Kesagami River

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Sky Bicevskis
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
190 km
Duration: 
17 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
25
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
1 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Advanced
Lake Travel: 
Advanced
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

- Access: Upper Kesagami Lake at hwy 652
- Kesagami River to Kesagami Lake
- Kesagami Lake then Kesagami River to Hannah Bay
- James Bay to Moose River
- Moose River to Moosonee

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Kesagami River Trip: July 1995

Upper Kesagami Lake to Moosonee
- Upper Kesagami Lake to Kesagami River to Kesagami Lake
- Kesagami Lake to Kesagami River to James Bay
- James Bay to Moose River to Moosonee

This river had been teasing us ever since Rob first read about the Kesagami in Canoeing Ontario Rivers by Ron Reid and Janet Grand.

The river can be accessed in two ways: one by float plane from Cochrane to Kesagami Lake; the other by car up hwy 652 to Upper Kesagami Lake. We decided that if we were going to paddle this river, we would start at Upper Kesagami Lake - we expected this to add 3 to 4 days to the trip (it actually added 5).

Searching for information on the river was frustrating. Our usual source of information, the Ministry of Natural Resources tried to discourage us, and there were few documented trips from other sources. The best source turned out to be Canoeing Ontario`s Rivers. It had a surprisingly accurate review of the river from Kesagami Lake to James Bay. The upper portion of the river (above Kesagami Lake) was still an unknown. We met the owner of Kesagami Lodge (a fly-in fishing lodge on Kesagami Lake) at the Toronto Sportmen`s Show. He gave us the name of a man from Michigan who had paddled a number of rivers in that area, including the Kesagami. We contacted him and he supplied us with some pretty good information on the upper portion.

July 1995, found us putting in from highway 652 (calling it a highway is generous - it`s really a gravel road) to Upper Kesagami Lake after a long hot dry spell that had broken temperature records and resulted in a total fire ban in the area. With three weeks worth of food and gear, we set out.

Access Road (#652) to Kesagami Lake (days 1 - 5)

The first half day or so took us from small lake to small lake separated by stretches of a narrow river choked with blow downs. There were no rapids here, and the greatest challenge was getting over the blow downs. Obviously some hunters or fishermen had come this far from the highway because in many places the older blow downs had been sawn through. Our first camp was on the first lake of any reasonable size after Upper Kesagami Lake. It was a short paddle (perhaps two or three hours) from our access point. We camped on a small sand spit reaching out into this unnamed lake. This is a very nice campsite, and we were glad that we stopped here. This is the last nice campsite for a couple of days

We awoke the next morning to a fine drizzle blown in by a brisk north wind. The temperature was 6 degrees Celsius. It appeared that with our arrival, the hot dry spell had passed.

The river was still narrow when it left the lake, but there were progressively fewer and fewer blow downs. The river meandered through semi marsh. Willows leaned in from the banks, and occasionally we paddled through wide areas of marshland. In a few places we could see some sort of raised platforms that must have been used for hunting in the fall, and some flagging tape here and there. At this point it`s the only sign of man. There`s a great deal of wildlife in this area. All sorts of waterfowl fled feigning injury to divert us from their young, and the river banks are covered in prints, moose, bear and various smaller animals.

Intriguing at first, the constant meandering grew tiresome after the first few hours. Fortunately the bugs weren`t bad. If it had been a bad season for bugs, this could have been `hell` as the river was so narrow that there would be no escape from them.

After a long day of paddling, waiting for the meanders to end and hoping for a good campsite, we more or less hacked a place for the tent from the willows on the bank. A dusk, the bugs came out with a fury, and the occasional drizzle turned into rain.

The next day was more or less of the same. More meanders, more intermittent rain, even a few rays of sunshine as the river slowly widened. After a long paddle through a marsh, we came into an unnamed lake that we called `Fossil Lake`. It was one of the larger lakes we`d come across so far. It was a shallow lake and some of the beaches were almost completely covered in fossils. We wanted to collect a few, but the prospect of some long portages ahead, and thinking that there would surely be other opportunities, we didn`t. A decision that we later regretted. There were no other good fossil collecting opportunities for the rest of the trip.

Soaked and chilled by the sometimes heavy downpours, we looked for a camping site. Any part of us not covered by Goretex was completely wet. My Goretex jacket kept half of me marvelously dry (good stuff that!) but I`ve decided that Goretex pants are also a must. Rob, who had them, was almost completely dry.

We saw a sandy beach with a grassy area behind it which looked like a lovely campsite. As we got closer we could see a cabin just up from the beach. Although it appeared to be deserted (probably used for fly-in hunting later in the season) we didn`t want to camp near it. Across the lake from the cabin was a rocky, fossily beach with a sandy spot big enough for a tent. It was a reasonable camping spot, and we decided that, weather permitting, we would take a rest day here.

The next day dawned cloudy and cool. It wasn`t raining (yet), but not a worthwhile rest day. After leaving the lake, the river changed character. Instead of willows and marsh the ubiquitous black spruce come right to the shore. The river still meandered, but the meanders were fewer and farther between. It was a real treat to be able to see more than a few hundred yards ahead down the river.

The day warmed up, and we had both patches of sunshine and tremendous downpours accompanied by thunder and lightning. Once, caught in the middle of a small lake, it rained so hard that the water appeared to boil around us. The next cloud burst caught us back on the river, in the first little set rapids we`d come across. This time the thunder is so intense that we held onto the shrubs by the shore and hoped that the overhead spruce would catch the lightning. Soaked (again) we found a pleasant campsite in a clearing under the spruce. The rain passed, and the sun came out in time for us to string up a line and attempt to dry some of our gear.

The next day we started on a stretch of river that had numerous small rapids and swifts. They might have been fun to paddle with another 4 to 6 inches of water. As is, there was a lot of scraping and dragging to get through them. The rapids passed, the river widened and deepened. We could see a little more marsh along the shores and after a long paddle, we came into Kesagami Lake.

Kesagami Lake Day 5 - 7

Kesagami Lake is a huge shallow lake. It is approximately 20 km long, and ranges in width from 1 km in the narrow southern end, to 10 km in the main body of the lake. The narrow southern end of the lake is called Newnham Bay. This bay is over 10 km long but usually quite narrow (1-3 km wide). Once out on the main body of the lake, you can barely see the other shore. We`ve been told that it`s only 20 to 30 feet deep in most spots.

The fishing here is fabulous. There`s a fly in fishing lodge on the lake, and if one explored the possibility, one could possibly have supplies flown in here. You could also begin the trip at this lake by flying into it (on a previous trip we flew into this lake and paddled the Partridge River which is accessible by portaging to a nearby lake). Kesagami Lake and the Kesagami River from the lake to James Bay are classified as a wilderness provincial park.

Our plan was to spend a day or so on the lake - maybe camp near the lodge and go in for a beer or maybe `buy` a nice hot shower. The lodge was still about 10 km away from where we entered the lake, and we`d already paddled a full day so we searched for a campsite on the lake.

Finding a campsite was difficult. We crisscrossed Newnham Bay many times looking for a good spot. There was something that actually looked like a designated campsite on one shore, but due to all the rain we`d had, it was very muddy with a little stream running through it. We eventually found a sandy spit where a small stream came in. We set up camp to the sound of thunder. Rob went to clean a pike that he`d caught in the lake, but we both had to dive into the tent for cover as a huge thunder, rain and wind storm passed through. It lasted for perhaps half an hour, and was probably the most severe storm that I`ve ever experienced. Most of our tent pegs were torn from the ground and we sat on the corners of the tent to keep them down. The driving wind forced the rain under the tent and when it was over, there were a couple of inches of water on the ground sheet under the tent. Rob, our camera man, caught some amazing footage of this storm on video from within the tent.

Dawn the next day brought a strong south wind, so with visions of beer and hot showers we set up a sail and powered by the wind, sailed north to the main body of the lake. It was a day of disappointments. We knew of only one camping spot near the lodge - right on the narrows where Newnham Bay met the main body of the lake. Even from a distance we could see that a float plane was parked by the spot. We paddled by to see a couple of tents set up. Camping there was obviously not a possibility.

Plan 2. We would paddle to the lodge and at least stop by for a beer and still hoping¡K hot shower. It was a little after noon, and with the lodge guests all out fishing, the lodge was quite deserted except for an employee on the dock who wasn`t particularly friendly. We asked him about possible camping sites - he told us he didn`t think we were allowed to camp anywhere on the lake (although the Ministry of Natural Resources had told us otherwise). Assuming we had flown in and had a plane moored somewhere, he asked us if we had a landing permit. On discovering that we had paddled down from the road, and were heading for the lower portion of the Kesagami River, he expressed disbelief and the usual attitude of `are you sure you want to do that?`. Disappointed, and somewhat subdued we set off again and still powered by the strong wind, sailed off across the huge expanse of lake towards one of the few other campsites we knew of, a sandy beach on the north shore.

It seemed like only a couple of hours when we reached our destination and to our relief, there was a pretty beach, wide enough for us to set up a tent. Rob was trolling as we sailed, and near the north end of the lake he caught another nice sized pike. Dinner! Just as we set up our tent, another huge wind and thunder storm passed through. This one was not quite as severe as the one on the previous day, but I wouldn`t have wanted to be out on the lake in it.

We decided to rest here for a day and fish on the lake before tackling the next leg of the river.

We heard the wind and the waves as we woke to a bitter day where the temperature never got above 5 degrees C. More north wind. More driven drizzle. This was my lowest day of the trip. I was tired of the rain. Tired of the cold. My dreams of a hot shower were dashed, and my concern of what lay ahead heightened. Had I been offered a way out, I`m afraid I might have taken it.

We spent the day huddled around the fire, baking brownies, making soup. Rob tried his best to raise my spirits. We went out for a short paddle to fish, but the weather was too dismal, we came back cold, damp and empty handed.

Kesagami River - rapids - (days 8 - 14)

The next day dawned cloudy. We went back to sleep. We woke again a few hours later to bright sunshine. I was glad that I hadn`t been offered a way out, and that I was still there. With this day the weather turned. We had less rain, and warmer temperatures.

The trip up to this point had been a reasonably easy wilderness paddle. A warm up for things to come. The next leg of the river was why we were really here. In a 35 km portion of this river, it drops approximately 220 meters. This results in 35 km of almost continuous rapids and waterfalls. This is also the reason we encountered disbelief and discouragement whenever we tried to find information on it. It was also the reason for the butterflies in my stomach. Once committed to this river, from here on, there really was no way out.

The mouth of the river was across a small bay from us. We set out on a perfect summer day. Gentle breeze, sunshine, warm temperature. We saw another potential campsite, on the south shore, just where the river leaves the lake. In foul weather, this campsite would probably provide more shelter from the wind than ours had.

From the very start this was a different river. Coming off the lake we could feel the current pick up the canoe and even without paddling we moved along quite quickly. The first rapids, very minor in nature, little more than swifts really, came quickly. There was a moose below the rapids that Rob captured on his camcorder. The moose didn`t seem too concerned about our presence. He watched us for a moment, and then slowly sauntered off into the woods.

The river then slows, and moves gently through a very peaceful, pretty area.

About 10 or 11 km from the lake we encountered our first real set of rapids. It`s a long set that starts easily runnable and then slowly escalates in difficulty. There`s nothing major here, although our source indicated that near the centre of this series of rapids, is a set that required tracking. We ran through the entire series with no difficulty. Obviously our source of info had different water levels than we did.

There was a high ridge running along the right hand side of the river which could provide many reasonable camping opportunities. We camped on this ridge where a small creek (Burn Creek) joins the Kesagami shortly after running the rapids. There was a moose where the river met the creek, which again, thought about us for a while before slowly wandering away.

The bugs were bad that night so we ate dinner in our tent. While eating we heard branches snap down at the creek, and assuming it was another moose, we looked outside. A bear was wandering leisurely along the far side of the creek (which was about 20 feet wide and less than 100 yards from us) and showing great interest in crossing to investigate our canoe more closely. After a few minutes he wandered away. Rob, playing camera man again, captured it on film. Needless to say, we spent some time airing all traces of food from our tent and carefully scrubbing our pots and pans.

The next day dawned sunny but quickly turned to cloud. As we left our campsite another moose was at the river junction. Our first set of rapids was visible from our camp, and we perched on a small island above them to scout. With just a little bit of scraping, we paddled through. That`s more or less the story for that day. The rapids came frequently, and the calm in between provided a good opportunity to either bail water or catch our breath. Until our last set of the day, we ran everything we encountered. We paused above each set, and Rob did his scouting from the canoe. If necessary, lining along the shore was almost always possible. The rapids were typically quite short, with calm water below each set. This was a wonderful stretch of the river to gain confidence and hone one`s skills. Both of which will be in great demand later on.

Somewhere along the way it began to rain. It was raining when we encountered our first real test. The river split around an island, with quite serious chutes on either side. There was a set of rapids above the island that had to be run¡K then we had to perch on the tip of the island to access a rough portage trail through the island past the chutes. Then there was a series of rapids below the island which had to be run as well. This was certainly the most serious stretch of white water yet. We ran into a bit of difficulty landing onto the tip of the island and were heading for the right hand chute. Just when I had resigned myself to something unpleasant, Rob executed a rather unorthodox maneuver that managed to get us to shore (he jumped out of the canoe ¡V and holding onto the canoe with one hand caught hold of some willows on shore with the other) . Once on the island we could see a potential portage along the right shore, which would have avoided having to run the first set of rapids and landing on the island. To take the shore portage you would have to leave the river a little further upstream, but it would enable you to bypass more of the rapids, and eliminate the rather tricky process of landing on the island.

Tired and wet we camped on the island. After making camp the sun came out on a beautiful day.

The nature of the river was changing. This day was certainly more difficult than the `introductory` rapids yesterday. So far though, there was nothing that would discourage anyone who`s familiar with whitewater from doing this trip. At this point Rob thought that it would only be a matter of time before this became a well travelled route, and the warnings we`d received were all over exaggerated.

Well, the next few days caused him to reconsider. The river got tougher.

There were 8 portages marked in the next days travel. They ranged from 25 meters to 200 meters. There was one obvious portage which was not included on the map which made a total of 9 portages. We portaged all of these except for two - one we ran and one (where we couldn`t find the portage) we ran and lined. There were also a number of lift-overs and tracks (11 - 12). We ran most (all?) of these. We should mention that almost all of the portages were difficult to find. The beginnings of the portages were marked only by blazes on trees which were in many cases overgrown (hence the one we missed). We camped on the unmarked portage.

This is beautiful country.

All along this river the rocks were very slippery when wet! We did many a slip / slide today while lining/tracking. It was frustrating (and scary) when you think you have a firm footing and you don`t.

The next day we woke to sunshine!! It was a tough day. We travelled only 4 km - approximately 2 of which were portage. The Bog Walk was 1.5 km long, but easy to follow (fortunately). The next 450 km portage was a loss (or should I say we got lost). We ran the rapids in between (2 of which were marked `track` and `lift over`).

We were so busy looking for a set of rapids marked `line` that we surprised ourselves at the top of Whaleback Falls and had a horrible time following the portage around it. The trail seemed very obvious at the start so we didn`t scout it first. We simply set off with Rob carrying the canoe and me carrying one pack. We ended up `bushwacking` with all our gear. It was not pleasant.

Anyway, four hours of travel that day brought us to a nice campsite on an `almost island` below the falls. There was a large rock below the falls, which from a certain angle, actually looked like a Whale`s back.

We woke to a beautiful day and decided to stay here for a rest day. Believe it or not - there we were in the middle of nowhere, and there was broken glass at the campsite (Rob cut his foot). Is there no place that man`s trash hasn`t gone...

We had a lovely day. Sat in the sun, ate lots, even jumped into the narrows beside our `almost island` and let the current whisk us downstream.

As much as we wanted a rest day, by the end of the day we were ready to go on¡K what was around that next bend...

We set out on another nice day. Just below our campsite there was a widening (and calming) of the river - we saw a cabin up in the woods to the left. That could only mean that it was possible to fly in there, also, it could have been a good place to fish.

Well, the next day was our toughest yet. Even Rob was willing to admit that this probably wasn`t going to become a standard canoe route¡K and maybe everything people told us about it was true¡K We travelled 5 km in 5 hours. Six rapids were marked track or lift over - we found that we had to track or lift over most of them. We attempted to line and then run one set (accessing them in the middle of the rapid) and we swamped (swim #1 ever for me). There are 8 marked portages in today`s portion, ranging from about 100 to 450 meters in length - again most were shorter than the distance marked. We missed one portage (as I mentioned previously - the blazes are often difficult to see) and we tried to run the top of the rapids, and swamped (swim #2 for me). We recovered the canoe and lined the rest of the way. The river was teaching me some humility. I had been beginning to feel a little over-confident - today I was put in my place.

We camped on the portage trail by Tombstone rapids.

The fun of the rapids had worn off now. I was very glad that we only had about 3 km to go before we were out of the rapids.

In those remaining 3 km we had 3 portages left to do - we portaged them all. Also 5 lift-over/tracks - we found all of them to be necessary as well. There were a few sets of runnable rapids in between. We followed the rules today (much to Rob`s chagrin) and did more or less as our map indicated. As I said - we (I at least) learned humility the previous day. Rob was still willing to try running things that looked more and more terrifying to me.

End of Rapids to James Bay (days 14 - 15)

The river changed again after the `last portage`. There were no more rapids. It was wider, but still swift flowing. Portions of it were fairly shallow. We didn`t have to wade, but with lower water .... let`s just say we wouldn`t want to be doing this with 6 inches less water!

The wind was against us for most of the day so we had to work!

The river banks were weird here. They appeared to be clay, and frequently they just sort of slumped into the river bringing down whatever forest happened to be growing on them.

It was nice to camp without the sound of rapids beside the tent. Also, for the first time in many days, there are deciduous trees by the river - and we could hear the pleasant sound of the wind in the leaves. I never realized that I`d been missing it.

The next day gave us blue sky and NO rain at all! We made it down to James Bay. We met the incoming tide about 4 km up river. I had read that this could happen, but I had never experienced it. The combination of an incoming tide and the north wind slowed our progress to almost nil. We stopped for a while, waiting for the tide to change, but eventually we got bored and moved on. We only had 2 - 3 km to go to where we planned to camp but it seemed to take forever! It was a really nasty, slow paddle.

Our guide (Canoeing Ontario`s Rivers) mentioned a McMaster University Field camp a couple of km up from the mouth of the river as a possible camp site. We checked it out but after days in the almost `pristine` wilderness we were discouraged by the garbage around the site. We paddled further down river and found a camping spot in a small clearing in the willows about 1 km from the Bay.

It had been a long day. We paddled for about 7 hours with 1 hour off trying to figure out what to do about the tide, as well as some time off for lunch.

We saw a couple of otters...some Canada Geese (+goslings).

We camped pretty close to high tide, and watched the river retreat from the bank as the tide went out.

James Bay/Moose River (days 16-17)

We started out on the James Bay portion of our journey at about 8:30 am and caught the outgoing tide. We made great progress until we ran out of water. We knew the tidal flats were wide, but on the one map we were missing, the tidal flats went out around an island - a big one - far from shore - which we ended up going around! We ended up way, way out from shore - then a north wind came up just as we were rounding the island and we sailed/paddled quickly back to shore, bailing water as the waves washed in. Sky did not enjoy this day.

By the way, when we were high and dry before going around the island we made pancakes on the tidal flats.

We finally got to Nettish Point at about 6:00. What a LONG day! There was a nice wide sand / stone beach, with lots of camping possibilities just back from the beach. We got to the point at high tide. When the tide goes out, solid (dry) land is a LONG way away from the water. If you are crossing the Bay, and want to land here, time yourself to come in at high tide or you`ll have a long portage across the mud flats. Also, the point may be more difficult to find from a few kilometers out. If you miss the point you`re soon into the Partridge river delta and there are virtually no camping possibilities there.

Our information indicated that there was a Lands & Forests hut of some sort near which we could camp. We found that it looked more like and Indian hunt/fish base (more garbage) - we camped far away.

We ran out of fresh water during the day, so we hiked a few hundred yards inland to a swamp/lake where we got lots of water and for the first time on this trip, we boiled our drinking water.

Who in the world besides Rob could go beach combing on a deserted stretch of James Bay and find a beer? Can you believe it!!! (Boy was it good!)

Our approach the next day was to catch the incoming tide to take as much advantage of the high tide as possible. We got up at 4:30 am, the tide was still way out. We got up again at 5:00 and found that the tide had come in a lot. We packed up and were on the water by 5:30. We hoped to cross the tidal flats of the Partridge river delta and get to the Moose River before the tide went back out (about a 21 or 22 km paddle). The tide tables indicated that high tide was 6:50 so we had an hour and 20 minutes of incoming tide, before it began to go out.

The water was very, very, still. Paddling very steadily, we reached the Moose River at about 9:15. Behind us the tidal flats were beginning to appear. Another hour and we`d have been parked high and dry again! It`s really quite eerie to see them appear out of the water.

The tide continued to go out so we had a long, slow paddle against both the outgoing tide and the current of the Moose River. If possible, try for an incoming tide and/or a north wind. Otherwise this is a very unpleasant paddle. A north wind picked up eventually and then we sailed a bit. We reached Tide Water Provincial Park at about 2:30 or 3:00. LONG day (over 9 hours of paddling). The trip is virtually over when you get to the Moose River, and this portion is just hard work. The Moose River breaks into a number of channels as you go upstream. Try for one of the right hand (west side) channels. That way as you paddle you begin to see Moosonee in the distance and you have a visual goal.

We went into Moosonee for some steaks, fresh potatoes and beer. I went into a hotel and `begged` a shower. They said `no problem`. It`s the best shower I ever had (in spite of the mould growing in the bathroom). They weren`t even going to charge us for the shower but we insisted. I guess it`s also the most expensive shower we ever had.

Summary

Was it a good trip? Yes. Worth doing? Without a doubt.

The number of times I thought with less than pleasure `I`m never coming back to this God forsaken wilderness` were outweighed by the number of times I thought, with some degree of sadness, `Sigh... I will probably never be back here again...`. So the trip was definitely more good than bad.

The Upper Kesagami Lake to Kesagami Lake portion of the river was mildly interesting, and a good way to warm up those old paddling muscles. Otherwise, it was `just a river`. Nothing too spectacular there. With higher water some of the rapids may have been fun.

Kesagami Lake was a worthwhile fishing stop. This is where most people fly in to start the rest of the river. It`s difficult to enjoy and relax on the lake though, with the anticipation of what lies ahead.

The Kesagami River rapid section was in some ways easier than what I expected - and in other ways tougher. There were more runnable rapids than expected, and nothing was impossible to either run, lift over, track or portage. What was tougher was the reality of the portages - unpack the canoe - portage - go XX meters - go back get the rest of the gear - portage - repack the canoe - and sometimes you already see the next portage ahead of you before you`re even in the water. Portage trails were very badly marked and often difficult not only to find but to follow. Certainly no question of getting bored on this part of the river though.

The bottom of the river from the last portage to the Bay was a pleasant break from all the hard work you`ve been doing in the previous days. As much fun as the rapids were, it was kinda nice to just paddle and look at the scenery for a change. In two days you`re down at the Bay.

James Bay/Moose River. Well, the Bay is obviously passable. You wouldn`t want to be doing this in foul weather, and I should mention that all of the local people we talked to (Ministry of Natural Resources, outfitters, etc.) advise you not to paddle the Bay. Even with the tide on your side, it`s just a long (and after a little while) boring, haul. The prevailing winds are north westerly. It could be a VERY long haul against a westerly wind. The trip up the Moose River is a necessary evil ... the end of the trip is so close that these last kilometers seem to take forever to do. We should mention that the alternative to paddling James Bay is either to have a float plane pick you up in Hanna Bay (where the Kesagami & Harricanaw Rivers meet James Bay) - an expensive option - or, have a freighter canoe pick you up there and take you to Moosoneee. There seems to be some sort of mysterious paddlers pride that requires a paddler to cross the Bay. Personally I don`t understand it, but Rob obviously does.

It was a 17 day trip with two rest days, so the whole thing is possible in 15 days. Weather permitting, stretch it out, take more time. One last word about the weather. This may have been the toughest aspect of the trip for me. Being wet and cold day after day wears at you. The same river could be much different with warmth and sunshine - and I do believe (really) that the weather can be quite reasonable up here (take for example the hot dry spell that preceded our trip). It`s the luck of the draw I guess. Historically our canoe trips seem marked by cool, wet weather. Except for some nice days on the second half of the trip, this was no exception.

Sky Bicevskis

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
42 H/9 North Burntbush Lake 42 H/16 Lawagamau Lake 42 I/1 Ministik Lake 42 I/8 Kesagami Lake 42 I/9 Glaister Lake 42 I/16 Marberg Creek 32 L/13 Atik River 32 M/4 Francis Island 42 P/8 Ship Sands Island 42 P/7 Moosonee
Other
Special Comments: 

This trip could also begin at Kesagami Lake which is accessible by float plane only. The trip would be 4 to 5 days shorter.

Comments

Post date: Mon, 08/10/2009 - 11:09

Comments: 

WOW, it's kinda neet to see what is on the internet about rivers we ran long ago. We ran the Kessagami in 1981 before it was designated a wilderness area. There were no portages marked except for 2-3 at the very end of the river. At the time the pilot told us that no one goes down it as it was to rough. We saw no sign of anyone having ever been there until the very end. I would imagine that some of our portages are being used now, although we did not mark much and just did what we had to to get around things. We portaged, lined, or carried the loaded canoes 44 times. We went in early June so the water was probably higher than usual. There was still snow along the river in a couple of spots. This river is not for the lazy of faint of heart. Do not attempt to run sections unless you are absolutely certain it can be done by everyone involved. We made that mistake but for luck being on our side were able to rescue 2 of our guys and their gear with only bumps bruses and near hypothermia. There could have been no rescue from the outside and no way for them to get to you until you get to the end. The portion across James Bay is long and boring. To get around the mud flat at the end of the river you have to time the tides so you reach the low point on the mud flat where you can cross it in the middle at high tide. That way you don't have to paddle all the way around. Same goes for going up the Moose River, hit it on a rising tide. It saves a lot of work. Marty