Canadian Canoe Routes

Albany River Solo 2017
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Author:  recped [ June 21st, 2017, 2:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Albany River Solo 2017

I'm heading out next week for a solo trip on the Albany River. My route will begin at Harris Lake near the "town" of Savant Lake on June 29th and I expect to finish at Fort Albany (James Bay) after paddling about 1000km over the course of about 6 weeks.

For more details, an interactive map of my route and a tracking page check here:

In addition to tracking my location and progress I will also post periodic messages on the tracking page to let you know what sort of joy or misery I am experiencing along the way.


Author:  martin2007 [ June 21st, 2017, 3:20 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

Wow! Impressive trip plan. Safe and satisfying travels, Ben!

Author:  Gerald Guay [ June 21st, 2017, 4:19 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

Have a good one. We will be following.

Author:  Canoeheadted [ June 21st, 2017, 4:26 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

You lucky guy!

Have fun and be safe.

Author:  Sam82 [ July 21st, 2017, 11:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

Bumped for Ben! All is good, water is low. Few ports!

Author:  Otter Mel [ August 1st, 2017, 11:59 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

Long trip.
Hasn't even reached the Albany River Forks yet (where the Kenogami comes in).

Author:  Sam82 [ August 1st, 2017, 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

Ben messaged me yesterday with and update and said he needed to paddle 35km a day for the next 10 days.

I'm hoping the current is good in the lower Albany...but I have no idea.

Author:  recped [ August 18th, 2017, 1:34 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Albany River Solo 2017

I'm back home! Found out that 971km is actually a long paddle, something in excess of 250,000 paddle strokes and I'm looking a lot more like Iggy Pop than when I left :rofl:

Water levels got VERY low especially for the sections from Ogoki to Albany Forks and then on down to Fort Albany where the near universal opinion was that it levels had never been lower (actual gauge numbers show that might not be quite true, if not an all time low certainly extremely close.)

I actually enjoyed the 11 days I paddled the small rivers and not so small lakes from Savant Lake (Harris Lake) to Osnaburgh Lake where I met the Albany. Lots of nice camping throughout most of it and I had only one day where wind was more than a minor issue and water levels were pretty good. There was a bit of brutality making the leap from Harold Lake to Savant Lake, a couple of portages that were a bit of a mess but none were very long, the portaging between the North Arm of Savant Lake and on down to Osnaburgh Lake were all pretty short and mostly clear and the runnable rapids were fairly small, short and runs.

Once on the Albany low water was noticeable but not too much of a problem and in some ways of benefit in the upper shield section from Osnaburgh to Fort Hope. I did 5 portages in this section, 3 were fairly short and clear, one a bit on the long side and the portage "from hell"* at Kagami Falls (a huge amount of recent dead fall, mostly mature Poplar trees). I ran the rest of the rapids which were mostly easy CII's. There are lakes interspersed with the river portions, I had some wind issues.

The section from Fort Hope to Martin Falls Includes probably the most variety, scenic value and contains the biggest rapids. I lined all or part of two rapids/falls, carried one and ran the rest of which there were a few (CIII+) that were only possible for me due to the low water levels.

After Martin Falls there are no rapids above CII and most are CI's or just "fast water", now off the shield the low water really started to make an impression and not a great one, lots of back and forth to follow the deep water channel and the scenic value diminishes somewhat. Once past Ogoki the rock bars (rocks/stones too big to be called gravel) became a real problem, combined with persistent side winds the paddling was a bit miserable at times. Scenery actually improves as you head for The Albany Forks high banks with exposed erosion and the one single limestone outcrop of the entire river. Had a nice camp there on this huge slab mid-river with many fossils. The current was also stronger but I did a lot of grinding in this area. After The Forks the river really gets wide and this year shallow, it's about 220km to Fort Albany and I can't say it's really worth paddling but getting off here would involve a float plane charter and maybe in high water when it's apparently easy to do REALLY long distances it would not be the long slog that I experienced.

I arrived in Fort Albany on Day 46 as the sun set at 9:10pm, locals offered to get my boat and gear up to the airport and a lawn to camp on which was fantastic as I was struggling a little bit over the past week. A hot shower the next morning was a wonderful bonus and by the time my flight to Timmins left at 2:30 I was feeling a bit better. Ended up spending two nights in Timmins waiting for my boat and gear to come in then back to Toronto with a quick stop at Burger World in North Bay for a Jumbo Burger (3 patty 12oz of dead cow) and a pile of fries.

At the put-in I had about 225lbs of gear and food plus canoe, I finished with about 170lbs. I had plenty of food left, only got very low on dried fruit for my oatmeal (one more serving remaining) and batteries (had to be very conservative for the last 10 days), recording video really chews through power. Had some minor equipment "damage" (wear and tear) and I'll be working with Gflex + S-glass to patch up some new cracks in the hull of my Mohawk XL14.

Worst body "damage" was a wasp (or maybe a bee) bite (I don't react so just the stinging jab) and a minor shin scrape early on. I went for one tumble on the shortest and least dangerous portage of the trip but managed to not fracture anything.

Personally I dropped 20lbs, 13% of my body weight. Between pigging out on burgers, hydrating and relative inactivity I'm adding back almost 2 lbs a day since Monday night at Pat & Marios in Timmins.

I really will make an effort to produce a complete report this year (I've said that before!), to start I'll post my final GPS track and some pictures on my site within a few days.

* I can report that this portage as well as all the others from Osnaburgh Lake to Fort Hope were cleared with a chainsaw about 10 days after I went through. Future paddlers for the next few years at least can thank Jesse Terry for his efforts in this regard. I'd also thank his father Thomas and Jonathan Berger the authors of the amazing Canoe Atlas Of The Little North.

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