My friend Mark last night sent me his photos of his trip this August of the same trip and that, plus a post today here in the forums, reminded me that I never shared the photos or provided a report of our trip. Better late than never, here it is.
Back in September of 2010 I did a fly-in canoe trip on the Churchill from Sandfly Lake to Missinipe with 2 other friends (a Northstar Expeditions trip http://northstarexped.blogspot.com
. The original number on the trip was 4, but one friend had to pull out at the last minute which left me scrambling for a bit. But, a solo canoe that was up to the task at hand was quickly located and we were good to go with 3 paddlers. I paddled Mark Lafontaine's custom-built Kisseynew Canoe Company Seal Solo canoe (http://www.kisseynewcanoecompany.com/voyageurs.htm
We spent 7 full days paddling back to Misssinipe and covered a distance of 150 km, according to the recorded GPS track. About five out of seven days were windy, at some points extremely windy. It was a great trip and entailed a lot of new experiences for the 3 of us.
Here are just a handful of photos, but for the full photo album with caption explanations and GPS tracks showing our exact route, visit https://picasaweb.google.com/1056768657 ... directlink
The two canoes used on this trip. On the left is a Sift Yukon, 17.5' long and great for loaded river travel. The center seat (used by my kids) was removed prior to the trip. On the right is a borrowed custom-built canoe (Seal Solo) built by Mark Lafontaine (http://www.wildpaddler.ca/
) together with Martin Beranrdin of Kisseynew Canoe Company (http://www.kisseynewcanoecompany.com
). The Seal Solo is 17' long, 33.5" @ 4 " water line and 26" at the gunwale. It was outfitted with a spray skirt that Mark built.
A foggy morning delayed our flight by a couple of hours. It made for a gorgeous morning and some great photos though.
As soon as the fog lifted in the morning we flew into a sand beach on an island on Sandfly Lake to begin our journey. This photo appears to show the rapids from Crew Lake to Torranee Lake, part of the southern route which we did not paddle.
Very near to the beach where we landed was the island with McKenzie's bear head rock. The light was just right to see it.
The first rapids we ran on the trip, Needle Rapids.
Looking out over Kinosaskaw Lake.
There were several sets of pictographs to see along the route.
Our first campsite at Silent Rapids was a real mess from previous (fishing) visitors. We put a fair bit of effort into cleaning it up prior to setting up and during our stay.
The Swimming Stone.
Paddling on Black Bear Island Lake. BBIL is one awesome lake, have a look at it on a map and you'll realise it's more island than lake. I thought all the islands would protect us from the wind, but really the channels just funnelled all of the wind against us.
High Rock Narrows on Black Bear Island Lake.
The pictographs up there are worth the climb. At first I was hanging out in the canoe, too tired to get out and explore since I new we had a fair way to go yet to get to camp. I was actually about 600 m ahead of the other canoe waiting for them while they explored on shore. Fed up with waiting I went back and was convinced to climb the rock for myself. It was worth it.
One of the issues we had with the headwinds all day was that our progress was slower than expected. Thus, we were always pushing, and we were always arriving at camp late, setting up late, and it was late before we could even attempt to fish. In the end Jay was really glad that we didn't only bring side dishes to go with fish, as he preferred to do. Here he is trying to catch supper on BBIL.
Another windy day, this is a couple days later on Trout Lake.
Always remember to secure the food barrel before showing off with a beautiful hanging draw.
If it's too late to fish in the evening, then have fish for breakfast. Walley at Rooster Rapids.
Yours truly. For the story behind this and similar Northstar Expeditions-AC/DC photos, see http://northstarexped.blogspot.ca/2010/01/nse-acdc.html
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Heading into Rock Trout Rapids, we should have read the guide book more closely here (Doing an eddy turn while solo paddling a fast, loaded, 17' canoe can be a challenge, not to mention critical to execute lest you have a near death experience.)
Further down the Churchill.
Near the end of the trip the wind did diminish. Actually, the wind dropped just before Nipew (Dead) Lake, which we would not have been able to cross if it had not. As we crossed the wind stopped entirely.
The end of a great day, we had some trouble trying to find a campsite. The campsite. One of those referred to in Laurel Archer's book was wrong, another was occupied. We did a few extra km of paddling at a time we weren't really looking for extra miles. But it was gorgeous.
The temperature dropped like a rock as we looked for that camp site. We compensated once we found our spot by building a big beach bonfire.
A groundhog on Hayman Lake, first time I've ever seen one.
Posing at Great Devil Rapids.
Final sunrise of the trip.
Warm light of sunrise at the foot of Murray Channel.
For the full album with captions, visit https://picasaweb.google.com/1056768657 ... directlink