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Sturgeon nets drying 

in Nemiscau.



Photo: Bill Seeley

Photo: Sturgeon nets drying at Nemiscau post

Day 2

Paddle north from the village into the next large body of water in the lake.  There is a creek that spills west out of the lake and into the river from this body of water.  This route avoids what I am told are some heavy rapids and falls in the bend of the Rupert to the north.

There is current flowing though the shallow narrows at the entrance to the west bay of this body of water.  Exercise caution in any wind, as it is hard to get a fix on the progress of the sharp lake-bottom as it races towards you.

The first set of rapids, at the egress of the river from the north finger of the west bay, is shallow but runnable.  Watch the short cliffs on the west bank above the rapids for Cree rock paintings.

There is a 500-yard portage a kilometer downstream of the egress of the river from Lac Némiscau. The portage landing is hard to spot in the alders 50 feet south of the river’s egress from a long skinny pond.  Both years it was tangled from deadfalls from an old burn, but easily walked without any portage clearing on our part.  There is a small, muddy campsite at the beginning of the portage.

There are two fun pick-and-choose rapids before the river returns to itself.  There is also a two-kilometer horserace just below the confluence of the creek and the river.

Matthew Wapachee, a Nemaska elder who joined us for the lower Rupert run in 1998, pointed out a portage to us that avoided the second pick-and-choose rapids and the long horserace.  The trail returns to the Rupert eight kilometers downstream from the portage, where the creek turns to flow northeast, parallel to, but in the opposite direction of, the main channel of river.  It is not a long portage.  It bumps up over the rise between the two braids and meets the Rupert in the bay below the long horserace.  One could camp at the north end of the portage.

There are two possible campsites below the horserace.  The first is a bushed site at 75º 58’ West, on the south bank (between two small shore marshes marked on the 1:50’s).  It is highlighted by a kitchen area below a large boulder and sports sheltered, sandy-beach tentsites in low water.  There is a second campsite just off of the 1:50,000 map 32N/7, on a point on the south bank.  It has a sloping rock with good swimming and several tentsites snuggled into a cleared spruce stand.  The site is cozy.  Six tents would be tight.  This campsite was buried beneath deadfalls in 1998.

We continued on in 1998, 12 kilometers downstream.  Since our last visit to the Rupert one of the old Cree camps had been cleared a kilometer below the reversed-S bend at 77° 07’ West, on the north bank.  This is an extensive camp consisting of two major clearings separated by a short trail.  We passed a Cree youth brigade heading upstream to Nemiscau from Waskaganish in 1998.  Unfortunately we were on opposite sides of the river, contending with waves pushed up by a heavy west gale, and so unable to stop and chat with our Cree counterparts.  Paddle waves were exchanged and we pushed on.

As we paddled through the reversed-S bend I smelled smoke from a campfire on the wind (this sensation is not as acridly sweet as its larger cousin the forest fire).  Through the bend and along the straight stretch below we found Section A from Keewaydin of Dunmore, Vermont camped along the north shore at the aforementioned camp.  We had spent a day with them at the village above and stopped here for a last potlatch before we continued on, us to Waskaganish and they to the James Bay Highway (Route de la Baie James) bridge.

There is an old and abandoned site at the east end of the reversed-S bend on the north shore.  It is extensive, the size of a small village, and overgrown with willow and birch.  It is too thick for a campsite.  I do not know its provenance.

Photo: Nemiscau undergoing renewal, 1998 Nemiscau undergoing renewal, 1998


Photo: Bill Seeley

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