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

2001-07-23 page 14 of 25

Day 14

I underestimated the power of current out beyond the eddy. It nearly pulled the bow under.

Rain fell most of the night and heavily at times, and we awoke to a dark, leaden sky. Typically on such a morning one might prefer to remain in the tent. But not Jenny. She was anxious to go, and that suited me very fine also. At the moment the rain was holding off, so we packed up and set off at the leisurely hour of 9:30 am. Little did we expect what rowdiness the day held in store for us, nor that the excitement would begin so abruptly. Easing the boat into an eddy behind a rock outcrop, we climbed aboard and at my call went charging out into the river. This is when the powerful current grabbed the bow and nearly pulled it under. What a sudden trouncing! I had underestimated that one.

With arteries suitably charged with adrenaline we proceeded out into the river - charging pell-mell and fraught with two-foot leapers. Then the river settled down and afforded us a nice, swift ride for quite a few miles. The next four rapids shown on the map were not much. The clouds were dark and hanging low, with the wind blowing in earnest and the skies letting loose with rain. At least such weather had suppressed the bugs so we enjoyed bug-free paddling with our hands and heads "out." And we especially enjoyed the swift current which sometimes swept us along at perhaps 8 or 9 knots.

Some five miles upriver of a huge island is where we started encountering rough water. Perhaps some of this was due to the strong wind, but here the river was festooned in rapids and we ran just about all of it, jouncing along in two to three foot leapers while winding our way through gnarly rocks set up like a ski slalom. Here we could not ease our guard for even a moment, although we did stop four or five times to climb a high bank and scout the river ahead. Jenny commented that "this is sort of like skydiving!" The big water gets your adrenaline pumping. And in the process we surprised ourselves at how agilely we could maneuver the canoe. And in so doing we complimented ourselves on a great job of missing all the rocks.

However, there was one moment of concern. Far out in the middle of the huge, charging river, we were weaving adroitly around rock patches and shelves. We both saw one particular patch ahead, but came upon it unexpectedly fast. Nevertheless we quickly found a gap and shot through it. But it proved to be no minor gap. As we shot through we were aghast to see the size of the spill, with big sections of rock on either side. We managed it safely but it was much bigger than it had appeared from upriver. From that moment we started scouting more seriously. Much more seriously. On a big section of river like this, one does not paddle directly downstream, but constantly to the left or right, lining up to miss oncoming rapids and rocks. Today's paddling was something we could not have dreamed of accomplishing on our first couple of canoe trips.

Most of the day we were on the verge of being cold, but the exertions of paddling kept us from chilling too deeply. A couple miles upstream from the huge island at the last of the four marked rapids, we lined a bit on river left. At one spot we sent the boat down a three-foot sluice where the red boat ahead of us had made a short portage. From there downstream the river was easily paddled. Around the huge island in the left channel (at "Big Bend") the two marked rapids were nothing serious. This channel was very wide and shallow. We had to watch for rocks most of the way, but there were no major rapids. Then we reached Big Bend, where the river swings from east to north. Since the outlet of Angikuni Lake we had been paddling east. The next section was swift with rocky shoreline, as has been the case since the Three Cascades.

With the clouds hanging low, I'm scouting the river ahead from a higher vantage.

Same location, but in this photo I'm looking back, upstream.

The day was quite windy, blowing southeast at 15 knots. At one point the rain was slanting so hard up ahead that we could scarcely see where we were going. But that rain veered away and we caught just the edge of it. We wore our trusty waders, as we have since the start of the trip. And during the rainy periods we wore our rain jackets, which are large enough to fit over our life jackets.

At one point we paddled past two musk ox quite close. As we went by, one stood up and the other lay down. A strong wind was blowing us broadside right at them, so both of them stood up and watched us more out of interest than fear it seemed. They watched and one took several steps in our direction as we talked to them.

A pair of musk ox.

About seven miles north of Big Bend we passed between a number of islands, whisking along in the strong south wind. The next three marked rapids were easily paddled with careful maneuvering. And then 1.5 miles past the final one, at the entrance to a mostly sand filled lake, we stopped on the left bank and searched for a place to camp - without much luck since it was all willow. The wind was now so strong that we debated the safety of crossing the river, but the current was flattening the waves to two feet, so with no little effort we paddled across the river to a rocky promontory. We rounded into its lee and followed a very pretty cliff face to the back of the bay. There we pulled out on a beautiful sand beach, at 4 pm. Thanks to the wind, the area was essentially bug-free and so we spread our gear to dry. The sky was still gray but the rain was holding off.

In the lee of some willow Jenny made hot cuppas and a big pot of corn grits. We had already eaten the rest of the previous night's fish for lunch, deliciously served with Jenny's home made tomato sauce which we usually added to the spaghetti.

Camp #14

Fresh grizzly tracks behind this camp remind us that this is real wilderness.

After a chilling day on the water, what did we do but strip and wade calf deep for a bath. For a long while we scrubbed our bodies each with a small hand towel, washing our hair with Joy soap, and also laundering most of our clothes, including netting and shell garments. All our clothing is fast-drying, and indeed it wind-dried nicely while hanging in willows. The beach showed numerous caribou tracks along with a disturbingly-fresh set of grizzly tracks. The bear had doubtless been hunting siksiks. Exposed to the warming sun, the sandy bluffs here were a prime area for siksik dens. A wolf howled in the distance, and I was thinking maybe such bluffs are not the best place to camp. But the Inuit had obviously camped here, as evidenced by an area of knapped quartz chips and a rectangular tent "ring" with a hearth at one end. Typical Inuit rings are made with rocks so large that most modern people would require a tractor to move them into position. Also the genuine articles (rocks) are cloaked in lichen. Paddled 34 miles today.

The beach showed numerous caribou tracks along with a disturbingly-fresh set of grizzly tracks.

The story has 25 pages. This is page 14.
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