Tim's Log cont'd 

The last day on the Sipanigo was a long day in unusually cloudy weather.  The Canadian Shield disappeared into a willow-strewn shore as we paddled with a stiff current to the Fox River.  When we reached the Fox we were instantly in awe.  The big river seemed to project itself as an ocean river.  The temptation to turn our bows into the current and go to the sea was nearly overwhelming, and we felt jealous of our Section A friends on the Coats River in Quebec.  The Fox had big rapids that were easily navigated by stealing a quick liftover or pull-up along the red-rocked shore.  As we worked up the Fox, we could feel the cool breeze of the sea, and occasionally smelled a bit of salt in the air.

By July 25 we had paddled up the massive Fox River to the point where it meets the Bigstone.  We had, of course, planned to come down the Bigstone to this point, but were happy we hadnít.  We quickly realized that the big easy Fox was going to shrink as we paddled up the rest of it to the riverís head at Atkinson Lake.  What we didnít anticipate was the heavy current that appeared once we passed the Bigstone.  It took us two more days to get to Atkinson, and we were all very tired from ceaseless paddling against heavy current.

 

Hey, Andy. Get up.

 

 

Photo: Tim Nicholson

The last height of land lay before us at Atkinson.  We needed to get off the Bigstone-Fox system and back onto the Nelson system.  Instead of an obvious route there was a 2-mile gap on the map with only speculation of a portage.  This was something that we had been a little concerned about because we were unsure if we would have to cut a two-mile portage. Lady luck was with us again because a clear, wide, snow-machine trail was there to provide Gillam residents with access to Atkinson Lake (see Photo of the Month) in the winter.  The trail was difficult, but it beat cutting it ourselves.

Once over the last height of land, we spent three days making our way down the delightful Kettle River to the hydro town of Gillam.  We had arranged for Jack to leave our van and trailer in Gillam with the police.  He had driven it out a week before and taken the bus back to Thompson.  This was a good setup because it allowed us to arrive in Gillam whenever we wanted.  After an almost perfect last morning chasing ducks and geese along the small winding Kettle River, we retrieved the van and trailer, and headed the four hours back to Thompson.  Just outside of Gillam we crossed the Nelson River again over Long Spruce Dam.  Here the Nelson is absolutely huge.  It reminded me of crossing over the Mississippi or Missouri Rivers down in the States.

We arrived in Thompson and spent the night, then started the long trip back to Keewaydin.  A highlight was stopping at a big bookstore in Winnipeg where the some of the guys checked their e-mail on the storeís computers.  Dave and I assumed that was a Keewaydin first.  We also stopped at Old Fort William in Thunder Bay and toured the restored fur-era post.  Because we had spent the summer in one center of the historic fur industry, it was fairly interesting to check out another.

We arrived on Lake Temagami with a couple of days to spare and spent the time floating in the water, cooking food and reading books.  We paddled in on August 7 in the intense heat and were welcomed home with the usual fervor. 

All in all, it was an excellent summer with an excellent crew. 

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