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Day 8

The portage route (and our day in 1992) begins with a 200-yard portage straight out of the kitchen north into a muddy pond.  The route walks through a burn all morning.

The second portage begins directly across the pond from the first.  It is a 900-yard walk north on the west side of the creek that puts into a second, larger pond.  The trail is difficult to follow in the burn.  At the top of the first hill turn left through a dried-up muskeg field.  At the end of this dry swamp the trail turns back to the right and becomes easy to follow again.  The day was so hot in 1992 that the sternsmen got a good lift from the hot air rising off the dried muskeg.

Paddle the stream out of this 2nd pond to the north and follow its meanders to a trailhead on the right bank.  The third portage is 800 yards into the pond to the north.

The fourth portage begins in the northwest bay of the pond.  It is 600 yards due north with a soggy end at the third pond of the day.

The fifth portage takes out of the east end of pond number 3, 400 yards back onto a long west bay of the river.

Fourteen kilometers upstream a 400-yard portage walks into our campsite.  The river narrows at a long elbow bend to the south. The portage is found at the east end of a stumpy dead-end bay that forked away from the river to the north.  We raced an afternoon thunderstorm to the campsite that is in an open, caribou-moss jack pine park above a small ledge.  We found short wooden tent poles here indicating a group traveling with canvas tents.  We fantasized that they were left from Heb and Danny’s last foray on this route in 1974 en route to the Sakami.

Day 9

One kilometer upstream from the campsite a 400-yard portage takes out to the north.  It is a couple hundred yards past the creek that enters from the north, and was marked in 1991 and 1992 by an abandoned fuel drum (evidence of a winter trail, eh Danny!).  The trail puts into the large southwestern bay of an “H-shaped” pond.

The second portage takes out at the north end of the eastern arm of the H-shaped pond.  I have it marked as 1000 yards due north into the long skinny northeastern arm of the lake above.  Make your way through the islands and paddle the channel to the next pond to the north.

The third portage takes out a hundred yards up the thin creek that runs NE out of this pond.  It is a 1200-yard walk to the largest lake/pond since Lac Baudeau.

We found a campsite at the north end of the lake on two small, bald granite points just to the west of the creek that flows out of the lake to the north.  The portage is on the west side of the creek.  We had lunch on the campsite.  It is open and would provide little shelter.

Paddle the creek NW out of east/west pond.  There is a 25-yard liftover at the end of the creek into a good-sized lake with long esker islands in the middle of it.  The islands are high, steep-banked, sandy plateaus that give the lake an interesting character.

This lake is the headwaters of the Little George River that begins at the end of its northern finger.  We named the “Little George” in memory of Heb Evans (after his unused first name – Danny Carpenter gets a mischievous twinkle in his eyes when he recalls ribbing Heb with his first name).  A 200-yard portage leaves the north arm of the lake east of the egress of the Little George River.  We camped in an open caribou moss park at the head of the portage.

 

There is a route, that continues north from here to Lac Hecla, from which one can reach the headwaters of the Eastmain, Lac Nichicun, and territory beyond.  It is marked on the Kenneally maps as a straight shot up the river that flows from the NE into the lake we marked as the headwaters of the Little George.  This route, culled from old Keewaydin notes, agrees with conversations I had in Baie du Poste [Mistissini].  I am horrible with names, but the owner of the restaurant in the village showed it to me on a large-scale map.  This route would provide access to the upper Sakami, the region around Lac Nichicun, and even the Ungava Bay watershed for the footloose and fancy-free.  But it seems, as a means to access the Eastmain, to be a little too long a trip to be included in a six-week Keewaydin "Hudson Bay Trip."

Day 10

We portaged 200 yards onto the Little George, then shot and lined all day in the shallow headwaters of the river.  There are some fun horseraces and a couple technical runs in and among a long day of lining.  The river is a beautiful rocky run, which was a welcome relief from the sand and swampy heights of land of the upper Tichegami and North Fork.

We had lunch on the south shore on a rock-sloped campsite at an elbow in the river about three kilometers downstream from the campsite portage.  It was the only Temagami-style campsite we would see for quite some time.

There is a short portage on the north bank a kilometer or so downstream.  The river was very shallow here.  Do not get caught in the middle, the island is not a good option.  The shoreline on either bank is open enough that a trail is not necessary.

We camped in a caribou moss park high on a slope of Labrador tea at about kilometer 10 (on the north shore of the second longish east/west pond of the day at about 72° 41’ West).  There was not much of a kitchen, but the tentsites at the top of the hill were picturesque.

Day 11

Shot and lined all day.  We stopped for lunch at the first portage.  This is a 300 yarder on the south bank at the first north bend in the river at 72° 44’.  This was followed by a line and a ˝ mile shallow wade, akin to the Windigo River in Ontario in low water.  The portage, line and wade take you through the north bend in the river.

A kilometer downstream there is a 60 foot falls!!!  We approached on the river right or north bank.  Line a 3-foot ledge on the north shore, and then paddle across the flat water to the head of the falls.  There is a sloping rock campsite about a half-mile upstream from the falls on the north shore.

This is a sheer falls, and the water is flat, and deceptively placid right up to its lip.  Stay to the north shore.  This is a unique geological specimen.  The falls was once twice as wide as it is now.  There is a dry river-bed just to the north of the current falls and run-off.  The dried falls is now just a sheer 60-foot cliff.  The shore is built up in a narrow promenade above this cliff almost as if it were a beaver dam long since turned back to the earth.  The north falls has been dry many years as there are 100-foot tamaracks growing from the floor of the old gorge.  The two falls were once separated by a narrow ridge of land (20 feet across).  We put our kitchen and the staff site here and the lads pitched on the old river bank across the dry gorge.  The kitchen is about 10 feet below the lip of the falls and just above a deep runoff pool (10’ x 5’ x I-don’t-know-how-deep, it seemed bottomless) nestled into a crook in the rock ridge from which we collected water.

There is undoubtedly a Cree trail through the bush on the old shoreline (north bank).  But we opted to cut a trail down the separating ridge and along the dry stream-bed below the old falls. The trail is steep and a bit hazardous, but the campsite beside the falls is worth the price of a room.  Our portage takes out 10 yards north of the falls and is about 400 yards long.

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