Contents
  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

2001-07-14 page 5 of 25

Day 5

The morning air smelled strongly of smoke, probably from a wildfire somewhere in the vicinity. The watery world before us was an eerie haze that cut the world short. With the wind southeast at 5-10 knots and the sky cloudy, we set off at 7:30 am and began following the western shoreline generally north, weaving around islands and around points and cutting bays. However for the initial 20 minutes we swatted about as much as we padded. That is, until we had reduced the maddening swarm to rubble at our feet. Then with a bit of house cleaning using a boat sponge we were in ship shape. Throughout the day a lack of strong wind encouraged the bugs, and these confined us to our netting. Also the bugs obliged us to avoid land by a minimum of a hundred yards - be it the mainland or any island large or small. Any closer and the bugs would discover us and fly out to devour us. The mosquitoes were reasonably easy to eliminate with a few choice swats, but the blackflies were nearly impossible. They tended to keep their distance without landing very often, and they were less noticeable when they did land. And of course the blackflies are by far the more vicious of the two.

The maps we used are the 1:250,000 Canadian topos. How accurately they depict the river often depends on what time of year the map makers over-flew the area, in relation to our present time of the year here. For example, where the maps show a narrow channel and we find a very wide but shallow one, we know the map makers over-flew later in the Fall, when the water level had dropped. Sometimes the differences can be striking, making the map seem completely wrong. So we take these differences into consideration in our navigating.





As we turned east to follow a long peninsula jutting out into the lake, the wind piped up and the seas rose. With the wind on the beam the canoe rocked and rolled, and required that we fairly battle our way along. And yet never was there a thought in either of our minds about stopping. The going was difficult, but not particularly dangerous.

At one point we were crossing a large bay, and the waves were tossing the boat around a fair bit. Normally when making open crossings we steam ahead full tilt until we reach the safety of the far shore. But as we gain more experience, we seem to be less high strung. Two-thirds of the way across this bay Jenny suggested a short rest stop. "Not yet," I replied, "let's wait until we get across." The comment made me realize how we are reacting to open water and rougher conditions, treating them more as normal.

Gradually the wind diminished until down again to 5-10 knots, where it stayed for the remainder of the day. Coincidentally I was working on my wind control, envisioning a 5 knot wind (tongue in cheek).

About five miles from the end of the lake we lost our way and made a wrong turn. Yes, the navigating here was complicated by the highly variegated nature of the shoreline, which is riddled in points, bays, islands of every size, shape and description. But more so, the problem was mainly that of fatigue. We had not fully recovered from the effects of yesterday's 30 miler. And today we had taken no shore breaks. That, and the smoke-diffused light made things seem much farther away than they actually were. So it was not until we had paddled a hundred yards up this side channel that I realized my error. We turned around and headed back out on a compass reading, but still for the life of me I could not locate our position on the map. Again this was mainly fatigue-induced disorientation. It seems that when the mind is tired it becomes more obstinate. It believes we are at such and such a place, and no amount of topographical evidence can convince it otherwise.

As a last resort we withdrew the GPS from its waterproof bag, and plotted our satellite position on the chart. Even then, I soon found that I had mis-plotted us by a mile. Still, the position fix was enough to snap my mind back to reality, and I immediately found us on both the map and the earth.

Found again, we resumed our course northward and soon located the lake's outlet. Because of our fatigue we had decided to camp near the lake's outlet. So thinking of a sumptuous dinner I rigged the fishing gear and soon caught a lake trout. Unfortunately it was too small to satiate the two of us. But neither could I remove the hooks without major damage, so I kept the fish. This meant that we needed to catch another small one. This was the smallest lake trout I had ever seen up here: 14 inches, and the chances of catching another small one were slim.

Reaching the outlet of magnificent Ennadai lake was indeed a major milestone on our journey. And yet the outlet did not seem like one at all. The map showed it to be quite narrow - only 40 yards wide - which meant that it should have been positively gushing with current. Our channel was about the right width, but it lacked any current whatsoever, at least that we could discern. Still, a cable tram spanning the channel (presumably for Inuit trappers) surely meant this was the Kazan. Everywhere on this trip the water has been crystal clear, and looking down into it we can see whether it is shallow or deep. And here it was very deep indeed - hence the paucity of current. But eventually we began to feel the pull, and knew we were on track.

Camp #5

For just under a mile we floated the river, nearly to the first set of rapids. There we pulled off on the west bank and made camp - this at 3:45 pm. At the base of the rapids in the middle of the river was a fishing skiff. Civilization is slowly encroaching into the Barrenlands. We pitched the tent, I donned my waders and with fishing pole in hand waded out into the shallows about 30 feet. Clipping a red and white spinner to my line, I let fly. This part of the river was only a few feet deep and strewn with rocks, so I had to reel in right away to prevent a bottom snag. The very instant I started reeling, I caught a fish! Whether it had actually been waiting for the cast I'm not sure, but it did strike amazingly quickly. And so to complement the small lake trout caught earlier, we now had a beautiful Arctic Grayling of about 14 inches in length, a real nice one for that species. I returned to shore and cleaned the fish, then Jenny concocted a delicious chowder, adding fresh onion, dry potatoes and salt. Thus, we enjoyed our first catch on the Kazan.

Jenny was cooking a small fish when I brought her another one.

But oh, the late afternoon sun. The clouds we had enjoyed all day had by now dispersed, and the inside of the tent was hot as a sauna.

The story has 25 pages. This is page 5.
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