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 Post subject: Pukaskwa River
PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 2:38 pm 
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Joined: January 26th, 2005, 3:02 pm
Posts: 47
Location: London
We are considering this river for a week long whitewater trip in mid to late May of this year starting near the hwy and taking out at Lake Superior (80kms approx.). From my research on this forum and other web sites, my general take is that this river is difficult as it has no marked/maintained portages (except at ringhams gorge) and the upper part of the river where it is narrow can contain numerous tree obstructions (one site indicated a day and half of bushwaking and some canoeing).

Is the above an exageration? Anyone had some experience running this river in the last few years that can confirm the above?

From my research, the shuttle service to get off Lake Superior is approximately $800 for boat shuttle and for the car shuttle, approximately $150 to shuttle car from putin to takeout? Are there any other options.

Any other comments on the river would be appreciated from persons who have first hand knowledge of the river.

Thanks


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 3:36 pm 
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Joined: June 21st, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Alvinston, Ontario Canada
I can't give you recent information as it has been about 20 years since my only trip down the river. We started about May 14 as I recall and the water levels were just about perfect. We flew into Jarvey Lake, I think, to avoid the upper stretch which we had heard was a bit of a mess.

I expect that the information about lack of marked portages and campsites is still accurate. Much of the portaging as I recall was done along the rocky shoreline right beside the river. A lot of boulder hopping. Just be absolutely certain that you're comfortable picking your way downriver in this way - getting out above really rough stuff, lining and moving your canoe around in class 3+ water. You're a long way from assistance if you should lose your canoe.

Ringhams Gorge can be navigated without doing the portage, using the method described above. It can be tough work but the river is beautiful and you'll have it all to yourselves (likely).

Take a fishing rod. Respectable specs hiding in amongst the hammer handles. The year we went, there were even some icicles still hanging on under shaded rock outcrops - perfect for end-of-day refreshments.

Enjoy!


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 4:53 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
I paddled this river the first week of May in 2004. We put in on a logging road about 70 km upstream from Lake Superior. I think it was Beaver lake but I'm not sure. Naturally Superior shuttled us in. The rate was reasonable.

The upper stretches of the river are narrow. There are some good rapids but when we were there there was a lot of wood in the water making otherwise runnable rapids unrunnable. I found it especially dangerous due to the narrowness, steepness, and twistiness of the river, you could be fine for several hundred meters then turn a corner and find a massive tree accross the entire river.

Portages exist for falls but they are rough, seldom used and unmarked. There aren't portages for all rapids. We ended up lining and wading our boats a lot in the upper stretches where blow downs and strainers blocked the river. The portage around Ringmans gorge is marked at the take out, but that's about it. After that it's a painful 3 km. The first half of the portage is especially terrible, the second half is relatively easy. When we were there we thought the water was a little too high to paddle the gorge, however in hindsight it probably would have been okay - let's just say when I go back I will not be portaging that section again!

We were in tandem boats. In hindsight this river would have been a lot more fun in smaller solo boats. Again, that will be for next time.

Our plan was to paddle back to Naturally Superior in Michipicoten Bay, but a series of delays including a damaged boat on day 2 forced us to call Anderson Fisheries with our satelite phone for extraction in Floating Heart Bay, which is perhaps 1/3 of the way from the mouth of the river to Michipicoten. For this we paid $700, which under the circumstances, was a bargin. We were lucky that they were able to come get us.

If you have plenty of time, patience, experience and respect for big water you can paddle the coast back. In the short distance we paddled we experienced some big water. Fighting the swells from the river mouth out into the bay was especially daunting.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 5:31 pm 
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Joined: July 12th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Bigwood, Ontario
See if you can get a copy of " Pukaskwa River Canoe Guide " by George Drought. The booklet pretty much covers all the Radids, Portages and the difficulties involved. I bought my copy at Naturally Superior Adventures in 2006.
PM me if you have trouble finding a copy.
Eddie


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 7:02 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
See if you can get a copy of " Pukaskwa River Canoe Guide " by George Drought.

This book is ok as a rough guide but not much more. I was with Doug on the trip he mentioned, I agree completely Ringham portage is certainly one to avoid, even if you really take the gorge very slowly it's simply got to be easier than the portage. As for the other portages, I don't think any were particularly hard to locate or that difficult to traverse.

Overall the trip is very scenic.

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 7:04 pm 
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Joined: January 25th, 2005, 2:59 pm
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Location: Cochrane Ab
I was there with dougb in 2004

I believe the first 7 km after beaver lake took us 10hours of problem solving and gruelling labour.

After that the river widens and you can run the rapids without worrying about getting pinned in the wood.

The portages were numerous and tough so pack light and make the portages in one carry if possible, that will greatly increase the enjoyment level.... well That and a shot rye at the end of the day.

Its defiantly high on adversity but I’d go back

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 7:39 pm 
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Location: Bigwood, Ontario
The reason for the portage at Ringman Gorge is for high water conditions or for those paddlers not confident in their abilities to run the gorge. We ran the gorge in 2006 with medium river levels. I don't think I would like to try it with high water levels.
I agree the book is a rough guide but it is nice to have along as a reference.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 7:47 pm 
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Joined: January 26th, 2005, 3:02 pm
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Location: London
Thanks for all the replies to date. I have ordered the book from George Drought to use a rough guide at the least.

I am still trying to get a sense of whether the pain of the portages due to blowdowns is worth the trip as a whole. I have yet to read a post that indicated it was great trip.

Is the remainder of the route beyond the first 10-15km below Gibson Lake worth the effort. We have no trouble spending a day of pain if the remainder of the trip is high in rewards, ie. good and numerous runnable rapids.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 7:54 pm 
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Quote:
I have yet to read a post that indicated it was great trip.


If we had not had a very brittle boat with makeshift patches...if we had not portaged Ringman's...if I had not been an idiot and let my down sleeping bag get wet I would probably be raving about the trip.


Then there was the "peach pie incident" which tainted the ENTIRE trip :roll:

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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 8:20 pm 
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Joined: July 12th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Bigwood, Ontario
Sorry Sweever, I guess I got caught up on "just the facts".

It is a great trip. One of the things that sticks with me from this trip is the wildness of the area. It is a true wilderness trip. The scenery is outstanding.
There is alot of challenge, which leads to lots of rewards. The opportunities to spot wildlife are great, I know a guy that rounded a bend & spotted a caribou and wolf in close proximity. We saw moose, there are lots of songbirds. Exceptional brook trout fishing. And the last night on the isolated beach on Lake Superior was a wonderful experience.
But be ready for extremes. We had extreme cold & snow at the first of the trip & frigid water - mid trip it got hot, then extremely hot & humid by the end which lead to an extreme outbreak of blackflies. As an intermediate ww paddler I paddled some (for me) extreme white water.
I hope this is of some help, this might not be the trip for you but if you decide to do it I'm sure you won't be disappointed.


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PostPosted: January 21st, 2008, 9:10 pm 
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
Quote:
Then there was the "peach pie incident" which tainted the ENTIRE trip


Will I ever live this down?

I'll admit, I regret it.

However, the pie WAS wet and a pie should NOT be a dangler!!! You were asking for it!

You burnt my apple batter pudding on the Pontax, so we're even!


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2008, 6:24 am 
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Anyone care to enlighten us? I smell something here and it isn't "peach pie".

Wha happened?

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 Post subject: Re: Pukaskwa River
PostPosted: April 24th, 2022, 1:14 pm 
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Joined: March 28th, 2016, 8:19 pm
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Location: Marathon/Superior
Between recent mining, forestry, and hydro line activity, I'm wondering if anyone knows of any new access points downriver of here (at the road ~2km south of Beaver Lake)? There are lots of forestry roads in the area but it's not clear if any of them would give access. Would be nice to have the option to avoid the wildcard of the upper section if possible.
https://goo.gl/maps/gceVHY4fpH5F9cVw7

Any strong preference for going up the coast or down from the mouth of the Puk? Wind might favour Michipicoten, but I have ample time and I'm more concerned with the POIs than trying to foretell the wind. My guess is that the Puk coast is a bit nicer.

And, generally, if anyone has an account of the river from the last couple of years that would be useful too. (I've read the old forums and have the relevant maps.)

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 Post subject: Re: Pukaskwa River
PostPosted: April 25th, 2022, 2:57 pm 
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Joined: July 9th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Cambridge, Ontario
I'm planning to paddle the Pukaskwa the week of May 22 - 28. I'm not aware of alternate access points but Naturally Superior is likely the people to ask. The rough upper section is only a day's worth of hardship - hopefully aging 18 years doesn't make it hurt more!

I'm planning to take a boat back. If I was to paddle I'd probably choose to go North. I hiked most of this section from North Swallow to Hattie Cove and I've taken the boat towards Michipicoten twice. Both nice but the section in the park is a bit better in my memory. If you do go the other way plan to take the time to hike up to Denison Falls on the Dog river - very impressive.


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 Post subject: Re: Pukaskwa River
PostPosted: April 25th, 2022, 3:37 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 2167
Location: Manitoba
A good question of roads. I wonder if there’s a provincial office of oversight for such roads that you could inquire.

Coast direction paddle out is another fine question. Probably best to twice canoe the Puk R, going each way once.

As mentioned one direction you pass the Dog R and the Denison Falls hike.
The opposite direction you pass the Cascade R and it’s three finger falls and possibly side trip to the old Otter Island lighthouse. There also a navigational bushwhack trek to Tip Top Mountain. It’s a good direction option if you like National Park infrastructure or during the hiking season, if you like seeing, meeting or visiting with hikers.

Sometimes it comes down to convenience, whether that be your shuttle or finial driving destination.

Happy canoe tripping.

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