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Day 8

This is a fun little river.  Run the rapids that can be run.  There are portage trails where they are needed.  The route is open, i.e. trails are clear, but there was not much evidence of its recent use.  The hand painted syllabics signs had tailed off at Woollett Lake.  The route is definitely better traveled than the Little George Route though.

The second rapids of the morning should be portaged on the east bank.  This is where the campsite should have been marked.  There is an excellent sloping rock campsite overlooking the little gorge here with trout potential.  We split up, half of us running the top and lining the short ledge below, the others walking the short portage.  We were able to run most of the rapids beyond the falls. 

At the north end of the next lake, just before the river cuts back SW at 51° 37’ 30” North, there is a creek that flows into a small “two-halved” pond.  There is a 300 yard portage at the west end of the second “half” that cuts off 5 kilometers of river travel. 

There is a second short “cut-off” portage at about 51° 40’ North on the west shore of Lac Thereau just south of the egress of the river.

There is a campsite on the beach at the fork at the north end of the lake portaged into from Lac Thereau.  This fork appeared to be a major crossroads. The well-established campsite is a little swampy and did not appear to have been recently used.  There is a large clearing of cut spruce just back from the campsite to the west.  We also found a log-cabin foundation on the east shore of the eastern branch of the fork.  The east fork would provide a clear path to Lac Comeau.  We found wolf prints and droppings on the shore here.

Heb Evans (1975) portaging his wannigans on Esker Portage into Lake Capichinatouane. The "Red Rig" on top carried his cameras. The portage follows the top of an esker.

 

 

Photo: Dan Carpenter Jr.

Day 9

Follow the west fork from the campsite.  The river divides again less than a kilometer downstream.  Follow the SW fork west to the edge of the map.  There are two portages on this path.  Paddle to the end of the shallow winding finger that begins this route and find the portage trail just up the creek in the southwest corner of the final pond.  A burn makes the trail a bit obscure, but it is there.  We kept waiting for the region to become swampy, but the hills prevailed.  None of the muskeg of Ontario appeared to vex us.  The second portage is at the west end of the next pond, right where it should be (as Danny carpenter would say, on the path of the Cree).  This route is well worn, and always in the right where one would expect it to be.

The third portage takes out of the NW corner of the following lake into the large lake before Lac Cawachagamite.  It is a very short walk.  There is an excellent looking campsite in the portage bay of this lake and we floated a lunch of tuna, cheese, and bannoc in the lee of the esker-like island here.  We scouted the creek that flows out of the NW bay of the lake towards Lac Cawachagamite.  It is a beautiful, smooth-rock cascade…but unpaddleable.  No portage route was found here so we returned to the path of the Cree and portaged 200 yards from the SW bay of the lake into the long southeastern arm of Cawachagamite.

Lac Cawachagamite is a large and picturesque lake.  A rest day might be planned here. It would be nice to have some time to explore its shores.  Mountains are visible in the distance beyond what appears to be a stand of tall aspen on the SW shore.  The old Keewaydin site on the southern shore at 74° 04’ West had gone back to the bush.  We found the old fireplace buried in the sphagnum moss, but the tentsites had disappeared into scrub pine and thick underbrush.  It looked to have once been a nice site though.

We bushed a campsite at the end of a peninsula hanging down from the north in a narrow eastern bay at 51° 43’ North.  It was an ideal place for tents but fireplace rocks had to be imported and the kitchen area was soaked, as there was no exposed rock.

Day 10

The short portage out of Cawachagamite was not as obvious, although it was on the path of the Cree.  It takes out of the furthest NE bay of the north arm of the lake.  There is an old survey line cut just west of the trail.  The trail, though á la mode, i.e. just a caribou-hoof wide, is a better bet than the survey line which has poor footing.

There is a steep chute that can be run into the next lake.  There is a small falls where the river turns back to the north for 5 kilometers.  We found an old Keewaydin-style fireplace (i.e. set to accommodate wide fire irons) here.  The short portage around this obstacle is just to the east of the cascade in a shallow bay.  We found a dried-up “spruce dock."  These are made by felling a spruce sapling and dropping it in the water so one can pull a canoe up on shore without risking damage (its hull rests on the soft boughs).  This usually indicates recent travel because the ice should clear these away in the spring.  But the saplings were devoid of greens and didn’t appear to be cut since the thaw.  We declined venturing any hypotheses.

There is an easy rapids between the falls and the round lake.  An old Cree camp makes an excellent campsite on the west shore a half-mile south of the river route to Lac De La Marée.

Day 11

The “Tamarac River,” as we dubbed it, is a deep, sandy-banked river that connects the small round lake to Lac De La Marée.  There is a portage at the top of the river around the only obstacle of the day.  It takes out on the south bank of the river just beyond its egress from the lake.  After this portage the river has a gentle even grade making a perfect canal through the swampy terrain.  The river is populated with numerous tamaracks and there is evidence of several old campsites on the high sandy banks at the beginning.

The river can be paddled, in good water, in an easy morning.  We made lunch in the narrows between the two bodies of Lac De La Marée. 

Our campsite all three years on Lac de la Marée was a Cree camp at the end of the gravel point at 51° 53’ North, 74° 16’ West.  The campsite is the eastern edge of the old village of Neoskweskau.  The lake is deep enough to land a Beaver, and the campsite provides 300 degrees of visibility.  It is an ideal spot for a food drop.

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