View topic - Canoeing 2019, help and tips for route and planning

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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 10:31 am 
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Hi

We are 4 guys from Norway (sorry for bad english :P) planning a canoeing expedition i NWT next summer.
Was looking for tips and help regarding rivers and routes.

Our primary focus will be to explore and experience the remote wilderness, fishing (trout) and maybe a little hunting. It's important for us that it is an easy river with low difficulty level (few rapids, falls etc.) Our paddling experience limited. A little portaging is ok.

We're planning to spend about 2 weeks (give or take) so obviously the route shouldn't be too long. We're not looking to rush through long distances every day, as the experience is the most important.

To sum up, this is our most important criteria:
- Easy river, not to long
- good fishing (trout)
- Remote

Any recommendations for å route / river suitable for us? All help and tips is highly appreciated.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 1:25 pm 
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Thelon River should suit your needs, start around the Hanbury River junction and end at Beverly Lake.

Here's a video from a journey I did on that river https://youtu.be/Z3G18sBKsDo

There are a number of trip reports available online to guide you.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 1:34 pm 
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I’d second the Thelon. The downside to that section is that it requires a double air charter—in and out. Mind you, many trips that are two weeks ago require double air charters.

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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 2:22 pm 
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Paddle Power wrote:
I’d second the Thelon. The downside to that section is that it requires a double air charter—in and out. Mind you, many trips that are two weeks ago require double air charters.


Good point... it pays to shop around for air charter and check to see if you can spit a trip. I split the return charter with a group that was starting the trip when I was finishing it. That meant I only had to pay for the flight back to Yellowknife instead of paying for an empty plane to just come and pick us up.

I used to have a trip report of the Thelon online from a previous trip on the same section and when the pilot picked us up on Beverly Lake, he handed me a nice thank you note from the other group that was starting out because I gave them some help in planning. That was a nice touch.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 2:23 pm 
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Hi Norsk-

When you said "NWT", did you mean to include Nunavut - where the Thelon is located - as well? I assume so.

A little more information would help narrow down what are almost an infinite number of possibilities.

Do you prefer tundra, trees, or a mixture?

What kind of boats do you have / intend to use/ rent? Folding canoes (Ally, Pakboat) or hard shell?

Where do you intend to start out from - Yellowknife, Fort Smith, Stony Rapids, Baker Lake? Where will you land in Canada? If your time is limited, you don't want to waste too much time getting to your starting point.

What is your budget, roughly? Northern air charters have gotten much more expensive of late, and the number of carriers that will transport canoes as external loads has shrunk.

Maybe something on the Kazan (or another river in that area), organized through Kasba Lake Lodge would work for you?

https://www.kasba.com/canoe-trips

I'm a terrible fisherman, but even I caught fish on the Kazan.

I don't think hunting, at least legally, will be an option for you, in the summer, as non-residents.

And, as Norwegians, aren't you obligated to follow in the footsteps of Helge Ingstadt, and paddle the Snowdrift?

There is lots of detailed information available at this site, once the choices narrow down a bit.

Happy planning,

jmc


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 2:34 pm 
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Good questions jmc

I did a trip that started in Finland, crossed over into Norway down the Reisa River there and the arctic in Norway is a lot different than Canada. Answering some of those questions will help narrow things down.

As for the fishing, the Thelon is great. We caught Lake Trout and Arctic Char farther down but our favourite was Grayling. The Northern Pike were huge.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 3:02 pm 
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Thanks, I will definitely take a look at Thelon. :)

jmc:

We're still in the beginning of planning, and are open for other territories. I said NWT because I was recommended it by some fellow Norwegian travellers. I was also recommended Yukon as a more cost-effective option, but haven't done much research on that yet. As you see, our mind is not set on NWT, but I figured it was a good place to start doing some research and try to narrow it down in the endless possibilities :)

I'm often drawn to mountains and forest, which i have experienced a bunch of in Norway. I know I would like that kind of terrain, but it would also be nice to experience tundras, as I have never seen it before.

We have 2 Ally's.

So far I've been looking at Yellowknife, Inuvik and Lutselk'e a as possible starting points. Haven't looked at Fort smith, stony rapids or Baker lake yet. Are those good options?
Flight tickets aren't booked so everything is still open.

Our budget is roughly 5000 CAD for the whole thing. I see that with our limited time we probably need double air transfer?

As for the Helge Ingstad experience, I have actually looked quite a bit into that. Not so much on Snowdrift river, as I've heard it's not the best trout fishing river. But he spent some time in other areas close that I find interesting. For example Eileen River. Some fellow norwegians did Sled Lake to Stark Lake for 5 weeks and ended their trip in Lutselk’e. (A very nice movie from their trip her: https://sledtostark.wordpress.com/video/ )
Maybe parts of their route could suit us well, as it looks like an easy river and good fishing. Although it will require double air-transfer


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 3:13 pm 
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The Mackenzie Mountains portion of the NWT/Yukon is a quite a bit less expensive than the barren lands of NWT/Nunavut. Charter flights are considerably shorter/cheaper. There is also the possiblity of a boat trip back from some locations. The flip side is the fishing won't be quite so good and you probably need more skill to navigate the white water along mountain rivers.

If you engage the help of a reputable northern outfitter you may also get a discount on the northern leg of your scheduled air fare. For example, the Yellow Knife to Norman Wells flight can be cheaper if it is booked as part of a trip organized by Canoe North Adventures out of Norman Wells. Likewise, discounts on scheduled air have histirically been available through Canoe Arctic out of Fort Smith. These discounts are part of Northern Tourism initiatives and are not published anywhere that I am aware of. Subject to change of course.

You might consider looking at the Keele River. It is probably one of the easier rivers coming out of the Mackenzie mountains.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2018, 3:41 pm 
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If Inuvik is one of your considerations, you might want to look at the Horton River. The upper sections are really good fishing. The trees are taller than you'll find on the Thelon. It isn't mountainous but the Smoking Hills at the end of the trip are quite fascinating. When I got to near the end of the river I did a short overland hike and spent some time exploring. You would be several hundred meters above the ocean below and we watched Beluga whales swim by. When we hiked down to water level a seal swam up to shore to check us out. Temperatures will be more moderate in the western arctic, it can get quite cold in the Barrenlands. Had to wear down parkas Aug 1 on the first Thelon trip but it was warmer on the second Thelon trip.


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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2018, 10:19 am 
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A couple of weeks on the Horton River would fit your requirements—easy and fishing. It’s a wonderful river. In my opinion much nicer than the Thelon.

Not sure it has the epic trout fishing as some northern rivers but it does have trout, grayling, Arctic char, as well as northern pike.

Good for musk oxen. Good for canoeing, camping, hiking, and very scenic.

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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2018, 3:22 pm 
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Norsk -

Is that $5000 budget for each of you, or for all 4? I ask because these days a $5000 air charter budget won't get 4 people very far, even with your Ally canoes eliminating the external load issue.

I don't want to sound like a wet blanket, but I think you should get hold of the principal charter operators - Ahmic Air and Air Tindi in Yellowknife, North-Wright in Norman Wells / Inuvik, to check on aircraft availability and pricing for a group of your size, to see what destinations would fit your budget. For example, I'm not sure $5000 would get your group in and out of the Horton.

Ahmic Air's website includes some air charter quotes (2016 rates) for their Beaver to various destinations. The rates specify 2 passengers and one (external) canoe. I'm not sure what load they would take without external loads. Canoe Arctic always split out its air charter and guiding fees - the air charter fees illustrate how expensive access to the central barrens has become.

Good luck, but be prepared for a little "sticker shock".

-jmc


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PostPosted: November 3rd, 2018, 4:52 pm 
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You won't get 4 people and gear in a Beaver, one would need an Otter, rates would probably be about 30 - 40% more than a Beaver.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2018, 12:56 pm 
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I’ve done 4 in a turbo Beaver with two canoes nested. Ally canoes would help.

But take jmc’s advice and contact a likely air charter outfit to find out your options as there are many other planes than Beavers and Otters.

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PostPosted: November 4th, 2018, 2:32 pm 
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North Wright Air out of Norman Wells can do 2 canoes (1 on each float), with 4 people and gear using their Pilatus Porter.


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2018, 4:31 pm 
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recped wrote:
You won't get 4 people and gear in a Beaver, one would need an Otter, rates would probably be about 30 - 40% more than a Beaver.


Umm I had 4 people, three weeks of food and gear plus two nested canoes that were flown out to a trip around the Athabasca Sand Dunes on piston engine Beaver that was number 12 off the assembly line. That was a while ago and regs may have changed since then.


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