Bart fending off the
bear at LA2 dam
with a 2 by 4.
Photo: Bob Neill
We started at KD1/Lac Neret, but were turned back due to fires. While we were at LA2 waiting for the bus, we were dogged by a bear cub that really wanted the bacon. Bart stayed up all night with a scavenged 2x4 fending him off (no joke). Also, a wolf came down to the campsite to get a drink of water one evening at dusk (12:30 am). And Bob Neill and I saw a wolf at La Fontages while waiting for a call from Danny. It was pretty neat. The fire smoke was thick that day so it sort of emerged from the smoke as it trotted down the runway towards us. Bob and I tried to follow its tracks as it snuck off into the taiga, but the ground was rock hard.
So we ran
the Rupert, using Heb's 1966 Marten River trail. Actually I called Tim Woods and had him fax me the Marten
River section of The Rupert That Was at the LA2 airport (called La Fontages).
We camped at the dam at La Forge 2 for a couple of days while we waited
for a bus to come get us. Then used
the newly opened Hydro roads to drive to Baie du Poste via the new village of
Nemaska at Champion Lake.
Bill Seeley, 9/16/99
Matthew Wapachee and
Bill Seeley at
Smoky Hill Rapids
Photo: Bob Neill
We were dogged by fire smoke all summer long but never saw the fires. We often pulled aside and contemplated whether the new plume off the starboard bow would eventually catch us. I still find myself trying to forget the fear.
We received the usual heroes' welcome at Nemiscau. In '91, Steve had given them a copy of The Rupert That Was, which they really loved. (We must get them another copy, because it has gotten tattered from overuse.)
Matthew Wapachee, whom we had met at the bridge over the Marten River, remembered Heb from 1964 and 1966. The villagers always remembered the green canoes, Matthew said, because they travelled like their ancestors did on the brigades, both in method and in the lengths of their days. The latter was what he was most impressed by when he travelled with us as well.
the highlight of the trip came when Matthew Wapachee asked if he could accompany
us down the Rupert. He said he
wanted to do it to remember his father who had run the brigades as a youth.
We gave him one of the boys as a bowman for the duration.
He became an immediate friend to everyone. We
learned to time the wash below the second falls of the Fours, were treated to
the old route, which uses two portages past the first falls -- not the long one
"the white man" walks -- and got a lesson in the operation of the
whitefish traps at Smoky Hill Rapids.
We made it down the rest of the Rupert from Nemiscau in four days, just like in Heb's book. There was so much smoke that I wasn't happy until we reached Smoky Hill and were within hailing distance of Waskaganish.
And we received another heroes' welcome at Waskaganish where Matthew had arranged a smoked-goose feast for us.
Bill Seeley, 9/16/99
Garrett Kephart with a 30 lb. freshwater shark (sturgeon) caught in a Cree net and about to be prepared for smoking.
Shot is taken at the Jolly's cabin in Nemiscau.
Photo: Bob Neil / Bill Seeley
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