Hayes River Canoe Trip Log
Roy picked up Bob at just after 6:00 pm and headed of to Art's to pack up Frixos and Art. We set off towards Sea River Ferry at about 7:00 pm arriving in Grand Rapids at 10:45. Without hotel reservations we ended up camping at a fishing camp on Cedar Lake. We got our tents set up and after a quick scotch hit the sack.
We got up early and made a quick breakfast and packed for the remainder of the trip. Continued up highway 6 and had lunch at Ponton. We headed for 373 the road through Jenpeg to Sea River Ferry. After crossing the ferry we unloaded the car and trailer. Frixos and Roy continued on to Norway house to pick up Roy's father who was driving back to Thompson.
We finally got started down the Nelson at 2:30pm with the wind and current behind us we put up sails to speed up our journey to the Echimamish. Here the change of colour marks the merging river systems the dark clear black of the Echimamish mixes with the silted blue green flow of the Nelson.
The weather had been good and the current high. We had barely noticed the high rock rapids as we passed towards the black river. We continued on to Hairy Lake and on seeing it knew why it was named. It was hairy with reeds.
With a storm coming behind we looked for a good camping site at the far side of Hairy Lake near the river exit. There was a rock bank through the reeds that provided a few flat spot to put up a tent. We put up a tarp and were prepared for the rain, wind, thunder, and lightening. We had a good meal and then headed for the tents out of the bugs. It was a windy and rainy night but after a long afternoon and a little scotch we were prepared for it.
We left our Hairy Lake campsite after breakfast. It was windy and cool and the misty rain did not look like it was going to end. The wind was at our back and pushed us along faster than the current retarded our progress. With the wind wet and cold we needed to paddle to keep warm and put in a long day of paddling past beaver houses of all sizes up the black watered river.
On a rocky shore at a big bend in the river we found a great campsite and set up for the night. It was still cold but we found enough wood for a good fire for soup and dinner.
There was lots of room for tents. Someone had brought in a load of chip board to build a cabin but had never made any advance over the ants in the timbers.
The day broke sunny and still. A mist still hung on the water as we prepared for breakfast. Pancakes were in order as we dried our gear from the previous day. We continued down the river passing more old Hudson Bay dams and old campsites. There were many beaver dams as well. All the beaver dams required a pullover but we soon reached painted stone portage. This is the division between the two water sheds of the Nelson and the Hayes. From here is was all down hill to the bay. The separation is about 75 feet in length and 6 feet in height. This portage had been used for 100's of years. York boats with tons of goods and furs had been manhandled across this rock. Our small canoes with their loads were a simple job. With offerings of tobacco for a sunny and safe journey we started down the Hayes. It was warm now, time for a rest and a swim. We were surprised to find the water warm and blue green again.
We continued on to Robinson Lake past high cliffs of granite and many miles of burnt forests. Here in the middle of the lake we found a stop on a island just suitable for camping. A flat spot right a the lakes edge. Thanks for free standing tents.
Bob caught the first fish, a jack that we released. After diner we retired early a escape the onslaught of mosquitos.
A beautiful day greeted us. A mirrored lake, misty in the morning sun. This was the day of the 1.8 km portage around Robinson Falls. After crossing the other half of the lake we continued a short distance up the river where a broken ore marked the portage. This could have been an easy walk if the trees had not blocked our way at many sites. But with all our equipment it took three trips and a major clearing effort to get to the far end of the portage and investigate the falls from below. Portaging was a brutal effort over the trees and through bogs a foot deep. Signs of the old rails and trolley cars were still visible rusting in the undergrowth. The footprints of moose and wolf told of other inhabitants of the area but they remained well hidden from the intruders. The portage took us over 2 hours.
The falls were swift and beautiful but tangled with trees.
After the crossing we floated down the river and had a snack lunch. It was then on to Logan Lake and a stop before our first rapids. It was just after 3 pm and time to set up camp in a fine camping site. We swam and washed our clothes. Roy and Art went fishing.
After a moon lit night the morning was again sunny and still. We set off down the lake after breakfast to find the exit to the Hayes. Here the water was swifter. As we passed along the river we were greeted by 2 stone cairns (inuksuits) as we searched the rocky short for pictographs. With all the orange moss we missed this site and headed for Oskatukaw rapids. We scanned these well as they were the first. Roy and Bob took the left side and without enough speed above the current missed the turn to avoid a ledge and sideslipped down the final drop. Thanks for heavy well balanced canoes. Art and Frixos took the middle route and made it look simple. Here we stopped for lunch and fishing. On top of the rock overlooking the rapids we ate. Art and Roy fished. An otter followed in Roy's catch but turned and left when he noticed what was going on.
We continued down stream towards Hell's Gate. Here the current was strong and the haystacks high. The route is well hidden from scouting by an island. It is quite the ride through the haystack, water pounding into your chest as the stern man sees that the cannot avoid all the high water. Thanks for the spray skirts and the warm temperatures. We were happy to be wet.
Further down stream Bob noticed an odd flapping in the middle of the river. As we approached we noticed it was a moose swimming in the river. By the flies we picked up as we approached it was, no doubt, her attempt to escape them that drove her to a swim down the river. She slowly made it to shore joined by another standing almost unnoticed on the shore.
We continued though the granite lined channel thinking a stop on Opiminegoka Lake was in order. As we reached a good stop the wind had picked up. We were heading directly into it through the white caps. We needed a sheltered shore to stop but the only place was the far end of the lake. After a tiring paddle we stopped on a small island for a snack well out of the wind.
From here to our selected camp site on island pine (Camp Opiminegoka) we followed a section of the river with wide low banks. It was late afternoon and we still had a fairly strong wind to contend with. There were three osprey fishing the river as we paddled. The osprey hovered in the wind slowly down stream. They would suddenly plummet a steep dive at the water below hitting with quite a splash and appear moments later with a fish in their claws. Three osprey three catches, then they headed off to their nest with the fish facing forward in their claws.
The campsite on the rock island in an elbow of the river was another excellent spot. We set up camp ate dinner and toasted a successful day on the river and some very exciting rapids run.
Got up to a pancake breakfast. Broke camp and somehow manage to leave all our forks behind. It took a couple of days to miss them. The wind was in our face again all the way to Windy Lake. Windy lake lived up to its name and we tried to avoid the strongest winds but the crossing to the river exit was a tough job. We were dead beat once in the river again somewhat sheltered from the wind. The rapids come in quick succession, Hahasew, Moore, Seeseep. Hahasew a straight run past two ledges leaves Moore a nice technical back ferry to a chute on the left. Seeseep is a push through a hole to a good v-wave. Bob and Frixos go right on the left side of the island and forgo a brace for a gunnel grab as they crossed the current line and nearly go for a swim. Roy and Art go for the dull route looking perfect as the come into the eddy.
The last of the day is Wipanipanis Falls. We do a back ferry under the winter road bridge to river left and paddle to the brink of the falls. Here we push and pull the boats over a short portage on rollers across the small island. The other channel would have been a wicked run maybe too dangerous for our skill level. We stop on the island for a snack and to try our luck at fishing. Maybe the time was wrong but none were caught.
We continued down to Oxford Lake and find a campsite along the bank. It has been well used. There is an old stove rusting with much left from previous campers. Again an attempt to catch fish fails and we eat our packed meal and head for the security of the tents before the mosquitoes get us.
What a morning, the lake is still, mists cloud the ends of the channel. We rush through breakfast and packing and are on the lake by 8:15 am. One way to escape the bugs is to be on the water. We have a huge lake to cross to Oxford House. As Bob and Roy coast down the channel waiting for the second canoe, a large Jack approached the canoe, maybe it though the green bow painter was a snack, The jack was frightened by Bob pointing the fish out to Roy and it left quickly with a large splash. It's a 45 km trip. We pass high granite cliffs and out into the open lake always expecting winds to increase as we look out to the horizon and do not see the other side of the lake. We cross to Cargill Island. It has been burned. It is a long crossing about 35 k from our campsite and we rest on a point for lunch, a swim, and wash. The burn allows all sort of wild flowers to grow. We head down for Oxford house through the island. We cross a shallow sandy channel where we see the fish beneath us.
Further along is a family of bald eagles two adults and two juveniles. They are circling a family of ducklings. Its not obvious who fears who more.
By 4 pm were are at 8 mile point for a snack. We have a gentle tail wind coming up so we hoist our sails for Oxford House. Bob and Roy stopped at the first dock to ask directions to the Northern Stores. Art and Frixos stopped at the dock by the nursing station and talked with Julian and Christina two 8 & 9 year old kids. We reached the Northern Store at the end of the bay just before closing. Bob went to the RCMP office to let them know we had arrived. They said that the last 2 days had been the only quiet days on the lake in July.
While at the beach in front of the Northern store Larry, a racing canoeist, stopped by for a chat. We had seen him out practising on the lake earlier. He and his brother are entered in canoe races the next two weeks at Cross Lake and Norway House.
We set up camp across the bay from Oxford House on the beach. After dinner four youths dropped by. They were smoking and drinking from a 5 gallon pail of home made booze. They left the impression of having dead end lives with no jobs. They were friendly and wanted to leave a positive impression. They wanted to talk with new people. They left just after dark and we went to bed exhausted from the long day.
We left after breakfast at about 8:45 am. The first few kilometres were through the Back Lake and by the houses just outside of the town. We soon reached the point where several set of rapids would extend for a few kilometres.
The first set were Kiasokanawak rapids (class II) consisting of three parts. All were done with no problems.
Then we entered Knife rapids - named after the jagged rocks - total length 2.5 km consisting of several parts. We studied each section carefully and run them all without problems. Coming out of the rapids there was a small rock island with a solitary tree where we stopped for lunch.
Further downstream we got to Wapatakosanik rapids (class II) Another section were a back ferry enabled use to study the routes well prior to picking our way through the rocks.
Finally we reach Trout Falls and camped for the night. This was quite a drop with a very impressive big hole at the bottom. The falls roared Art and Roy fished. We had a swim and hiked around the area. That night there was a brief thunderstorm but by morning the sun was shining again
We packed up and left the Falls through the rapids at the bottom. The current was strong and we got a good ride down stream. We were well on our way to Knee Lake. As we approached the lake the glassy surface was marred only by the canoes and a few birds that were disturbed by our presence. Bob was wearing black and blue gloves. A dragon fly munching on a fish fly landed thinking perhaps he had found the mother of all dragon flies. He finished the meal and when mating proved futile continued on his way.
It was a long trip to the lodge and even with such favourable conditions it was a hot trip. We stopped on a rocky island for lunch and a swim. It was a hot day and as we continued on our way we notice the sky blacked behind us. We were not quite sure of how far we had to go to get to the lodge but as the storm approached and the thunder go louder we saw in the distance the docks and made a run for it hoping to get there before the rain. We made it by a hair and were greeted by a pilot who offered us shelter. It is quite the place in the wilds of Manitoba, Knee Lake Lodge. A top notch fishing camp. We were lucky to be able to get a cabin for the night as they were almost booked up. It was a nice break in the trip to get your clothes washed, have a shower, eat in a restaurant, have a beer, and sleep in a bed.
The cabins had been made from local trees milled at a log mill brought in for the purpose. We met Dave, one of the guides who had made the trip down to York Factory. He had some interesting comments on the remainder of the trip.
We talked to some of the fishermen there. One from Madison was with his 9 year old son, spending a week fishing. The facilities were great. Fly into camp and fly out to fish. helicopters were available to get to some remote locations.
We had a breakfast of bacon / ham and eggs, toast and coffee. A nice change from our usual. Then we picked up our food that we had sent out. We were 2 days early and room for all the food was a problem. We had to leave a considerable amount at the lodge.
We set off down the lake towards the first narrows. We passed the pictographs on the rock just past the lodge. Barely visible on the orange moss covered granite is an ochre stick man.
Again the winds were light and the sun bright. We continued down the lake to the magnetite island. Here from 50 metres out your compass points to the island rather that north.
Just through the narrows we stopped for a floating snack. We headed off for the second narrows. Through dozens of islands we paddled. At the second narrows we stopped for lunch and a swim. Roy and Art again went fishing. This time luck was with them and two were caught. We continued down Knee Lake. The wind picked up enough for us to try sailing again. We headed for a beach camp site and arrived at about 5:00 pm. We set up camp and cooked up the fish for dinner. There was a short cloud burst to interrupt or evening and the wind picked up from the east. There were white caps out on the lake.
We open Norm's scotch for a toast to his generosity. It was good to get the break after a long days paddle. We cooked up some rice pudding for dessert and spent some time skipping rocks into the lake before bed.
Today we awoke to a mild north east head wind. By 8:15 am we had eaten our oatmeal, packed and were underway from our campsite at Unekisiskow point. Seven km down the lake we stopped at an island for a snack and fishing. Art caught a 2.5 pound pickerel. We lunched on an excellent beach across from Psew Island and swam. The winds varied from nil to mild and made our final day of big lake travel quite easy. We entered the Hayes river again and ended our day by Paktikonika Rapids. Art and Roy tried to catch some brown trout visible in the rapids but none of our mepps or panther marlins would entice them. We had the pickerel as an appetizer with some scotch and finished dinner with a vegetarian chili. After dinner we watched bats and nighthawks swoop through the campsite. Trout minnows were jumping for insects flying just over the surface.
We went to bed thinking about the rapids we would be running in the morning.
Last night we camped at the first of the rapids between Knee Lake and Swampy Lake, Paktikonika. We all had a good look at the river and decided it was runable in 3 parts right from the top. The first drop over the ledge is mighty impressive. Art was thinking of it all night, how to run it over and over again. Art got frixos to dig out our tobacco, sprinkle it on the fire, an offering to the river with thanks for the weather and a prayer for safe passage.
In the morning we are up early and breakfast on granola. We scout the top of Paktikonika again and determine our route and moves. As we do the pilot from the lodge circles and waves at us after dropping off a fishing part on Swampy Lake. We welcome the attention, we don't see many others on the river appreciate the gesture.
Bob and Roy lead off. They submarine though the first standing wave and back ferry into the eddy on river right. A good run thank god for spray skirts.
Frixos and Art find a dryer line (boy are they boring) between the big waves and the left eddy. They eddy out left and front ferry across the river to join the others. We move down the river right to scout parts 2 and 3. Bob and Roy again lead off. Their line is a little left of where they want to be as Roy misread the line from the top and directed them over the main obstruction and they take a five foot drop into a huge wave. These royalx canoes and spray deck are great. They find their line to river left and run the third drop eddying out behind the last large rock into the middle of the river.
Again Art and Frixos miss the biggest waves and run through the left side of the third rapids joining Roy and Bob in the eddy.
The next set of rapids, Apakisthemosi, starts with a couple of eddy drops on river left that lead to a channel that can be waded to scout the main drop. Frixos can't get a good look and decides to wade down the left channel. Roy and Bob pick their landmark carefully after the earlier incident and make a perfect run down a series of four narrow tongues to avoid a major boat eating hole on river right. Art and Frixos wade through to the bottom to meet them.
The next rapids, Apithapakiticonona, we eddy and drop along river right to a point where Hap Wilson's book says wade and line. The river is obviously higher than it was when he ran it and we decide running is better than lining. We scout along from river right and decide most of our route; there is a point well out in the rock garden where a decision will have to be made. The flow seems to split there with exits left and right.
While Frixos and Art are still discussing landmarks Roy and Bob push off into the stream. They don't get quite far enough left. Bob turned left a little too sharply and didn't bring it back to the right in time. There is a powerful flow that carries then onto a rock the size of a Greyhound bus. The canoe swiftly rides up the rock and rolls left dumping the paddlers into the water. Bob is downstream and floats down into less turbulent water. Roy is upstream of the canoe and frees it twice as it is pinned on rocks. It is finally free in slower water and Bob rights the canoe. A painter has been wedged in a rock and has to be freed before we can move further down stream. Bob pulls himself upstream along the line to pull it out of the rocks and then gets back into the canoe. Thanks for the barrels are they provide great floatation even with the canoe full of water. It take some time to pump out the water as the shore line does not provide a good landing area.
Art and Frixos run their line and scout out the bottom right into quiet water. They ferry across and tow the others to a spot where we can continue to bail and regroup. A few bumps and scrapes but no major damage. Just one lost drink bottle that was found in an eddy about a mile further downstream.
The last rapid before Swampy Lake is a drop that is hard to see. We thrash our way across a small island and scout the channels either side. We determine a rather complex line on the right side and Frixos points out a simpler line in the left channel. We run that line; ride the pillow off a second island, thread the needle between rocks and plop into a pool at the bottom. We are just as surprised as the fishermen who occupy the pool. They had been flown in from Knee Lake Resort.
A quick lunch and we paddle the calm Swampy Lake. Brief stops to look for Logan's Post. We find an old camp but no sign of the post. We make camp on a small island just before Sail Island. It's a beautiful evening. Time for a swim. The water here is the warmest yet. After a week or more of hot weather the water should be warm. A huge rock across a channel on another island changes in the setting sun from an old cabin to a red barn.
The loons haunt the evening breaking the silence with their eerie calls.
Time for a change, potato pancakes for breakfast. We are surprised that the small box makes such an abundance of good pancakes. We pack up and leave the little island for a long stretch of rapids. The river from here to the Fox is known as Hill River and it is surely a hill.
We leave at 9:00 am, the day is sunny and the river splits into many channels. It is difficult to determine which is the main channel. In the beginning we met some swifts, then a few rapids. Then Pakisikan, we all waded on a small channel on the right side . The lower part was a ledge with a deep hole. Roy and Bob run a narrow drop to the right listening to the scrap of the rock as we ride over the ledge. Art and Frixos decide to line the same ledge. It was a difficult job as the vegetation overhung the bank.
We had lunch below the rapids and a refreshing cool swim.
We waded through a set of rapids where no safe route was found. The river had formed many little channels all rock gardens with strong current. With most of our weight on the canoe wading though the rolling rocks was not too difficult and allowed more control and less weight in the canoe.
The next sets of rapids were not a problem but then we reached Nunatonowago, a class 5 ledge. We portaged a short portage on river right. It was early but we had done a lot of rapids and the next was a long portage, Neesootakuskaywin. We found an excellent campsite river left. We did some preliminary scouting hoping to find a safe route through this rapid as it was a long portage but no luck.
Evening brought a cool breeze. It was much appreciated. The aurora was large and bright, a beautiful green 3d display. It did not quite match the display at Paktikonika where Frixos was dazzled by the bright colours of an awesome display.
Frixos as usual was up early with the fire going and water ready for hot drinks. Breakfast is portage with cranberries and peanut butter with grape jelly. The day is sunny and warm.
Packing up we notice another loss our whisk was left on the little island at the end of Swampy Lake. We had better stop leaving our cooking utensils behind.
Our second longest portage is just across the river. It was not easy to find but we bushwhacked through the muskeg to a noticeable trail and with some effort got all our equipment down a 400 meter trail. The water in the muskeg was much colder than the river. It was surprising to see suck a infrequently used trail leave such a scar across the land. It is not easy to make use of such beautiful country and leave no tracks. We were marking lots or rocks with red. It was surprising that there were so few traces of the voyageurs who moved tons of hardware and furs though this terrain for over 250 years.
We continued down the river dancing though easy rapids and over little ledges. On one ledge were we missed the best channel we pulled the canoe across walking on what we though was moss. As we stepped back into the canoe we notice that we were covered with hundreds of little wiggling leeches. The bottom of our pants were black with them. A brief stop and we washed them off.
At the rapids before Kakwa we scouted for a good route. The decision after looking at our choices was to wade down the centre channel. Again we encountered the leeches squishing under our feet making the rocks slippery. With care we were able to wade over the ledge and continue down stream to a rocky shore for a clean up swim and snack.
At Kakwa we had to line down the left channel. It was leech free. It is amazing that you can really see the slope the river is on. The current is fast and water warm. The next set of rapids is a great ride. It is a long straight ride avoiding rocks on the right and left. Through the waves like riding a teeter toter.
Just around the corner is an great camp site. A rock provide a good site to swim fish and camp. Roy and Art try their luck at fishing (none), Bob swims through the current to an island in the sun. Frixos filters water. It was a hot day.
We had a little reflector oven with us and brownies were in order. They were great again, our baker (Art) gets better with every dish.
We had a sat phone with us. We were using it sparingly as we wanted to be sure it worked in emergencies. Roy called hame to let everyone know where we were.
The black fly disappear just before sundown and the mosquitoes remain out of site for a while after that so you do get some time without bugs in the evening.
Today we awoke to blue skies, warm temperatures and our last day of white water. Pancake for breakfast are always a good way to start the day.
We had a few sets of rapids to run prior to High Hill rapid opposite Brassey Hill, the highest of the white clay hills that dominate the landscape at the edge of the Canadian shield. These rapids were easy play in the high water and we quickly continued down the river.
Although our skills at running the rapids was improving after one set of rapids through a rock garden Roy did comment that we should go back and hit the two rocks we missed.
We stopped on one of the few rock outcrops for lunch and a swim. Frixos took a few pictures of the wild flowers. We continued down to Apetowikossan rapids and finally Whitemud Falls. After scouting our options mainly deciding where would be the best campsite (we choose the second island) we ran the falls on river right to the left through a high haystack and into the eddy river left.
After unloading and setting up our campsite Roy and Art decided to run the rapid again. It was quite a different trip in an empty canoe.
The campsite turned out to be a good spot. Although we did find two eggs in the grass near our tent site and tried to protect them, I doubt that the mother will ever return.
We spent some time swimming in the fast current. We made are way upstream and into the white water below the falls through the islands and were swept quickly downstream to eddy out and do it again.
We toasted our trip with the Longmourne scotch courtesy of Norm and watch the small trout jump a foot water falls and swim upstream against the current.
There was a thunderstorm last night. It had stopped raining by 6:00am. We had just under 200 km to go to York Factory and we were through all the rapids but were wondering what Berwick Falls was.
By the time we finished our oatmeal and bannock the day is clearing. We pack up and head down stream. It is visibly flowing downhill and paddling is required to steer past rocks rushing past.
The country is spectacular and hill, high clay and gravel banks are beautifully forested. We rush past small streams that add their burble to the flow. There are many land slides along the bank as the saturated ground can no longer support the overgrowth when undermined by the current. The land races by. We tie together and drift for a snack. There isn't a trout in the river that wants anything we have. Our company is eagles, owls, ducks and a forest of song from birds we don't see. Lunch is on one of the few remnants of granite the still dot the river and we trust our swimming against the current.
High bluffs of white mud line the river. The river streams on at about 7 km per hour; our ally in a battle against headwinds that batter us with gusts around 40 km per hour. The day is glorious and the scenery phenomenal. The Fox adds it clear tea coloured water to the river doubling its volume.
We paddle to a sandbar just below the Fox river junction. It has been scoured by ice and looks like a massive construction site. The sand and mud has been pushed into a hill on the downstream end. There are moose tracks across the island and footsteps of a large wading bird but wildlife is remaining well hidden.
Swimming is a drift from one end of the bar to the other. You can here the river bottom as it moves downstream.
As the wind dies the black flies begin to discover us and drive us to out tents. There battering of the tent sounds like a hail storm.
We have covered more than 50 km today stopping early at 4:30pm. How fast do we want to get to Hudson Bay.
One fear we did have at this campsite was that it would rain and we would wake to a sea of mud. Sure enough we did get a little rain during the night but it was dry by morning.
We had breakfast packed up and left the little island to the shore birds. We got on our way by 8:15 am. Down river past a winter road and white bluff continue to be the river edge. On to the Grand Forks as the Gods contributes it water to the Hayes. The river is huge up to a kilometre wide. On river left we see a small back bear scurry up the bank and out of site.
As we continue down stream we see that a storm is brewing in the north. We are hoping it will miss us but the wind has picked up and it is a mighty effort to make progress down the river even with the current. A white caps build we decide to stop for a while until the wind dies down.
There is a slight let up and we continue down stream. It is getting late 5:30 pm and progress is slow. We decide to stop for dinner and continue on to a campsite later in hope that the evening wind would be lighter. The banks here are scoured by the ice. About 20 metre of the bank look like bulldozers have cleared anything that cannot grow in one short season. We find a suitable site out of the wind and make dinner. The wind does drop a little but is still strong. As we finish dinner a black fox dances down the river bank but dashes off when he notices he has company.
We continue downstream. A woodland caribou is startled by our approach and departs up the bank. Having the wind in your face is not all bad. The animals get no warning of your approach. We look for a flat section on the bank. generally the bank is quite steep with many areas where the banks slide frequently. As darkness begins to decent we find a suitable spot and pitch our tents. It is late and we have eaten so we hit the tents for another night.
We have finally loaded our shotgun. We are getting into country where polar bears are a possibility, even if it is slight we want to be prepared.
It has cooled down considerably. This is the second day of our trip that we have needed a jacket. Not bad weather for 50 kilometres from Hudson bay. We did close to 80 km today.
Even though we picked a campsite quickly and it left a lot to be desired we did get a good nights sleep and the day before us seemed to meet our prayers. We needed to do 40 km to get to Fisherman's island the extent of the tides on the Hayes some 20 K from Hudson Bay and 10 k from York Factory. High tide was about 2:00 pm so we should have plenty of time to get there.
It was a cool morning, we ate and packed up quickly and got onto the river. The day warmed quickly and we stopped to remove clothing as we went. We stopped for a snack and drifted downstream. The wind was light and the current strong. We made good time. The flat section of bank was a recommended camp site. We continue down river past many large islands. It warms up even more and we stop on the river for lunch and drift.
At Seal island we stop, we don't want to get to the tides while they are coming in. It in now quite warm. Art goes for a swim. The water is still warm. We watch a dragon fly catch and devour a large "Bulldog" fly. This was the black and blue dragon fly with wing perpendicular to its body. We have been seeing another type of dragon fly black and green with black wing tips. They keep their wings parallel to their body and look very unusual when they fly.
We paddle on to Fisherman's island and the ebbing tide. Ten kilometre to York Factory. The river is moving quickly and we soon see the dock. We stop and talk to the curator of the museum there, he directs us to the Goose lodge as camping is not allowed due to fear of the polar bear. They haven't seen a bear there in 2 years.
The Goose Lodge is half a kilometre further down stream. We stop at the shore and carry our equipment up the 30 foot bank to the lawn of the lodge. The tides here are about 12 feet. The Goose camp is quite rustic. One cabin is all we need they have 4 bedrooms and a sitting room with a fireplace. There is an electric generator but running water is a luxury provided only for short periods as the pump requires all the power that can be generated.
We call Venture Air and try to get out the next day. our scheduled departure date was August 6th and we are 4 days early. They agreed to schedule us for Thursday morning. We get to spend a whole extra day and night at York Factory.
We decide to tour the site and the staff at the Goose Camp recommend that we carry a gun with us. We do. The site is quite interesting but does not get many visitors. There are many artifacts stored in the main building and more litter the shore of the river. It is a well maintained for such a remote site.
There had been another group of paddlers there July 18th. They had departed from Cross Lake down the Bigstone and Fox Rivers and on to York Factory.
The weather is great here. The cold night before seems to have done in the black flies and there are few mosquitoes during the day. It is now hot and sunny.
We use the lodge kitchen to cook and have a good meal. The lodge is currently lengthening their runway and a crew there is busy over on an island completing the work.
We are about 10 km upstream from Hudson Bay.
We got up this morning and decided to wash most of our clothes. There is a washing machine but no hot water. The wash goes well. After breakfast the lodge gets the showers ready. As showering means their freezer does not work, we quickly get cleaned up.
We decide that a trip to the Bay to see the beluga whales is in order. The weather is great and winds light but the bay can be dangerous. Howard, the lodge manager takes us out into the bay in an aluminum boat. Down the river coast we see a family of eagles. The tidal flats stretch a long way into the bay and the depth must be tested often. As we get into deeper water we can see the huge white whales breaking the surface well ahead of us. We hope to attract the curious mammals closer but have no luck. The whales make their way into the mouth of the Nelson. We can hear them breath as the break the surface. We are still drifting further out and its time to head back.
It was an interesting trip. Glad we didn't have to paddle it as it would be against the tide both ways.
This is it our final night out on the river. The norther lights are great.
As we need to call Venture to give them a weather forecast we get up early. The sun glows off the clouds in the mouth of the river at 4:30am. Its a beautiful morning clear warm with light westerly winds. The planes are expected a 8:00am. The tide is going out and we pack up all our remaining equipment. The extra food was left at the lodge. We have a coffee and get everything down to the river shore. A 7:45 am we hear the first plane, a Cessina 185. It flies over the camp and lands on the river taxiing into shore. The next plane, a Beaver, arrives shortly there after. We pack up the planes and put the canoes on the pontoons and are ready to go.
We say our goodbyes to the lodge staff and head out for Thompson. After a 3 hour flight we arrive at the Venture Air terminal in Thompson were our vehicle had been left 20 days before. Our trip was over we stopped in Thompson for a meal and started the 8 hour drive to Winnipeg.
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