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Late one night in July, the Canadian Trans-Continental Train screeched to a stop in the middle of the woods, dropped off 8 Goretex-clad passengers at the side of the Missinaibi River, then sped off into the night. In the darkness that night, I was very glad that we decided to take Julie's advice and go with a guided group.
The river was everything I had hoped to experience, and more. Each night we camped next to stunning waterfalls or rapids. We ran set after set of rapids, and only had to portage 8 times on a 7-day trip. We saw 4 moose, 3 bear, lots of eagle, osprey and beaver. We caught walleye and Northern Pike in the evening, went swimming, and enjoyed excellent meals and great conversation. In fact, the social aspect of the trip, the new friends we made on the river, became one of the most pleasant surprises. In years of canoeing we tried to avoid other people, but now on a group trip, our fellow paddlers gave us the best memories from the trip.
Our guide Dave, the other owner of Missinaibi Headwaters Outfitters, was an excellent teacher. He showed us how to use everything we knew from flatwater paddling and put these skills to use on a river. By the end of the trip, Tony and I were running Class II rapids, scouting and reading rapids.
The Missinaibi River is about 350 miles, and is crossed once by a road. This road became our take out, 100 miles downstream from the train tracks where we started 7 days earlier. We enjoyed the hospitality of the French Canadian village of Mattice before being shuttled back to the Timmins airport. I am sure we'll be in touch with Dave and Julie to see if we can join a guided trip to finish the river.
We used Mad River, Dagger, and Nova Craft 16 foot ABS canoes with whitewater outfitting: straps, knee pads and floatation.