It was actually quite dry when we left this morning. We got up early, about 5:40, and were on the water by 10 to 8. There was quit a bit of blue sky when we got up, but it was mostly overcast by the time we left, and quite a strong west wind all day. Since we were travelling generally east all day, it pushed us along. With the current we were often travelling over 8 km/hr.
It started to sprinkle rain just before we reached the Inman Channel, and we put on our rain gear; however it didn’t last long. We stopped to photograph the rock paintings. They are just to the east of a high cliff in the channel, though the paintings themselves are a way back from the water.
There was a lot of current right up to the pole skid of the portage (13 U 559121 6141576). We snuck along the shore, Graeme got out just upstream on the bank and hung on to the canoe. The portage itself was very easy as it was a good skid with plastic pipe over the logs, so we just slid the canoe over.
We continued on across Keg Lake. There are very few places to camp, or even to get out and eat. We were making good time so got to the portage (13 U 570258 6138354) before noon, made one carry across to check if the downstream side was nicer to eat (it wasn’t) and then ate our lunch. There is a lot of current coming into the portage, though it is a very large bay above the falls so not hard to get to the portage. It was a skid once, but isn’t in very good condition now.
A very fast moving rain shower hit just as we were finishing lunch. We quickly got the tarp out and finished eating under it. The cloth bags got a bit damp, but not too bad. It ended as fast as it started, so we probably weren’t under for more than five minutes.
There is quite a bit of current, and a large back eddy below the falls. We stayed to the left side as we went by the island rapids (13 U 570292 6137911), and they were very easy. After a few more km with the wind on our side now, as we had changed direction slightly to the south, we reached the first part of Grand Rapids (13 U 572001 6135647). It was very easy to shoot as the water level is so high there was hardly any sign of a rapids.
Grand Rapids portage (13 U 572736 6135528) doesn’t have a very good landing, but that was the least of our problems. The portage itself started off ok, though the trail was very faint, but after about 100 m we came to an immense field of deadfall. There were huge logs at waist-high across the path. Graeme had to take the canoe off to get over. I had to take my packs off and slide them under one of the trees.
This was just the start of the poor trail. Now the trail was very faint and hard to see. Occasionally you could see an old blaze, many of them on trees that were now down. The trail wound around deadfall for most of the rest of it’s 500 m. There were several very bad spots. I got part of the pack stuck on a tree and Graeme had to get it off. Another time I got the gun hung up in a tree. At the end of the trail there were more trees down right at the top of the steep hill down to the water. We unloaded all our packs here, Graeme handed them under the trees, and then I would shuttle them down the hill. Finally we slid the canoe down, Graeme holding on to the rear rope and I guiding it.
There is a very stong current coming out through the island below the rapids (13 U 573883 6135559) as it enters Trade Lake. We saw a number of large clumps of cattail reeds floating in the water, and being pushed around by the current. Several floated by us here where we are camped, then would get caught in a back eddy and go back upstream for a long ways before coming by again. We wonder what might have caused them to break loose, and suspect that the flood level has perhaps broken a beaver dam somewhere.
This is quite a nice campsite. We set the tent back in the trees a way in a clearing. The cooking area is right by the water. There are quite a lot of mosquitoes, but far less blackflies than last night.
So far we are making good time, and should be close to Kettle Falls by tomorrow night if we have good weather.
Paddled 31.89 km
Camped 13 U 0574185 613365 (NAD83)