Introducing The Kesagami River
The Kesagami isn’t just any whitewater river. Through it’s 35-kilometer whitewater section, it plunges 200-meters in a series of raging rapids, thundering waterfalls, and a plethora of portages before emptying into James Bay. I paddled this remote river and a stretch of the James Bay coast all alone. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share the adventure with you through a 16-part video series where I’ll cover the the skills, tips, and tricks I used along the way. Everything from shooting, lining, wading, and portaging whitewater, to preparing fish over the fire and, when necessity calls, treating nasty burns in the wilderness. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a great run!
Tent: Think simple, dependable and waterproof. You want an easy-to-erect dome-style tent with a fly that covers the entire tent. I brought the Eureka Taron 2.
Canoe: You’ll need an expedition-grade canoe that can wrap around a mid-rapid boulder, then bounce back into shape. Choose an all-around hull design, such as that of the traditional prospector canoe. On the Kesagami, I used a 15′ Novacraft Prospector made of Royalex. Unfortunately though, Royalex is no longer manufactured. Nova Craft is currently leading the charge with a new, expedition-grade material called TuffStuff. Other new materials are set to reach the market in the near future.
Paddles: Bring a long whitewater paddle and a shorter, multi-purpose paddle. I like the Grey Owl Hammerhead for whitewater and a Carlisle Outfitter for flat-water. Should I loose the Hammerhead in a rapid, the Outfitter would double as whitewater paddle.
Food barrel: This protects your food from animals, impact and moisture. Plus, it floats, even when fully loaded, shoulder straps are sold separately.
Large dry bag: This is where you keep your clothes, tent, sleeping bag and ground pad. For extended trips, you’ll need one with shoulder straps that holds more than 100 liters. I like the Eureka Canoe Pack SS 115.
Small dry bag: Get a smaller, 20 or 30-litre dry bag to store things you may need to access quickly, such as your first-aid kit or sunglasses. Note: Don’t buy one of the clear ones because they puncture too easily.
Maps and compass: Use 1:50,000 scale Topo Canada maps and a modern, liquid-filled, orienteering style compass. I recommend the Brunton TruArc or Silva Ranger. I also bring 1:250,000 topographic maps for my route which I keep waterproofed in my survival pack.
Lighters: Since a fire source is so crucial, I bring at least five lighters: one in my emergency kit, one in my pocket, one in my jacket pocket in a plastic bag and one in each of my dry bags.