Soggy baguettes, espresso, and the true spirit of a Quebec River Cleanup

I’d like to start this post with a picture I like to call  “The Group: Dry”

Group Photo-Pre-trip 

Remarkably, this is only one of my many favorite memories of what turned into a very windy and rainy adventure.  Our mission this day was to grab as much garbage as we could from a section of trail between Mansonville and Glen Sutton Quebec.  Those accepting the challenge as shown in the above picture left to right:  Mike “the Dali Dogma” Damata, Eric Townsend, Adam “Swazie” Randolph (notice baguette under arm), Sarita Khan, Christy (my beautiful bride) , Frank ” Tourc the Herc” Tourcotte, and Suzanne Montel.  Dogs: Scout the beagle and Chloe the collie.

The week before Suzanne helped organize a River Cleanup event that took care of the upper North Branch of the Missisquoi to Mansonville (See Map 5 of the NFCT map series for more detail).  This past weekend our group of three canoes and kayak worked on the lower section of the North Branch and took a right on the Missisquoi until we made it back to Frank Tourcottes Canoe and Co. campsite about ten miles in all.Frank-kayak  

Frank embodies the true spirit of the river.  For the past two weekend river cleanups he has let people use his canoes and has participated himself.  He did everything he could to help get us on the river and offered to let us stay at his campsite at the end of the day.  He also gave me one of the biggest laughs of the weekend (and there were many) when Christy asked him how he first heard of the NFCT.  His eyes lit up and he said he was at his campsite and saw someone paddling up the river.  This made him do a double-take as he thought no one in their right mind would do such a thing.  He yelled out to them to make sure they were okay, thinking something must be wrong.  They explained that they were through-paddling the NFCT.  They came to shore and explained to him the concept of the trail.  From that day on he has been a big supporter, and I can say first hand he is extremely hospitable.  The campground is peaceful and you won’t find someone with better knowledge of the Canadian section of the Missisquoi and North Branch of the Missisquoi.


It didn’t take long to find our first tire.  This one was burried deep in the silty, sandy, muddy river bottom.  We had to use a winch to break the suction. 


The race was on.  People were trying to win the handful of categories that we created:  Most Tires, Most Footwear, Heaviest Garbage Bag, and Oddest Find.  The Upper Branch and Missisquoi Rivers are both comfortable rivers to pick garbage out of.  They are not moving so fast that you can’t turn around and get a piece of garbage that you saw too late, and most spots are shallow enough to stand up in.  Our boats were leap frogging and Cris-crossing the river, bags were starting to fill, and the dark clouds were getting closer.  It began lightly.  We thought it may be a passing shower as the forecast had predicted late day showers.  No dice.  It started coming down in buckets.  Spirits remained high as we knew we still had five more miles to go. 

Swazie Eric fastwater

Eric and Swazie rip through a section of swift water

There were a couple of small sections of swift moving water that would break our concentration from picking garbage to finding the best line to take.  The rain made people hungry and we all took a break to have some soggy baguette bread that we got from Owls Head Bakery in Mansonville, apples, and chocolate covered pretzels.  When the rain got really heavy it made it hard to see to the bottom of the river and we had to concentrate our garbage collecting efforts to what we could find on the river banks.  Before long we made it to Frank’s Canoe & Co. campsite, where everyone was very interested in getting into some dry clothes and having a warm drink.  I do feel I need to show pictures of Frank’s outhouse.  We are debating in the NFCT office if we should adopt this as the official outhouse design for the trail. 

Luxury Outhouse

An outhouse with plumbing.  Only at Canoe & Co.!

Group photo wet

 The Group: Wet

Yes, this is the same day as the first group photo.  Notice all the smiles?  Who would have thought picking garbage out of a river in the rain was this much fun?

River Clean up Stats:  10 miles of river, 7 people, 2 dogs, three 30 gallon garbage bags, one tire, three baguettes

Awards:  Most Tires: Eric and Swazie     Heaviest Bag:  Mike and Sarita    Oddest Find:  Christy and Walter (empty money bag)    Most Footwear: Frank

Important:  For those planning to cross the U.S./Canadian Border you will need a passport or approved ID beginning June 1st.  You can find more information at:

More to come…………….