Sunday, July 7, 2013

Trip Report: Day:1 Lower Missinaibi River - Mattice to Moose River Crossing.

This year has taken off to be a pretty epic one. A lot of good things going on. First and for most the lovely Lady Damnyak and myself are expecting our first little one, and as all people might know things might get a little hectic here for the next little bit. So with that said this year also dealt me the opportunity for my Brother-in-Law Andy and I to run the Lower Missiniaibi River.

This has been a ongoing project,/plan for a number of years (emails dating back to 2010), but with Andy either fresh out of school, or still settling in his position securing time off when the water is flowing has been difficult. However this year the stars aligned and the Lower Missinaibi Adamiak/Seto expedition commenced forth.  For those who do not know the Missinaibi River is and Northern Ontario river that In fur trade days, was the main routes between James Bay and Lake Superior. a Pretty Epic and Historical River for sure.

The Smiley Face in Actually a Missinaibi Pictograph.

A great deal of planning is involved with this river trip, as there is many logistical aspects to it. Shuttling, Long Drives, Train rides, White Water, and water levels. We gathered every resource we could, and from what any other trip report will tell you is that Hap Wilson's Book "Missinaibi: Journey to the Northern Sky" is the be all and end all of resourced. It will guide you through all these aspect even down to what bugs to expect and when.

So rather than getting in to all that business this is my trip report. A general break down of our day to day along the river. I will say that we had originally intended to paddle the Moose River right out to Moosonee, however this did get changed along out trip, reasons will be explained. I hope you enjoy the read and pictures.

Day 0: June 29, 13.
-Km's Paddled: 0
-Portaged Meters: 0
-General Weather: Sunny, No clouds

We drive from Andy's House in Torrance to Mattice (Mah-tyce), and Arrive at Missinaibi Outfitters and are promptly greeted by the owner Owen Korpela. a super-friendly Gent who will be putting us up for the night and shuttling our car back to where we finish the route. Owen shows us our small cabin for the night. a beauty of a hut, with our own water shower, and most importantly bunk beds. Owen says "swing by in the morning to the office and we will settle everything up, details and such", so the rest of our night is filled with anticipation and going over out food, and the rapids we face in the morning. We hit the sack around 10pm.

Statue At Mattice Bridge.

Day 1: June 30, 13.
-Km's Paddled: 45km
-Portaged Meters: 300m
-General Weather: Sunny, No clouds
-End of Day Camp.

Andy and I drive to the put in, unload and I head back to Missinaibi Outfitters (about 3 min away) to drop my car off and settle up the tab. Owen and I chat as we write up the paper work. The break down was as follow for those interested.
 -$75 for the Cabin Rental.
-$270 for the Shuttle From Mattice to Cochrane (3 hour drive)
-$110 from Camping Permits.

Owen then drives me back to Andy at the put in, where Andy is chatting with two gents who split their canoe before they even arrived at the first set of rapids, and now they are not doing their trip. They mentioned they might rent a canoe to proceed forth. I hope they did. So Andy and I shove off the shore to Paddle the Great Miss. Bugs are not bad on the water, the River is as smooth as glass.

Just Before Our Journey Began.

We were told by the fellows with that cracked their canoe that the first set of rapids (Rock Island, CII - CIII) were runnable on the left where one could normally line. They said the flow was good and the line was shorter (100m), compared to the 580 on the right. So we approached gingerly and as we were prying to get to the deep V the current grabbed the Stern and we went in backward.  This resulted in a dumping. Out we went not even an hour in the trip swimming down the Missinaibi. We quickly found an eddy and pulled everything in. Everything was lined in one way or another to the canoe...Except Andy's water bottle and....the maps. While we laugh and looked from the bottom of the rapids it was clearly we should have done it differently, but at the same time we were happy we got a dumping out of the way. Now we knew what to expect.

It was over exposed, but the waves to the left are about 3' high.

After gathering our composure, wringing out socks and sharing some laughs we were off again, About 1/2 km up stream we found our maps floating in the water, then about another km up stream we saw Andy's Bottle bobbing around in the water. Success! On a completely unrelated note: Tie EVERYTHING in, EVERYTHING. After hitting a couple fun swifts we came across our first Moose, one of many we would see on our trip, Always great to see some wildlife.

Our Next set of rapids was Black Feather Rapids, and with the higher than normal volume of water flowing currently and seeing as this set is over 1km long we decided to line it down the side, when water was flowing over some beautiful bedrock. This only took a moment, but we scouted the rapids and just took notes of what we could have done if we had chosen to run them. Andy had taken some Whitewater courses and he was very knowledgeable in reading the rapids in a finer detail than me. A lot more detail. I was happy to learn and after dumping the first time realized I know enough to know I don't know. So he was more than happy to explain to me the finer things in this nature. 

The last small but "big" rapids for this day was Beam Rapids. A lot of flow. We scout this bad boy. we picked our line and hit our mark. However we learned another lesson here. Being one canoe, full of gear, and two big/tall guys does make for a low sitting canoe. We get through the rapid, but at the end some of the tall stacks flood our canoe and swamps the bow. Next thing I know Andy is floating away from the canoe and with bow and 3/4 of the rest of the canoe underwater it crashed right into a rock at the bottom of the river.  The impact throws me forward into the thwart. My thigh slams into it with a lot of force, now with the canoe completely underwater, I am fishing for the throw bag as the current takes us down river. My leg throbbing,  I am swimming to shore with the line in my hand as Andy is holding on to the canoe and our gear bobbing around. I finally make it to solid ground where I can pull everything in, wickedly out of breath from swimming to fight a current we make some PB & J wraps for lunch and again wring out our socks and boots. 

Day One Thwart Damage: 9" diameter on thigh.

 After this second dumping We have a short Portage around Kettle Falls then its just some paddling to finish up the day. We were actually able to breeze past out initial campsite on Isabel Island and make it up to Bare Rock Point. Andy and I joked that what it if it was typo and was actually called "Bear Rock Point" and we arrive and there is something like 25 bears on this small point just rubbing their paws together waiting, unable to explain the typo in the book. Ha! The campsite was nice, A rock out crop to beat some of the bugs, a small grassy area for a tent, but full of Mosquitoes. We had some Frozen Steaks for dinner, a nice campfire.

Later in the night I was questioning with Andy whether I had the ability to continue the trip, whether the gear was to heavy and that was a danger, or the fact that it was just us. I explain with these fears that perhaps Moose river Crossing might be a great take out. I had a couple reasons after the first day. In-fact I explained to Andy I had even been pondering this before we left for the trip as a possibility.

Some of the reasons were:
-It would be neat to take out in the middle of nowhere along a railroad in the bush, as apposed to a town.
-If we had a head wind, that could through our days off huge (50km days in headwind = no fun)
-The Moose River is HUGE, and it looses that compact river feel.
-There were some really tricky rapids that I feel after the first day I did not want to do. Safety.

It was a little overwhelming for a first day. Andy was fine with whatever, as I dug deep I could feel the nervousness, but after some on the spot self reflection, I think I was way over tired and a little rattled, and yes a little "wow this is grander then I though". We ended up hitting the sack again around 10pm, but had to do so with the sun still up...Damn you being up North.

On To Day 2.

Eating Dinner with Our Companions. This is nothing.


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