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Day 12

Shoot and line the Little George all morning.  There is one short portage at an island rapids which my notes mark at mile 3 but is more likely at kilometer 3.  There is short V and then the portage (which is obvious if I recall) is on the north bank in a shallow bay. 

Paddle a long set of shallow horseraces (interrupted by the portage mentioned above) below the falls to a long east west section of flatwater.  It is about a 14-kilometer paddle to the last falls on the Little George.  The portage is a 50-yard short hop straight down a cliff on the west side of the island around which the river tumbles.  I suggest the first of two landings.  The falls is found where the river takes a sharp turn to the south forming an elbow around a set of islands.

We camped at one 2 kilometers downstream from the confluence of the Little George and Eastmain on the south side of the river on a sloping rock perched on the edge of a burn.

Day 13

There is a rapid at kilometer 4 that we ran.  We spotted wolf tracks on the shore through here.

The first portage on the Eastmain is found at kilometer 8 on the right bank at the first marked rapids.  It begins a little further upstream than one would expect in the alders.  Steve and I actually hiked the hill, found the trail, and walked it back to its start.  It is a 300 yarder.

The second portage is found at kilometer 14 at the next marked rapids on the map.  Heb’s route here is a little tricky.  The rapid is really a long falls.  There is a 10-foot horseshoe falls at the top followed by a long, heavy rapid.  Run the north shore at the top skirting the side of the horseshoe though a steep shore V into the first eddy.  The water wants you to follow this path and the eddy below is long and wide, forming a shallow back bay.  The portage follows the shore rocks 150 yards or so.  There is a point at which you have to jump up into the alders to avoid a deep pool.  I am sure that there is a more conventional route around this one on the south bank.  We did not search for it, but that would seem to be the path of the Cree. 

At mile 11 there is a rapids at a large island in the river followed by two whooshes, each about a kilometer and a half apart.  We were caught by wind above this at the arrow-shaped island, and sat out a short thundershower. 

We ran the outside of the bend below to paddle along the base of a steep mountain and camped at a Cree camp three kilometers downstream on the north bank where the river divides around a large island, at a Cree camp.  There was another well-used Cree camp a kilometer upstream on the south bank.

Day 14

Follow the east channel around the big island at 73° 21’ West.  Liftover the “impassable” falls by running down the right shore (the outside path around the ¼ moon island) to a small rock island that can be easily portaged.  Scout this one, as the island is just out of sight around the bend in the right channel. 

At the next marked rapids we portaged off the river through two ponds to avoid a long gorge.  The first portage is found a kilometer upstream of the rapids, behind the islands on the south bank.  It is 900 yards.  Cross the pond and find the second, 350 yards, at the exposed rock hill.  You can paddle out of the second pond back onto the Eastmain by way of the creek at its SW corner.

There is a campsite at the foot of the falls on the west bank.

Four kilometers downstream there is 150-yard portage on the right bank that takes out right at the lip of the rapids, followed by a second, 3.5 kilometers further on, again 150 yards, and again on the right bank.  At the first of these two portages we found the remains of a green canvas canoe (an intact bow stem with its planking and canvas) with squares cut out of its canvas right where the numbers are painted onto Keewaydin canoes.  We speculated that this must have been one of Heb’s ill-fated # 77’s.  I imagine Heb writing in his log (I apologize George for the poetic license):  “Nishe reached the head of the rapids ahead of the staff [Heb], and after a quick perusal from a standing position in the stern decided that it was passable.  Left with no say in the matter, the staff hurriedly stowed his cameras and was off in hot pursuit.  The waves proved a bit rough and my bowman failed to muster the strength for the last hard draw needed, so, after an improvised swim, poor old 77 had to be retired.”  It is customary to cut the K’s (painted onto the canvas) and the numbers from the bow and stern and “present” them to the camp’s director when such a mishap occurs.  It simplifies the “discomfort” of such a disclosure.

Below the second portage, in the following east/west narrows, we were treated to a wolf sighting in 1992.  The canis lupus scurried out of the shore brush for a drink, looked up, and noticed us downwind of her.  She paused, and then loped along the shore ahead of us for 20 yards before disappearing back into the bush.

Follow the north route when the river divides at 73° 27’ West.  We encountered an unmarked rapids at 73° 30’ West.  The rapids was nothing too spectacular, but it was a ½ mile horserace and so required our attention.  We dubbed it “Pewter Rapids” in honor of the color of the river in the early evening light.

We camped on the south bank just before the river returns to itself at about the confluence of the Cauouatstacau River.  In 1992 there was lone sloping piece of smooth granite to mark the site and provide us a kitchen (this landmark would have been submerged in higher water).  There is ample room here but the boys chose a hill a couple hundred yards upstream for their tents.  The sound of rapids on the south braid added a nice touch to a beautiful campsite.

Day 15

Ran three easy horseraces between the campsite and the Tichegami River.  We followed the middle channel through the sand bars and islands at 73° 49’ West. 

Follow the southern route around Ile Le Veneur.  This avoids two large rapids.

We found a campsite at a gravel bar on the east bank a mile and a half or so past the fork and just beyond some swifts.  There was a sharp hill on the north bank and the river straightens out just before the campsite.  The gravel bar was big enough in 1992 to fit the kitchen.  The tents went high up on the bank amidst the Labrador tea.  Anywhere a spot could be found for a kitchen along here there should be ample room up on the bank to set up tents.

Day 16

This is a long day of paddling to Lac de la Marée.  There really is no good place to stop for lunch.  We set a fireplace on the muddy shore and watched it sink.

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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