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Lac de la Marée - Moon [Misticawassee] River - Rupert River

Knowledge Base

  • Seeley's descents 1992, 1993

  • Ted Kenneally's notes


Neoskweskau site (abandoned)

Maps (1:250,000 scale)

Lac Mesgouez 32-O


Steve Springgate tells a story about the naming of the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek].  He says that he and Ted Kenneally named it after the full moon in 1991, and the fact that John Woods constantly serenaded the section with the song of the same title. He missed his girlfriend and it was, following the cliché, “their song.”   I cannot vouch for the height of this tale.  We were accompanied by a new moon in 1992 and 1993.  But the name stuck and I have forever since attributed it to the dark nights without a moon.

It is a beautiful, rocky river that runs through high hills.  Steve and Ted cut the route from Lac de la Marée to the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] in 1991.  This does not seem to be a traditional Cree route, although there are several Cree camps on the lower part of the river.  The Némiscau River looks like a more direct route to the village of Nemiscau from the Eastmain.  This route, if it existed, would have avoided some heavy rapids on the Rupert.  I have no more evidence for its existence than some map musing.  But then again, this was all the evidence Steve and Ted had for the Moon River [Misticawassee Creek] route in 1991.

The summer trails they cut, and the few we found, are now well cleared and worn into the sphagnum.  Keewaydin of Dunmore has used this route several times in more recent years.  We ran across their group at Nemiscau in 1998.  My understanding is that some of it burned that year. 

What follows is the 1993 trip that was made in high water and good weather.  I have noted where the itinerary differs significantly from previous years.

Moon River




Photo: Bill Seeley

Day 1

Paddle SW through the channels to the south body of the lake.  In 1992 we were windbound in a gale on a grassy point between the two skinny bays midway down the east shore of the southern body of the lake.  The gale blew a tent 40 yards with its inhabitants and all of their gear.  Steve and were watching the wind blow through our tent door when their tent broke free of its stakes and became airborne.  It was quite a sight.  In 1993 we were off the lake by 11:15.

The route follows a creek that flows into Lac de la Marée from the south for a day and then crosses over to the Rupert watershed.  The first portage takes out of the SW bay of the long southern finger of Lac de la Marée.  The landing is east of the creek flowing into Lac de la Marée from the south.  It walks 250 yards into a small pond.  We were able to paddle the creek in 1993 and avoid the portage.  The second portage leaves the pond west of the creek.  Walk up the hill, over windfalls (in 1993 and 1993), and across the creek, then follow blazes to the dog-leg lake.

The third portage is 150 yards.  It takes out east of the creek right where it enters the lake and walks to a tiny widening in the creek.  A hundred feet upstream portage 100 yards over the hill on the east side of the creek to the campsite.  The campsite is an open field of caribou moss, sphagnum moss, and Labrador tea.  In the rain it is a pretty soggy site, Danny.

Day 2

The portage out of this small lake walks 100 yards along the south side of the creek that flows in from the west into a small pond.  Across the pond there is a 900-yard portage over the height of land ridge into a long skinny lake that is the headwaters of the Moon River.  All of the trails through here are well blazed.  But as it is not the path of the Cree, the trails are not dug deep into the sphagnum.  Keep your head up or you will lose the trail.

Follow the creek southwest.  There are two fifty-yard lift-over portages on the north bank where the river narrows to a creek, a mile (1.3 kilometers) paddle, and then, the route follows the creek out of the lake a couple hundred feet to a 100-yard portage on the north shore that walks into the next, larger lake. 

The route continues northwest out of this lake from its boot-shaped northern bay.  There are two 250-yard portages between these lakes:  the first from the boot-shaped bay back onto the creek is marked in the landscape by a mid-sized boulder on its west shore (this trail offers two options -- an energized group of campers actually blazed two trails here in 1991 in a lunchtime race -- neither is a better choice than the other); the second bypasses a choked section of creek on the south shore, between the lakes.  Follow the creek west out of the mushroom-shaped lake and just before the next pond there is a 150-yard portage on the south shore.

There is a nice campsite on the west shore of the long lake section that follows two miles or so from the portage.  We stopped here in 1993.  It is a terraced rock shore in a sheltered north bay with tentsites in the bush beyond.  We pushed on in 1992 another 5 or so miles.  There are two more portages in this stretch where the lake is broken by a section of creek.  Neither portage is longer than 50 yards.  The first is a steep affair with poor footing across the middle of an island around which the creek divides.  We were able to run the second (which is on the left side of the creek) in 1993 and avoid walking along the left/east shore.  We camped 2 kilometers further along on the north shore in the next narrows in 1992.  Again, it was a good, flat, open field of caribou moss and Labrador tea.

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