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les
Member

Post Number: 44
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Monday, September 1, 2014 - 4:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Murray, Joe and myself are planning a canoe expedition on the Kazan River (Nunavut) between June 15th and August 15th, 2015. We are looking for a fourth person. You’ll need your own tent, clothes and other camping stuff. Each will supply their own breakfast and lunch menu but we will share dinners and cooking. So every fourth day you’ll be supplying dinner and cooking for four. We can discuss menu options. We’ll use campfires for cooking in the boreal forest at the beginning of the trip. On the Barrens (no firewood) we will use a one burner Coleman stove and a twig burner. Each of us will be allowed two large packs and one small one.

The journey begins by driving to the community of Collins Bay on Wollaston Lake in the northeast corner of Saskatchewan. We will paddle down the Cochrane River, portage through the “Little Lakes”, then down the Thlewiaza River to Kasmere Lake in northwestern Manitoba. We will share portaging duties. Next we’ll head up the Little Partridge River to Roosevelt Lake and do a portage/pond hop over the height of land to Kasba Lake, the headwaters of the Kazan River, in Nunavut. We will then follow the Kazan River, which connects several lakes, downstream to the journeys end at the community of Baker Lake. The Kazan enters the Barrens at Ennadai Lake the next down river from Kasba. You can expect to see caribou and muskox. The plan is to fly out from Baker Lake to Churchill Manitoba (scheduled flight) and get the train south to our vehicle pickup point. We’ve already contacted a local (Saskatchewan) outfitter about shuttling our vehicle from Collins Bay.

This entire route is known and documented. You’ll need to be physically fit. Though this is largely a river trip we don’t plan to run technically complicated rapids so you don’t need to be a whitewater expert. We’ll be packing food for 50 days but the trip should take about 36 to 40. There will also probably be 3 or 4 days driving each way. You can expect to be wind bound or waiting for ice to melt for at least 6 days. The initial estimate of distance is about 1,300 km. Previous trips, from Yellowknife to Baker Lake, were 1,500 km and took 42 - 45 days. We’ll probably pick a couple of spots to go hiking. We will have a SPOT locator and a satellite phone. Expect the cost of this trip to be about $3,000 each, not including food (you have to eat anyway). The biggest expenses are air and train fare, canoe shipping, sat phone charges and gasoline.

The three of us are expert canoe trippers with a lifetime of experience. Our camping and food system is time tested. We take a cautious approach to navigation. We have two 17 foot ABS canoes. You’ll need your own paddles (2) and pfd.

If you, or some one you know, is interested in joining us please let us know.

Please contact Murray: 705 648 3310
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doug_2
Member

Post Number: 182
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, September 7, 2014 - 3:44 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

sounds like a great trip guys !! cant do that much time but sounds like a trip of a lifetime
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pine_sap
Member

Post Number: 103
Registered: 05-2004
Posted on Monday, September 8, 2014 - 3:07 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Can you say jealous? Wow, wish I could go. looked over route on MyTopo. Amazing trip. May the sun always be on your shoulder and the wind at your back. Have a great trip!
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les
Member

Post Number: 45
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Friday, August 7, 2015 - 5:34 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Joe, Steve, Murray and I just got back from our Kazan River trip (above). Route descriptions by Bill Layman, Allan Jacobs and Andy Breckenridge made it a lot easier to anticipate and find our way. Other writings by Peter Kazaks, PG Downs and Farley Mowat provided additional details and colour. Our map take off totaled 1374 km and 41 portages from Hidden Bay on Wollaston Lake Saskatchewan to Baker Lake, Nunavut. The trip took 41 days. This year I would alter Andy's description of the Little Partridge River route in that where ever it says wade, I would put drag. Our old canoes took so much additional abuse that we left them in Baker Lake. The worst portage was Big Stone Rapids at the beginning of the Cochrane River (2.6 km, over grown, mid section burnt, lots of blow downs, took 6 hours). The pond route from the Cochrane to the “Little Lakes”, mentioned by Peter Kazaks, had only one short portage. Joe encoutered a mother black bear and cub on the Kasmere Falls portage (they ran away). There were other bears, moose, caribou, muskox, a wolf pup by its den and all the usual birds and waterfowl along the way. The fishing was easy but we caught only what we could eat.

On average the weather was cool and partly cloudy but with enough clear sunny days. We were wind bound for 3 days, the first time on a tiny pond west of Roosevelt Lake at the top of the Little Partridge. The second was at the beginning of Ennadai Lake which was resolved by a night paddle to Halfway Bluff the next morning. We spent a half day on a windy Dimma Lake beach and another half day on an island in the river south of Ford Lake. Yathkyed Lake was ice free and flat until the morning we left when the wind came up forcing us to paddle a short way back up the west side of the peninsula and do a 320 m portage across its narrowest point. Baker Lake was also flat permitting us to cross to the west tip of Saglik Island, point hop to the south end of Nichols Island and then cross from its north end to the airport landing. This avoided all of the sand at the Thelon delta and the longer crossings of the main lake island hop. We were also able to harness the wind for sailing several times during the trip.

By chance we came across native campsites on the lower part of the Kazan. If you're looking for a clear tent site, on slightly higher ground, with heather and cranberries and a good view, then you'll probably find the rock rings and caches from a long ago occupation. And of course there were modern artifacts such as fuel drums and ski-doo carcasses. The modern version of a cairn is apparently an oil drum with rocks on top.

We agreed that the prettiest Lake was Thirty Mile. The Cascades are spectacular (camped below the third) and we ran all of the rapids from below the cascades to the elbow. We were able to paddle the rapids right down to the campsite above Kazan Falls. The cairn was in rough shape but the journals were intact in the ammo case. The whitewater run below Kazan falls is as good as it gets for paddlers with open canoes. The upper Kazan from below Kasba Lake to Ennadai is also a great downriver run. At the falls there's a large cairn with a bronze plaque commemorating the Kazan as a National Heritage River. As Allan Jacobs suggested the best way to portage the falls from the campsite is to head for the plaque and follow the edge of the gorge (camera in pocket) rather than following the route of the cairns.

Having read “Death On The Barrens” I went looking for the grave of Art Moffatt in the cemetery on the hill above the town of Baker Lake. After a 2 km walk from town it took about 20 minutes to locate the grave which is in rough shape. The cross, however, is still straight and his name is clearly and precisely carved on the cross bar.

The Kazan is a wonderful canoe adventure with very few portages considering its length and drop. You can fly from Winnipeg to the Kasba Lake Lodge and back to Winnipeg from Baker Lake. We flew out to Churchill via Rankin Inlet and took the train to The Pas where we had Joe's 150 shuttled by Miriam from Paws & Paddles Outfitters in Air Ronge Saskatchewan. She had previously driven with us to Wollaston Lake. The Via Rail “Muskeg Express” took 30 hours to make the trip, crawling along, never getting much above 60 km/hr. The service and meals were good. The births were all sold out to tourists on polar bear/whale wathching trips. If you're taking this way out then fly stand-by where you can. There was lots of available seating at half the price. It was interesting the first time but I wouldn't be interested in revisiting the Little Partridge River.

Les.

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les
Member

Post Number: 46
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Sunday, August 9, 2015 - 6:26 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

In my post above I forgot that we were wind bound for another day on the Kazan about 8 km before Angikuni making our total number of paddling days 37. We never targeted known campsites. When it was time to camp we'd look for a spot and usually found a good one. Even our worst site was OK and functional. There were lots of opportunities to camp in some pretty amazing places.

We packed food for 56 days thinking that Yathkyed might still be frozen. It wasn't, but the groups that came down the Thelon had to wait out or cross ice on Aberdeen. We carried 8 litres of stove fuel but didn't use any until we cooked on the tent platforms in Baker Lake. Murray had a stainless steel collapsible twig burner called a “Little Bug” that worked great. During our breaks we'd collect and break twigs and put them in a couple of stuff bags. We never ran out. For back up we had two old Coleman one burners, which still work great. But you can't take fuel on the plane. The girls and boys crews from Widjiwagan, a Y camp in Minnesota, purchased a fuel container from the Northern Store which had enough capacity to take our fuel as well. The fuel and their left over food was collected by the local Conservation Officer who also took Joe's beat up Swift Albany. Murray gave his Scott Missinaibi to a family that he'd met on two previous trips from Yellowknife on the Hanbury-Thelon route. The Widji kids are well organized, competent and polite. This camp has a wealth of information about the rivers flowing to Baker Lake.

We had with us 3 sets of 250 topos, 50s for all the tricky bits, 2 Garmin GPS Map units, a SPOT Locator and a sat phone. I sent out a SPOT OK Ckeck message every day. My friend Les, back in Brampton, used these locations to create an online trip tracker, complete with pictures, that could be viewed by our family and friends.

On Forde Lake we passed an international group of 10 people from Australia, New Zealand, England, the States and Canada. They were using PAKBOATS as was the Widji boys crew who's leader gave us a crash course on the ins and outs of folding canoes. This technology has come a long way. If I were young and planning to canoe Canada's northern rivers I'd buy one. The savings from one flight out of a place like Coppermine would just about cover the cost. The international group arrived in Baker Lake the day after us but, as the wind came up, they called for a couple of motorboats to tow them to town from Big Hip Island.

The various rivers that flow into the Thelon are logistically practical and relatively inexpensive Barren Lands canoe trips for experienced canoeists. Good planning, a cautious approach and careful scouting will get you to Baker Lake. Route descriptions are available online.

Les.


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doug_2
Member

Post Number: 185
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Sunday, August 9, 2015 - 7:39 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Great trip !!!!

so enjoyable to read about it..!
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doug_2
Member

Post Number: 186
Registered: 12-2004
Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 - 11:36 am:   Edit Post Delete Post

Les: Are you going to publish a trip report in Che Mun...or somewhere? It would be great to read a full report. Were there enough fish around to get some fresh food and protein for 41 days ?
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les
Member

Post Number: 47
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Monday, August 10, 2015 - 6:07 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

When we packed our food we did not rely on catching any fish but the fish we caught were a nice addition to our menu.

Allan Jacobs and Bill Layman have already done an exceptional job of detailing the Kazan route and their reports are available online. I just started googling and found them. I think Andy Breckenridge's Little Partridge River Route was published in Che Mun. Lots of stuff at Canadian Canoe Routes.
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les
Member

Post Number: 50
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 8:14 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Here's the link to our 2015 Kazan River Adventure slideshow: http://www.nastawgantrails.org/video.php

It includes a route description with a map.

Les.
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les
Member

Post Number: 51
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Thursday, April 28, 2016 - 9:25 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

Here's the link to our 2015 Kazan River Adventure slideshow: http://www.nastawgantrails.org/video.php

It includes a route description with a map.

Les.
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limacharley
Member

Post Number: 10
Registered: 03-2013
Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 3:59 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

very cool trip. thanks for the video and description.
just curious why you would each have your own tent?
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les
Member
Post Number: 52
Registered: 12-2007
Posted on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 - 9:23 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post

We spent all day together, every day. So it was nice to have our own private sleeping space where we could spread out and organize all our stuff. You really appreciate this when the weather gets bad. With respect to any additional weight or pack space, food is by far the greater issue. Murray, Joe and myself have gone backpacking together, each with our own tent. On trail work trips, where we base camp, we use the same tents as on the Kazan trip. If we're just hiking we have smaller ones. My hiking tent is an MEC Opera House, which is bigger than most hikers would use but, again, I like the space. I've camped with people using those hammock thingys but they weigh almost as much as my little tent and, to me, are harder to put up. But,to each his own.

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