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

2001-07-29 page 20 of 25

Day 20

After a night of hard rain we departed at 7 am and paddled across the strait in light winds. After crossing a large bay in head winds of 5 and sometimes 10 knots, near the outlet of 30 Mile Lake we paddled in to the narrow bight intent on making a portage. The spit was actually an island presently, in the high water. We hiked 1/8 mile inland, looking for an inland lake shown on the map. Thundering in the distance we could hear the rapids that we were trying to avoid with this portage. Standing on a higher rocky promontory we caught sight of the inland lake, quite a ways to the west of us. So we returned to the canoe, Jenny loaded up a pack load for herself and I readied the canoe for dragging. With that, we headed just left of an obvious rocky promontory, due north of the takeout. The inland lake was just west of this promontory.

With the canoe and the first load we reached the inland lake in about 10 minutes. There we left the boat and the first load, and returned to the takeout for the second and final load, lashing the waterproof gear bags to our pack frames. And soon we were back at the lake. The inland lake was surprisingly large, and we were halfway across when we paddled past a mother duck and about a dozen young ones. They hardly minded us and let us get fairly close. It was as though the mother had seen canoeists before and knew not to fear them. From the inland lake's far end came another 10 minute portage down to the river's edge. Looking back up the river, from our vantage, it looked like we could have lined most of the left bank, though the rapids themselves were very formidable. Were we to do this again, we would follow the river rather than make the portage.

Paddling the length of Lake 84 we heard a huge commotion of birds out on the water. They were Sandhill Cranes, ducks, and who knows what else, all squawking together. "Choir practice," Jenny called it. In reality we couldn't imagine what was going on.

Nearing Kazan Falls.

Kazan Falls

In the section beyond Lake 84 were a few small rapids, but nothing we couldn't easily paddle around. A full two miles from Kazan Falls we could hear its roar, and as we neared the takeout point, we could see great columns of mist, like the smoke of bonfires. The falls are proceeded by a long series of formidable rapids, and these we lined on river right. We hauled out just before the actual falls, near a cairn. Jenny noticed a message can at the cairn. I was lining the boat at the time, and would not have seen the can.

At the head of the powerfull falls is not a good place to make a paddling mistake. Lining is the safest option.

At the register

The register can was a small, waterproof ammunition box, holding two very impressive river registers. Judging by the register, we were the third party down the Kazan River this year. A solo fellow and the party of five girls were both two days ahead of us.

The rocky terrain eliminated any possibility of dragging the canoe, meaning that I had to carry it on my shoulders. We emptied it completely then I set off with it, while Jenny followed carrying a frame pack laden with gear.

The clouds had parted, the wind stopped, sweat was running down our faces and bodies inside our bug wear. The worst part for me was I had to wear my insulated hat to keep the mosquitoes from biting the top of my head through the head-netting.

About 1/3 of the way we found enough grassy tundra to allow dragging the boat, and this greatly eased my toil. The portage was about a mile altogether. Eventually we reached the water's edge in the vicinity of an Inuit camp. This point can be reached from Baker Lake by outboard motor boat, and here we found an old campfire pit full of tin cans and aluminum foil, and bits of toilet paper scattered here and there.

The beautiful canyon below Kazan Falls is about a mile portage. Here, we're returning for the second load (and looking back).

We returned for the second load, following the river bank and enjoying the scenery of Kazan Falls immensely. This is an impressive canyon with the river foaming green through it. A scenic wonder for sure.

The unfortunate part is that the falls themselves are not visible from this side of the canyon. Later in the summer when the water level drops a few feet, one could probably hop out to an island for a close view of the misty falls; but all that we could see was the river plunging over the brink and disappearing into its own billowing mist.

With our second load we returned to the canoe and made camp at 6:30 pm. At almost all of our camps, all but the first one, we had heard Sandhill Cranes. At this camp they are just a couple hundred feet away. We had paddled 24 miles today.

Camp #20

The story has 25 pages. This is page 20.
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