Canadian Canoe Routes

Cree Lake - Mudjatik River
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Author:  Rappi [ September 5th, 2011, 9:51 am ]
Post subject:  Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Finaly made a short report from our trip we´ve did last month from Leavitt Bay to Ile a la Crosse:

Cree Lake – Mudjatik River

On August 2nd we flew into Leavitt Bay at Cree Lake with Voyage Air out of Buffalo Narrows – great guys by the way. Paddled through Stoney Narrows and set up camp at the long peninsula behind a little sandbeach. Great camping there – level, dry, open forest and tons of blueberries in the backyard. Spent an extra day there to get prepared for our trip, baked up some bannock and enjoyed a swim in the clear waters.
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 231_220_1.jpg

Waterlevels were high so we´ve had deep water all the way up the Brustad River and at the little creek joining Mitchell Lake with the head of Highland Portage.
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 243_237_1.jpg

After lunch at the little Lake were the Karras brothers „cooled their overheated bodies and insect bites“ we´ve crossed Highland portage on good trail, paddled another little lake and made the short Portage to the little roundish Lake at the head of Snag Creek and camped there.
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 047_45_1.jpg

Next morning we´ve entered Snag Creek and worked our way through beaverdams and very tight corners towards the Gwillim River – no easy task with our 20´canoe!
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 115_108_1.jpg

At some point were the creek became to narrow and obstructed we´ve decided to head for the Portagetrail close at hand and carried another 1100m to the Gwillim. The whole trail leads through a young burnt open jackpine forest but the heat was intense and we were happy to reach the Gwillim finaly.
High water into the willows and alders, swift current but endless meanders around tight bends brought us into Solitude (Little Sandy) Lake with numerous Sandbeaches to camp on. Again enjoyed the sunny weather and clear waters there.
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 149_141_1.jpg

Next morning on the way to Gwillim (Sandy) Lake we´ve surprised a cow moose with two calves as we´ve rushed around another tight corner in the swift current and we were very happy that the moose didn´t jumped into our canoe but made for the shore! Enroute we´ve did the only portage on the Gwillim and finaly camped on the southend of Gwillim Lake. Great sandbeach, more sun and another swim we were lucky guys indeed. In the vicinity the Hudson Bay Co. had a post there in the old days.

After the lake the Gwillim river became quite wider as before and it was a pleasant paddle to Loon Mud Lake were we´ve camped at another Sandbeach etc. etc.
Next day we´ve been looking forward to join the Mudjatik and after running some rapids around boulders and big piles of driftwood I checked our GPS only to find out that we´ve had been on the Mudjatik already. Seems we were too busy at the rapids and missed the rivermouth coming in from the North.
Surprised a Black Bear with a two year old paddling around another corner and the young one climbed a tall jackpine instantly while mother Bear prepared to fend us off but the current was swift and we´ve left them alone pretty quick!On the Mudjatik waterlevels seem´d to drop a little but we´ve made good progress, made the short carry around Little Grand Rapids and camped after the second set. So far we´ve had a daily supply of Blueberries and no bugs to be seen anywhere! Next morning we´ve run the premenilary Rapids of Grand Rapids, made the short carry around Grand and camped 5 hours downstream atop a point at a sandy cutbank, nice place.
At our next campsite, another jackpine bench I sat at the edge of the river tending the fire at the foot of a sandy cutbank when I´ve noticed a breath behind me. When I´ve stood up and turned around I´d looked into the face of a Bear 5 meters away who swam accross the river by chance. He turned around instantly but crossed the river 500m upstream anyways. We´ve kept a watchful eye but the Bear didn´t show éd up again.
Next day we´ve lined down Old Woman Rapids and run the five Sisters, all easy and fun Rapids. That evening we´ve met the first people on our trip, moosehunters from Patuanak. After a smoke and short talk they headed upstream.
Next morning we´ve run Bear Rapids on river left, quite a ledge with a chute. We´ve shiped a good deal of water! The last rapids of the Mudjatik were not far from the Churchill and we´ve had a nice run on the river left channel around the Island. The Churchill had high water, we´ve made Leaf Portage – quite overgrown and deadfall at the lower part, paddled and waded up the strong current to the foot of the Drum and camped there.
Drum Portage and more wading and powerpaddling waited in the morning but finaly made it into Shagenaw Lake who greeted us with a stiff headwind from ESE. Powerpaddled up Shagenaw Rapids but had to wade at two places, water very high. The strongest current were right up from the new bridge over the Churchill. Paddled around the bend into Lac Ile a La Crosse and made a tiny camp near the small island at the north end of the Lake. The first heavy Thunderstrom went over late evening and we´ve wondered if we made it to Ile a la Crosse with the wrong wind.
Another sunny day and a looooong paddle brought us to the entrance of Black Bay. We´ve spend the afternoon at halfway point windbound playing cards.
A gale went over us that night and we were happy that we´ve build our tent well into the birches way back from the water.
Even our last paddle day was sunny and we´ve reached the village of Ile a la Crosse at noon time, tough crossing Aubichon Arm was very rough and a hard paddle but our big canoe is very seaworthy and the wind was from the west. Guess in a strong NW wind the crossing would have been impossible.
Very friendly and helpful people in Ile a la Crosse!
Cree Lake - Mudjatik River 2011 223_214_1.jpg

Finaly picked up our car in Buffalo Narrows and headed east.
We´ve used our GPS all the time to check the Distance. Trip lenght was 352km. Paddled it in 12 day´s. Didn´t used our raingear,sunny even hot weather and a couple of thunderstorms late evening or night. No bugs the first 7 day´s and pretty country. All in all we´ve had a great trip!

More pics:


Author:  Ralph [ September 5th, 2011, 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Thanks for the great pictures and trip report. Another trip to go on my list.

Author:  jmc [ September 5th, 2011, 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Rappi -

I will second Ralph's comments - a very good report.


Author:  HOOP_ [ September 5th, 2011, 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Thanks Rappi! Love that beautiful open sandy jack pine country! Never been to northern Saskatchewan, but read about it in Karras's "North to Cree Lake". Currently reading Karras's "Face the North Wind". Your photos of the country there look just like I imagined from his books.

Author:  Ipaddle [ September 5th, 2011, 9:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Thank You for the report and the great photos.

Author:  Rappi [ September 6th, 2011, 12:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

Thank you guys!
Hoop, yeah - the Author described the area pretty well! We´ve also carried a copie of Tyrells journal from 1892 when he did the trip in reverse on his way to the Athabasca with his guide Ithingo. Interesting what he observed back then.

Author:  sgbotsford [ July 29th, 2019, 8:52 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Cree Lake - Mudjatik River

We did the Mudjatic but started on the Clearwater. A day on the Clearwater, to the Virgin River, up the virgin. You have your choice between two really bad portages on either side of the falls. Careen Lake, Black Birch Lake, then north to a chain of small lakes that got us into the upper part of the Brustad. Brustad is fun -- narrow winding. Shoulders get a workout from the corners. One rapid unmarked, but signaled by a big rock in the middle of the river.

The Mudjatic itself was also winding. Never saw so many bears on a trip. More bears than ticks on a moose. We had one corner where the river was only about 15 feet wide. Overhanging alder on the outside bank. I heard a 'chuff' and saw 3 cubs skiddling up a tree. Mom was on the bank about 6 feet away through the alder.

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