saquenay that will sell travelers fuel. If that is open, then we definitely overpacked fuel and will have no problem getting all the way down the road south of Brisay and back. If it isn’t open, we will have to do some math and figure out how far we can actually go.



Distance since last fuel station


My bike




Neal’s bike


Here are some more pictures along the Trans Taiga between Mirage and Brisay.























Some Cree hunting cabins off to the left




We arrived at Brisay in the early evening. We explored the area for a bit.







We saw a fox that came trotting next to us. Didn’t give a damn that we were there. He walked right next to us, only a couple of feet from the bikes. He then sat down and stared us down for a bit before going on his way.

















A cool lookout point














Found some soft sand while doing a turnaround












We decided to push on to Caniapiscau to the end of the Trans Taiga and camp somewhere around the end of the road. The road past Brisay is indeed a tougher road. It’s not terrible, but speeds were definitely slower. It’s not as well maintained, there are large rocks embedded in the road, and there were several washouts along the way.

This washout could have been bad. I barely missed it, so I circled back around so that Neal didn’t hit it if he was on the same line as me




We found a road marker on the side of the road, so we put it into the hole to hopefully help someone else avoid hitting this


Some more pics along the way










The end of the Trans Taiga is very lackluster. It ends unceremoniously at a T junction. In fact, we weren’t quite sure we actually hit the end of the road at first, as there was still more road to ride in either direction.



We didn’t spend much time exploring since it was starting to get late in the day at this point. We set off to find a camp spot. We ended up finding a perfect spot right on the reservoir past the end of the Trans Taiga. Great views of the reservoir, and a ton of drift wood to burn were all piled up right next to it. It was the first night we didn’t need to scrounge for firewood.











In case anyone is planning a trip up here and wants to camp at the end, here are the coordinates of this spot:



After getting the camp set up, a fire going, and eating dinner, I pulled out some good Scotch and my favorite cigars.



Glennfiddich 18 year single malt with a Leaf by Oscar cigar at the end of the most remote road in North America. Priceless.









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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:58 am

Day 5

Caniapiscau to the road South of Brisay to Trans Taiga

287 miles. All gravel.

We woke up to dark skies with towers of rain in the distance. We were hoping it would pass by us, but we knew better. We checked the Inreach weather and it said 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms. What we have determined thus far during the trip is that if Inreach says anything more than a 10% chance of rain, there will definitely be rain. So at 70%, we knew we were in for something.

Another picture of the camp


Scenery around the camp








We quickly broke down camp before the rain hit. We then decided to head north along the Hydro Quebec roads as far as we could go. First thing we found was a dam with a large spillway with an absolutely massive quantity of water flowing through it.







[MEDIA=youtube]Ld82MmDQQoY[/MEDIA]

I should stop and mention that it was just beginning to rain at this point. However, the thunder and lightning were becoming increasingly closer, more frequent, and more intense. We stupidly decided to push on north on these access roads. Eventually we came to the end of the road at a large dam only a few miles north of where we camped. There was a road across it, but it was blocked with a gate. There appeared to possibly be another way around to get a little further, but with the lightning getting more intense, the rain pouring down at this point, and us at essentially high ground, we decided to run back and head toward Air Saguenay to see if they were open and had fuel.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the end of the road, but I was concentrating more on not getting struck by lightning.

After a few wrong turns down to various closed outfitters, we made it to Air Saguenay. They confirmed that they had fuel, but that it was offsite. The guy that worked there hopped in his pickup truck, and we followed him to the fuel pumps a mile or so away. We got there and topped off our tanks and our dromedary bags and then headed back to their air station to pay. It was raining so hard, we were hoping that we pumped some gas into our tanks along with the water.











When we got back to the air station to pay, we were hit with sticker shock. $2.75 per liter for ordinaire sans plomb (regular unleaded), plus a $1.99 and $3.99 fee. With the fees, that worked out to $12 CAD or $9.20 USD per gallon. But, hey, look where we were. Who were we to complain?

While there, the storms intensified. We asked if they had coffee. They led us to another building next door and told us to make ourselves at home. Carol was making probably the most delicious looking pizzas I’ve ever seen. She put on a pot of coffee for us and let us help ourselves to a litany of homemade baked goods. Coffee was hot and delicious. Carol was as sweet as could be. One of the pilots, Antoine, filled us in on the local weather, talked with us about local history, and showed us some great motorcycle routes for the ride back. What a great experience! They also confirmed that they were open seven days a week into the end of September. Although expensive, I highly recommend filling up at Air Saguenay. Good people!

Carol


Antoine


The rain slowed down and we headed south to Brisay. By the time we got to Brisay, the rain had subsided. At the intersection, we headed south (right past the sign at the picture)



Google Maps showed the road south of Brisay to be roughly 50ish miles, but satellite maps made it look like it could be further, like another 50 miles further, so we really didn’t know how far we had ahead of us. Information on this road was virtually nonexistent. Internet searches didn’t turn up anything. Forum inquiries turned up nothing. Even calls and emails to outfitters in the area turned up nothing. Looks like we were forced to ride it ourselves to find out!

The first few miles were fairly similarly maintained as the road from Brisay to Caniapiscau. However, the views were much better.





Neal giving his best Advrider salute














In fact, the views were incredible. By far, the best views of the entire trip.

































Quick rest break
























The road was far less maintained than any of the other large gravel roads we had ridden thus far. The road surface was highly variable. It went from well-maintained to terrible washboard to mud to large potholes to narrow doubletrack and back again.

I also want to discuss the remoteness of this road. To do this, I want to step back and talk about Caniapiscau. I had envisioned this being the epitome of remoteness. Like nobody for miles around. This wasn’t exactly the case. Once we got there, there were several other groups camped in the area; mostly fisherman camped at the boat ramps. There were also the Hydro Quebec workers, outfitters, and float plane base workers. Pretty much the rest of the Trans Taiga felt more remote than the end at Caniapiscau. This being said, it was still very remote without much of anything there. The road south of Brisay, on the other hand, was extremely remote. There was absolutely nobody else on the road, and no sign of human civilization besides the dams along the route. This was truly the remote road I came all the way up north to ride.

Along the route, we stopped for a quick rest and to check our packs, and Neal noticed that one of his Dromedary bags was only half full. Upon further inspection, it had leaked all over his tarp and into his top bag. He had lost probably a gallon to a gallon and half of fuel. He was less excited about our choice to use Dromedary bags as I was (both my bags were absolutely bombproof).







Continuing along


Road narrowing








Near the end, the road really became narrower and rough. Not offroad rough, as any big bike with an experience rider could ride it, but rougher than anything we had ridden on the trip. I was thankful I was riding my WR250R; it made the road easy. It may not have been the best choice for the big mile paved roads of the first day, but once we hit gravel, I was very happy.

The road ended about 70 miles from Brisay at a gate.





Our Advrider salutes


I may or may not have been curious about what laid beyond the gate. After all, satellite maps showed possibly miles ahead of the gate. So, I may or may not have ridden around and checked out what laid beyond…













Looks like it may have just fizzled out very shortly past the gate. Looks like the posted end is truly the end of the road.

We hung out at the end of the road discussing how this was truly the capstone at the end of the road; much more so than Caniapiscau. It would have been a great place to set up camp, but we wanted to still put some miles down for the day, particularly since we had a late start to the day, with the rain.

I want to also mention that everything you read about the end of the Trans Taiga Road at Caniapiscau being the furthest by road from any town in North America is incorrect. At the end of the road south of Brisay you are about 17 miles further from any town in North America by road than at Caniapiscau.

Headed back to the Trans Taiga proper




The gravel was a bit deep at this section




We then hopped onto the Trans Taiga Road, which felt like a Super Highway compared to the road south of Brisay. No pictures since we were trying to make it as far as we could.

We were hoping to make it to Mirage and set up camp close enough to walk over for a few cold beers. However, we made it to about 70 miles shy of Mirage before it got too late in the day, so we found a spot to camp. It was down a small dirt road off of the Trans Taiga. It was just a small flat spot close enough to a lake to pump water.



The white moss was as soft as carpet, but tended to stick to socks terribly. Ask me how I know




We were using a Katadyn pump that I’ve had for a long time and pumped a lot of gallons of water through. This was the trip it decided to finally die on me. The last few nights, the pump had started leaking water and the output was less and less. This night was the final straw. We must have spent 45 minutes pumping a gallon and a half of water. We had agreed that we would be buying any further water for the rest of the trip.

We gathered wood, pumped water, and set up camp. This may have been one of the lowest mileage days of the trip, but also one of the toughest days. We were exhausted. We were probably just going to eat and go to bed. Well, both being combat vets, we got to telling army stories, and ended up drinking the rest of our booze and staying up way later than we had anticipated…



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PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:59 am

Day 6

Trans Taiga to James Bay Road

401 miles. 285 miles of gravel.

We woke up fairly early and broke town camp. Another picture of the camp site



A Cree hunting cabin by the turnoff for the small dirt road we camped at


We set off down the Trans Taiga. We didn’t take many pictures.



soon came to Mirage outfitters. We fueled up, grabbed a soda and a piece of pie, and set off back down the Trans Taiga Road. We were going to pick up some beers for camp that night at Mirage, but the guy working there said they sold beer at the Relais outfitter at Km 381 on the James bay Road. So we decided to find a camp site close by and pick some up there.



A hitchhiker


We didn’t stop for pictures since we had already ridden this road once. Neal discovered that he didn’t have his Camelback about a hundred miles from Mirage. He must have left it… But we decided it wasn’t worth a 200 mile round trip to retrieve it. We did stop at our first campsite on the Trans Taiga at km 56 to pick up Neal’s tent stakes that he had left there. It was hot. I mean, really hot today. Much hotter than I would have anticipated. While there, we swam in Lac Sakami to cool off. Neal also used his steri-pen to get some water since he was getting pretty dehydrated without his Camelback.

We then set back off down the Trans Taiga.









We made it to the end late in the afternoon.



What is this?


We then pushed forward to Km 381. We fueled up and went in to get some beer for camp. Come to find out, they don’t sell beer there. Oh well, looks like we were going to get to bed early so we could head out early. They don’t sell bottled water there, other than the small bottles, so we filled our water containers at an outdoor hose there.







We then headed north a few miles to a camp spot we had scouted out.















It had started to rain at this point, so we hastily set up camp, gathered some firewood and made a fire. The rain soon started coming down much harder and we went to bed while it was still light out.





It was a miserable night. It was still hot, and ridiculously humid with the rain. I didn’t sleep well at all that night.




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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:00 am

Day 7

James Bay Road to Ottawa

645 miles. 90 miles gravel.

We woke up early with plans to hit the road around 5:30. It was pouring down rain when we woke up, which meant having the displeasure of breaking down camp in the soaking rain. Always a fun prospect…

We stopped back into Relais outfitters at Km 381 to top up our tanks, since it would be a good stretch until our next gas stop.

We then continued on through the rain until came across the Rupert River Rapids. This is a powerful river with some awesome rapids. There is a parking lot with a trail that leads to a lookout point.







[MEDIA=youtube]3pmP20YJnwM[/MEDIA]

When we rechecked our bags, Neal discovered that his tent was no longer strapped to his bike. He had the presence of mind to strap it on the outside of his gear since it was soaking wet, and didn’t want the rest of his gear getting wet as well. It had been 80 miles since we had last seen it strapped to his gear, so we decided not to backtrack in hopes of finding a camouflaged tent bag on the side of the road.

Neal contemplating a teepee to sleep in


We had the choice to either stay at a hotel the last night or we could find a camping store and Neal could purchase whatever tent he could find so that we could camp the last night in the rain. That choice was easy. Although we wanted to camp every night, it made no sense for Neal to buy whatever tent he could find, which almost undoubtedly wouldn’t be an ideal tent and would be overpriced in a store up north. Our plan was to make it to Ottawa or as close as we could get and just find a hotel.

We stopped to fill up gas from my Rotopax, and Neal noticed that one of the bolts holding his skid plate was loose and almost worked its way out.





[imghttps://photos.smugmug.com/Trans-Taiga/i-nkH2LhX/0/250d11c4/XL/IMG_20180724_100731-XL.jpg[/img]

They’re repaving sections of the James Bay Road, and there was about a 30 mile section of gravel on the James Bay Road due to the construction. The new pavement is nice without all the frost heaves this road is infamous for.



Entry point at the start of the James Bay Road outside Matagami


We made it to Matagami in heavy rain most of the way. We stopped for fuel and lunch. I can’t remember the name of the place we stopped, but the food was good and service was fast. With one exception, I’ve ordered poutine at every meal stop, as I usually do when I visit Quebec. I ordered a ground beef poutine, which was the best I’ve had to date on this trip.



We had cell service here, so I pulled up Google Maps and it routed us a slightly different route than I had put into my OsmAnd GPS app. To our surprise we weren’t yet done with gravel roads. Route 1055, which branched off of the James Bay Road just north of Matagami, was a great gravel road. Narrower than the other large gravel roads we had ridden, but well maintained. It was raining most of the ride.

I stopped at a cool wooden bridge to get a picture. I heard some squealing and skidding, and before I could turn my head around, my bike lunged forward as I was hit from behind…







The river Neal nearly ended up in






Neal discovered how slippery a wet wooden bridge is. He came only a few inches from ending up in the river below. Fortunately there were no injuries, and only minimal bike damage. Mine was unharmed. Neal’s had a broken mirror and some minor plastic damage.

We continued on to Sennettere, where we fueled up and had small reprieve from the rain.



Stopped again to get fuel, in the rain



We then stopped at a tourist trap to find some sourvenirs for the wives and kids.





From there we headed straight to Ottawa in the mostly pouring rain. We found a hotel next to a casino at a decent price. We unpacked the bikes and then headed to the casino for dinner.

Motorcycle-only parking. Cool.






In the casino




Chorizo poutine. The best poutine I’ve ever had to date.


Gear drying


I forgot to take a picture of my Inreach today, but it was 645 miles.

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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:01 am

Day 8

Ottawa to home.

388 miles. 2 miles offroad.

We woke up early. It was quite strange to not have to break down camp this morning. We quickly packed things up and put on our gear. It was absolutely pouring outside… Like monsoon storm pouring. Ugh.

Screenshot of the current radar.


We hopped on the bikes and headed south. We were hoping to make it back to my house before 2 pm. That’s the time we told our wives we’d be back, so we were hoping to make it then. Unbelievably, the wives weren’t as excited about our trip as we were…

We stopped at a couple of duty free shops for souvenirs for the family





Just across the border back into the US


We slogged it home via interstate mostly. To get into my development, you can either go through the main gates, or you can take about 2 miles of trails. We chose the latter, of course.

Home!


Neal’s bash plate hit something on the trail on the way into my development







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max384




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Wed Sep 12, 2018 10:02 am

Stats

Total days: 8

Total nights: 7

Total mileage: 3655 miles

Longest day: 887 miles

Shortest day: 287 miles

Longest gravel day: 385 miles

Average daily mileage: 457 miles

Longest stretch between gas stops: 330 miles

Most expensive gas: $9.20 per gallon at Air Saguenay

Nights camping: 6

Nights in hotel: 1

Items lost and/or broken on this trip: 9

Number of bike drops: 4

Number of bike crashes: 1

Number of injuries: 0

Number of road graders encountered: 7

Days with rain: 6

Days without rain: 2

Best poutine: Casino Lac Leamy

Number of wives unhappy about this trip: 2
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Jens Eskildsen




PostSubject: Re: Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd   Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:24 am

Awesome thumb
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Riding the Most Remote Road in North America, Trans Taiga Rd
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