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 Post subject: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 7th, 2009, 12:26 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg
In August last year we paddled a section of the Grass River with our friends Joan & Pete Robinson, an area about 400 miles north of Winnipeg and one of the original fur trade routes up from Hudson Bay. This route was soon abandoned in favour of the Hayes river which was more suited to the York Boats that replaced the canoe as the main load carrying craft of the HBC

We started at Wekusko Falls Lodge, catching a ride across the 20km of Wekusko Lake. This is a picture of the first attempt when we were turned back by 6ft waves. We had to sit and wait five hours for the wind to drop enough for Tony to attempt a second time (and with a bigger boat)

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The first day was a long but straightforward paddle down to the first set of falls which marked the limit for power boats until we would get to Setting Lake in six days.

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The weather was mixed for the first couple of days with light showers but as the week went on it became much warmer. We saw our first bald eagle but over the trip we saw dozens more plus ospreys and smaller hawks.

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The Grass River is known for its falls and these were mostly where we camped. Unfortunately the fantastic views meant that most of the paddlers before us had the same idea and at a couple of the sites there was a fair bit of litter (by Manitoba standards) and toilet paper. We saw only one other group on the river that week but it is a popular route because of the road access.

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But don't let that put you off, the falls were beautiful, spectacular, awe inspiring, but also quite difficult to photograph in a way that did them justice. The largest fell by about 13 metres over a distance of around 100m.

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We saw lots of wildlife. Otters, beaver, muskrat, mink and one black bear away on the shore. The scenery varied as the river starts off on softer sedimentary rock with bigger trees before moving onto the harder granite of the shield with the usual stunted jack pine.

Selena and I were OK with the bugs but Joan and Pete suffered. Watch out for the deer flies that hide in the canoe and bite your ankles while paddling though!

Some of the portages were very close to the top of the falls and we lined along the shore up to the edge. Longest carry was only 250 ish metres but I came to hate carrying the Prospector SP3s. They are too heavy for a sub 16ft canoe!

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We ran half a dozen rapids. All straightforward though one involved a punching a hole that was much deeper when at the bottom of the chute than when standing on the shore scouting.

item: make sure the m&ms are in a waterproof container...

The last rapid was a fun grade 2 funnelling through rock walls to finish with a bouncy set of standing waves. This is the head of the rapid.

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the tail 100meters later..

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When we reached the lakes where would be finishing our trip we found that the wind was, if anything, stonger that when we had set off. We were planning on heading north up Setting Lake so rose before light to put in some miles before breakfast.

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Although we planned on an early start the next day we found that the weather had turned and we spent the day huddled on the beach under the tarp hanging on to the canoes to stop them being blown away. We later heard that trees and power lines had come down that day.

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When the wind dropped next day we rode three foot swells down the lake to where the road crossed the river and Tony met us with our car and the news that Zoom Airlines had gone bust. In a way we didn't care as we had been canoeing...

Canoes were rented from Dave Pancoe at Northern Soul in Winnipeg, Boat ride and car shuttle from Tony Brew at Wekusko Falls lodge.

Guidebook, Wilderness Rivers of Manitoba by Hap Wilson

Chris & Selena Randall

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 8th, 2009, 7:16 am 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Hanmer, Ontario Canada
Nice trip report . Thanks for posting . Looks like you had a good trip . scouter Joe


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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 8th, 2009, 12:36 pm 
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Location: Canmore AB
Great Pics Chris , they bring back fond memories.
We lived in Snow Lake 30 yrs ago and tired to get across Wekusco to do that trip a few times. Finally did it 10 yrs ago by getting up really early and paddling across. The wind came up at our back for the last stretch.

Hugh

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 11th, 2009, 1:16 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
Thanks for sharing. I did the Grass River years ago. Great pictures as well!

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 13th, 2009, 7:48 am 
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Joined: January 26th, 2008, 11:43 pm
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chris randall wrote:
Longest carry was only 250 ish metres but I came to hate carrying the Prospector SP3s. They are too heavy for a sub 16ft canoe!

By the way, thanks for sharing--and I loved the sunset/sunrise shot.

I wonder what part(s) of your body seemed to grow tired or sore first when carrying the SP3's (which you may have meant to say were sub-"18" ft) because I think the trouble you experienced may very possibly have been due to a factor other than the weight of the canoes you were carrying.

Eric


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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 13th, 2009, 4:02 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg
The Prospector SP3s are touted as 16ft canoe but come out of the moulds at around 15ft 6". As they weigh in at around 80lbs I think this is too much and don't really have the volume I would have liked for a tripping canoe.

I have a Wenonah Aurora at home. It is at least 10lbs lighter despite being 6" longer.

I found the Novacraft yoke uncomfortable and the weight made my knees ache climbing up some of the rock steps found along the portages. I periodically suffer from lower back problems so do need to be wary about how I lift and carry boats and packs. To me the weight of the SP3 material is not something I could live with in a canoe of my own.

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: February 13th, 2009, 10:19 pm 
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Joined: January 26th, 2008, 11:43 pm
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chris randall wrote:
The Prospector SP3s are touted as 16ft canoe but come out of the moulds at around 15ft 6". As they weigh in at around 80lbs I think this is too much and don't really have the volume I would have liked for a tripping canoe.

I have a Wenonah Aurora at home. It is at least 10lbs lighter despite being 6" longer.

I found the Novacraft yoke uncomfortable and the weight made my knees ache climbing up some of the rock steps found along the portages. I periodically suffer from lower back problems so do need to be wary about how I lift and carry boats and packs. To me the weight of the SP3 material is not something I could live with in a canoe of my own.

Chris,

Thanks for enlightening me about the true length of the 16 ft SP3's. Yes, 15.5 ft surely is short for a tripping canoe, and the SP3's do sound heavy for their length as well as your injuries. Given the sorry state of my body these days, you have my complete sympathy.

I wasn't surprised to learn that you found the deep-dish Nova Craft yoke to be uncomfortable. I'm in the process of replacing the one on my Nova Craft Prospector 18 with a flat one and adding portage pads. The implication in the Nova Craft website that their canoes can be carried up to five miles while using these yokes seems even less accurate than the reported length of their "16" ft SP3. :wink: Maybe if enough trippers demanded that outfitters provided portage pads on their canoes--and if enough of Nova Craft's customers gave this company flak about accessorizing their boats with deep-dish yokes, then maybe Nova Craft would remove them.

I strongly believe that carrying a heavy canoe can be comfortable for the shoulders if one is using a smart portaging system, whether it involves a tump, pads, or something else as effective.


Last edited by tamarack on March 14th, 2009, 9:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: March 3rd, 2009, 9:58 am 
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Joined: October 14th, 2007, 12:08 pm
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Good trip report Chris! We´ve been on the Grass a couple of times and loved the part with the pretty falls you´ve done.
cheer´s
Chris (also)


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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: November 21st, 2009, 10:40 am 
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Joined: July 28th, 2008, 9:29 pm
Posts: 270
Location: Winnipeg
The Grass is not so far from the Peg, and it is one that I would like to do some day. I did live up that way for a year or so as well and really enjoy the North.

I sympathise with your canoe toting problems....I am in my 50's and lugging one on my shoulders is not something that I look forward to. I have an 18 foot Souris River tripper made of a very thin fibreglass ( it's an older boat) and it weighs in around 55lbs. I have seen newer models in kevlar. They are a super design with good speed, excellent payload, and really really stable. We have modified mine by lowering the seats and replacing the moulded figreglass shells with a 3/4" Plywood slab. Our first trip ever was with an older nondescript figreglass scow that must have weighed 80+ lbs, which we have since discarded in favour of Karin's new Swift Mattawa in kevlar and my old Souris River.
We are actually leaning towards using two 15' kevlar types set up as solo boats to make things a bit more roomy for our old bodies and to let us split the load up between us. Her Swift is an absolute joy to portage (46lbs?) and I am sure could be done while wearing one of the packs to boot.

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: November 21st, 2009, 10:47 am 
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Joined: July 28th, 2008, 9:29 pm
Posts: 270
Location: Winnipeg
And yes we have broken my boat a few times. We take a fibreglass repair kit with us and Karin bandages the boat while I look after bandaging myself...lol. In fact the one gunwale is still held together with beaver lodge sticks that she glassed in this summer. It merely adds to the epic Homerian nature of our trips.


.....Christy

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 Post subject: Re: Grass River, August 2008
PostPosted: April 6th, 2010, 6:35 pm 
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Joined: March 23rd, 2010, 2:44 pm
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This offers a great route log for this trip too, including the continuation to Thompson

http://web.me.com/stefancowtan/Paddle_T ... River.html


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