In 2016 I paddled the Otoskwin/Attawapiskat Rivers from north of Pickle Lake to James Bay. This year I will doing a similar route somewhat to the south.
The Albany River is generally considered to be the longest river in Ontario, officially 982km (some claim the Severn River is equally long). The source of the Albany is Cat Lake located in the watershed of Lake Saint Joseph, roughly 120km west of Pickle Lake and about 350km north of Thunder Bay. Hwy 599 passes over the outflow of Lake Saint Joseph at Rat Rapids, a common starting point for trips on the Albany. It's also possible to access Lake Saint Joseph via routes from the west, these routes generally involve several days of upstream travel and upstream portages. Another option to extend the trip and the one I will be using is from the south starting from Harris Lake near the CN rail line and the whistle stop called Savant Lake. This route will add about 150km / 10 days before I will reach Osnaburgh Lake and the beginning of my Albany River decent. It's a mix of lake and river travel with only a few mandatory portages. It does include the actual Savant Lake which at about 30km in length could be a problem if it's windy.
Once I reach the Albany River it will be a month long journey to James Bay. The first half of the route is shield country with numerous Class I/II rapids, ledges and falls, some will definitely require portaging but the distances are fairly short and I expect the trails to be obvious and generally in good shape. Near the confluence with the Ogoki River I will reach the Hudson Bay Lowlands, the river grows considerably in size and winds it's way 400km towards the ocean through muddy banks. There are a few last rapids just upstream from the community of Fort Albany where my journey will end.
The total length of this trip will be just shy of 1000km and I am planning to complete it in about 6 weeks. My time is flexible and really only limited by the supplies I can carry with me so I will travel at my leisure for the first half of the trip and make it up later (or not) in the lowlands which may be somewhat tedious. This strategy worked well last year on the Attawapiskat.
My trip will begin June 27th at Toronto's Union Station where I will board the westbound Via train (The Canadian). 24 Hours later (10:30pm) I will be dropped off at Savant Lake where I will have a short portage over to the Four Winds Motor Hotel. The following day I'll get a lift over to Harris Lake, depending on time I'll either start paddling north on Harris to the first portage into Harold Lake or camp out and leave in the morning.
Some time during the first two weeks of August I will finish at Fort Albany just upstream from James Bay. From there I will fly out to Moosonee (or Timmins??).
This InReach tracking page shows my current position and track from my starting point on Harris Lake The tracking is updated about every 20 minutes when I am on the move. From time to time I will also post messages about any highlights (or lowlights) I may experience. Click on the little arrow below Mr Recped on the left to see the details of each daily track and any messages I have sent.
To view full screen click the link below
Direct Link To Tracking Page
This interactive map shows my basic route. Click on the "direct link" or the upper right corner of the map to view it from the source at CalTopo. This will allow you to use advanced options, add map layers, change the way the layers display and other features.
Direct Link To Map Page
If you are interested in the wild fire situation you can have a look at the interactive map at the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. As of mid-June there are no active fires in the area I will be paddling, the Fire Danger rating is currently Low to Moderate. This season there have been very few fires anywhere in Northwestern Ontario so hopefully the air will be clear.
For a trip of this duration I can expect to experience just about every type of weather. Mostly I expect a mix of sun and cloud with regular thunderstorms. Typical summer weather with several days of rain and extremes of hot and cold are to be expected. I'd be happy with some cooler weather, last summer was extremely hot. Bug season started late this year in that part of the Province, they will probably be annoying over the first few weeks then not so bad until the lowlands where the mosquitos never seem to go away (should be ok when on the water).
Click the arrow beside Savant Lake to check the current weather as I pass by Fort Hope, Ogoki Post and Fort Albany.
The Weather Network