Day 1
  Day 2
  Day 3
  Day 4
  Day 5
  Day 6
  Day 7
  Day 8
  Day 9
  Day 10
  Day 11
  Day 12
  Day 13
  Day 14
  Day 15
  Day 16
  Day 17
  Day 18
  Day 19
  Day 20
  Day 21
  Day 22
  Day 23
  Day 24
  Day 25

Canoeing the Kazan River

Kasba Lake to Baker Lake

Northern paddling Adventure #7

25 days, 560 miles, Jul 2001

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2001-07-22 page 13 of 25

Day 13

With the canoe loaded, it's time to fit the spray cover.

We set off at 7:45 am in a cloud of black flies. The wind was 5 to 8 knots northwest. The sky was clear. A few miles down river of camp we passed Doug and Howard's camp - two tents, but no one in sight. At the lake's outlet the map indicates two rapids but the first one was absolutely nothing and the second one was almost nothing and we easily paddled around it. This stretch of river was mostly wide, i.e. small lakes interspersed with some sections of favorable current.

The sky cleared and our main problem throughout the early afternoon was glare and sunburn. And to think of those submerged sun hats drifting uselessly somewhere or lying at the bottom of some fathomless lake. The north wind slowly rose to 15 knots, and thankfully we experienced no problems with rapids all the way to Lake 234. We did, however, see lots of birds today: seagulls, jaegers, one bald eagle, many geese, terns, ducks, loons and little shore song birds. Oh yes, and we had seen a few curlew a few days back.

For a couple hours we had to work hard in the wind and chop. And we had to be careful not to get ourselves into a jam with any rapids: in 10 or 15 knots of wind the boat was difficult to maneuver.

At Lake 234 we saw, lo and behold, a herd of musk ox. It was a large herd of 20 or more, grazing on a slope in the company of another 10 or 12 on the beach. We were not able to get close for a good view, only a rather distant one.

Then came the famous Cascades. From a distance we could hear the roar and see the water flinging into the air by Cascade number one. And then in a most unsettling way the river simply disappeared from view over the brink. We hugged the right shore and pulled out just before the falls. The river had practically doubled in size since its inlet to Angikuni, so it was quite an awesome sight spilling over this drop. Of course we portaged around it, making an easy carry some 200 yards over a fairly well-worn path, more just another caribou rut than an official portage route.

Portaging the first of the Three Cascades.

Loading the boat and securing everything in place we paddled a third of a mile to the Second Cascade. This one was even more impressive, and such hydraulics were positively dumfounding. This drop featured multiple rocky cliff-sided islands and canyons into which the water boiled and churned. From there the river was strewn in rapids for almost a mile to the Third Cascade, so we elected to portage the entire stretch. Where the ground was rocky we carried the canoe, otherwise we dragged it most of the way and this worked quite well. The portage was a large effort, but also a very welcome break from the paddling.

The wildflowers en route were in full display, especially the dwarf fireweed. And speaking of coloring, at the takeout we had seen red and green canoe marks on a few of the rocks. And the marks left on the portage itself indicated that the green canoe had been carried while the red one was dragged. At any rate, by 7 pm we had delivered the boat and all our gear to a pleasant campsite just downriver of the third and final cascade. That done we tossed out the fishing line and soon hauled in a nice lake trout for dinner.

Nice Lake Trout for dinner.

Near camp a siksik scolded us, the first we had seen on this trip. Curiously, it allowed us to approach closely, and we saw that it had thick, soft looking fur; it was a beautiful animal. Not too far away we also saw and heard a pair of sandhill cranes. Also of note, on the river bank just up from camp was a remnant of winter - a patch of ice. And finally, a few days later we would meet a local-type fellow by the name of Keith, and would learn that this large, swirling pool below the Third Cascade is full of caribou bones piled some two feet thick. According to him the animals are swept down the cascades to their death, only to descend into the pool where they swirl round and round and eventually sink to the bottom.

Day's mileage: 34.

The story has 25 pages. This is page 13.
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