Brightsand - Kashishibog - Kopka Rivers

Day 8 - Kopka River south of Aldridge Lake to Kopka River at Unnamed Lake west of Bridge (17 km)

All maps shown on this page, unless otherwise stated, are provided courtesy of Toporama which contains information licensed under the Open Government Licence – Canada. I have made additional markings to show route information.

We awoke to our second consecutive morning of gloomy skies, but yet again the rain seemed to be holding off. 

We were acutely aware of further stretches of potentially dangerous river ahead of us prior to making it to Sandison Lake, so we didn't dillydally and got on the water at a respectable hour. Here is my customary shot of our campsite a few meters downriver from it. 

For the first 500 meters or so, the river was wide, shallow and swampy.  

As it bent to the south it became rocky again and began to drop. I wouldn't go so far to describe our mood and approach to the river as apprehensive, but the previous day's challenges did keep us alert and cautious. The rapids at this point were not intense, but very bony and we employed an approach of running the river but immediately getting out to wade and line anything questionable. It worked fine and we were able to get through the section easily. 

This led to another swampy section of flatwater for a kilometer or so before we came to another rock-filled drop. My research showed a 215-meter portage on the right, but after scouting, we found that we could line the rapids and run some parts successfully. We didn't notice the portage at that location. 

After a few hundred meters of flat paddling, we came to the lip of a more formidable drop that was laden with boulders and logs. It was a no-go. The portage on the right was obvious and easy to find, so we beelined there to unload the boat. 

There was a small but nice campsite with some freshly chopped wood overlooking the rapids. 

The portage was listed at 170 meters on my map, but it felt closer to 300 or so. We looked for a spot to possibly put in and run the bottom, but it was a minefield throughout in those conditions. On the bright side, we were able to enjoy a nice mid-morning snack of blueberries along the trail.

Downriver from the portage, I am happy to report that we were able to paddle almost straight through to Sandison Lake. The river became very shallow in a few spots and we had to get out for a second or two after grinding to a halt on the sandy bottom. There was only one other set of rapids just before the lake that we actually ran despite a bit of scraping. Whoo-hoo! In my jubilance, I turned to snap a shot of them. 

Upon reaching Sandison Lake, we could relax a bit knowing that we had the worrisome part of the river behind us. We fished for a while in the glass-like lake near the mouth of the river, but the water was so low it made it unlikely that we'd tap into any pickerel there. We only managed to catch a couple of dink pike before moving on. 

We began paddling north through the island-dotted waters of Sandison Lake. It was pretty despite the gloomy aura that the dark sky was projecting. 

By midday, we arrived at our next portage that cut off a bend in the river past a rocky CII. It was only about 80 meters long, so we didn't even bother going out of our way to scout the run in the low conditions. It would have been a bushwhack to see the whole run around the bend and much more effort than simply completing the portage. 

There was a campsite at the take-out and we had our lunch there after carrying our first load across it. Here is a shot from the site looking back at a steep ridge on the western shore overlooking the northern bay of Sandison Lake. 

It was only a 15-minute paddle to the next 90-meter portage that was to the left of a small falls. My quick shot of falls from the water beneath them turned out blurry, but I was able to get a good picture of the rapids below the falls from the put-in. 

The river headed directly east after those chutes and within 10 minutes we came to a CI rocky rapid that we easily made it through with a combination of running and lining. 

There was a large unnamed lake after those sets that was very pretty. We noticed a couple of nice campsites on the eastern side of the lake that looked appealing but it was only about 2:30 PM and we wanted to get a little more distance behind us that day. 

Once through the lake, the river turned to the north yet again. The clouds began to break and we were finally able to get a bit of sun after a lot of gloom thus far in the day. 

We arrived at our last portage of the day which was about 100 meters to the left of a series of ledges containing large boulders and sweepers.  

There were two take-outs to this portage. The first which was further from the lip of the rapids has the canoeist climbing a steep rocky knob before descending down the portage to the put-in. The second is closer to the edge of rapids but is much easier to take out on. I'm guessing the first one would be preferable in high-water conditions. 

After those scary-looking rapids, we paddled through yet another unnamed lake before turning to the southeast. The river became very narrow after a while and we came to a nice, deep CII wave train that circumvented a large rocky outcrop. We happily ran that but had to immediately eddy out after the run to avoid heading into the rocky minefield further below. We were able to line through the remainder with a bit of difficulty due to a couple of sweepers. 

Here is a shot of the part we ran. It would prove to be the most exciting run of the trip, short that it was.  

The river widened again and we found ourselves in another large unnamed lake. It was about 4 PM and we decided to call it a day. Just past the lake was the longest portage of the trip and we decided that we would save that for when we were fresh in the morning. 

I was aware of some campsites on the eastern side of the lake and we paddled over to investigate. We could spot a very odd table of some sort on a small island. It seemed to be very high from our position on the water, so either it was a fish-cleaning station for NBA players or perhaps a food cache. Either way, the island was small, rocky, and not that appealing. 

We spotted a nice rocky knob on the northeastern shore of the lake and correctly assumed that it would be a campsite. Upon investigation, it took us a microsecond to decide to make it our home for the night. It had a wonderfully large rocky slope down to the water and a fantastic firepit area at the top with panoramic views over the lake. There was a large cleared-out area behind the rock for a number of tents. After our daily swim to wash off the grime of the day, I just had to take a short video of the wide view of the lake while we were cooking dinner .

As mentioned in the video above, the skies were darkening again. We began to think that perhaps it wasn't clouds at all, but smoky haze from distant forest fires despite the lack of any smoky odour. 

The way the sun appeared as a dot in the sky at sunset further confirmed our assumptions. Normally, the light of the sun would spread across the horizon at sundown, even amongst clouds. On that night, the sun appeared to be dulled somewhat and hung as a dot in the sky, the way the moon would. It seemed a little off and unusual to us. 

Any kind of nasty weather held off for the night and we both slept very well. 

Next Page:

Day 9 - Kopka River  at Unnamed Lake west of bridge to Kopka River west of Kenakskaniss Lake -(16 km)

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