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Day 5

The last portage of The Fours (C4 & W3) is a two-and-a-half kilometer walk. The first 900 yards are on a well-walked trail.  Go left where the trail meets the old road.  Walk several hundred yards towards the river on this road.  The road forks, the left fork continuing to the river and the right running parallel to the course of the river.   Take the right fork and follow it several hundred yards through heavy alder growth.  The road peters out in a large sand pit.  The trail is obscure here.  It winds its way in a slow fade left, down to a 100-yard wooded path to the river.  We camped here in 1993 making it a long half-day from the island campsite.

This trail follows the course of the river.  The 900-yard wooded- path walks from the lip of the gorge to a longitude roughly equal to the river’s sharp bend to the south.  The first road roughly follows the river along this southern course.  The right fork of the road leaves its companion 200-300 yards before the latter meets the river below its sharp west bend.  The going is a bit obscure along the roads.  Keep your head up.  The spot where the roads fork is overgrown with alders and the path across the sand pit is not well blazed.

There is another portage just downstream, on the north bank.  It is a 150 yarder.  Matthew called this one Gageegasgooshoomshik.  I did not write down what this means.  The map calls it Kachikaskushimushich.  The trail walks around a short rapids two kilometers downstream of C4, where the river bends back west.

There are two portages around Chikaskutakan Emitapeyach Rapids (which Matthew called Geegasgoodagan or, “portage on the edge of the river”), 10 kilometers downstream from Gageegasgooshoomshik. Chikaskutakan Rapids (on the 1:50,000 map), a kilometer and a half upstream, was non-existent both years.  The two portages are themselves connected by a trail that did not show much use in 1991, 1992, or 1993.  But the youth brigade had cleared it by 1998.  The portages are on the north bank.  We walked the whole portage in 1993 due to high-water conditions, and again in 1998 because that is what Matthew said that the Cree do.  The rapids between the two is not difficult.  The lower landing is small.  Send only three canoes at a time.  The run is along the shore out of the big water.  High water years may cause a problem.  We did not even look in 1993.  The second landing is well above the slight north bend in the river at the beginning of the second stretch of whitewater on the map.

There is a nice, large campsite at the end of this portage where we camped in 1992 and 1993.

Photo: Cree camp on Rupert River

Cree camp at 

Smokey Hill Rapids.



Photo: Bill Seeley

Day 6

There is a portage at kilometer 16 on the west bank of the west braid around the island.  It walks around the cascade at the west end of the braid.  The portage is a 300 yarder. There is a trashy campsite on the far side of this portage.  Matthew told us that this one is called Gowbstoom or, “muddy cascade.”

There is a Cree camp at the east end of one of the two islands about seven kilometers from Gowbstoom.  Unfortunately, we did not stop here.  We were so close to Waskaganish, and the smoke had been at our quarter all summer.  I wish that we had stopped.  I would like to thank Matthew for pointing it out to us.  We had a nice break here, and then pushed on to the next portage.

There is a southern braid at the next falls, 14 kilometers below Gowbstoom.  The narrow channel bends way around to the south.  The Waskaganish Cree were looking into the possibility of putting a small hydro dam on the cascade at the end of the channel, in 1993.  The idea was to supply themselves with power and provide themselves with leverage against the plans for large dams upstream, by taking themselves off the grid and employing the flow of the river.  The Cree at Wemindji have their own hydroelectric dam at the last rapids on the Maquatua (pronounced mogadoo).

Paddle two and a half kilometers down the channel to a 400-yard portage on the right bank just into the rapids.  Our campsite, in a thick balsam stand at the far end of the portage, was under deadfalls in 1993.  The Cree had buried it in the process of cutting lumber for a helipad (for the research they were doing for the dam project).  We were able to resurrect enough of the site to camp there in 1993.  The site is up a long steep bank from the river.  It was a pretty spot.  The campsite has now been buried under windfalls.  Currently, there is an ample campsite at the upstream end of the portage where we stayed in 1998.

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