Kogaluc/Payne (crossing Ungava peninsula)

CanadaQuebec09 Hudson Bay, Upper James Bay
CanadaQuebec10 Ungava Bay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Laco Kovac
Trip Date : 
July 5 - August 7, 2014
Location Map: 
Additional Route Information
679 km
34 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
11165 m
Longest Portage: 
1890 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Either fly or paddle or shuttle from Puvirnituq

Technical Guide: 

Crossing Ungava peninsula west to east
Up Kogaluc River, through Payne Lake and down Payne River

As far as we know, there have been 3 canoe expeditions which have crossed the Ungava peninsula via (roughly) this route.

1. Jacques Rousseau expedition in 1948

Brief journal of this expedition:

Photos from 1948 expedition:

Documentary movie of this expedition:

This first expedition was followed years later by the archeological explorations of Thomas E. Lee. There is an interesting documentary about it available at http://www.nfb.ca/film/viking_visitors_to_north_america

2. Hide Away Canoe Club (HACC) expedition in 1990, described in Che-Mun magazine, outfit 62

3. L&L's (our) expedition in 2014, described in our website at https://sites.google.com/site/landltrips/Trips/ungava2014   Ours was the first expedition to include women - 3 of the 6 participants were women.

The three expeditions differ as to the route chosen between Lake Anartalik and Payne Lake. The 1948 expedition followed the Kogaluc River south-east, reaching Tasiat Lake and then, because of the lack of maps of this area, they just took a bearing - an approximte direction - towards their cache on Payne Lake and followed this direction by either portaging or paddling any open water they encountered on their way. The second and third expeditions followed the Perronel and Inaqunaqtuq Rivers to Lake Anuc. The second expedition, from there, travelled in an easterly direction to portage through a series of lakes to Barvilier Lake. The third (our) expedition followed Inaqunaqtuq and Barvilier Rivers to Barvilier Lake, a more southerly route. The second expedition then continued portaging & paddling the more easterly lakes to Kiggavik Lake, while we paddled up Muran Creek to Kiggavik Lake, a more westerly route. From there both the second and third expeditions reached Payne Lake via a series of short height-of-land portages. From Payne Lake, all three expeditions paddled the Payne River to Kangirsuk.

On our trip in 2014, we approached the Kogaluc from the South - from the Polemond River (we were actually dropped by the airplane at an incorrect location, too far south of the Polemond). The ideal landing location is at the TUL runway on map 6s. Our approach to the Kogaluc ended up being via maps 6s and 7s to map 8. However, for completeness and for anyone who wants to paddle or hire motorboat(s) from Puvirnituq, we have added maps 1-7.

The information conveyed in this document, on our website, in our trip reports and on our maps is the sole opinion and perspective of Lynette and/or Laco alone and should not be taken as a basis in fact. Many of L&L's observations during the period reported were made after only a very brief period, in very specific weather and water level conditions and often in a fatigued state. All readers are strongly encouraged and advised to do their own independent research (scouting) and form their own independent conclusions before deciding on any facts or actions in relation to any of L&L's freely published information.
It is a well known fact that rivers can and do change completely, depending on multiple factors such as water levels, ice conditions, flood and/or drought conditions, continual erosion and altering seasonal and weather patterns. Each person who undertakes to travel any of these routes is responsible for their own judgements and safety.

More details related to our maps:
Map 6s:
Good campsite 352767 6601015

Map 7s and 8:
start 361945 6603968
end 361891 6604303

start 364625 6605044
end 365045 6605375

Map 9:
Good campsite 369802 6605242
Kogaluc Falls, P370
start 370139 6604841
end 370439 6604759
Rousseau Falls, P280
start 371266 6604488
end 371355 6604704
Chute de la Rue, P390
start 372204 6605288
end 372526 6605370

Map 10:
Gadbois Falls, P220 (there is shorter portage on the south shore, but then you have to paddle to Naujak Falls)
start 376748 6606308
end 376947 6606246
shortcut around Naujak Falls, P510
start 376947 6606246
end 377264 6606636
Mirqulilik Falls, P100
start 378811 6606595
end 378896 6606616
to Lake Neakunguac, P540
start 382890 6604580
end 382812 6604083

Map 12:
Neakunguac Falls, P330
start 393276 6596845
end 393508 6597004
Siegfried Falls, P240
start 393515 6597618
end 393499 6597838

Map 14:
Mangnuc Falls, P340:
start 416730 6589448
end 417044 6589507
There is shorter portage (~100-150m?) at the South shore of Mangnuc Falls North (north side of Windbound Island). It is easy to reach (no rapids or strong current to approach it) but you will miss the view of bigger Mangnuc Falls on the South side of Windbound Island.

Map 15:
start 423113 6588009
end 423250 6588040

Map 16:
Vattier Falls, P110:
start 427646 6584923
end 427661 6584827

Map 17:
Michea Falls, P350:
start 434500 6580322
end 434802 6580274
Grégoire Falls, P150:
start 434949 6579986
end 435056 6579943
Ishara Falls, P230:
start 435748 6578358
end 435903 6578216

Map 19:
Anartalik Falls, P110:
start 449921 6575861
end 450007 6575852
Koperkaluk Falls, P400:
start 450667 6575868
end 450987 6575775
While Koperkaluk Falls is a short drop, it is immediately followed by a class 2 rapid with cliffs on the South side. It would be possible to do a very short portage and then a "Do or Die" ferry across to the North side (where you could pole or line). We chose the much safer and picturesque 400 m portage over caribou trails.
Portage 70 m:
start 456724 6579041
end 456755 6579080
Portage 220 m:
start 456776 6579147
end 456833 6579304

Map 20:
Portage 270 m (to bypass Xavier Falls):
start 454005 6584365
end 454082 6584609
Good campsites on island:
457758 6585372
458021 6585449

Map 22:
Tired of difficult lining on very slippery rocks, we decided instead of following the Inaqunaqtuq River, we would continue South-East through the lake, and then portage to Anuc Lake.

Map 23:
Portage 480 m:
start 482096 6577535
end 482276 6577928
Portage 110 m:
start 482877 6578125
end 482971 6578136

Portage 50 m (it may have been easier/shorter if we had started to portage South of the rock-choked creek):
start 483178 6578135
end 483220 6578113

Map 25:
Portage 140 m around L4:
start 500690 6567799
end 500736 6567679
Tsirnish Falls, P330:
start 502179 6566927
end 502239 6566662
campsite 502280 6566708
Jourdain Falls, P15:
start 506548 6564692
end 506533 6564692

Map 26:
Tsirnish Falls, P330:
start 502179 6566927
end 502239 6566662
campsite 502280 6566708
Jourdain Falls, P15:
start 506548 6564692
end 506533 6564692
Kujala Falls, P20:
start 507442 6564359
end 507457 6564370
Sarvaq Falls, P10:
start 508368 6564401
end 508376 6564403

Map 27:
Middlesborough Rapids, P50 (via the middle of the island):
start 513640 6567686
end 513667 6567728
Pingasut Falls, P120:
We portaged here on the South shore - it was short, about 100m, but very difficult, through thick undergrowth. The rest of our group portaged via the main island, as marked on the map. While their portage was a bit longer, it was much easier and faster.
On Barvilier Lake, we took the eastern route through Desperation Rapids. It seems to me now that the western, more direct route through the narrows (rapids?) at approx. 511910 6573887 might be a better choice(?!).
Portage  140 m around Desperation Rapids:
start 512545 6574130
end 512472 6574217
We experienced very bad weather at Desperation Rapids, so we portaged further to 512465 6574288 (overall portage 220 m) to a small protected cove. We set up camp there at 512473 6574270.

Map 29:
Portage 380 m on Muran Creek to Igutsaup Niqinga Lake:
start 508690 6584688
end 508914 6584940
Portage 240 m up Muran Creek from Igutsaup Niqinga Lake to Tikiraujaq Lake:
start 508920 6586671
end 508918 6586871
Portage 200 m from Johnson Lake to Tiggaq Lake:
start 511247 6587745
end 511414 6587695
Portage 110 m from Tiggaq Lake to Kiggavik Lake:
start 512315 6587422
end 512408 6587440

Map 30:
Campsite 513327 6591839
Portage 520 m from Sukkuangajuq Lake to Nasivvik Lake:
start 513594 6592018
end 513967 6592331
Portage 240 m from Nasivvik Lake to Tursaq Lake:
start 514002 6592355
end 514211 6592422
Portage 280 m from Tursaq Lake to Peake Lake:
start 514315 6592624
end 514404 6592863
Portage 140 m from Peake Lake to Payne Lake:
start 514484 6593479
end 514599 6593481

Map 31:
Payne Lake is huge and it is almost always very windy (we had very heavy wind for 6 days; our progress was almost impossible or very, very slow and painstaking). Plan for extra time here!! Launching or landing on its rocky shores can also be difficult, even dangerous, in a high wind, and campsites were not easy to find.

Maps 32 and 33 show many archeological sites explored (and probably named) by Thomas E. Lee. We visited only Chubb (a great camping spot), Bernier (if it is 'Bernier', because our GPS showed it 500m more west than it is marked on Lee's map), Cartier, Black Spruce and Michea. We didn't find Gautier, but looking at our GPS track retrospectively, we were clearly looking in the wrong area.
Thomas E. Lee's description of (some of) these sites:
Site 1 (St-Pierre): 2 house pits, 13 tent rings, a few cache piles; area 117x54m
Site 2 (Michea): 21 house pits, 16+ tent rings, several cache piles; area 160x90m
Site 3 (Bernier): 11 tent rings (larger than usual cobbles), 3 cache piles
Site 4 (Rosary): 2 knolls; 1st knoll 1 tent ring; 2nd 2+3 tent rings
Site 6 (Gauthier): 1 tent ring
Site 9: 9 house pits and 7 tent rings; 352 m along the shore
Site 10 (Cartier): 4 rectangular features (8x4.5m 7x4.5m 7x3.5m 4.5x4m); 4 nearly rectangular features (6x4.5m 5.5x5m 5.5x4m 4x3.5m); 1 circular feature 2.5x2.5m; 7 cache piles; 1 tent ring of later culture; 193 m along the shore
Site 11 (Gagnon): 2 very old tent rings, protected by erratics
Site 12 (Brouillette): 2 tent rings
Site 13 (Last Chance): 15 house pits, 3 tent rings; 117 m along the shore
Location 14: 1 cache (long & narrow vault)

Map 34:
Aariakallak portage P1890 is long & difficult. It consists of 6 distinct sections:
1 - overgrown with bushes
2 - wet, marshy area
3 - gully with creek & tall willows
4 - nice open area
5 - overgrown with bushes
6 - rockfield to put-in
start 606464 6565126
end 607748 6564005
It is possible to shorten this portage by launching higher up-river & paddling the last 200m of rapids.
Take your time walking back along the river to enjoy the spectacular views & fearsome rapids.

Map 36:
Good campsite at 618848 6565096
The campsites on the river from this point are not great & not easy to find.

Map 38:
class 3-4 rapid - was (for us) a class 3 on the left; keep to the left side, unless changing water levels change the situation. Always Scout for yourself!!

Maps 46 and 47:
Nice campsite at Qanniq Confluence

Map 51:
The best spot to access the flat plateau for camping is from the Hamelin River, 346760 6656586
There is an old empty cabin there, OK as shelter for cooking (per the state of decomposition when we were there).

Map 52:
Urpituuq Islands Rapids - these rapids are WIDE and the classification will vary depending on WHERE you paddle it (left, right, middle). We drew the route and marked the rapid classification where we paddled. Again - do your own scouting, as conditions can change 100% with water levels and erosion.

Map 55:
Ledge L3 at km 61 - this seems to be how far the tide reaches. The ledge is small at HIGH tide for a VERY SHORT period of time. Be careful. According to our observations, the tide is delayed here by about 1 hour + 30-40 minutes (from the tidetable for Agvik Island), but tide conditions vary due to other factors such as wind, weather, moon, etc.

Map 57:
You are now in the Payne fjord with steep slopes/cliffs all around. Campsites are difficult to find. We found 2, marked on our map, high (37 m) above high tide level, NOT easy to access, but with amazing views. The access point from the shore is at 397688 6657843

Map 59:
Hammer of Thor (Viking? monument) 419906 6652706
Landing spot at low tide 419920 6652546
Campsite 419868 6652749

Map 62:
Kangirsuk landing spot at low tide 442781 6653678
According to our observations, the tide is delayed here by about 30-40 minutes (from the tidetable for Agvik Island), but this also depends on factors such as wind, weather, moon etc.
Kangirsuk Municipality Office 442552 6654051
Kangirsuk Airport 444049 6654405

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35C3 34N14 34N13 34N12 34N11 34N10 34N7 34N8 34O5 34O6 34O7 34O2 34O8 34P5 34P6 34P3 34P2 34P7 34P10 34P15 34P16 24M13 25D4 25D3 25D2 24M15 24M16 25D1
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