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PostPosted: March 15th, 2010, 8:30 pm 
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Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 3944
Location: Toronto
Ed note:
Posted on behalf of Ralph.

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Highway 106, Sturgeon-Weir River, Mirond Lake, Attitti Lake, Kakinagimak Lake, Wildnest Lake, Wildnest River, Sturgeon-Weir River, Highway 106
(Parts of Canoe Saskatchewan Trip 13 and Trip 22)
August 2005

We left our vehicles at the outfitter/gas station/store (for $5/day/vehicle) where the Hanson Lake Road (Highway 106) crosses the Sturgeon-Weir River. We were told that the water was up to 3 feet higher than usual and we found that many shoreline bushes were submerged or partially submerged. I suspect that in some of the places where we encounter significant current, there might not be as much in a normal year and in places that are normally rocky, we found easier going.

We started just after noon and had a short easy paddle staying along the shore (about 3 km) upstream to the start of Birch Portage. The portage was fairly gently uphill and a bit muddy but it was very wide to allow for hauling aluminum boats. There were a number of these boats at both ends. As we continued upstream, there was little current. We stopped early and spent the first night on a small island a few kilometres above the portage (63 L/15 528882). After setting up camp, we realized that one of our group had left a small pack behind at the portage so we paddled back and got it.

The next day we continued upstream with no current problems until we got to a narrowing of the river with a very small island just below the narrowest part (63L/15 537932). I believe the island is called Ant Island but I’m not sure of my source – possibly from The Lonely Land by Sigurd Olson. Two of our 3 pairs had to wade and line their canoes up the river right bank while one was able to paddle up with considerable effort. As we continued upstream we encountered some current at any narrowing of the river but these did not require wading or lining.

Dog Portage was as described in the Canoe Saskatchewan trip report. The paddling was straightforward until we got to the narrows below Corneille Portage (63 M/2 471986). Evidently, at some water levels, it is possible to paddle up this short stretch of faster water. We were unable to do so and because the water was so high, we could not find a way to wade or line or pull our way up along the tangled growth of willows on both banks. After some time searching for a portage over the narrow neck of land just to the north of the fast water, with no success, we decided to cut a portage of our own. It only took about 30 minutes as we only needed it to be wide enough and clear enough to get our canoes and gear through. This portage was cut about 75 metres or so north of the fast water in what we thought was the narrowest and easiest place. Once through this portage, it was a short paddle across a turbulent pool to the start of Corneille Portage. There was some current above the portage but we were able to paddle up it and onto Mirond Lake. We spent our second night on the left just after we got on Mirond.
We had very, very good weather on Mirond and were able to cut some of the corners and cut across the lake from about 63M/2 395143 to 380160. Just after the crossing, we were hit by a thunderstorm (sometimes you get lucky) and were forced to camp along the shoreline at about 63 M/2 374165. We saw some people in boats across the lake and we saw some buildings on the Reserve.

The next day dawned with a strong wind out of the north-northwest. We were able to make some progress by using islands as shelter and making short sprints to the next shelter. We discovered that there is a large island (at 63 M/2 370197) that looks, on the map, like it is part of the mainland. We paddled into the sheltered bay protected by this island and gained some easy distance until we had to come out the north side of the bay and start down Wunehikun Bay. One of our party described the scene as we came out as a maelstrom but once we rounded the corner and started east-southeast the wind was partially at our backs so we proceeded. We were able to make progress but as the wind increased, we decided we needed to stop early and camp. We stopped on an island at about 63 M/2 451174. We were windbound here for the next day.

It was only a few kilometre paddle to the end of the bay. The opening to the narrow in-flowing stream is a little hard to find. The total distance form Wunehikun Bay to Meggisi Rapids was about 4 km. The Canoe Saskatchewan guide said we might encounter rocks and have to wade but at our water levels we only had some current with which we had to contend.

The old portage trail described in the guide was overgrown, choked with deadfall and unusable. Outfitters had cut another trail starting just north of the rapids. The first 450 metres of this trail was a raised poleway used for hauling larger boats. It consisted of peeled 6 inch poles, nailed across large log supports on 2 foot centres which at some points was at least a metre off the ground. When we were there, it was in quite good condition with only a few missing or broken poles and only a little deadfall. We decided to use this for our portage but it required very careful walking. We hauled the canoes along the logs. The poleway ended about 50 or so metres below the start of the rapids and the trail that led to the head of the rapids was in very poor condition with thigh deep water in places (probably due to the high water year).

We paddled about 1 km to another set of rapids below Waskwei Lake. It was only about 70 metres long but wet at both ends. We had to line/wade our canoes up a final bit of fast water above the end of the portage before coming out onto Waskwei Lake. We encounter some current in a narrows (63 M/2 578112) which caused us to wade and pull our boats. We camped for the night on the east side of a long narrow north pointing peninsula. I’m not sure of the exact location but I believe it is 63 M/2 569103.
We paddled across the lake and out through a narrows (63 M/2 578112) and proceeded upstream for about 3 km against a fair current. There is an outfitters camp to the north of the narrows between the central and eastern bays of Waskwei Lake. We came to a beautiful fall with a number of boats tied up there. The portage is steep at the start so we used all of our people to get the gear up to the flats and then portaged as usual. There was a flimsy dock just above the falls. We paddled across a small pool and had to line up through a fast riffle before coming out on Attitti Lake. There is an outfitters camp on the east side of the central narrows. It is about 11 km to the start of the portage going toward KakinagimakLake.

This portage was in good shape – dry with good footing but starting to become overgrown through disuse. We paddled across a small, nameless lake to a beaver dam. We decided not to use the portage but to pull and paddle our boats over the 5 small beaver dams and out onto Kakinagimak Lake. We paddled up this lake to the northeast end and had to paddle and push our way through a series of 3 reed and cattail-lined narrows separating small wider sections and out onto the main part of Kakinagimak Lake. These narrows appear blocked as we approached but we were able to get through. We camped that night just after turning south on Kakinagimak Lake on the east side of small, north-pointing peninsula.

We paddled south and then east on Kakinagimak There was an abandoned outfitters camp at the narrows and a white building that looked like it had blown up on the shore about 3 km north of this. The next portage was hard to find. It starts at a small break in the alders and willows on the southeast shore of the main part of the southeast bay of Kakinagimak Lake. It was about 550 metres long and overgrown. It had some large trees across it (too large for our small folding saw) and it was seriously wet (and buggy) at the south end. Seriously wet means that there was a section of hummocky ground with roots followed by a stump-choked, bottomless, black channel through 100 metres of floating sedge. We saw no sign of the parallel winter road mentioned in the guide.

We paddled to the south end of the east bay of Dougherty Lake and portaged about 250 metres. The portage started about 150 metres south of the outlet stream but we also explored some surveyors tape on the bushes 50 metres to the north to no avail. We camped on Wildnest Lake on a small island not far from an outfitters cabin.
The next day we started down the Wildnest River. Generally it was still or slow-moving water with sections of rocky, shallow rapids. We were able to wade down some but portaged others. The guide mentions two possible portages, 10 and 10A. I strongly recommend that you use 10A – the one that leaves from the southwest bay of Trent Lake (63 L/16 646935). We did the other portage and it was little used and in very poor condition ending in a wet, bottomless, sucking bog which leads into the small, weed-choked Wildnest River. We inspected the other portage as we went by it and found it to be in much better condition with a much better ending. Note that Map 63 L/16 does not show the second outlet stream from Trent Lake.

We followed the river to the location of the next portage according to the guide but decided to take a chance and went on down the river. We followed the river past the well described portage beginning which leads straight west through a lake and another portage into Granite Lake. Instead we carried on into a small lake which we crossed to the outlet where there was a rapid. There was a portage of about 150 metres on the left around the set of rapids at the outlet and it was in good condition but we decided to have some adventure so we waded our boats down this rapid. We had to watch our footing but the rapid wasn’t too deep or too long. We paddled about 1 km to the outlet where there was another rapid. Again, there was a portage of about 100 metres around this rapid. The portage was on the left and was steep at the beginning and at the end. We walked the rapid and decided it was too swift, too deep in places and too powerful to wade so we portaged. It was a paddle of only a few hundred metres to the next rapid. There was a portage trail which we didn’t inspect but it appeared to be about 100 metres long. We waded our boats down this rapid. This was an adventure with a considerable amount of adrenaline and some expletives as the water was up to waist deep in places and was quite swift (It didn’t look that bad from shore!). The quiet water below lead into a small, nameless lake. We paddled around the point to the outlet at the southwest end. There was a fisherman’s campsite on the shore of the outlet. The quiet outlet stream flowed for about 1 km and discharges into a narrow arm of Granite Lake. We found a buggy campsite on the west shore of Granite Lake. There did not appear to be many possible campsites as the west side was low and the east side was high, steep and rocky. We saw 3 private cabins on the lake.

The outlet to Granite Lake is in the southwest corner and we followed it for about 4 km into a small, nameless lake in the Birch Portage Indian Reserve. This lake was choked with reeds and wild rice and the channel that leads to the outlet in the northwest corner was not clear. Once at the outlet, the stream became very pleasant. After a short paddle a bridge went over the stream. There was a small riffle under the bridge. We were able to squeeze ourselves and our canoes under the bridge. There were several houses nearby and we saw some people. Once under the bridge, the river turned to the left and went down a short, rocky channel through which a navigable channel had been cleared. It was a fun, straight run down. After the rapids, the river crossed a boulder bar which we hauled our canoes over. We left the Wildnest River through a weedy channel and paddled to the upstream end of Birch Portage, did the portage and then paddled back to Highway 106.

Hope this helps.
Ralph

_________________

A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)



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PostPosted: March 7th, 2011, 3:00 pm 
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Joined: March 5th, 2011, 5:21 pm
Posts: 5
My wife and I with another couple took Saskatchewan canoe route 11 described in "Canoeing the Precambrian edge." We left one vehicle at the Pawistik Lodge with the owner's hospitable permission on August 18th and motored up to the Pelican Narrows Reserve where we launched from North Bay at the Provincial compound also at the generosity of the compound operators. We are of somewhat advanced age but experienced wilderness canoers and felt quite confident of our ability to complete this route based on the guide book. However it turned out to be far more challenging than the guidebook seemed to imply. We allowed for eight days for the trip compared to the guidebooks suggested requirement of 5-6 but required 11. We found many of the portages quite over grown and good campsites a rarity for much of the trip. This is not meant as an indictment of the guidebook but only to offer some insights into the conditions and our experiences on this route.
We enjoyed one of our two best campsites at the apppoach to Wunehikun Bay with a beautiful sunset to charge our enthusiasm for the trip. The next day after a leisurely departure we made good progress until about noon when a very brisk southwest wind sprang up and forced us to hold up on an island for several hours and made it necessary to camp another night on a long ledgey point out into Wunehikun Bay. We paddled to and portaged around Meggisi rapids the next day. It was a challenging portage for a couple of reasons. The log poleway made it hard to carry gear and canoes by the traditional method due to the encroaching brush. Then a large spruce that had been uprooted at the approach to the upstream launch made launching more difficult and even more so due to a yellow jacket nest in the root wad. That day's camp was made after clearing space in the brush at the head of Waskwei Lake. A bright clear 4th day dawned and good time was made to portage No 3 but was challenging to negotiate the first few yards because of its steepness. We camped in the trail at the at the head of the falls. Wet damp weather set in on the 5th day. We had some strong south winds that forced us to detour some to take advantage of protective land form and islands rather than risk swamping in the big open water on Attitti. Camp was made in a small spruce glen on the northeast end of Bentz Bay. The 6th day of heavy rain took us across Kakinagimak Lake after portages. Portage 5 was grown up and we bypassed it by dragging over low beaver dams into McWilliams Lake. At the end of day 6 we were soaking wet and had to brush out a camp site 50 yards up the portage trail from Kakinagimak Lake. Day seven broke bright and clear with strong winds. We decided to stay at camp and dry out. We Portaged canoes and a portion of the gear across the portage that required some brushing and cuttting a couple deadfalls. The launch on day eight was into a challenging deep deadwood entangled marsh. Paddled down Dougherty lake and had a little trouble locating portage 7 which was quite brushy. Camped in the trail on the shore of Manson Bay. Paddled down Wildnest Lake to portage 9. A very good trail. Paddled to portage 10a still a very good trail. Camped at the takeout at Ripley Lake. No camp site, had to brush one out. Trail was much grown up and had to clear a trail around a deadfall occupied by another yellow jacket nest. Day 10 took us over three portages because we couldn't find portage to an unnamed lake upstream of Granite Lake where we found the second best campsite of the trip. We fished for dinner and caught one walleye and one N. pike. The next day we paddled down Granite Lake in the face of strong west winds which forced us to lay up for about four hours to allow the wind to lay down some along towards evening. We camped on a small point south of the outlet that afforded a fairly good campsite. Day 12 took us through an interesting lake totally choked with wild rice makeing it challenging to locate the channel. We made the final portage which was a wide and easy pathway by midday and completed the final leg to Pawistik lodge by mid afternoon. If there are questions I can be reached at donarcher@xmission.com


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