The Kesagami River Solo Episode 16 Push To Moosonee (Don’t Paddle)

The Kesagami River Solo Episode 16 Push To Moosonee (Don’t Paddle)


Considering my best efforts only gave me 10-kilometers on the previous day, I was shocked that I made it 18-kilometers after pushing off from Netitishi Point. Push is the operative word here. I remembered seeing an old picture of voyageurs poling a large fur trade canoe along the tidal flats of James Bay. In putting it to the test, I found pushing with my paddle made a lot more sense than paddling. It enabled me to make great time in water that was far to shallow to sink a paddle blade in.

I basically pushed for the entire 18k before I was thwarted by the receding tide about 2-kilometers from the Moose River. I wasn’t sure what trip day it was, I’d lost track of how many days I’d been out a while ago. I wasn’t on a tight schedule though, so I didn’t care.

Jim's final campsite beside this slow moving creek. Photo: Jim Baird
Jim’s final campsite beside this slow moving creek. Photo: Jim Baird

I camped beside a creek that night in hopes that it held fresh water. Turned out it was swampy and brackish way up from its mouth. The mosquitos were very bad there too. So bad in fact, that on my last morning, I dragged my outfit out onto the flats to eat breakfast and have a nap as I waited for the tide to come in. The bugs weren’t nearly as bad out there.

Mosquitos under the tent fly. Photo: Jim Baird
Mosquitos under the tent fly. Photo: Jim Baird

I could see the Moose River in the distance as I ate breakfast. Once I reached the river, I’d have 20-kilometers of upriver paddling before my finishing point in Moosonee, Ontario.

Jim takes a nap on the flats as he waits for the tide to come in. Photo: JIm Baird
Jim takes a nap on the flats as he waits for the tide to come in. Photo: Jim Baird

I was parched when I reached the Moose River and the scalding hot day wasn’t helping. I shouldn’t have been surprised that the Moose is brackish in it’s lower reaches too. Needless to say, I was happy when locals Christy Nielsen and Don Cheechoo pulled up beside me in their freighter canoe about a kilometer from town and offered me a couple cold drinks. It was weird talking to people after not seeing anyone for days, everything seemed funny to me. I suppose I was backed up, you don’t laugh at much when you’re alone.

On reaching Moosinee it felt good to be finished, it was a tough trip, but the toughest things in life are usually the most rewarding. I made camp near town and Don and Christy had me over for a traditional Cree breakfast of fried moose and bannock the next morning. That afternoon, I boarded the Polar Bear Express train, and headed south. I arrived in Cochran late, and was surprised to see Mark, my shuttle driver, waiting for me. He had decided to keep my vehicle at his house, rather than leave it at the station.

“How did you know I’d be here now?” I asked. And, with a shrug, he told me it’s the exact time I said I’d be there.


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Jim Baird is an Adventurer, videographer, writer, photographer, and talent. His previous rolls include extensive work with a map company as well as guiding and prospecting. Jim has shot video for Cineflix productions, BBC Worldwide, 13 Minds, and The Weather Network US. He's produced video series such as “The Kesagami River Solo” and “Lessons From The Trail with Jim Baird”. Jim’s content has also appeared in print for several publications that include Explore, Canoeroots, Real Fishing, Ontario Out of Doors, Outdoor Canada, Canoe & Kayak, and Field & Stream magazines. Jim is an expert woodsman, white-water canoeist, survivalist, and a bold wilderness navigator. His expedition experience includes a solo trip down the canoe eating rapids of the Kesagami and then along the tempestuous James Bay coat, an 800-mile snowmobile expedition across the Northwest Passage, 300miles above the Arctic Circle. A month long descent of the Northwest Territories Kuujjua River in the Arctic Archipelago, followed by 120-kilometers of paddling on the Arctic Ocean. He's also completed a 33-day canoe expedition via four rivers including the Adlatok in northern Quebec and Labrador.