Missinaibi River (Mattice to Moosonee)

CanadaOntarioJames Bay south
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Laura Wheeler
Trip Date : 
July 26th - August 4th, 2015
Additional Route Information
322 km
10 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
5270 m
Longest Portage: 
2350 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Municipal park in Mattice on North side of highway.

Technical Guide: 

Start at town of Mattice
P 180 m centre of island around Rock Island Rapids (we ran this)
P 580 m R around Black Feather Rapids (we ran this)
P 100 m R around Beam Rapids (we ran this)
P 400 m L around Kettle Falls
Rapids (CBR)
Rapids (CBR)
Rapids (CBR) after Alice Island
P 1645 m L around Thunderhouse Falls (extreme danger - stay left and don`t miss portage)
P 875 m R around Stone Rapids
P 2350 m R around Hell`s Gate Canyon
Long Rapids (CBR / line / wade)
Four Mile Rapids (CBR / Line / wade)
Past Moose River Crossing (intermediate route access by train)
North on Missinaibi River
Misc rapids / swifts / fast water (all runnable - some lining / wading)
Finish at town of Moosonee

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

[Click here for the same trip log accompanied by all photos & maps of our daily routes]

This year's canoe trip: The Lower Missinaibi River.
322 km from Mattice to Moosonee.
This is the continuation of last year's trip on the Upper Missinaibi River:  http://www.myccr.com/canoeroutes/missinaibi-river-missanabie-mattice-0

Friday, July 24th, 2015

After finishing my last work day for Summer School, I dropped Victor at the drill hall for his GGFG gig in Kingston. Then I drove to Terry & Isabelle's place. Half way there I was looking at all of our gear in the back of the car & realized the two grocery bags with all our packed food was missing! I turned around for home to get them. Once I finally got to Terry & Isabelle's where we loaded all our food into the 2 barrels; breakfasts, lunches & snacks in Tall Boy (the big barrel) and dinners & desserts in Squat (the little barrel). We left the fresh food in a cooler until we got on the river. Terry & I loaded all of the packs into the trailer, put the canoes on top & then he tied down the canoes over top.

Isabelle made a tasty dinner of salad & grilled chicken breasts. We watched a little TV & hit the sack about 10:30pm. Vic arrived back from his gig at 2am to get a VERY short sleep.

Saturday, July 25th, 2015
Ottawa to Mattice
923 km driving

The alarm went off at 3:30am. We all admitted to not sleeping too well; too much anticipation (of Vic arriving home at 2am and of our early start in the morning) to really get to sleep. I had a quick shower & got dressed. We drove to a McDonald's for a quick bite & coffee while Terry's GPS downloaded maps at home.

Back at the house Terry packed up the GPS, locked the house & we were on our way shortly after 5am. Vic drove first & the rest of us slept.

We arrived in Mattawa about 8:30am to find our usual second breakfast spot (Draper's) had closed down. We drove into the "downtown" area & found a diner called Tasty Choices instead. We loaded up on bacon & eggs for 2nd breakfast and took a quick stroll along the waterfront where the Voyageur Days music festival was set up.

We continued up Hwy 17 to North Bay where we turned North on Hwy 11. Around 1pm we stopped for lunch at a Chinese restaurant called Northern Delight in Matheson.

We pulled into Cochrane mid-afternoon where we stopped at the train station to reserve space on the Polar Bear Express train for us & our canoes two weeks from now. We also booked rooms for the night of our return at the hotel right above the train station. Gérard Lauzon, the train agent, was very helpful & informative. He more or less told us his life story; even showing us his birth certificate to emphasize that he was born in Michipicoten.

Terry & Vic shared the driving this morning. I drove after lunch & on. We pulled into Mattice about 6pm but we were driving on fumes (oops I shoulda' kept a closer eye on the gas gauge) & the one gas pump in town didn't seem to be working. The restaurant next door where we ate dinner last year was closed down (hard times all over it seems). So we drove into Hearst only to find the hotel restaurant we'd scoped out online was closed for holidays. The hotel bartender pointed us to a bar & grill a block away. We all ordered greek salads & Vic got some pasta too. We each had a cold beverage too, knowing this was our last chance at cold drinks & fresh veggies for a while. We gassed up the car & drove back to Mattice.

We drove down to the waterfront park where we pulled off the river last year. We had barely untied the canoes when Fred Neegan rolled up on his 4-wheeler (see last year's photos from our 1st meeting with him or read this article: http://bit.ly/1N8thSp). I'm not sure he remembered us from last year but I imagine news travels fast in a small town like Mattice that a car has pulled in with canoes aboard. Fred is the welcoming committee :) He was as hard to understand as ever; you gotta' lean in close to hear him as he talks quietly and with not so many teeth. Fred told us about some young paddlers that hit the river yesterday or the day before, commenting on their strength & agility. I should have asked Fred if we could get a photo of him & with him before he drove off, but we were too busy chatting with him.

We set up tents by the water just in time for sunset. It rained for a lot of the drive today, and hard rain at times. This evening in Mattice it is 30ºC & mostly blue sky w/ some clouds. Nice! Let's hope this weather holds! It would be a treat as the last two years have been a lot of rainy weather for our canoe trips.

Sunday, July 26th, 2015
Day 1
25 km paddled

It rained as we fell asleep last night - not for too long though. Surprising since it was blue skies just before we went to bed. Vic wondered last night if the trucks on the bridge over the river next to the park would keep us up, but they weren't too bad! The mosquitoes are large & numerous - each time we leave the tent to pee at least 10 mozzies get in no matter how quick you are with the tent zipper.

Last night Fred told us the water level is medium-high which is good for us as our last stretch is supposedly a shallow rock garden from what I've read online. I imagine us leaving 2 weeks earlier than we did last year helps us get some higher water levels. However, I'm worried that bad bugs might be another by-prouct of our earlier leaving date. I discovered this morning that my sleeping mat is not holding air, it goes flat in an hour or so :(

After a morning swim, Vic made pancakes with maple syrup & coffee for breakfast over our campfire. As we ate, a local man strolled by & we invited him to sit with us. Turns out he was waiting for a family to arrive that was setting out by canoe & he'd be shuttling their vehicle for them. Our vehicle & trailer will be shuttled to Cochrane for us by the same outfitter as last year, Owen. When we get to Cochrane, our car & trailer will be there, parked at the train station.

We did dishes, packed up, took a group photo using the camera's timer & we set off down the river.

Just around the corner we paddled up next to the family that the earlier gentleman was waiting for - they got on the river about the same time as us. It was a couple with 2 children, all in one canoe - very cool that they're taking their young kids on the trip.

We pulled ahead & quickly arrived at Rock Island Rapids (CII technical - CIII). We scouted from the rock island on river left. I'm not gonna' lie, I was pretty nervous as I didn't see a really good line down the rapids, but Terry & Vic seemed happy with the route they had planned. There were lots of people around, hanging out by the rapids; b/c we're close to Mattice still, there is easy road access to the river still. There was a kayaker with a Jack Russel Terrier wandering the rocks, but he didn't seem to be running the rapids.

We put on our lifejackets & helmets & ran the rapids; it wasn't bad! Vic & I broadsided one rock as we had different ideas about our line & didn't communicate on the spot well enough. But we quickly got our canoe off the rock.

Just before lunch, Vic jumped out of the canoe for a swim. When he was done & climbed back in the boat we noticed Terry & Isabelle on shore a few hundred meters behind us for what we thought was a pee break. We waited 10 minutes, then decided to paddle back to them when we realized they weren't getting back in their canoe. Turns out Terry had turned the SPOT on this morning by his tent & then none of us noticed that we left it there in the grass (SPOT: http://bit.ly/1Mn0xGk). Isabelle had 1 bar of cell service & so they called their daughter & had her call the company to suspend their service so that a rescue team wouldn't be dispatched. So we'll have to be extra careful w/o the SPOT - no rescue button now. We should be fine - the family we met this morning is behind us & today, at least, there were people at most of the big rapids. So far there are more people around than last year's trip on the upper half of the river.

We stopped for lunch on river right of Murphy Island & ate veggie warps w/ baba ganoush, GORP & dehydrated fruit. We paddled on to Black Feather Rapids (CII --> CI). We scouted these from the open bedrock along the shore river right. There was a group of sunbathers & fishermen here that had arrived by motorboat from a launch just below Rock Island Rapids. We picked our line & ran it. The top CIIs were fine - lots of water & waves. The CI to end was almost harder as you're constantly trying to find a line that keeps you away from the massive number of rocks & boulders sitting JUST below the surface.

Then we had 5 km of flatwater, swifts & CIs before Beam Rapids (CII). Terry & Vic got out to scout on a rocky island because Hap's guide says you should due to the risk of swamping in the waves during high water. Isabelle & I stayed in the canoes, holding on to the rock. We ran the rapids with no problems - just big waves!

We paddled another kilometer on to Kettle Falls. We set up camp near the start of the portage trail. Just enough room for our tents. The site had a nice rocky outcrop / shore where we had a swim just above the falls. Vic made a fire on the rocks, Isabelle cooked up a dinner of turkey-à-la-king, & Terry pumped water for our water bottles. It was one of two sites only this year with a thunderbox.

You can see Vic's paddle repair job in our photos (yay duct tape). It seems to have spontaneously cracked up the middle. He loves this paddle and just bought it 2 years ago. The repair job held until the end of the trip which is good! Vic & Terry helped me look for holes in my sleeping mat. We found a spot with bubbles coming out, so we left the mat out to dry & then marked the spot so I could repair it the next night (the repair kit said it needed 4 hours for the glue to dry, but it was getting too late for that this night). 

Unfortunately the turkey in our dinner did not rehydrate enough & was too tough to really eat. But the rest of the meal was very tasty once we picked out the turkey bits & tossed them in the fire. We did dishes - check out the beautiful drying rack in our photos! We sat out on the rocks to read, journal, drink tea, etc with the dragon flies flying all around us. We headed into the tents to read & fall asleep to the roar of the falls about 9pm. When I got up to pee in the night the clear view of the stars was pretty phenomenal!!!

Monday, July 27th, 2015
Day 2
34 km paddled

I woke with the sunrise above the trees across the river. Beautiful blue skies & warm already; headed for another 30ºC day. Vic got a great fire going - nice & flat for the 2 pans we used to fry up the eggs, bacon & toast (on the grill). We did dishes & packed up. As we did so, a group of boys from the Keewaydin Camp (http://bit.ly/1NoE1tE) portaged through next to our site. They said they were also aiming for Thunderhouse Falls tonight but would leave us the site of our choice if we like; very kind.

We brought our gear the 200 metres to the end of the portage & loaded our canoes to set off about 9:30. Today was easy paddling with mostly CIs until an easy CII at the end of the day. We had about 45 minutes of spitting rain this morning.

Lunch was veggie wraps w/ tzatziki on a gravel bar beside Alice Island. Mid afternoon the skies returned to blue & it was blazing hot!

Here we are (in our photos) approaching the warning sign that says the portage for Thunderhouse Falls is coming up in 500 m. You don't want to miss the portage. You can read more about past deaths at Thunderhouse Falls here: http://bit.ly/1hwC6Jy . We pulled up to the Thunderhouse Falls warning sign about 3pm. Around the corner we arrived at the high water takeout & were surprised to find 10 or more canoes at the pullout! 


Apparently coming 2 weeks earlier than last year's trip has resulted in many more people - this route (the lower Missinaibi) is also a lot more popular I'm told (than the upper Missinaibi).

The canoes were all from Camp Keewaydin; the teenage boys camp from this morning plus a group of middle-aged women (being guided by Keewaydin) and a teenage girls camp group. I have to admit I was pretty bummed we wouldn't be getting the prime site at the top of the falls. We thought we'd have our choice of sites all the way like last year when we didn't see ANYbody! We asked one of the girls counselors that was by the pullout which sites they would be using. Our maps from Hap (http://bit.ly/1IExwC1) indicated 4 sites here (turned out to be 3 only). Their counselor made a snobby comment about how they don't like Hap's maps (despite it being the only guide to this river & most people use it). Then she seemed unable to tell us which campsite might be free, saying that their camp might have gear at each of the sites. This was unwelcome news as the next camp site involved paddling further this evening (including rapids) & some portaging too.

We began portaging our gear the 1645 metres to the last camp site near the end of the portage which was luckily free for us to use. Victor & Terry carried the canoes as usual. Isabelle & I carried the food barrels first (and they are HEAVY! - as are our canoes). My shoulders & back were quite sore. We all went back for another trip with a pack each which was a welcome relief after the barrels & canoes. We stopped en route & dropped our packs to traipse through the nice sites that Keewaydin were using at the top of the falls to get a look at the falls. They are pretty spectacular!!!

Once finished the almost 5 km portage (1645 m x3 ways), we all went for a swim; we had to put on our swimsuits because of all the other people there swimming too (last year our bathing suits never got wet!). We filtered more water - we were all thirsty after the big hike. Isabelle was disappointed to see the Keewaydin folks using soap in the river to wash themselves. Even soaps like Campsuds are only biodegradable in soil, not water (http://bit.ly/1hwABet).

After our swim we got tents set up & Isabelle cooked up a tasty chili w/ tortillas & salsa. That hit the spot! With chili working its way through our systems, Isabelle suggested pre-digging a hole for the morning (genius!) ... which she & I then did. TMI?

I set about repairing my sleeping mat with a patch kit that Terry brought. I glued a large rectangular patch over the area that we saw bubbling yesterday. However, on the first pee break that night I discovered my mattress out of air again - the repair didn't work :(

In the end, our site here is not so bad. The campers from Keewaydin are friendly overall. It would have been nice if the camp had portaged all their canoes on their first trip (as is custom) so that we didn't have to arrive to such a crowded pull out. It also seems odd that on a trip in such isolated country as this, where each camp group is looking for isolation from other campers/paddlers, that Keewaydin would send their 3 groups out on the same river in a way that would allow them to meet up with each other at the same time & place on the river. Seems like poor planning to me!

Ah well . . . time for bed.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
Day 3
29 km paddled / hiked

Victor woke up at 6 am to get the fire started for one of his famous pancake breakfasts w/ maple syrup. There was lots to eat & very tasty! We packed up & brought our gear down to the put-in. The girls camp group had just launched & by the time we got launched at 8:45, the women's group was just starting to bring down their gear too. The boys were planning to stay put for a day. Right away we ran Conjuring House Rapids (CIs) handily. Three kilometers from our launch, we portaged 875 m around Stone Rapids (CIII - CIV; too hard for us and our boats). The portage was fine other than me not paying attention, taking a wrong turn & walking a fair ways down a connector trail to the next portage for those not running the middle rapids. I probably walked an extra kilometer with that heavy food barrel :( 

We quickly ran the CI technical rapid before pulling out for the 2 350 m portage around Hell's Gate Canyon. Victor picked some chanterelle mushrooms along this portage - he got quite a haul for dinner! We saw the girls & women along various points on the portage. It was a LONG portage & my feet & ankles were very sore by my 3rd trip (my neoprene paddling booties are fine for most portages but this long one calls for some better footwear). Today's total portaging distance walked will be about 10 km!!!

We may not have seen a moose on this year's trip, but lots of moose scat (& bear scat too).

The viewpoint near the end of the portage is pretty awesome, looking down the canyon.

We took a break for some snacks at the end of the portage. You can see our canoes & those of the girls group here (in our photos). We each went for a swim & drank a bunch of water. We decided not to eat lunch for now - we're hot & tired; just some snacks. We're drinking water like crazy in the heat & with all the hiking so Isabelle pumped more water into our Nalgenes.

We then had 5km of on & off CI & CII rapids followed by 10 km of swifts.

We passed by the Bell's Bay campsite as the girls' counselor told us they were aiming for there today. We'll leave it to them; we want to keep paddling. There were 3 campsites marked on Hap's map near Coal River. Here (in our photos) we are checking out one of the first 2, but it's just a gravel bar/shore at the mouth of a stream coming into the river. 

Vic takes any chance he can to go for a swim! No Keewaydin campers in sight, so no need for swim shorts :)

By the 3rd marked campsite we realize that all of them are meant to be gravel bars at the mouth of streams - not sites higher up on the shore like we're used to. So we set up camp at this last one just after 6. 

Everybody else went in for a swim & Terry & Isabelle cooked up a tasty curry w/ rice. Vic sautéed the chanterelle mushrooms as an appetizer. We did dishes & sat by the fire a bit. I swam right before getting in the tent for the night. Our tent spot has a lot of mosquitoes - we're up on a sand bar a bit higher up from the rocks, but there's a pool of standing water not too far away. I was looking forward to our mosquito-free tent. We read our books, killed all the mozzies that had slipped into our tent when we did & then went to sleep.

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Day 4
39 km paddled / sailed

Last night was one of the worst sleeps of my entire life; bitten by mosquitoes ALL night long! Smack! Smack! And neither of us had opened any zippers. WTF? I thought 'I must be imagining them, there can't be this many biting me in the tent'. At about 5 am I couldn't take it any longer. With the slightest hint of dawn showing, we turned on my head lamp & there were HUNDREDS inside our tent!

I lost it; I grabbed some clothes & got out of the tent. Went down to the water's edge where I hoped the breeze would drive them away; but nope! I put on my long pants & sleeves & slathered any exposed skin with Watkins lotion. That slowed them down but didn't stop them so I set about getting a fire going to try & drive them off with the smoke.

In that time, Vic killed as many mosquitoes as he could & went back to sleep for a bit. He also checked the zippers again (we'd done that upon waking earlier) & discovered a 1-2 inch gap in the zippers on his side of the tent. As you can see in our photos, the corner "pocket" can make it difficult to get the zipper right to the bottom or edge. This is where the gap was. Grrrrr. I was glad to hear that there wasn't some hole in our tent somewhere & hoped tonight would be better. We'll triple check that zipper tonight!!!

Victor & I made the second (& last) eggs/bacon/toast breakfast with coffee. Clear blue skies & a hot start to the day. 

Victor & Terry set about building a sail for our canoes with 4 tree trunks and a tarp, basing their design on drawing & descriptions in Hap's guidebook. The contraption took about 2 hours to make and turned our 2 canoes into a catamaran. Here (in our photos) is the sail rig in all its glory! Terry & Victor did an awesome job.

We set off just after 10am. There are no portages left on this trip. We'll have CI rapids & swifts to contend with still. The wind was light and in our face to start. But every so often it would come from behind us & take our sail & we could stop paddling. After 5-10 km it was at our backs most of the time. Sailing success!

We stopped for lunch on a gravel bar/shoreline that had some shade. Vic finished off the rice from last night's dinner and we made tuna salad wraps. 
We had some sprinkles of rain throughout the afternoon. I affixed some fishing line to a couple of lures for my fishing rod. I've cast my rod a few times in various spots with no luck so far. Here I tried trailing a lure behind the boat but we were going too fast with the wind.
We continued on down the river and the wind kept getting stronger. At times we were going 12-15 km/hour according to Terry's GPS. The bows were lifted out of the water at times and we were leaving an actual wake! Isabelle & I were in charge of getting the sail's direction right by moving the bottom corners of the tarp forwards & backwards accoridingly. Terry & Victor were in charge of steering with their paddles. We probably averaged about 7-8 km/h with the sail up. We ran the CIs and swifts like this because the poles are lashed down to the canoes - it's not quick to remove. It made the rapids tricky, dodging big rocks & shallow spots w/ our two canoes as one. When they were really tricky, we'd let the sail out & paddle through instead, giving us better control over direction & speed. The catamaran set up did make our boats much more stable in the rapids! 
The wind blew the rain passed & the skies returned to blue. Around 4 - 4:30 we got to a beautiful island campsite. We lowered the mast pole to help keep our canoes on shore & tied them to heavy rocks. We unloaded our gear & climbed up a steep slope to a nice open campsite. Vic grabbed a pack out of the canoe quickly once on shore & it got caught on my telescopic fishing rod which was loose in the canoe b/c I was fishing earlier from the boat. The rod snapped in half! This is the second year in a row that the fishing rod gets broken; last year the rod was strapped to the side of my pack & the reel smacked against the yoke of the canoe when Vic was loading the pack into the boat & it broke off. We don't have good fishing luck it seems.
The wind was really blowing now - at least 50 km/h gusts. Vic got a fire going while Isabelle & I swam and Terry pumped water. Even though there was a windbreak of rocks behind the fire pit, a gust blew embers from the fire to a dry spot about 20 feet away & it sparked into flame in a ring around a young sapling. Luckily Vic was still next to it & doused it with water from the pot he had boiling for tea. He called for Terry's help who came up and dumped the water bottles he'd just filled on it. They each went back for more pots of water & thoroughly soaked the ground in that area. Isabelle & I pretty much missed the whole ordeal as we'd waded far out into the river to find a spot deep enough to crouch down & submerge ourselves in the water.
We decided not to put any more wood on the fire tonight and just use the camp stove for water for tea. Dinner had already cooked on the fire; it was curry & rice, followed by apple sauce - yum! It would taste good any day, but it all tastes especially good at the end of a day of paddling.
The wind here is strong, but no bugs which is great! After last night's awful sleep, Victor & I went to read and sleep in the tent just after 8 pm - still in full daylight. We checked all of our zippers very carefully and decided not to exit the flap w/ the corner pockets at night to pee so as not to have the same mosquito problem again.
Thursday, July 30th, 2015
Day 5
55 km sailed / paddled
We woke to more gentle winds this morning. Victor got a fire going & we made oatmeal with dried bits of fruit & coffee. Vic was impressed by some of the trees on this site.
Check out my canoe tan (in our photos) - that'll look great in a skirt ;)

We packed up & it was about 11am before we were on the water; a slower morning. It always surprises me how long the morning routine takes; fire-building, cooking, doing dishes & packing up. 
We put the sail back up & got some good wind. For a quick video of us sailing, click here:http://on.fb.me/1J7vdsr . It rained on & off throughout the morning; temperatures in the low 20s. We all put on our rain jackets & pants. 
We stopped for lunch at a campsite on an island just before the mouth of the Opasatika River. We ate delicious wraps with smoked salmon & cream cheese. On the shore I found some rocks with fossils in them. On my way down the slope from our lunch site to the boats after lunch my flip flop finally bit the dust & broke apart; they were on their last legs. Too bad because they're easy to slip on & off in the canoe. Now I'll have to wear my Neopreen booties all day in the canoe & they hold the water in. I like them for big rapids, scouting & short portages, but since all of those are done, I've been wearing my flip flops mostly. Good thing I brought a pair of sneakers for around camp in case temperatures got cold; they'll be my go-to camp shoes now.
It's nice to relax when the sail does the work, but with all the swifts & CIs along the way we often have to drop the sail and paddle the trickier sections, sometimes even jumping out of the canoe to walk it through shallower areas where we scrape bottom & get hung up.

We stopped about 5 km after lunch to check out an island with 2 campsites marked just after the Opasatika River but both were gravel bars - we wanted to push to go 55 km & get to the real island site that Hap describes in his book - amidst trees & up on shore more. Even if it meant arriving late. We lost our wind for the last 5-10 km & had to paddle, but we seemed to go faster paddling attached together than w/ the canoes apart.

We pulled ashore on our island campsite about 8pm. Luckily Hap was right & it's a nice site - not a gravel bar. We set up tents quickly as it threatened to rain again - but didn't in the end.
Isabelle made a tasty beef stroganoff w/ Lipton soup appetizer. We had tea by the fire & did dishes before heading to our tents about 10pm when it finally got dark.
Friday, July 31st, 2015
Day 6
0 km travelled; rest day
Last night we discussed taking a rest day here if the weather dawned nice. We awoke to blue skies, fluffy white clouds & 16ºC so we decided to spend the day. 
Vic & I made bannock over the fire; tasted great with peanut butter & nutella. Coffee too of course.There was no hurry - not that we usually rush in the mornings. 
After breakfast Victor & I went for a walk around the island - although I turned back when it got too muddy/wet for my sneakers (I miss my flip flops!). We noticed a lot of toilet paper around the edge of the island & also a big pile of human shit ... SO GROSS! I can't understand how people can equip themselves for the backwoods & undertake a tough trip of this nature, but then can't bury their shit and/or burn their toilet paper. C'mon people! Also - garbage! Almost every campsite has garbage left behind; bits of plastic gear, duct tape, whole tarps, foil that didn't burn, beer cans, foam mattresses, fuel canisters, etc. If you carried it in, surely it's easier to carry out once it's empty. We try to burn / pack out what we can of other people's garbage, but it's more than we can carry out!
*end garbage/shit rant*
I found some more fossils in rocks along the shoreline. Terry spent some time fixing up our sailing rig even better; tightening up the lashings & such. We all took our camp chairs to the gravel shore along our campsite to read in the sun. Most of us ended up taking a nap there too. When I got up it was 25ºC; time for a quick swim! 
Lunches are now our staple bread, cheese & salami every day. Although we added a pouch of red cabbage with apples that provided a satisfyingly juicy crunch to the meal. And since we had the luxury of a campfire mid-day we had tea to go with it. 
Nap-time for Victor. Terry & Isabelle took a walk around the island & I read my book. We all went for another swim at some point in the afternoon.Many of the campsites marked on Hap's map are not actually signed in any way as they usually are in a provincial park (which the Missinaibi River is). This site is a good example of how you have to have a good eye to locate the path up to the campsite as you're paddling past, otherwise you'll never know the site exists!
Luckily for us Victor spotted our path when we arrived yesterday.
All the rain today seemed to go past us without ever hitting us; providing us w/ some rainbows! Victor cut some of the fallen trees for firewood. Dinner was ravioli in tomato sauce w/ tea & chocolate for dessert.
Saturday, August 1st, 2015
Day 7
50 km sailed / paddled.
Today was the first day I wore the bottom half of my zip off pants ... with all the dirt the shorts have accumulated, they look two-toned now that I've zipped the bottoms on. #campingisdirty

We awoke to cloudy skies & 15ºC. Vic was up first to make a fire. We cooked up some oatmeal w/ dried fruits & coffee. We packed up & said goodbye to our lovely site & set sail in low winds about 9:30.

The Keewaydin girls group paddled passed us as we loaded up our canoes this morning. We leapfrogged them throughout the day. It looked like it might rain today, but the sun came out for good & it got to be 25ºC. We saw some Cackling geese (http://bit.ly/1DRxYOg) which look like Canada Geese but smaller.
We mostly sailed with decent winds this morning. We had a couple of CIs and even a CII that we ran with the canoes attached!!! The girls group had to walk their cedar canoes through the shallows next to the CII rapids (they don't run rapids) & they watched us bump & paddle our way through it in our "catamaran".
We stopped for lunch on the shore next to a sand dune leading up to a burned section of forest from a past fire. We ate our usual lunch before hiking up to see the forest. The Keewaydin girls paddled past us as we ate lunch. The hike up was steep but we were rewarded with a beautiful field of flowers amongst the charred remains of trees. And lots of mosquitoes!
We paddled on through many unmarked swifts that felt to us more like CI technicals with all the boulder dodging & some significant waves too! Mid-afternoon we were passing the girls who had stopped on a gravel bar for a break or lunch & we yelled over to them and asked if they were paddling all the way to Portage Island tonight; they said that yes they were. We planned to camp at the last site before that one to let them have it to themselves but upon arrival discovered it was overgrown with trees & shrubs :(No room for any tents without significant site maintenance to be done.
So we paddled on to Portage Island with little help from the wind that died down after lunch. We hoped to arrive first before the girls to choose our tent sites before them (they're pretty fast paddlers, so we thought they might catch up and/or pass us with our sail not grabbing much wind). It took us a while to walk the shore & find exactly where the campsite was near the tip of the island (it was just a bit of a ways down the left channel). We set up our tents in a small clearing off the main campsite, leaving plenty of room for the girls to put their tents when they arrived. 
But upon arriving the girls group never came over to see if they could share with us - they simply set up camp on the gravel shore across the way. I guess they wanted to keep to themselves. So we moved our tents into the more open, less mosquitoe-y area. There is a steep bank to climb with all your gear to get up to this site due to the site actually eroding away in higher water levels. You can see in our photos that the soil the tree is rooted in actually hangs out over open air.
We went for a swim, drank some tea & Isabelle cooked up some alfredo bowtie pasta with bacon for supper. We watched rain pass by on either side of the river without hitting us & heard some serious thunder too! It rained a little after the sun set but by then we were in our tents. I had been lamenting the fact that all of our sites after this one are likely to be gravel bars / shores and that my mattress doesn't stay inflated longer than an hour. Terry suggested lying Vic's & my camp chairs out flat under my mattress for a little extra padding. It worked great! Why hadn't I thought of that earlier?
Sunday, August 22nd, 2015
Day 8
22 km paddled / sailed
A lazy morning as we have 90 km to go & 4 days in which to do it. We cooked bannock in pans on the grill over the fire - they cook through more slowly & fully using the grill (as opposed to last year when we placed the pans directly on the fire & the bannock cooked too fast on the outside). The girls' camp group staying across the channel left quite early this morning, so they'll be well ahead of us. 
We took our time eating, drinking coffee, & chatting about how this site could lose another chunk of itself to the river in the next high water! There was a cold spring coming out down by the water. Vic created a reservoir & filled a Nalgene with the very cold water. We all took a sip; the coldest thing to touch our lips on this paddle! Isabelle made a rock cairn to help mark the site's entrance. Someone else had put some marker tape on a stick held up by some rocks here too.
By the time time we struck camp & got on the water it was noon! We were all surprised by the late hour. We are now on the Moose River (the Missinaibi & Mattagami merged just before Portage Island to create the Moose River). The left channel around Portage Island (the side where we camped) turned out to be rocks & gravel bar all the way across just downriver from our site, so we had to turn around & paddle upriver around the tip of the island to get to river right. In the aerial map for today you'll notice a full left channel so we realized that water levels were low.

We paddled in the sun with little wind for the sail. We stopped for lunch after 10 km of paddling & happened upon a hunting cabin up high on the shore. Good thing too because rain started to spit down so we sheltered under the porch's overhang to eat our usual lunch. We looked around the property a bit too as the owner had a teepee / smoking hut out back & meat racks made of trees, etc. Just after we finished eating the rain came down hard for about 20 minutes so we stayed huddled on the porch. Once the rain petered out, we got back on the river, passing islands, avoiding gravel bars that blocked channels & negotiating some smallish rapids.

The rail bridge over Moose River came into view. This is where the Polar Bear Express train passes over the river. We'll be taking that train home at the end of the trip. We hiked up to the tracks & had a look around. It gave us a great view up & down the river. As we headed back to our canoes, some workers arrived in a truck to get to work - they have a living area about 500 m down the tracks.
We paddled under the bridge, narrowly passing i-beams that had been dropped off the rail bridge during repairs (I guess that's why they have large "do not enter" signs under the bridge; but how else do they want us to pass by - portage?).  There were gypsum "caves" along the shore right after the bridge.
We started looking for a campsite, trying to decide between gravel bars (too rocky) or left shore (too sloped). We settled on a large sand bar just past the island after the rail bridge. We'd had light rain off & on through the afternoon but as we pulled ashore the rain was taking a break so we took advantage to get our tents up quickly in case it started raining again. We could still see the rail bridge in the distance behind us & we listened to & watched the train from Moosonee pass by just after 6pm.
Vic found some dry pieces of wood on a tree that had been left on shore after higher water. He built a small fire using a large boulder in the sand as a wind block. Isabelle cooked up butter chicken & rice for dinner. We use rocks to hold the tents in place against the wind on these sand bars.We intended to sit by the dying fire a bit after supper but it started to rain a little so we retreated to our tents to read & sleep.
Monday, August 3rd, 2015
Day 9
31 km paddled
So many mosquitoes again last night! But luckily zippers were tight so they only got in a bit when we left to pee. Numerous mosquitoes seem to come with the sand bars. I forced myself to only pee once in the night as it took us 5 minutes to kill all the mosquitoes that got into our tent with that one quick zip/unzip of the tent.
We cooked oatmeal with fruit & coffee over the fire for breakfast. We packed up & were launching around 10am. We dismantled the sailing rig before setting off this morning as there was very little wind blowing.
We were shocked to find so many shallow areas of bedrock or pebbles - some seemed to stretch across the entire kilometer-wide river! Here (in our photos) Isabelle & Terry are walking their canoe through a shallow area where they hit bottom. Here you can see Victor & I wading our way through a very wide, shallow area. Water levels really are low.
Here Isabelle is on a gravel bar in the middle; she & Terry went river right of the gravel bar & found deeper water. We had taken river left. We stopped for lunch on the gravel bar here amidst our lining & lifting over shallow areas. 
After lunch we immediately ran a CI rapid & then the rain came down in earnest several times over the course of the afternoon. We did a lot more walking our canoes through rock gardens - so surprising when the river is so wide here. You'd think there'd be lots of deep water! Once in Moosonee, one of the locals explained that the low water conditions might be due to the dams on the Abitibi & Mattagami rivers. We pushed on in the rain trying to get to Wikikanishi Island, hoping its campsite would not be a gravel bar, but a real island site up on the shore amongst the trees.
We approached the island in the rain around 5pm. We could see from a ways back that the girls' camp group was already there, but the site - a sandy shore at the front tip of the island - was large w/ lots of empty space for us to camp. We pulled our canoes onto the sand and immediately the 2 counselors (2 girls ~20yrs old) came down to us. They said a quick hello & we said we'd camp away from them at the other end of the sand bar / shore. It quickly became clear that they did not want us camping there. It didn't matter that there was lots of room, nor that this was the last marked campsite for 37 km, not even that it was pouring rain and almost supper time. They did not want us camping there & no amount of our reasoning with them could change their minds. They seemed to think there were infinite numbers of places to camp around here (there are I guess if you don't mind sleeping on big rocks or on sloping shores 2 feet from the water's edge). They even said "we'd prefer not to see you AT ALL" and made some comments about our sailing past them, as though we'd sailed as a personal insult to them. Needless to say we found this very rude. After 5 minutes of trying to reason with them, Terry finally ended the conversation by saying we'd be staying anyways, we'd be out of their way, & it would be much nicer if they could be OK with that. In our photos of this site, you can see their green tents in the top right of one of our photos - at the other end of the beach. Goes to show how much distance there was between our two groups! 
The rain let up once we got our canoes & gear up on shore at the other end of the beach. We set up our tents. Victor had trouble getting a fire going for the first time as the island is pretty mucky in the center with no dry wood. He worked at it for 30 minutes & it finally caught once Isabelle & I ripped the cardboard tubes from the middle of our toilet paper rolls to give him. In the past we've packed some fire starter but Vic is so good at getting fires going that we've stopped packing it. We probably would have used it this night if we'd had some.
We had a dinner of cheese tortellini pasta & then read by the fire. We discussed perhaps paddling the entire 37 km tomorrow (instead of over 2 days as planned) to ensure we don't stumble upon the girls group again. Tonight was not a pleasant encounter with them.
Tuesday, August 4th, 2015
Day 10
37 km paddled
I was pleasantly surprised to find the mosquitoes weren't bad at all here last night. It was 13ºC this morning; feeling pretty chilly. Vic got the fire started again even though the rain overnight had totally put it out. We cooked bannock again to eat w/ PB & nutella plus ate some dehydrated fruit & had our coffee.

The girls group launched their canoes while we were eating breakfast. As we did dishes, Vic & Terry walked over to the girls' now empty campsite at the other end of the beach and found a huge bag of GORP they'd left behind by their campfire. We packed it out as garbage in our barrels which are much lighter now at the end of our trip.

There are so many amazing looking rocks on this river! (see our photos)

We packed up & were on the water by about 9:45am. We began our last day of paddling sticking to river left as suggested by Hap; the river is often divided in 2 by gravel bars (or at least sections too shallow for the canoe to pass). We were starting to see a few cabins & cottages along the river. Just when we realized our last big CII-CIII rapid was in view, Isabelle called our attention to a bear that she had spotted on the shore. Victor & I hadn't seen it yet because we'd been distracted looking at the girls group that we'd caught up to; they were on shore portaging around the rapids (a big portage as the map says the rapids are 2km long). Their leader stayed in her canoe at the top of the rapids on shore, between the campers & the bear keeping an eye on the bear. The bear seemed uninterested in them.

We were quickly into the Kwetabohigan Rapids; just managed to get life jackets & helmets on after taking photos of the bear. We stuck to the left as shown on the map, but the haystacks on the right didn't seem as large as described (low water?). It was a really fun set of rapids; 2 km of fast & wavy water.
We stopped shortly after on a centre gravel bar for lunch.
After lunch we hugged the left shore even more to hit a series of CIs as we got closer to Moosonee. The paddling took more & more effort the closer we got as we later learned that the tide was coming in. We took the left channel around Maidmans Island, checking out the backyards of the houses on the edge of town including one dock with 3 bush planes.
We pulled up next to the first public dock in Moosonee about 3:45. Terry, Victor & Isabelle walked into town to move our train reservation up a day & enquire about hotel rooms. I stayed with our canoes & the boat taxi drivers struck up a conversation with me. I felt bad talking loudly from further away, so I walked over up onto the dock to get closer to the guys I was chatting with. Mid-conversation I looked toward our canoes & saw Terry & Isabelle's canoe floating away!!! I jumped off the dock & into the water out to the canoe, lungeing to catch the bow & drag it back to shore. I was wearing rain pants & a long sleeve shirt & was now soaked up to chest level! The boat taxi guys didn't laugh too hard at me - one even kindly said "that's happened to me too before". That's how I learned how fast the tide was coming in - the canoe had been pulled up on shore, but the rising tide lifted it off the rocks! Pretty embarrassing. After that I sat on the bow of our boats while I chatted & continuously pulled them further up as the tide kept coming in.

One driver, Darryl, answered lots of my questions about both Moosonee & Moose Factory. He offered ideas of place to visit such as the Cree Cultural Interpretive Centre (CCIC;http://www.moosecree.com/tourism/ccic.html) & the Gathering Of Our People (GOOP;http://www.moosecree.com/goop/) which is happening over the next 3 days.

While I waited at the boat docks for about an hour, the other three made it up to the train station to move our tickets up to Thursday from Friday. They asked around about hotels in town but everything on the mainland was either closed down or full up because of the GOOP. Terry called over to the Ecolodge on the island of Moose Factory and managed to secure their last two rooms for tonight. We weren't sure how long of a paddle it would be over to Moose Factory & it was getting close to supper time. Leo offered to take the cover off his water taxi & load all our gear into it with the canoes placed on top to taxi us over. There was just barely enough room for us to sit on some crates/barrels/whatever we could. The tide was high enough that Leo was able to take a shortcut channel - albeit slowly & carefully - and within 20 minutes we were unloading our gear onto the dock of the Ecolodge (http://www.creevillage.com/) in Moose Factory.
We checked into our rooms & brought all of our packs & gear in. We left our canoes on a rack out front of the lodge. The first thing we all did was take a hot shower. I picked out my least grubby camp clothes to put on after getting clean. We met in the hotel restaurant for dinner. It was our first introduction to Northern prices, 25$ for burgers & fries (that's before drinks, taxes or tip). The food was OK, but there was nothing local or cultural on the menu which was a bit disappointing. I get the impression that this is the only restaurant in Moose Factory. The setting is beautiful though - made of local wood & stone with great big windows looking out over the river. When weather is nicer you can see some great sunsets here (according to my perusal of Instagram photos here).

After dinner, dessert & tea, we retired to our rooms to check email/messages & go to sleep. The rain started to pour as we went to sleep; a good night to be in a hotel room instead of a tent (even if we're paying dearly for the privilege; 200$/room & they are pretty basic rooms).

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015
Moose Factory
Walk around town
We woke up around 7am & headed down to the restaurant for a continental breakfast; cereals, yogurt, toast & coffee. I wrote up the trip log for yesterday as we ate.
We walked into the "downtown" area & had the company of 2 dogs that we think belonged to one of the construction workers at the hotel. The dogs followed us all the way into town. All the roads here are dirt roads & the drizzling rain made them very muddy. Many residents paint or mount hockey team logos on their property somewhere.
We visited the Cree Cultural Interpretive Center (CCIC). I expected a sort of museum / teaching center. I'd heard there were guided tours even. But besides some amazing black & white portraits of elders & some hand-painted info about Cree culture pre- & post-European contact, it was mostly a shop selling local crafts. The 3 women inside were plucking ducks & geese out back for the GOOP feast when we arrived. Guided tours did not seem to be something they were offering, but they answered any questions we had & told us a bit more about GOOP & the local sights. I bought a pair of silver dreamcatcher earrings.
From there we walked across the island again to the Cree Complex. There are lots of loose dogs hanging out next to their homes. Everybody in town seems to have at least one freighter canoe (Leo says also called a Nor-West canoe for the company famous for making them in Québec). The Cree Complex is home to the Northern Store (groceries), a deli, a diner, offices and community "hall" type space. Beside it is the hockey arena. We had a look around the grocery store and stopped to read an exhibit about Cree languages in the common area as well as an info station about a local gold mine & their mining process. We ate lunch in the diner at the complex where a little girl took one look at my blonde hair & fair skin and said "What are YOU doing here?" in a curious tone. There are white people living in Moosonee but I guess I still stick out.
We also saw the Keewaydin ladies group here - we hadn't seen them since back at Thunderhouse Falls. They'd just paddled in to town & were having lunch also & looking for rooms at the Ecolodge; the lodge managed to find them 1 which they shared that night with some of them sleeping in a hall in the basement. They were just ecstatic to each have a shower in their shared room :)
We went into the hockey arena next door to see the GOOP exhibitors. There were a few handmade crafts & jewelry for sale; Victor bought t-shirts for his kids, Isabelle bought a beautiful beaded necklace and we bought a homemade apple pie to take back to the hotel with us.
From the Cree Complex, we walked back across the island to Centennial Park where some HBC homes & structures have been preserved from the days of the HBC post here. Nearby Centennial Park we had a look at the the HBC "Staff House"; their main lodgings.
By this point the roads were very muddy; all the locals seem to drive everywhere, we saw very few pedestrians (maybe just because of the drizzle today?). We saw some nice houses w/ well maintained properties, but mostly the homes look weathered with sheets up in the windows & plywood covering up holes or broken glass. We slopped through the mud back to the hotel to eat some pie & drink tea before heading to our room (we're sharing a room for tonight - it's all they had left) to read & have a nap.
We woke from our nap at 6:30 & hurried down to the restaurant before dinner finished at 7. It was busy - all 10 tables were full - & they were out of a few things; no more soup, no fish for fish & chips, etc.
Thursday, August 6th, 2015
Boat ride into James Bay
Our gear looks strange in a hotel room rather than at a campsite. We relaxed this morning over a long continental breakfast at the hotel. The Keewaydin ladies group were doing the same. We had made arrangements the night before to be taken in a boat out to Jame's Bay by the hotel's chef around noon. He was also going to ferry our gear & canoes over to Moosonee as part of the price for the ride. We were relaxing in our hotel room when the chef called up to our room to say that he was sorry, but his boat wouldn't start & he wouldn't be able to take us out. So we set about packing & settling up with the hotel (ouch; $$$). We put our boats in the water at the hotel dock, loaded up our gear and paddled over to Moosonee; it took about 30 minutes, nice & easy. We probably should've just paddled over here when we arrived too!

We pulled up at the public docks and saw Leo - our boat taxi driver from two days ago - & we asked him if he could take us out to the Bay after we portaged our gear & canoes up to the train station (about 850 m). He said yes & offered us the use of his pickup truck for free to get up to the station (well, perhaps not free as we were paying a decent price to head out into the bay with him)! How awesome is that? We loaded our gear into the truck bed & placed both canoes perpendicular across the bed w/ Terry sitting under them, holding them in place - eek, precarious (it was a short truck bed). Vic drove us up to the station where we stored the canoes & gear under a shelter next to the tracks; Leo has a really nice truck! Unfortunately I forgot to get a photo of the truck all loaded up w/ our gear :(

Leo took us out the mouth of the Moose River & into James Bay. Great views - the Bay is huge, we just barely got out into it. We passed some locals camping along the shore near the Bay. Leo said they were waiting for the tide to come in w/ higher water as they had a new boat they'd bought & had arrived on the train. They were towing it behind another boat up to a community further up the coast. They needed higher water so that they could hug the shore - otherwise they'd have to get too far from shore which gets dangerous (a lot of accidents happen to boaters out on the Bay when bad weather rolls in).
Leo is an artist, he spends much of the winter working on his paintings & drawings. We asked Leo tons of questions which he answered with good humour & a smile. Well worth the cost of the boat ride to gather some of his knowledge & stories, let alone getting to see James Bay.
Leo drove by closer to the guys on shore on the way back so that he could chat with them a bit.
You can see the ferry in behind Leo in our photos. We never took the official ferry - it loaded from a different dock. We always used Leo's boat taxi. Back at the docks, we took a photo with Leo & said goodbye. We thanked him for being a great tour guide & helping us get around for the last few days.
It was now 2pm & the train had just arrived from Cochrane, spilling passengers into town. We walked to the station to load our packs & canoes into a box car. With our gear loaded up, we wandered down the street for a late lunch at the Sky Ranch restaurant which Leo had recommended. It looked pretty shabby from the outside (in fact Vic, Terry & Isabelle had passed by it on the first day saying no way we're going in there!), but once inside it was really clean & nice! The treat here was a nice cold beer with our meals, since Moose Factory had been a dry reservation we couldn't order beer with our meals there.
We wandered into the Northern Store & hardware store to pass some time before we were ready to board the train.
Moosonee to Cochrane 
300 km by train
Time to board the famous Polar Bear Express train!
We quickly moved to the middle dome car which had tables and bench seats high up w/ windows overlooking the forests on either side. There was also a cafeteria car where you could buy snacks and drinks, with tables where you had to stay to drink any alcohol you bought.
Mostly you see forest the whole way, but the train slows right down as it crosses the Moose River on the bridge to allow passengers to get a good look at the view up & down the river. Strange to be looking up & down a river from a warm, dry trian that we paddled down just days ago. Ponds, streams, logging roads, the odd cluster of homes in the middle of the forest and a beautiful sunset gave us moments of interest. The train also slowed down for the big hydro dam at Otter Rapids on the Abitibi River, but I forgot to take a photo (http://bit.ly/1hCIGhH).
Upon arrival in Cochrane at 10pm we unloaded our canoes & gear from the box car & helped the Keewaydin ladies do the same as they were on the same train as us. The canoes all got stored in a lockable fenced enclosure by the tracks & we put the gear in the car for the night.

Two weeks ago we booked our rooms at the Station Inn, the hotel right above the station. We checked in & went straight to bed.

Friday, August 7th, 2015
Cochrane to Ottawa 
741 km driving
We woke up about 7am. I had a quick shower before we met Terry & Isabelle in the station restaurant for breakfast. Once loaded up with eggs & bacon we put all the gear in the trailer w/ canoes on top & strapped them down good & tight. And we were on our way for the drive home! 
We stopped at the Rock Pine motel & restaurant in Marten River for lunch and for ice cream in Cobden.
We arrived back in Ottawa about 7pm, divied up gear & parted ways from our fabulous canoe buddies.

So, where to next year?

Maps Required
Other Maps: 
Hap Wilson's: http://www.amazon.ca/Missinaibi-Journey-Northern-Superior-James/dp/1550464361