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Day 4

A kilometer downstream from the campsites there is an RI in among the islands where the river narrows and turns southwest.  Three kilometers downstream there is another RI where the river pinches as it flows northwest.  And a kilometer farther downstream there is a last RI as the river broadens again.

Eight kilometers downstream the Rupert narrows to flow in a long north bend around a tall hill that towers 550 feet over the river.  Paddle through the islands into the narrows.  There are two short RI’s before the river bends to the north.  There is a campsite on the north shore at about 51º 27’ North, 73º 34’ West, where the river meets the 3rd channel from the Natastan River to the south.

Ten kilometers downstream, at 74º 40’ West, where the river narrows, there is a 200-meter RII.  There are two portages on the south shore ½ kilometer downstream that bypass two, back-to-back RIII’s.  There is an RI east of the big island below the portage.  Then paddle two kilometers west to another RI between the large banana-shaped (use your imagination on this one, Danny) island and the north shore.

There is an RII at the pinch where the river turns southwest towards Lac La Bardelière.[2]  There is an excellent campsite marked on the west shore in the first deep bay of the main body of the lake.  There is also a poor campsite marked on the boomerang-shaped island (imagination Danny!) at the southwest end of the island.

Day 5

The Natastan River, and the southern route from Mistassini along with it, meets the Rupert four kilometers west of Lac La Bardelière (a channel flows between the Natastan and the southeast corner of Lac La Bardelière).  There are two rapids in the channel that flows west out of Lac La Bardelière.  The first is an RII one kilometer from the lake.  The second is also an RII, one kilometer downstream.  They are both marked on the 1:250.  I would look for a Cree portage route from the channel above the first rapids into the large pond to the north.  This would follow prevailing Cree logic , bypass the two RII’s and the RI four kilometers downstream (at the north end of the following narrow channel), and cut off four kilometers of paddling.

The Natastan finally flows into the Rupert at the south end of the large body of water east of Lac Mesgouez.  Paddle through this body of water and out through the northwest channel to Lac Mesgouez.  There is a portage on the west shore at the NW end of the kilometer long channel bypassing a short RII. 

Paddle across the north end of Lac Mesgouez, keeping to the broad north channel around the large island.  There is a small campsite on the south side of the island at the north end of the bend north of the lake.

Day 6

The Rupert turns north four kilometers west of the confluence of the north and south channels that flow through Lac Mesgouez.  The river pinches two kilometers north of the bend.  There is a short RI in the narrows.

Three kilometers north the F.Q.C.C. maps mark a kilometer gorge that is the start of eight kilometers of continuous rapids according to the 1:250,000 maps.  The F.Q.C.C. route marks this first rapids as an RII, an RI, and an RIV, in that order.  They indicate that one should line the RIV on the right  bank.  The lay of the land suggests that there is a long portage on the right, maybe a kilometer and a half, leaving the river from the long finger bay east of the rapids.  This, again, would be indicative of the prevailing Cree wisdom.  If such a trail exists I would imagine that it returns to the river west of the long island, in the broader, eastern channel above the northwest bend in the river.

The F.Q.C.C. route follows the west channel past the long island.  There is a short RII at its south end.  Stay right through the channel.  The notes indicate a 150-meter portage on the east shore over the point north of the long island.  There is a ledge at the north end of the island in the east channel that is steep enough to be marked as a slash on the 1:250,000 map.  But, it would make sense for there to be a Cree portage farther back in the bush than the F.Q.C.C. portage, starting above the drop north of the island.  The path past the falls below is on the right.  A portage from the east channel to the deep north bay below would set this route up.

A kilometer downstream keep to the right.  There is a channel with a shallower grade north of the falls.  The F.Q.C.C. maps indicate a runnable rapids at the head of this channel and two RII’s at its west end.  They do not mark a portage here.  A half kilometer downstream there is a final RII about a kilometer and a half upstream of the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] confluence.

The path indicated through the gorge below Lac Mesgouez would not have made much of an upstream route for the Cree.  This need not indicate that there is Cree portage route following the lakes and creeks to the east and north of the gorge.  The upstream Brigade route was the Marten River route.  But, if the Cree went this way there are certainly paths worn deep in the bush somewhere.  The predominant Cree logic is to begin a portage as close to the obstacle as possible, and end it in a deep, back-eddy bay just below the rapids.  The terrain indicates the possibility that there is a portage east of the first drop of the gorge as indicated above.  The river appears manageable on the 1:50,000 maps (this route reaches my Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] maps here.  But, a portage route bypassing the falls suggests itself.  One could imagine portaging off the river yards from the northeast end of the channel east of the long island 75 yards onto the long north-south pond.  A 200-yard portage east from the northeast end of the pond onto the creek that flows into the large lake to the northwest.  It looks as if the winding creek that flows west from the large lake into the mouth of the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] might be paddleable.

This mystery could of course be resolved by a trip to the Keewaydin Map Room and a glance at Heb Evan’s 1968 and 1970 notes.  For now, the mapwalking-mapmusing will have to suffice.

 


[2] The channel north out of Lac La Bardelière would allow one to reach the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] by one short portage.  The routes are separated by less than a kilometer at about 51° 35’ North, 74° 50’ West°.  Heb’s trip upstream on this route employed the south braid here (we used the northern, more lake-ish braid in 1991-1993).

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