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Day 3

All day we were in and out of the water.  Portage trails exist in some places and are occasionally useful, but we found lining and wading to be the most efficient attack in most places.  The day was clear, warm, and gorgeous so we didn’t mind damp feet.  The river divides at 51° 27’ 30” North.  We stayed west as it seemed to present the more open route.  The river forks at 51° 31’ North.  Take the east fork towards the height of land.  The river is sandy and shallow here.

The campsite is at the head of the 600-yard height of land portage.  It is found two thirds of the way up the long slender lake that follows the fork, just at the spot where it bends to the north (51° 31’ North, 73° 14’ West).

Day 4

We wound our way north two and a half miles from the end of the 600-yard portage along a river that rapidly turned into a creek.  There is a 200-yard portage on the right bank just at a west bend in the creek past a picturesque cascade (at about 3 kilometers as the crow flies).  The portage immediately follows an island in the creek.

At mile 5 (km 6 as the crow flies), at the end of the third lake section of the day, we found a 1200-yard portage on the right bank at an overgrown Cree camp.  It takes out of the Northeast corner of the lake, which has high hill banks.  As I recall the campsite was marked by an old blaze on a lone shoreline cedar to the left of an overgrown clearing.[2]  The creek is impassable beyond here because of a falls.  The portage is an easy walker through a jackpine park.  We had lunch at the end of the portage, which would have sufficed as a campsite as well.  From this perch we got an early glimpse of the Tichegami Mountains.

There is a short liftover on the right past the falls into Lac Baudeau.  We just walked the shore rocks.

We camped 2 miles up the lake on the west shore in a sheltered bay formed by an island and a narrows in the lake.  We put the fireplace on the pebbly shore beneath a huge boulder and the tents up the bank in the Labrador Tea.

The Kenneally maps show a campsite on the southern of two points across the lake from the portage into Lac Baudeau.

Lake Cawachagamite

 

 

 

Photo: Bill Seeley

Day 5

Lac Baudeau is nestled in among the Tichegami Mountains.  It is bounded to the east by several large, granite-domed mountains unlike anything canoeists see in the Hudson Bay watershed of Ontario.

We sailed half way up Lac Baudeau and had lunch on the rocky west shore just past the wider center part of the lake.  At the Tichegami River there is a Cree camp with a padlocked plywood building.  We camped upstream ˝ kilometer or so at a second Cree camp on the north bank of the river.  The day was again cool and overcast.  This was a large, well-used camp which, like its counterpart on Lac Baudeau looked to be populated by at least 3 families in the winter.  There was one dome-shaped skogan and a large three-chambered long house in the shape of a T.  We had a rest day here in the rain.  The outhouse had a large supply of dried muskeg moss for the less hearty.

The Eastmain can be reached by travelling downstream from here on the Tichegami River.  Notes should be available on this route at Keewaydin.  Heb Evans used this route in 1972.  We went upstream on the Tichegami in hopes of reaching Lac Hecla each year, a feat that we never managed due to weather and time considerations.

Seth Gibson of Camp Keewaydin in Dunmore, Vermont ran the Tichegami route (downstream) in 1979 using Heb’s notes.  I have a copy of his journal from that trip.  He indicates that there are many unmarked rips and small rapids that can be run.  It sounds like they did quite a bit of scouting and lined a fair amount.  It took them 2 ˝ days from Lac Baudeau to reach the Eastmain.  The journal I have is the journal that Seth distributed to the campers after the season and does not contain a great deal of detail.  But he indicates only three portages, the longest being 500 yards on the river left at the confluence of the Eastmain.  This is significant because he quickly counted the portages in my Neoskweskau Trade Route — Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] Route — notes when I showed them to him.  Apparently Dunmore does not take portaging lightly (all puns intended).

The Kenneally maps show an overland route leaving the river at about 73° 24’ west, proceeding first northeast through a series of small lakes connected by creeks and then back north west through Lac Chamic to the Eastmain.  There is undoubtedly a long portage from Lac Chamic to the Eastmain.  My information indicates that one paddles the creek out of Lac Chamic and the portage is on the right at the first west bend.  The portage, the longest on the route, is only about a half mile if this is the right mark.

Day 6

We paddled upstream on the Tichegami all day.  The river is deep and sandy through here.  We had lunch on a sand bar on the north bank at 13 kilometers.  Paddle the east channel past the long island at kilometer 20.  There is a 200-yard portage at the end of the east channel.  There was a swift we had to line 4 kilometers upstream on the right bank in 1992.  

We camped at kilometer 26 on the north shore on a large, bulbous, sandy peninsula (my notes call it “onion-shaped”).  The river is working on an oxbow lake here.  Suffice it to say that this was the buggiest campsite I ever recall.  There was a lot of pacing designed to confuse the blackfly.

Day 7

At kilometer 5 there is a 250-yard portage on the south bank bypassing rapids marked on the 1:50’s.  We lined four swifts prior to this point.  I have marked that there is no formal landing at the far end, which would suggest that we did not find a trail here, but cut one instead (although we followed old trails throughout).

Two kilometers downstream there is a second portage.  This one is a 100 yarder to the right of the falls.  The trail was hard to find at the shore.  We just headed in among the shore alders and picked up the trail where it leads up the hill onto the bluff.  The trail crosses a burn that is growing back in and it seems that the best place for the pines to grow was right on the trail.

We lined the three rapids at the head of the west channel at the large island 3 kilometers downstream.  The river becomes rocky at this stage.

The route leaves the Tichegami at about 72° 44’ West.  Follow the unnamed river due north.  We called this river the “North Fork” of the Tichegami.  We saw the remains of a burned Cree camp on the west bank about a kilometer upstream of the fork. 

There is a paddleable rip just beyond the Cree camp, then, at the island where the river begins to bend east, we ran aground.  The river is unpassable for a mile or so.  We lined and waded, opting for center stream to avoid the mosquitoes and blackflies.

Portage 75 yards on the north bank past a small falls 2 kilometers beyond the aforementioned east bend.  We camped on the north bank at an elbow a mile or so beyond the liftover portage.  A portage route bypasses a shallow section of river choked with slashes on the map from here.  This was my birthday in 1992.


2     This campsite is featured in Heb Evans’ book, Canoe Camping.  Here a young Danny Carpenter Jr. mugged for the cameras while illustrating campsite tricks (Danny pointed this out to me in the spring of 1993).

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