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PostPosted: December 19th, 2021, 1:28 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Last summer I did a Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Loop—Stoney Rapids, Black Lake, Chipman Portages and River, Selwyn Lake, Porcupine River, Fond du Lac River, Stoney Rapids.

It was approx. 400 km over 2 weeks from mid to late August, 2021.

Drove to Stoney Rapids. Stayed overnight at the Water Front Lodge B&B (fantastic). Arranged for a shuttle/drop off at the previous site of Camp Grayling near the Fond du Lac River outflow on Black Lake.

The two main resources I used were Canoe Saskatchewan Canoe Trip #26 Black Lake (Saskatchewan) - Chipman Lake - Bompas Lake - Selwyn Lake - Flett Lake (Northwest Territories) and Laurel Archer’s Saskatchewan Canoe Trips book.

Previous place names and historical Chipman/Wolverene maps.
Wolverene [Chipman] River to Wolverene [Chipman] Lake, Birch [Bompas] Lake, Big [Selwyn] Lake
https://barrenlands.library.utoronto.ca ... s%3AM10020


It was a wonderful canoe trip. Route choice, history, water levels, upstream, big lakes, downstream, wind, rain, temperatures, bugs, scenery, food including berries, and company—all fantastic. 

There was water in the bushes. I heard it was the highest water in 50 years because of a large amount of snow pack from the previous winter. 

Wildfires. On the road and on our canoe route. Some areas burnt this year. The very odd fire was still smouldering. No safety issue.

Definitely much work canoeing a 400 km circle route from the end of the road. But that worked out well in a pandemic year, logistically simple--put-in at the end of the road, travel upstream to Selwyn Lake, then downstream back to Black Lake, finishing up at Stony Rapids. 

I have wanted to follow the historical Chipman Portage route since I wrote the Tyrrell cairn book. And I like vast lakes such as Selwyn, especially those big lakes that straddle borders and have more than one watercourse exiting them. Of course, the Porcupine River has been attractive to me for many years but combining it with more travel was critical. If I have any regrets about the trip it’s that we didn’t start on the Cree River as we could have used it to get to Black Lake. Easy downstream travel on the Cree River would have been a fun warmup before the more arduous travel on the sizeable Black Lake, the lengthy uphill Chipman Portage chain and the upstream Chipman River paddle and portage. Don't be scared off by the Chipman Portages. A friend simply stated, “The Chipman is super easy, mostly a snowmobile trail."

The best surprise was the wonderful Fond du Lac section from Black Lake to Stony Rapids. Absolutely scenic albeit massive powerful flow and a few named falls to portage.

We camped on Black Lake after finding the Chipman Portage take-out right away. Our next camp, after a refreshing swim, was on Chipman Lake. 

Weather was cool and damp on the historical upstream travel and hot on the Porcupine River. Black Lake was ideal travel conditions, a light breeze. The seldom canoed big volume section of Fond du Lac River to Stony Rapids was superbly scenery. We even stumbled upon an easy trail to portage past Woodcock Falls, the last of the big falls. 

Mosquitoes and black flies were not an issue. No repellant. No headnet used.

Eagles, otters, porcupines, loons, beaver, grouse, merlin, terns, geese, moose, osprey, black bear, harrier, ducks, etc.

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PostPosted: December 19th, 2021, 9:25 pm 
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Joined: August 26th, 2008, 8:48 pm
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Thanks for sharing. Sounds like a great trip!
Good to hear the high water levels didn’t make things too crazy. Who did you use for the shuttle to the access point?


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PostPosted: December 20th, 2021, 12:27 am 
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Sounds really interesting. Any more details? Pictures? He asked hopefully.


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PostPosted: December 20th, 2021, 8:41 am 
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Location: Waterloo, ON
One of these days I've got to make it out to northern Saskatchewan. I've been gazing at maps and reading about it in books for years, but coming from Ontario, with its own fantastic paddling opportunities, I just haven't committed to the extra drive time. It will happen one day though - maybe a "welcome to retirement" trip in 5 years or so. Maybe sooner.

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PostPosted: December 20th, 2021, 1:45 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Thank you for your interest.

Mollycollie,
"Good to hear the high water levels didn’t make things too crazy." The high water made the river from Black L to Stony Rapids a bit crazy.
"Who did you use for the shuttle to the access point?" Water Front Lodge B&B in Stony Rapids drove our vehicle back from the old camp Grayling on Black Lake.

Ralph, "Any more details? Pictures?" I hope to add to the routes database about a dozen trips so that's my current focus. Hopefully you will enjoy them.

canoeguitar Mike, Northern Saskatchewan and Northern Manitoba are full of history and fine canoe tripping country. As is north of 60°.

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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2021, 11:41 am 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB
No Black Flies??? Wow!

Maybe I should stop tripping with teacher types so I could trip after the black flies are gone.


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2021, 12:19 pm 
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Thanks for posting that report.

With the road to Stony continuing to improve, it could become the most economical jumping off point - by air or canoe - for trips in the south central NWT.

jmc


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PostPosted: December 22nd, 2021, 6:56 pm 
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Re “With the road to Stony continuing to improve, it could become the most economical jumping off point - by air or canoe - for trips in the south central NWT.”

I agree. In fact, Wings Over Kississing expanded its operations with a new base at Stony Rapids and they already serve Mosquito Lake in the Northwest Territories and Dubawnt Lake in Nunavut.

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PostPosted: January 7th, 2022, 1:38 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
Here's an overview map of the route.


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PostPosted: January 8th, 2022, 10:53 am 
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Location: Saskatchewan
Nice trip! You won't catch me averaging 30km/day unless it's all downstream. This doesn't look like a leisure pace kind of trip. How many hours per day were you paddling?

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PostPosted: January 8th, 2022, 5:21 pm 
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Thanks GRS Riverrider. We took a Esquif Prospecteur 17 for its speed instead of the shorter and slower Prospecteur 16'. We never rushed out of camp in the morning, only had a couple of late arrival into camp, took time to hike, fish, swim, cook a hot lunch during a rainy day, watch wildlife, eat blueberries, etc. Good canoe trip weather helped. I only recall one long day. There were about 6 to 8 hours between leaving camp and making camp. I guess a leisure pace is a bit relative.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2022, 11:01 pm 
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Well, that just sounds like a pretty good time. Did you encounter any cabins/camps, or other trippers or any motor boats? Did planes fly overhead?.. Or was it just a deserted, quiet, natural place?

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PostPosted: January 14th, 2022, 2:37 pm 
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We passed Selwyn Lake Lodge which has been closed for several years but we went slightly out of our way to pass by it.
I recall seeing one old trappers cabin on an island.
On the lower Fond du Lac River between Black L and Stony Rapids where are a couple of cabins on the last day.
There was signs of winter use, probably caribou hunting by snow machine on the Chipman Portages.
I've always liked Northern Saskatchewan for canoe tripping but I think there is also a historical aspect of hunting and fishing, more so than Northern Manitoba, or at least that's the feeling I get based on my experience. Some routes might be better than others.
So yes, pretty deserted and quiet.

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PostPosted: January 16th, 2022, 9:12 am 
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Sounds like a fantastic trip, thanks for sharing. I am interested in hearing more about the road to Stony Rapids. How long did it take to travel between Points North and Stony Rapids? Is high clearance 4 wheel drive required? I had heard the road was a truck destroyer.


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PostPosted: January 16th, 2022, 4:42 pm 
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Points North to Stony Rapids was about three hours in a 1/2 truck.
I think the road is probably getting better than it was years ago.
We didn't carry multiply spare tires and we saw a variety of vehicles on the road although it's still sparse traffic.
I'd recommend contacting the SK govt road authority or asking someone who is more familiar with the road for additional information.

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