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Albany River 2024

Jul 26, 2022
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Greater Toronto Area
I'm planning on running the Albany river in 2024. The problem is that my usual companions will (I think) be unable to do it. I can't do it alone - it is for lack of a better description, above my pay grade. I intend to run the entire river, from north of Thunder Bay to the coast. I'm thinking 4 to 6 weeks, and very likely closer to six.

If anyone is planning on this river, please drop me a line. I have all the necessary gear except the canoe (which normally I rent or borrow for a trip like this). I can handle a class II rapid unless it gets technical, and then I need help; I can navigate a short class III. I have I'd say a hundred nights in the wild, in a verisimilitude of situations - hot, freezing, hungry, starving, wet, dry, raining sideways, whatever. I am well trained and current in First Aid. I am a recreational pilot and can navigate without electronics very well. But as well as I can toot my own horn, I don't think I should attempt this trip alone.

So, if you're thinking of such a trip, drop me a line here.
Have fun.. There are quite a few fishing camps on the Albany so you might be surprised to find it somewhat of a working river. These can be welcome or a pox depending on your mood. There are settlements too..

That said you will be on your own for the most part and a means of two way communication is a good idea. When you get this remote, throttle down your perceived skill as the consequences of error are far worse than in near wilderness. If there is a portage , there is a reason for it.

One thing good about solo is there is no peer pressure.. When you get two and you have different opinions its easy to get pressured in to doing something your gut says is a bad idea. The pressure gets worse with larger groups. If you have more than one, plan your strategy ahead of time. Ideally If one does not want to do something, that one rules.
I participated in 3 or 4 Wabakimi Project trips on the Albany starting in 2009, a very high water year. We were able bypass some portages by paddling and hand-over-handing the canoes thru the woods since the river was in flood. We started on Osnaburgh Lk and ended the trip early on Achapi Lk because we couldn’t go any further due high water with large standing waves. At one point Uncle Phil noted we were drifting with the current at 11+ kmph. The next year the water was quite low. Also, August 2009 was a very buggy year. I have never been anywhere with more mosquitoes than on Achapi Lk that August.

My last trip ended on Minimiska Lk. I like river trips and have longed to go back but as previously noted it is a remote river and expensive to access. You may encounter occasional flyin fisherman but with the proper approach they can be a source of cold beer.
My plan last summer was to paddle the same route solo, but I drove up to the put-in at Osnaburgh and just wasn't comfortable given the high water. I ended up hatching a plan B in Wabakimi. It's not on my radar for next summer, but my plan in the not-too-distant-future is to paddle the upper Albany, cut ove to the Attawapiskat via the Martin Drinking River, and take the Attawapiskat to the bay. Anyway, sounds like a great trip!
Hello Packetfiend. My 2024 season is wide open as we speak. I am off to the Teslin and Yukon this June on a fund raising trip. More to follow…
My plan B will likely be Wabakimi. I paddled three weeks there in 2020. Otherwise that plan B would be Woodland Caribou, or maybe Opasquia from Pickle Lake. Given the cost and time involved with running the Albany, I don't think either alternative would be insurmountable, if somewhat planned.

Outside of Ontario maybe the Bloodvein (Plan B).
What about the Missinabi? Train in train out.
It's a bit far from the general area (that being the Albany) to be a backup. I did the Missinaibi twice with trains but sadly, those trains don't exist anymore. There's some talk that they may come back, but it hasn't happened yet.
I could try to sell you on the extended Marshall Lake loop, it won't disappoint.
When we did Wabakimi in 2020, the Marshall Lake loop was our "fire backup". Being on the other side of both Nipigon and a height of land it's a very solid alternative, both for that trip, and this one. I still have your maps. The difference is that a the Marshall Lake Loop is not a "journey".

In 2024, I want not simply to retreat to the wilderness... I need an epic journey. The Albany can provide that.

edit: I did the upper Missinaibi with trains, using the Algoma Central Railway. The ACR's passenger service is no longer running, however the Missinabie Cree First Nation may soon bring it back as the Bear Train. The Polar Bear Express does still run between Moosonee and Cochrane.
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There are ways to turn that trip into a journey, for instance, start on the Kowkash River, end up on Marshall, then all the way to the Little Current, then all the way to the Albany and beyond.
There are ways to turn that trip into a journey, for instance, start on the Kowkash River, end up on Marshall, then all the way to the Little Current, then all the way to the Albany and beyond.
This is actually a fantastic way to enter the Albany if fire or high water makes it iffy to start from the headwaters. I'm planning a resupply at Ogoki. Starting from Nakina or Aroland and then taking the North Channel I think it is, Ogoki will still be roughly halfway-ish. A bit less direct than the Little Current though.

Correct me if I'm wrong though - this route would bypass Marshall Lake. I'm not that familiar with the area, but it looks to me that Marshall Lake drains into Nipigon and the Kowkash into the Albany...

(thereby making necessary a height of land crossing between Marshall Lake and the Kowkash)
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Kowkash drains into Abamasagi, then heck port takes you into Meta Lake, where you could go over to Marshall and go that wY, or cross over to Ara, port into Stone and pick up the Kap just before the fast water starts. If you go the Marshall way, Summit Lake on the Marshall route is appropriately named. Heading north out of Summit, the Kapkotongwa river flows to Percy Lake, then the Little Current and eventually to the Albany. You can go south at Summit down to Lake Nipigon. I know a fella who was a teenager in 1950, him and his chum paddled from just outside of Geraldton to James Bay in an old cedar canvas canoe.
Did you find a trip partner yet? Let me know if you are still looking I could use an adventure this summer! I've only paddled the last part of the Albany from the Kenogami tributary and have wanted to paddle the whole river for a while. Another river on my radar is the Hayes... Let me know 🍫🏕️
Did you find a trip partner yet?

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