Canadian Canoe Routes

Lower Missinaibi
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Author:  KerryG [ October 4th, 2021, 8:51 am ]
Post subject:  Lower Missinaibi

I have read Hap's book and looked through numerous trip reports but I still have some questions, largely dealing with logistics that I hope some of you might be able to answer. My wife and I are thinking of paddling the lower Missinaibi River for the month of August in 2022 - a nice slow leisurely(?) trip. The plan would be to drive our car, gear and canoe from Toronto to Mattice and paddle out from there and then return via the Polar Bear express. My questions have to do with where we leave the car and how to best get ourselves back to our car from Cochrane to Mattice or the car to us from Mattice to Cochrane?
The other question I have has to do with portaging. Neither my wife nor I are particularly interested in white water paddling. We would be doing this route as a way of encountering and connecting with the land (I'm also an avid photographer). We are experienced paddlers and have done many extended river trips, notably the Bloodvein, Gammon and Berens Rivers. Would it be possible to do the lower Missinaibi trip in a carbon kevlar canoe, portaging around all but the most straight forward C-I's?
Finally, over the last leg, approaching Moosonee, are tide charts recommended or necessary?
Thanks in advance. I look forward to your input.

Author:  DougB [ October 4th, 2021, 5:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

I paddled the lower in August about 20 years ago. For logistics, we left our car in Mattice then took a bus from Cochrane to Mattice at the end of the trip to pick it up. I'm not sure if there is still a regular bus but there is a shuttle guy based in Cochrane that could likely help you out. I'd suggest leaving your car at the train station and hiring someone to take you to Mattice. There is no real WW on the lower other than the few that are mandatory portages. The biggest issue late in the season will be water levels - we encountered typical summer low water levels that led to dragging and deep channel hunting on the lower river. There was a lot of grinding to the point I would be very reluctant to take a composite boat. Ultimately this delayed our pace and we ended up bailing at Moose River crossing. I hope to do this trip again but will aim for early in the season when there is a enough flow to carry me through.

Author:  recped [ October 4th, 2021, 7:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

Brian Porter (705 272-8268) in Cochrane, you can pick him up on your way to Mattice, he will take your vehicle and securely park it at his home just south of Cochrane. When you get to Moosonee you can let him know which day you will be on the train and he will bring your vehicle to the station so it's there when you get off the train. If you leave a vehicle at the Cochrane train station for more than 48 hours you will get tagged and possibly towed.

In August (especially this year) the Moose after Moose River Crossing can be very shallow, quite a few people exit early at this point.

The tidal effects reach as far upstream as about the North French, maybe as far as the Abitibi, that could be an easy 2 - 3 hours or a miserable 6+ hours from the takeout in Moosonee depending your timing and made worse if you are going against the wind as well. Definitely jot down the high tide times for the Moosonee gauge for the 2 or 3 day period around your expected arrival. The less water coming down the Moose the more impact the tides will have and the greater the chance of dealing with a "no water" situation such as this if your timing is off.....


Author:  ski_it [ October 5th, 2021, 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

Hey that brings me to something I completely forgot on the Lower!
I paddled this over 25 years ago and a group got at Moose river crossing (I think),
and they were crying because they had completely trashed a couple of BRAND NEW composite boats!
The definition of "not a happy camper".

Author:  KerryG [ October 5th, 2021, 7:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

DougB, ski_it and Recped, thanks for the input. Recped, the Brian Porter connection sounds perfect and if we decide to make the trip, I will definitely be in touch with him. But as to doing the river in a composite canoe. What I'm hearing from both DougB and ski_it is, "don't do it". If we were to take out at Moose River Crossing would we be able to do it? Or is there just too much rock garden for a composite after Hell's Gate Canyon (even if we portage)? I can't see ourselves renting a canoe for a month otherwise and neither can I see ourselves buying one. But if a composite canoe run is possible, can we make a request that the train stop for us somewhere near the crossing?

Author:  ski_it [ October 5th, 2021, 9:00 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

I'd do it. From what I recall, the people who wrecked their boats didn't seem to know
what they were doing. However, I do remember some bump and grind near moose river crossing
that was difficult to avoid. I wouldn't mind paddling it again actually....but so many rivers, so little time eh!
I enjoyed exploring Moose factory.

Author:  KerryG [ October 6th, 2021, 8:32 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

ski_it wrote:
I'd do it. From what I recall, the people who wrecked their boats didn't seem to know
what they were doing. However, I do remember some bump and grind near moose river crossing
that was difficult to avoid. I wouldn't mind paddling it again actually....but so many rivers, so little time eh!
I enjoyed exploring Moose factory.

Hmm. Sounds hopeful. "So many rivers, so little time". As I said earlier in this post, my wife and have loved paddling the rivers of Manitoba - The Berens, Bloodvein and Gammon - even though we are not whitewater paddlers. But it looks like canoeing in Northwestern Ontario and Northeastern Manitoba may be a thing of the past as climate change seems to be driving an unprecedented number and level of wildfires. I can't imagine that the Bloodvein corridor will recover from this past summer's devastation for a generation at least. We'd hoped to paddle the Pigeon this past summer but it became impossible due to all the fires and I'm guessing that paddling it in the near future will be like paddling through Mordor. Heartbreaking! But I'm wondering if, other than the Missinaibi, you could recommend some other rivers that we might explore with the understanding that all but the easiest C-I rapids would have to be portaged (I'm 71 and carrying a 75 lb Royalex is out of the question :o !!)

Author:  MikeD [ October 6th, 2021, 10:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Lower Missinaibi

Taking out at Moose River Crossing is no problem. You can catch the train there. I did it in 2000. Note that it is a flag stop so if the guys at the train bunkhouse don't call the despatcher you need to follow the protocol for stopping the train. Info is on their website somewhere but essentially it means you need to send someone about 600 metres ahead of where your boats/packs are sitting.
Get ready when it stops for a FAST load, they don't want to be stopped long so everything/everyone needs to know this.

PM me if you want a copy of our trip diary.


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