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The Rupert River:  Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] Confluence to Marten River Confluence  

Knowledge Base

  • Seeley's descents in 1992, 1993

  • Heb Evan's logs

  • Heb Evans' book, The Rupert That Was [1]



Maps (1:250,000 scale)

Lac Némiscau 32-N         Lac Mesgouez 32-O

                                                                                                       Photo: Bill Seeley

Bridge Gorge Rapids


This stretch of the Rupert runs swiftly.  The current is deep and strong throughout.  We consider this the rapids running section of the big river.  Below Némescau we found little to run.  In general we could run all the rapids marked RI on the Federation Quebecoise du Canot Camping (F.Q.C.C.) maps, and some of the RII’s.  The road at what we call Bridge Gorge has been opened to the public since these trips.  There is now a scenic overlook akin to those on the James Bay Highway.  It was crowded in 1998 when we drove south to Baie de Post [aka Mistissini] on this road.  The road itself follows the first set of power lines on the maps we used.  As I said, this does not seem to have increased traffic on the river, but might serve as a spot to launch a shorter jaunt.  The campsites were all Cree camps, some them appeared quite active.  

The general rule for portages:  look for a large eddy-bay downstream of the falls or rapids.  The portage will start at the lip of the rapids and end at that eddy-bay or back-bay downstream.

Day 1

We portaged from the campsite to the bay below (50 yards).  There is an unmarked horserace just below the campsite (where a long point juts down from the north bank).  Run this out to the marked II below (a kilometer downstream form the campsite), crossing over to the north/right side of the river.  We were able to sneak down the right shore of the II, out of the heavy water, and drop easily over the ledge that juts out from the north shore at the bottom of the rapids.  We always scouted this last drop as the ledge kicks up a good wave.

The marked rapids 1/2 kilometer downstream posed no problems.  Two kilometers downstream run the unmarked rapids at the narrows on the right and stick to the shore as what follows below is a falls where the river funnels through a 30-foot-wide granite gorge.  The portage landing is in the alders well upstream of the lip of the falls on the right shore.  Times may have changed with the advent of the overlook, but the trail we used bumped up to the road, followed it about 100 yards north to the first power-line tower, left the road SW, passed under the tower, and then followed a well worn path to a flat-rocked ledge just below the wash of the falls.  All told, with the diversion up the road, the trail was about a kilometer, or, a little over 1000 yards.  On the 1:50,000 one can discern a bay on the north shore of the river just above the next rapids.  This is where the 1000-yard portage ends.

You must paddle the north shore in good current, and then fight a strong back-eddy around the north sweep of the bay between the falls and the ensuing rapids to the next portage, which is a 400-yard walk.  Stay close to shore.  The portage starts in a long rock field that must be flooded in the spring thaw. This is probably a broad overflow channel during the freshet.  The trail crosses two wide boulder fields.  There is a connecting trail between them that bumps over a rise on the left at the end of the first boulder-strewn dance.  The landing at the far end is also a boulder affair.  All told this trail is not a dream come true for the short-legged.

You must run the short II below the portage. The hazard here is volume.  It was a fun ride both years through tall standing waves.  Each year someone took on too much water and we had to stop to empty. 

Two kilometers downstream you must portage on the right/north shore.  Sneak down the top of the rapids close to shore on the right.  EXERCISE CAUTION.  There is a small bay on the right, below the start of the rapids, from which the river flows out in a small falls perpendicular to the main current.  The shore current forms a narrow channel separate from the main rapids (two canoes wide) that flows into this tiny bay before tumbling back to the rapids.  The portage begins in the bay and the flow of the channel takes one right to it.  It is a 350-yard portage.

In both years, we ran the rapids just below taking them down the right shore.  The run is inside (shore-side of) a large, exposed boulder.  We found this a difficult path to keep in high water with fully loaded canoes, and some of the lads ran to the left (river side) of the boulder with no worse fate than a load of water. 

Steve tells a tale about this rapids. Apparently, in his zeal to scout this run from his canoe in 1991, Ted Kenneally got a little close and was unable to free himself from the current.  He managed to turn the canoe in an attempt to paddle back upstream before the river caught him in its grip.  But the river beat the man in this incidence…sort of.  The outcome was that he ran the rapids backwards, watching carefully over his left shoulder for the exposed glacial erratic.

My maps, inherited from Ted Kenneally, show a portage route to the south that would bypass the entirety of the gorge, and the two rapids below.  I do not know the source of this route.  There is a deep southern bay above the rapids that precedes the Bridge Gorge portage.  The maps mark a trail along the southern side of a tall hill west of this bay into a pond just south of the gorge.  The trail looks to be about 1000 yards.  This is followed by a 1200-yard portage into a long lake that straddles maps 32-O/11 and 32-O/12.  A short portage would return one to the Rupert below the 350-yard portage rapids.  I cannot vouch for the existence of this route. 

It also appears that one could paddle a creek route to the north, leaving the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] three kilometers above the confluence and returning to the Rupert two kilometers below the 350-yard portage rapids. 

I mention these possibilities only because the boulder field portage does not smack of the path of the Cree, particularly because it returns to the river mid-rapids.  The route we followed through the gorge is culled from notes gathered for us from F.Q.C.C. in Montreal by Gary Schrier.  We never had difficulty with this route.  But there are two spots below on the river, at the Fours and at the long rapids above Smoky Hill Rapids, where the F.Q.C.C. route does not follow the portage trails used by the Cree.

We camped at the end of the portage around the next marked obstacle five kilometers downstream from the 350-yard portage rapids.  The portage landing is found on the left/south shore and takes out of the eddy right at the lip of the falls.  Stick to the shoreline as there is a shallow ridge of rock that separates the portage bay from the main channel.  In the high water of 1993 the first 50 yards of the trail had become incorporated into the falls as a gentle overflow braid.  The campsite is a well-used Cree camp overlooking a deep back bay from a high bluff.

Day 2

Run the rapids below the campsite.  Nine kilometers downstream, at the next marked obstacle (two kilometers below the confluence of the Lemare River) portage 20 yards over the granite on the left/south side of the steep ledge.  Four kilometers downstream keep to the right through the hairpin-turn horserace.  There is an osprey nest on the right shore before entering the hairpin turn.  We lined the rapids below on the right/north side of the island.  This is a shallow channel.  The bulk of the river follows the southern path around the island.  We were able to run the north/right channel in 1993.  The left side is a big rapids with huge standing waves.

Run the rapids two kilometers downstream on the north side / river-right.  We had lunch here on a gravel bank in the north bay below the rapids.  In 1992 the boys found a wrecked aluminum canoe here.  The ice seemed to have washed it downstream in 1993.

The rapids 10 kilometers downstream can also be run.  We passed under a second set of power lines just downstream of this rapids.  We camped nine kilometers downstream from this rapids on the north shore at an old surveyors camp at 76° 01’ West.  The site is on a narrow, low rise on an otherwise swampy shoreline.

Day 3

This is the start of sturgeon country on the river.  We saw a herd of the mammoth fish in the shallows beyond the campsite in 1992.  We followed the center channel through the big island at kilometer 14.  Keep to the north channel where the river divides above the confluence of the Marten.  Follow the left fork just above the spot where the river joins itself again.   


[1]  Heb Evans, The Rupert That Was, The Highway Bookshop, Cobalt, Ontario, 1978, 219 pp. Follows the 1964 Keewaydin Rupert River trip. Available from Highway Book Shop or call 800-461-2062.

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