Live Blogging from the Missinaibi, Part II

[Editor’s note: Jay was a day late calling in because it was raining too hard on Tuesday night to come out of his tent and use the satellite phone.]

Day 5, Wednesday, July 15: We stayed at Barclay Bay campground in the provincial park last night. Left this morning at 9:30 am–we had a slow start getting things together. We paddled the rest of Missinaibi Lake to the source of the river, which was 12km, 3 hours. So it took us 2 days and 9.5 hours of paddling to cross Missinaibi Lake. We had excellent weather to make this huge open water crossing. Reached the source of the Missinaibi River, water was slow draining out of the lake. A little bit downstream from the source is first rapid, a class 2, which we ran after scouting. The next two class 1s we boat scouted and ran. We camped at Flying Post Creek. Bugs were bad in daytime, but at camp in the evening they were surprisingly good. Even though we were way back in woods, we were able to cook dinner and sit around in camp. Suddenly at bedtime the bugs found us again, so everybody dove for the tents at 10 pm. Total of 28km: 13km on the lake, 15km on river.

Day 6, Thursday, July 16: We were back on the river at 8 am. The day was brighter than usual, full sun appeared briefly. We ran all the class 1 rapids, then Sun Rapids and Barrel Rapids which are Class 2. Water levels are way up, half of spring levels, and there’s been tons of rain lately. In fact, all the rapids are actually 1 level higher than what’s listed here and in the guidebook. The river is cranked, like a spring trip. We found our first smashed canoe below Sun Rapids, and encountered slow water for some distance after that. We passed through Peterbell, and the CN rail track, where there’s an abandoned station. 3km downstream from the track is a bedrock site in the middle of a marsh, so we camped there starting late afternoon. Buggy in the campsite but windy, some rain toward the end of day. In the evening we had mixed sun and clouds, so we hung out and had nice relaxing evening in camp, bugs went down, a few sprinkles. It was a fairly easy day, 19km.

Day 7, Friday, July 17: Got on the river at 8:30 am. A gray day with brief sun. We ran Swamp Rapids, then 5 class 1s after that. At Allan Island we went down the right channel and portaged on the left side of the log jam.  There is another growing logjam upstream at the top that may close off the right channel completely, for future reference to anyone running later this year. We portaged Wavy Rapids because it’s class 3 at this water level. It started to sprinkle on and off, and by the time we reached the portage of Greenhill Rapids, it started to really rain and didn’t let up. It took us 2-3/4 hours to portage Green Hill due to hauling boats through mud. We camped at the end of portage and it rained the rest of the day and night. 26km total.

Day 8, Saturday, July 18: When we woke up it was still raining. We broke camp and were on the water by 8:30 in the rain. It rained most of the day. We ran Calf Rapid, but portaged St. Peter rapid due to high water, then ran two class 1s below that. We portaged Split Rock falls, and it was still raining, temps lowering. It was a chilly day. We pushed on to Thunder Falls and set up camp early as the rain slowly subsideed. By 2:30 pm the rain had slowed down but everything hanging was wet. We had hot drinks and got a fire going. At 6 pm it was still gray but the weather is finally changing for better. Covered 21km today, we’re still on schedule.

Paddling the Missinaibi this year has been like doing it in May. The river is high, the rapids are more technical and challenging, and the weather has been more springlike—lots of changes, cold, and damp. We’ve found four smashed canoes so far. Definitely not like a summer trip.

I will call in again on Wednesday, July 22.

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