Six-mile portage across the Big Bend of the Great Whale.


Photo: Aaron Mishkin

Six Miler

The above photo was taken one mile into the six-mile portage across the "big bend" of the Great Whale.  This portage had no trail; the surroundings were a totally flat plain covered in caribou moss and low willow bushes. We took a compass shot at a low-lying hill visible about 10 to 15 miles away and just walked in a straight line toward the hill in the distance for about three miles before stopping for lunch at a small pond.  I can still hear the sound of dry caribou moss crunching under foot with each step; it was about 90 F the day we were there, and everyone was getting dehydrated.  We had camped at the beginning of the portage the night before, and some of us took our canoes a mile before dark. But since there was no trail we had to make sure we could find them again in the morning.  I tied one of my red life-jackets in one of the few trees in the area to mark the spot. You can see it here on the left in this picture taken when we passed by the next morning.  We all aimed at the red life-jacket in the tree to find our loads.

In the end, we cut off three miles, but added some, too, so our portage was four to four-and-a-half miles total.  We continued to call it the six-miler since we had gotten used to calling it that before hand. We like to think it takes considerable skill to finish a six-mile portage in just four-and-a-half miles.

                        Dave Chapin, 10/15/99

They used the same route as we did 1997 except that:  a) they took a Cree route north around the first gorge; and b) they found the old Cree portage route to Lac Denys from the Great Whale which enabled them to cut three miles off of the first long portage (the six miler) en route to our Unnamed Mountain Creek (post-modern name -- eh!). This latter route skipped Lac Fagnant by following an old trail to a paddle-able creek that let out into Lac Mac Issac.

                         Bill Seeley, 9/16/99  


                                                                                                Photo: Dave Chapin

Great Whale River at the top of the first gorge. Left to right, back row: Charlie Munford, James Hardin, Connor Burke, Parker McGill, Wyatt Dickson. Middle row: Gabe Williams, Aaron Mishkin, Bob Neill. Front row: Jim Graves, Ben Hamilton.

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