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Middle Churchill - Stanley Mission to Slim's Cabins

Route submitted by: Tom Wolfe Submitted: Mon, May 22,2017
Trip Date: August 1-12, 2016 Route Author: Tom Wolfe
Location Map
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General Info

Portage Info

Distance:
200 km
No. of portages:
10
Duration:
12 days
Total Portage Distance:
1000 m
Loop Trip?:
No
Longest Portage:
600 m

Difficulty Ratings

Background Info

River Travel:
Intermediate
Trip Date:
Lake Travel:
Intermediate
Water Levels:
Medium
Portaging:
Easy
 
Remoteness:
Intermediate
 
Access to Put-In Information

Drive to Stanley Mission, put in at public dock. Arrange shuttle with Churchill River Canoe Outfitters. Cost us 1442.51 all in for two vehicles, including GST. They picked our cars up at Stanley Mission, then met us at the take out at Slim's. We had to shuttle the drivers to the 165/106 junction where they had a pickup waiting to return them to Missinipe (we were continuing south to Saskatoon and beyond), but otherwise it was extremely slick.

At <$145/person it made for a very affordable wilderness river trip.

Technical Guide

Stanley Mission to Stanley Portage (II or roller portage 10 m RR)

Nistowiak Lake - Potter Portage (rollers, portage 30 m RR) - Drinking Lake.

Just before Keg Lake take Inman Channel north of Carr Island. Watch for petroglyphs on RL. II Rapids just past little bay on N side of Car Island. This is a very pretty little channel. Continue across N end of Keg Lake to Keg Falls, log roll portage RL 30 m.

Continue to a series of increasingly difficult rapids, II, II, II/IV as marked in the guidebook. We ran the last III/IV rapid starting from the left and ferrying across to right into a small Class II sneak channel that bypasses the large ledges. It's not difficult but requires confident and precise maneoeuvering across some pretty big water. Some of our group portaged RL (600 m).

Trade Lake - south of Archibald Lake is a really pretty archipelago of little islets, a great place for lunch in the sun.

Trade Lake - Frog Portage -- Frog is a must-visit historical destination. 1500 m North of Frog Portage is an outstanding camp on a little island off a point RR.

Uskik Lake - Kettle Falls. Log roller portage RL 100 m. The best campsite ever is in plan view RR. A bumpy ferry will bring you directly there. Little Kettle Rapids a short distance downstream from camp make for a fun area to play around in during a layover day. Excellent fishing here.

Ourom Lake - Reindeer Confluence - after meeting the Reindeer the Churchill suddenly changed in character with the feeling of much greater volume, surging currents and whirlpools. A satisfying and exciting change.

Iskwatam Lake - channel south fo Lowen Island (some benign swifts marked as rapids) - channel south of Brackenridge Island. This channel has a few rapids of increasing difficulty, II - II - IV. From here on there are no more of the deluxe variety of portages. We lined the IV RL, then hopped back into our canoes to run a narrow powerful channel (II), continuing in the channel just S of Brackenridge Island around the north side (RL) of an island and then back south to regain the main flow. This is very scenic.

Iskwatam - Wapumon. We took the north II Rapids then paddled the Wapumon Rapids (II-II+) to the small bay on RL just before Wapumon Gorge (very powerful IV-V). We portaged RL to the outflow of the Gorge (trail, 300 m). From the end of the portage the river is still pretty exciting with ocean-like swells and breakers.

We then kept to the south and wrapped wide around the next island(s), passing through a few beautiful swifts marked as II rapids. 

Wapuman Lake - Wintego Lake - exceptional campsite on west side of the island just before Wintego Rapids.

Wintego Rapids: III (ran this river left, big waves but uncomplicated), II+/II+/III - some of us paddled the first two II+/II+ but this is a high consequence zone and the rest of us lined RR. The final III+ we all portaged RR (a branch drag, 30 m).

Pita Lake - a complicated lake with almost no good camping. We searched long and hard and finally found a really quite good spot with lots of options/room on the north east side of an island at GR 441 569.

Pita Lake - Pikoo Lake - we opted against Cameron Falls and instead took the RL channel west of the island past a beautiful fishing hole, an islet in the middle of the channel. You can't miss it. We got there right after some anglers had pulled out 15 plump walleye but didn't have any luck ourselves.

Piko Lake - Reeds Lake - Sokatisewin Lake - Slims Cabins - lots of aluminum fishing boats and cabins in this zone. Uncomplicated travel, pretty country.

Trip Journal/Log/Description

A great trip with easy portages that are typically outfitted with rollers or logs or branches. Most rapids are very runnable and those that we didn't run we often were able to line past. Still, not a novice trip and one with a remote and wilderness feel even though it's on the Churchill.

Our group consisted of two smaller groups of two families each for a total of 18 people plus two dogs. A large group! A couple of times we split up for various reasons including campsite availability and itinerary, but otherwise we moved together until the last day when we had to stage our exits over two days due to shuttle driver constraints.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:50,000): 
Get your maps from CRCO. You can also download and print the maps I made for myself below.
Suggested Resource Material

Get a copy of Laurel Archer's excellent Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Routes for a description of this and many other routes.

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