River: Moon River [Misticawassee
Creek] Confluence to Marten River Confluence
Maps (1:250,000 scale)
Lac Némiscau 32-N Lac Mesgouez 32-O
Photo: Bill Seeley
Bridge Gorge Rapids
This stretch of the Rupert runs swiftly. The current is deep and strong throughout. We consider this the rapids running section of the big river. Below Némescau we found little to run. In general we could run all the rapids marked RI on the Federation Quebecoise du Canot Camping (F.Q.C.C.) maps, and some of the RII’s. The road at what we call Bridge Gorge has been opened to the public since these trips. There is now a scenic overlook akin to those on the James Bay Highway. It was crowded in 1998 when we drove south to Baie de Post [aka Mistissini] on this road. The road itself follows the first set of power lines on the maps we used. As I said, this does not seem to have increased traffic on the river, but might serve as a spot to launch a shorter jaunt. The campsites were all Cree camps, some them appeared quite active.
The general rule for portages: look for a large eddy-bay downstream of the falls or rapids. The portage will start at the lip of the rapids and end at that eddy-bay or back-bay downstream.
We portaged from the campsite to the bay below (50 yards). There is an unmarked horserace just below the campsite (where a long point juts down from the north bank). Run this out to the marked II below (a kilometer downstream form the campsite), crossing over to the north/right side of the river. We were able to sneak down the right shore of the II, out of the heavy water, and drop easily over the ledge that juts out from the north shore at the bottom of the rapids. We always scouted this last drop as the ledge kicks up a good wave.
marked rapids 1/2 kilometer downstream posed no problems. Two
kilometers downstream run the unmarked rapids at the narrows on the right
and stick to the shore as what follows below is a falls where the river
funnels through a 30-foot-wide granite gorge. The portage landing is
in the alders well upstream of the lip of the falls on the right shore.
Times may have changed with the advent of the overlook, but the trail we
used bumped up to the road, followed it about 100 yards north to the first
power-line tower, left the road SW, passed under the tower, and then
followed a well worn path to a flat-rocked ledge just below the wash of
the falls. All told, with the diversion up the road, the trail was
about a kilometer, or, a little over 1000 yards. On the 1:50,000 one
can discern a bay on the north shore of the river just above the next
rapids. This is where the 1000-yard portage ends.
must paddle the north shore in good current, and then fight a strong
back-eddy around the north sweep of the bay between the falls and the
ensuing rapids to the next portage, which is a 400-yard walk. Stay
close to shore. The portage starts in a long rock field that must be
flooded in the spring thaw. This is probably a broad overflow channel
during the freshet. The trail crosses two wide boulder fields.
There is a connecting trail between them that bumps over a rise on the
left at the end of the first boulder-strewn dance. The landing at
the far end is also a boulder affair. All told this trail is not a
dream come true for the short-legged.
must run the short II below the portage. The hazard here is volume.
It was a fun ride both years through tall standing waves. Each year
someone took on too much water and we had to stop to empty.
kilometers downstream you must portage on the right/north shore.
Sneak down the top of the rapids close to shore on the right.
EXERCISE CAUTION. There is a small bay on the right, below the start
of the rapids, from which the river flows out in a small falls
perpendicular to the main current. The shore current forms a narrow
channel separate from the main rapids (two canoes wide) that flows into
this tiny bay before tumbling back to the rapids. The portage begins
in the bay and the flow of the channel takes one right to it. It is
a 350-yard portage.
In both years, we ran the rapids just below taking them down the right shore. The run is inside (shore-side of) a large, exposed boulder. We found this a difficult path to keep in high water with fully loaded canoes, and some of the lads ran to the left (river side) of the boulder with no worse fate than a load of water.
tells a tale about this rapids. Apparently, in his zeal to scout this run
from his canoe in 1991, Ted Kenneally got a little close and was unable to
free himself from the current. He managed to turn the canoe in an
attempt to paddle back upstream before the river caught him in its grip.
But the river beat the man in this incidence…sort of. The outcome
was that he ran the rapids backwards, watching carefully over his left
shoulder for the exposed glacial erratic.
maps, inherited from Ted Kenneally, show a portage route to the south that
would bypass the entirety of the gorge, and the two rapids below. I
do not know the source of this route. There is a deep southern bay
above the rapids that precedes the Bridge Gorge portage. The maps
mark a trail along the southern side of a tall hill west of this bay into
a pond just south of the gorge. The trail looks to be about 1000
yards. This is followed by a 1200-yard portage into a long lake that
straddles maps 32-O/11 and 32-O/12. A short portage would return one
to the Rupert below the 350-yard portage rapids. I cannot vouch for
the existence of this route.
also appears that one could paddle a creek route to the north, leaving the
Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] three kilometers above the confluence and
returning to the Rupert two kilometers below the 350-yard portage rapids.
mention these possibilities only because the boulder field portage does
not smack of the path of the Cree, particularly because it returns to the
river mid-rapids. The route we followed through the gorge is culled
from notes gathered for us from F.Q.C.C. in Montreal by Gary Schrier.
We never had difficulty with this route. But there are two spots
below on the river, at the Fours and at the long rapids above Smoky Hill
Rapids, where the F.Q.C.C. route does not follow the portage trails used
by the Cree.
We camped at the end of the portage around the next marked obstacle five kilometers downstream from the 350-yard portage rapids. The portage landing is found on the left/south shore and takes out of the eddy right at the lip of the falls. Stick to the shoreline as there is a shallow ridge of rock that separates the portage bay from the main channel. In the high water of 1993 the first 50 yards of the trail had become incorporated into the falls as a gentle overflow braid. The campsite is a well-used Cree camp overlooking a deep back bay from a high bluff.
the rapids below the campsite. Nine kilometers downstream, at the
next marked obstacle (two kilometers below the confluence of the Lemare
River) portage 20 yards over the granite on the left/south side of the
steep ledge. Four kilometers downstream keep to the right through
the hairpin-turn horserace. There is an osprey nest on the right
shore before entering the hairpin turn. We lined the rapids below on
the right/north side of the island. This is a shallow channel.
The bulk of the river follows the southern path around the island.
We were able to run the north/right channel in 1993. The left side
is a big rapids with huge standing waves.
the rapids two kilometers downstream on the north side / river-right.
We had lunch here on a gravel bank in the north bay below the rapids.
In 1992 the boys found a wrecked aluminum canoe here. The ice seemed
to have washed it downstream in 1993.
The rapids 10 kilometers downstream can also be run. We passed under a second set of power lines just downstream of this rapids. We camped nine kilometers downstream from this rapids on the north shore at an old surveyors camp at 76° 01’ West. The site is on a narrow, low rise on an otherwise swampy shoreline.
is the start of sturgeon country on the river. We saw a herd of the
mammoth fish in the shallows beyond the campsite in 1992. We
followed the center channel through the big island at kilometer 14.
Keep to the north channel where the river divides above the confluence of
the Marten. Follow the left fork just above the spot where the river
joins itself again.
We have attempted to include the most up-to-date and accurate information, but conditions change. We would be grateful for any corrections or suggestions for improvement.