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The Harricanaw River is one of James Bay’s mighty rivers. Open rock campsites larger than a football field, miles of shallow limestone rapids, spectacular waterfalls and dozens of class II drops make this a truly enjoyable river. Rising in west-central Quebec the drainage basin is immense, making it a deep, high volume river much of the year. The river, which at times is almost 1 km wide, can suddenly narrow to a mere 30 meters as it plunges through a gorge or canyon. We find that late summer (or even fall) is the ideal time to run the Harricanaw. Lower water levels mean that we can run many more of the rapids, with only a few portages around falls, chutes and class 4 rapids. In late August also the bugs are mostly gone yet the water temperatures and air temperatures are still warm.
(Note: this is a suggested itinerary only, conditions on each trip may vary)
Meet in Cochrane On, night before the trip start.
Day 1: We will meet at the Cochrane Air Floatplane base, at 7 am. Participants can leave their cars at the base. From here we will shuttle 3hrs north east to the Harricanaw River. By mid day we should be at the ‘last bridge” of the Harricanaw. We will then head out onto the water for a review of flatwater strokes and some whitewater practice in RII rapids. A couple of hours of paddling (about 10km) is usually our goal for the first day.
Day 2: 25 km – Today we will have mostly calm paddling with a slight current. At mid-day there are two RII’s. Another 10km will take us to the clear waters of the Turgeon River. We will set up camp here or at the top of the next set of rapids, a couple of kilometers further on.
Day 3: 10km – About 6 km above One Mile Island the rapids begin. Two RI-II sets are encountered in this section. Another 3km brings us to One Mile Island Complex. This complex is made up of six RII-III rapids. There will be some lining and 2 possible liftovers depending on water level. The “One Mile Island” area is increadibly beautiful. We will camp at one of the beautiful campsites in this vicinity.
Day 4: 26 km – This day offers 26 km of continuous swifts and RIs. These are relatively easy with little or no scouting. If water levels create large waves at the bottom of some sets, some scouting may be required. There is one major RII-III consisting of 3 drops at the close of the day.
Day 5: 10km – This day marks the beginning of the major rapids and large drop of the Harricanaw. As we approach Seven Mile Island gorge, we will encounter 3 large RII-III rapids which can be run after careful scouting. We will takethe right-hand channel of the gorge as most of this side it is possible to paddle or line. Again it is a very beautiful section of river.
Day 6 & 7: 11 km – During the 11 km on days 6 and 7, the river drops 95m (300+ ft). The 7 short portages, 13 major rapids (RII-IV), and numerous swifts of this gorge will take 2 days to pass through. Campsites will be on open rock sites next to some of the
large sets. This gorge section of the river offers the most spectacular scenery of the trip, as the river narrows and cascades over the numerous drops.
Day 8-10: 70 km – There are 3 RI-II rapids immediately after Seven Mile Island followed by 30 km of virtually continuous swifts and small rapids. As the river widens into a braided channel we will encounter larger RI-II limestone rapids which continue for several kilometres. For the next 35 km the shallows and swifts continue. We pass Low Shoal Island and enter tidal water for the final 5 km to the Hanna Bay Goose Camp, near the shores of James Bay.
Day 11 Flights from Hannah Bay back to Cochrane.
Transportation: You are responsible for your own transportation to and from Cochrane. Cochrane is accessible by car (hwy 11) or by bus (ONR)
Departure: You will arrive back in Cochrane on day 11 of the trip
* Please note: It’s the nature of remote northern travel that uncontrollable factors like poor weather, pilot judgment, forest fires, and mechanical problems can affect our schedules and cause delays. We regret these situations but cannot accept responsibility for hotels, flight rebookings, and other costs you may incur.