We finally got a chance to tackle Morice lake. This lake has been on our "to do" list for a while now.
Morice is quite large and has all the usual conditions that warrant very safety concious paddling. It has a large bay on the West side near the middle that contains a short river outflow from Atna lake. We wanted to paddle down Morice, line up the river or portage, and then camp and paddle in Atna. Very little info on the route was available, so we didn't really know what to expect.
After work on Monday, we loaded up and headed out. We had to drive 90kms of great dirt road to the put in. The only spot with drive in access is the Morice Lk. Forestry campsite, which is located in the North Eastern corner near the outflow to the Morice River. Well worth the drive.
Had camp set up for 10:00 and packed and ready for our 6:00am start.
Did I say 6:00? I meant 7:00.
Looks like a beautiful day for weather and paddling!
We had another camper in the campsite. Because of this, we opted to cross immediately to the West shore instead of the 4-5km detour around the North end of the lake. Only because we had someone there could we cross like this, otherwise we wouldn't do this with just one boat. We're expecting big winds, so any advantage is good.
With the water being so cold and it being so remote, we paddle quite close to shore. I'm quite surprised to see so much beach at such high water on Morice. It was 2' down from high water mark.
One of the locals.
Scenery along the way.
Because of the great weather and lack of wind, we push hard and cover some distance before lunch. (not without a few stops and rest breaks!
) Finally making it around the corner into Atna Bay (located on Morice Lk.), now paddling into a very strong Westerly headwind.
Atna Bay has many island of all shapes and sizes. Most are all rock. There are so many large cliff faces and overhangs that keep you rubbernecking till your neck hurts from looking up.
I can't handle the heat too much so we decide to lay low for the heat of the day and have a long lunch in the "man made" shade.
During lunch Annamarie noticed a dark object way out in the bay. After watching for a bit, we discover that it's a moose swimming across the bay! He swam for about 1 1/2kms across, turned around (we're guessing because of the large wind coming out of the deepest arm of the bay?) and swam 1km back from where he came, then finally started moose paddling toward us in the sheltered bay for another 1-2km swim. We took a few long distance pics and started on our way again to let Marty continue on his way with no disturbance.
Coming around the final corner into the deepest reaches of the bay, we have the notorious headwind that we always seem to find. We're both fading fast, but as usual, with the end in sight you get another boost of energy.
The river flowing from Atna lk. is flowing fast. Too deep and fast for us to line up.
Just two weeks ago a fellow from Terrace lost his canoe with motor and all of his gear in this exact spot. He spent two nights with absolutely nothing till his emergency plan/rescue was fully executed. His wife sent out the SAR after one night of no contact. He was rescued tired and FULL of bug bites. Lucky guy... You couldn't even hold your arm in the water because it hurt so much it was so cold!
OK, so not up the river. Where's that portage?
After finding the portage, which just had a blaze on a tree, at the narrowest point between Morice and the first of three pools along the short Atna river, we decide to have some supper and think about staying somewhere around here or possibly pushing on to Atna.
After a steak and rice dinner...we're recharged, the portage is short and clear, and we feel like pushing on to the nice beaches I saw on the Google Earth view of Atna.
Looks like the first pool and Morice are only separated by some fast grade 2. The first portage is very short (100m) and then after packing the boats to the first pool, it's just a short paddle upstream to the large falls.
The second portage (300m) is just below the falls on river left. This portage starts off very steep and finishes that way as well.
Another short pond hop and you're at number three (600m). There was quite a bit more blowdown, but still in great shape. No pics on the way in.
Finally, Atna Lake!
It's starting to get late now, so off to find that beach.
Well, all that light sandy coloured stuff on Google Earth isn't sand...it's rock!
Everywhere we looked the water was so high that there were no beaches showing. After scouring the bay and rocky islands, we found a perfect site on one of the islands. It had quite a few trees and a good breeze to help with the bugs. We also brought our bug shelter to keep us sane!
After setting up camp at 9:30 and the 32km long day of padding, I'm looking forward to trying out my new Exped 9 Dlx!
Sleeping in till 9:00 with this view isn't hard.
Today's just a lazy day to explore Atna Lake and maybe paddle up the creek flowing from Atna Peak.
There are several other wooded islands that can easily be used for a camp. Not a lot of tent pads, but some tight spots.
Arriving at the SW shore, we come to a red sand beach with many prints all over. There's moose, deer, bear, and tons of birds.
The view of Atna Peak is incredible!
The bugs are incredible as well! Time to move on. We find a small pebbley beach to lunch on.
After lunch we just have to ride the 2' chop with a perfect tailwind.
Time to try out the sail again! Ok...this might have been our max with no load. The boat is WAY more twitchy when you don't have a load to dampen the movement.
What took 1 and a 1/2 hrs upwind, just took about 45 min. back.
Our island camp from afar.
Pasta and ham sausage for supper and time to kick back by the firebox.
We've decided to take two days to return and end up breaking camp at 9:00. Now let's get this portaging done!
Two hours later and voila...
Stopping for lunch on another rocky island to rest and filter water.
A quick break on the beach for lunch and to smell the flowers.
Just as we start around the corner to enter the main lake the wind starts to pick up. After a couple of hours of 2-3' chop with another perfect tailwind (a little too big and bad for our little sail!), we decide to camp at a nice long beach with a great view down the lake.
Supper tonight is baked lasagna with strawberry cheesecake for dessert. 10 out of 10 for the Alpineaire Baked Lasagna. It was fabulous and perfect for two hungry paddlers. The cheesecake (I forget the brand-maybe Backpacker's Pantry) barely earned a three. Too fakey sweet for me!
View from the bug tarp.
It starts to rain off and on through the evening then starts to pour all night. Another great night to have the tarp/bug shelter up.
Another lazy sleep in followed by lots of coffee and blueberry pancakes! Another 10 out of 10 for the Alpineair Blueberry Pancakes.
One last snack stop.
With no one else around we have to follow the perimeter of the lake to get back to the other side. On the way by we have a look at the start of the Morice River at the Northernmost point of the lake. That's another "to do" trip!
And of course the wind had to whip up for the last hour of our paddle. A perfect ending for a perfect trip.
This is a paddle paradise for competent paddlers. It is a very big lake that can change in a second so people must not paddle carelessly.
Hope you enjoyed the trip! We did!