[Jay called in this evening. Said it was sprinkling a little up there but stopped for a while, and he wanted to make the call before the rain started again.]
Sunday, July 19, Day 9: We were slow breaking camp this morning. It rained at night but only gray this morning. At 9 am we were packed up, and rain on the river by 9:45. The rain finally stopped by 2 pm, cooler and windy, headwinds but not bad. This was a slow section of the river with only 1 class 2 rapid right after leaving camp, and a class 1 where we stopped for lunch. By 3 pm we were in camp at rapid #30, which I later learned is called First Lake Rapid. It’s a class 1 and camp we camped on the island next to it. We covered 25km, a relatively easy day. It’s 5 p.m. and we’re relaxing at a scenic spot with 9 days behind us and 4 to go. Everything is hanging out to dry; it’s now mostly sunny with a northeast breeze. Monday will be another quiet day. On Tuesday we’ll encounter many rapids in final stretch to Mattice.
Monday, July 20, Day 10: A beautiful morning. The sky was finally clear. Although the temperature was 46 to start, it reached 80 by afternoon. Today was an easy paddle with slow steady current, tail winds and one class 1 rapid. We stopped at old logging bridge but there was no activity or vehicles. We reached Two Portage Falls and camped. We all took turns bathing and lying on the warm rocks. We covered 31km in 7 hours today, but didn’t paddle very hard to do it. We could have easily cut an hour off but took frequent breaks just floating on the river in the sunshine. Tomorrow we begin our push to Mattice.
Tuesday, July 21, Day 11: We broke camp at 8 am, finished portaging around Two Portage Falls, and ran the bottom class 1. The “Devil’s Rapid” series was next. We portaged around Pond Falls and Devil Cap Falls. We ran 1k-long Devil Shoepac Rapids, which was class 1 and 2. We ran Devil Base Rapids, a class 1, and the right side of Devil Base Falls, a class 2. We ran Z-Drag Rapids far left, after portaging our gear. After lunch, considering the continuing sunny warm weather with tail winds and current, we decided to push on to Big Beaver Rapids. We ran Upper Albany Rapids, a class 1, and Sleeping Beauty Rapids, no problem. At the bottom of Lower Albany Rapids, a class 2 ledge flipped Dan and Mary, and after the yard sale, the loss was one sock and a fishing pole missing. We rolled into Big Beaver Rapids by 5 p.m., a long day but not excessive. We can now lay over tomorrow and swim and relax without breaking camp. Covered 39km today.
PS: Big Beaver Rapid is raging whitewater at this level. It’s Class V, an awesome sight. It will be fun to explore tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 22, Day 12: it’s noon, this is our layover day and we are all relaxing. We had a slow breakfast, hiking and exploring, fishing and reading, and conversation without having to pack and unpack. Weather is great, bugs not bad. The only downside is we discovered an ATV access trail when portaging yesterday. Locals have cut a path through the woods from a road on the west side of the river down to Big Beaver Rapids. It joins the portage trail and they are driving ATVs down the portage trail to the canoe launch. Right on schedule after breakfast, an 8-wheel Argo ATV showed up with a canoe strapped on top. Two men and a boy got out, unloaded the canoe next to our campsite, left the ATV and went fishing. I took pictures of the ATV, the trail, and the serial number. I will contact Missinaibi Park Headquarters when I return to the states. ATV access has already trashed Glassy Falls near Mattice and the thought of people trashing this place too is sickening. Big Beaver Rapids is pristine. These guys fishing didn’t leave any trash, but with access it could be the next party hangout by less responsible users. I hope this can get stopped.
I will call again for the last time on Friday when we reach Mattice.