Marie Lake to Isabella Falls
After a morning’s paddle I knew I should be at the beginning of the Naskaupi River at the east end of Marie Lake (Kilometre 15 on the map above – 13L/2 (© CANADA 1974)). I initially got lost among a lot of small islands and channels. I also had no idea of what kind of flow would be going down the Naskaupi, having been burned by the trickle I had been following between Orma Lake and Marie Lake. Finally, to my relief, I found it and as I got closer, could hear the rushing water…even a rapid to start with!
It turned out that there were going to be lots of rapids, most of which could be lined or lifted over. I attempted to canoe the second rapid I came to as it appeared that there was a passage through it. Big mistake! There was boulder which I had not noticed. It turned me sideways, my canoe tipped and filled with water and got jammed against the boulders, a true hydaulic. I finally managed to budge my canoe enough so that the flow was no longer filling it and then bailed it out, and finally was able to drag it free. It left a permanent indentation on the side of my canoe, a war wound! After that I was very careful. It was only when much lower on the Naskaupi that most of the rapids became runnable as the river increased in flow from the many tributaries.
Finally I arrived at the “trough” (Kilometre 15). Wayne had warned me about this one where he and Carl had had to climb a nearly vertical wall and lower equipment and paddler back into the river. The picture below does not do it justice. The tricky part is the far end where the water runs at near motor-boat speed down a steep 40 foot slope into the pool in the distance.
I did not see how I could climb up the wall and finally managed to line down the trough without losing control of my canoe in the very strong current or losing my footing. The hardest part was launching my canoe at the bottom with water rushing around me and with a small waterfall trying to fill my canoe. I tried to climb down my canoe from one end. It began to tip over, so I slipped off and floated along behind it up to my neck. I managed to “swim ” the canoe to a shallow area, soaking wet but otherwise no worse for wear. Not exactly my most elegant move of the trip!
Below is a picture of my canoe in lining mode, with ropes tied to the front and back of the canoe and a rapid just lined down. Wayne had told me about wading boots which Cabelas sells (Wayne calls them Salmon boots). They look like hiking boots except that they are made of out nylon and neoprene, and have felt soles. The felt soles have an amazing traction on slippery rocks. Prior to this trip I had always used rubber sandals with neoprene socks. I don’t think I would have survived this trip without Cabelas’ wading boots and highly recommend them. I had pretty well worn the felt off them by the end of this trip.
I then arrived at the first waterfall of the trip, Isabella Falls (Kilometre 17). It was really only water going down a chute and the spectacular falls were still ahead. Below is a picture from the start of the portage, followed by a picture of the falls as you portage past it.