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

2001-07-12 page 3 of 25

Day 3

Rain pummeled the tent fairly hard in the night, and we awoke to a gray morning. But the air was not so cold, and the wind was less than 5 knots. So we set off and followed the river as it meandered around a few large zigzags, and eventually in to another large lake. Here the wind picked up a bit. We paddled the right shore then hopped across to the outlet. Notable birds sighted today included a bald eagle and a swan.

Tabane Lake is festooned with islands of all shapes and sizes, and these require careful navigation with map and compass. Losing oneself in this giant maze would surely result in a great deal of searching and needless paddling, possibly several day's worth while trying to locate the outlet. The problem is that the landforms are fairly low-lying, they all look much the same, and from the vantage of a canoe they all tend to blend together. We threaded among the islands strictly by compass, taking bearings off the map, and were quite pleased when, without any mix-ups, we arrived at the lake's outlet.

On a trip like this, a good set of hip waders can make a big difference. This we learned on the Thelon and Back rivers, where we spent many weeks with wet and cold feet. My definition of good ones are those that are fully waterproof, warm, breathable and comfortable for wearing while in the boat 10 to 12 hours a day, suitable for portaging across rocky terrain, swamps and muskeg, and safe and easy to swim in - in the event of a capsize. We made our own hip waders, and they worked so well that we wore them every day, just about all day.

A ways further we came to a set of rapids, and here we landed ashore. Jenny watched the canoe while I scouted along the left bank, through a tangled burn area. Now knowing that we could safely proceed, I returned to the canoe and we waded the shallow rapids along the left bank. In a short while we came to a second section of rapids and waded it along the left bank also.

A few days into the trip, we negotiate a small lake in the rain.

At the next small lake the clouds let loose with rain for about an hour. Wearing our waders and rain jackets, we stayed toasty warm, thanks also to the paddling exertions.

At the base of the lower rapids we came to a place where the fishing guides had obviously made a "shore lunch." We were sorry to see that they had left some trash, fish remains and a charred campfire. One day the entire Kazan system may be thronging with commercial guides and fishing parties, and their litter may be ubiquitous. But thankfully for now the river is almost wholly pristine, which is the big, big draw for us.

Ennadai Lake was windswept, but the wind was blowing in our favor. We followed the right bank a couple of miles, then where the lake narrowed we crossed to the left bank and followed that three miles. Then at the final narrowing we crossed back to the right bank. At times we rested, drifting in the boat and still making pretty good time with the wind bulldozing us along. Crossing a bay on the southeast side of the lake, the waves began to grow in size and the paddling became unsafe. So we pulled around a small headland and landed ashore.

The windswept lake grows too rough for safe paddling, so we pull ashore.

Whenever we landed ashore, one of us remained with the boat while the other scouted a place to camp. Here, I climbed the six foot bluff and found one of the most beautiful campsites imaginable. Flat and free of bushes and large rocks, the area was carpeted in tiny tundra plants such as blackberries and reindeer moss. One small patch of low, compact willow provided a wind screen for cooking. The small bluff overlooked the scenic lake and was open to the breeze - perfect for keeping the bugs at bay.

After making camp we spent a couple hours working on gear and canoe, bathing and washing clothes, and generally admiring the panoramic view that also featured a few spruce off to one side. Once inside the tent we listened to the small surf below us on the rocks, and the wind buffeting the tent - a sure sign to us that we are in the far north and are headed for the northern lands. The temperature most of the day was very comfortable, but now at 7 pm the air was cooling off.

The only blight here, and it is a serious one for those adventurers to follow us, at least those who appreciate the pristine beauty of a natural, untouched land, is the appearance of a fishing lodge under construction far across the lake on the north shore. And by the way, it seems to have been the guides from this lodge that had left the trash we had seen earlier. Evening camp 60° 43.109', 101° 40.014' (This was an early GPS receiver - used only a few times this trip -and not as accurate as the more modern ones we have today.)

The wind shut off about 11 pm, and we awakened to the buzzing of a couple of mosquitoes that had found their way into the tent. We had zipped the netting doors closed, of course, but had neglected to seal the gaps between the doorway zipper pulls. These gaps were tiny - hardly noticeable - but were just large enough to admit the occasional determined mosquito. We normally sealed the gaps by stuffing a bit of TP into them.

The story has 25 pages. This is page 3.
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