Canadian Canoe Routes

Portage Clearing Report 2021
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Author:  Ralph [ September 24th, 2021, 11:40 am ]
Post subject:  Portage Clearing Report 2021

Portage Clearing report September 12-18, 2021:

Day 1: Dan D. dropped us off at a pullout on the Stanley Mission Road near the crossing of the Four Portages route that connects Lac La Ronge with the Churchill River at Mountain Lake.

Instead of using the First Portage of the Four Portages Route, we were able to use an alternate access to Leckie Lake. From the pullout there is a trail that goes north (~85m) to a small pond. We were able to portage to the pond, paddle across the pond and through a tiny creek to Leckie Lake. The pullout, pond and connecting stream are visible on satellite images.

First Portage of the Four Portages Route: (Lac La Ronge - Leckie Lake) we discovered the actual First Portage to be about 100 m up the road to the west from the roadside pullout. Some of our group walked it and found it to be in good shape. They cleared a couple of fallen trees.

Second Portage of the Four Portages Route: (Leckie - Stroud) (c.400 meters). At some point in the past, probably before fires went through the area, the original portage trail seems to have gone from the small bay on the very west side of Leckie Lake directly west across the ridge to Stroud Lake. The current trail does not do that. The current Leckie landing is located at the extreme north end of the little bay. The trail goes straight North for a couple of hundred meters, then hooks around West and Southwest over a low ridge to Stroud Lake. It is clearly visible on satellite images. The Stroud lake landing is in a grassy bight about 100 meters north of where it is located on the map. The trail is in good shape but the Leckie Lake landing is wet for a short distance.

We found a nice, big campsite on the middle point of the North shore of Stroud, directly across the lake from the 2nd Portage landing. It was a campsite in the past, but it hadn't been used recently. There was room for 5+ tents in an open dry forest up off the lake. It was not burned in 2004 as was much of the rest of the area. We stayed two nights so we could do some exploring and some trail clearing on the middle day.

Day 2: As per Ric’s request, one group explored the route from Stroud Lake to Westroud Lake and back to the Stanley Mission Road. The other half of the group cleared the Third Portage to Hunt Lake.

Portage Stroud to Westroud (157 meters): Located in the narrowest possible crossing location, the Stroud Lake landing is wet and muddy and goes fairly steeply uphill at first. (Approximate Grid Location 73-P/7: 154333). The Westroud landing is located on the East shore of the East bay on Westroud, (Approximate Grid Location 73-P/7: 153333) across from the point at the entry to the bay. Generally good condition after some fallen trees were removed at both ends and the bushes at the sides were cut back.
The portage from Westroud to a small nameless pond is about 28 meters long (Approximate Grid Loction 73-P/7: 138316). It is located on the West side of the creek. There was a motorboat parked here which made access a little difficult but the trail is wide and in good condition.
The portage from the small nameless pond to the Stanley Mission Road is about 153 meters long (north end Approximate Grid Location 73-P/7: 137312). The pond landing is near the South end of the pond on the SE side. There were two aluminum boats parked here. The road end is at a small pullout on the north side of the Stanley Mission Road. It is a good trail but a bit bushy and with lots of garbage especially at the road end of the trail. This group returned to our campsite on Stroud Lake after their exploratory trip.

Third Portage of the Four Portages Route (Stroud Lake to Hunt Lake) (c.350 meters): The route follows the outlet creek from Stroud. We had to pull-over four inactive beaver dams to get to the start of the portage. The landing was wet and there was a high step to get from the level of the landing up to the level of the portage trail. We put our boats and gear up on the trail in teams before we started to do the portage. The trail mostly follows a rocky ridge on the East side of the creek. It is mostly level but has a steep descent at the Hunt Lake end and that end is also wet. Most of the trail is good with a few short ups and down. Our group removed some big deadfall, and lots of bushes on the sides. Lots of work! This group returned to our campsite on Stroud Lake after all of their work.

Day 3: We packed up and did the Third Portage to Hunt Lake. Those who hadn't done the work on the portage the previous afternoon were impressed! We paddled down Hunt Lake, did the Fourth Portage to Mountain Lake and camped on a small island.

Fourth Portage of the Four Portages Route (Hunt to Mountain Lake) (390 meters): in good shape, no work necessary. Frequently used by fishermen. The Hunt Lake end is located on the west side after the long Bradshaw Bay narrows to stream width. There were a number of aluminum fishing boats here. The exit to Mountain Lake is via a meandering stream through a large area of bulrushes and other water plants. The descent at the north end of the trail has some clay sections that are very slippery when wet.

Our campsite for the night was on the North end of a small island (Approximate Grid Location 73/P7: 305476) just East of the rock paintings on the skinny peninsula. It is a nice campsite on a rocky point. We had camped there this summer. We cleaned up some trash (mostly drink cans). There is room for 5 tents and a very nice, but exposed, sitting-out area. The nice man from Stanley Mission, who gave us four walleyes in the summer, stopped by in the evening for a chat on his way back from his cabin on Mountain Lake to Stanley Mission. He gave us a big piece of dried moose meat and some rendered moose fat - a special treat and very tasty!

Day 4: We paddled to Robertson Falls on a cold and showery day. We stopped to view Twin Falls and then paddled over to the dock at outfitters camp and portaged over the ridge to the small, unnamed lake. The Twin Falls Lodge was closed, but we took advantage of their covered deck for lunch.

Twin Falls Portage (Mountain Lake to small nameless lake – approximately 150 m): In good shape, up the Twin Falls lodge staircase. When we went through here in the summer when staff were present they used their funicular to move our gear to the top of the hill and then used a quad with a trailer to move it the rest of the way to the small lake – amazing service! This time we had to carry our gear – poor us!

Robertson Falls Portage (Stony Mountain Portage) (from the small nameless lake to Otter Lake – approximately 90 m): in good shape

Campsite at Robertson Falls: A nice, big, sheltered campsite which was very clean when we were there. There is a composting toilet. Great views of Robertson Falls.

Day 5: We paddled to Sim Lake, through increasing cold rain showers and head winds.
Beaver dam pullover (McNichol inlet creek at the south end of McNichol Lake): the beaver dam was low – only about 0.5 m high, but showed signs of beavers rebuilding. There was an active lodge on the upstream side. When we have been through here in the past the dam was about 2 meters high which presented some challenges. Dan says that the dam washed out in last year’s high water. Once past the dam we had to work our way through some rocks to get to deeper water.

Portage McNichol Lake to Sim Lake: We removed a couple of fallen trees. The McNichol end is very muddy and people have laid small logs lengthwise in the worst spots but I find these lengthwise logs hard to navigate. I much prefer shorter logs laid crossway in the mud holes as I find them much easier to use. The Sim end had lots of aluminum boats, and the landing was entirely blocked by one heavy boat with a motor mounted which made loading on this day and unloading the next day a bit of a challenge.
Campsite on the usual island in Sim on a nice big campsite which showed signs of frequent use. No toilet paper in the bush, but a few empty food cans in the fire pits.
Two of the party paddled over to locate the Sim Lake to Freestone Lake portage and started clearing it.

Day 6: Finished the clearing of the portage to Freestone in the morning. We paddled back to camp from the portage trail, packed up our gear and paddled to Paul Island on Otter Lake in the afternoon.

Portage Sim Lake to Freestone Lake (500 meters according to our GPS but the Saskatchewan Documented Canoe Route #21 puts it at 666 m and Google Earth puts it at about 630 m – I would tend to believe the longer distances are correct): The Sim landing is not properly located on the map. The landing is about 100 meters East of where it's marked. This south landing is very well flagged. The Freestone landing is accurately marked. There were lots of blowdown and bushes encroaching the trail. We cleared about 100 fallen trees and brushed back the edges. There will be more fallen trees as the dead trees from the old burn continue to fall.

We stayed at a campsite on the north point of Paul Island: Nice, clean, spacious campsite but with too many weeds for swimming or for fishing from shore.

Day 7: Paddled back to Missinipe, in a tailwind (!) and no rain (!!)

Author:  pawistik [ September 24th, 2021, 12:49 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage Clearing Report 2021

Hi Ralph,
Thanks for the great report and to you and your crew for the trail work! As always, it is greatly appreciated.

Author:  jmc [ September 24th, 2021, 1:42 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage Clearing Report 2021

I'll second Pawisitik - good report and good work.

We were actually fairly close at one point - I was camped in Mountain Lake on the night of the 13th. I had to set up in the front yard of an unoccupied cabin near Edwards Island that night as a major thunder and lightning storm, with some rain, blew in in the early evening. I returned to Missinipe the next day. That staircase is steep, isn't it?

What was your summer route?


Author:  Ralph [ September 24th, 2021, 3:28 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage Clearing Report 2021

jmc wrote:
I'll second Pawisitik - good report and good work.

We were actually fairly close at one point - I was camped in Mountain Lake on the night of the 13th. I had to set up in the front yard of an unoccupied cabin near Edwards Island that night as a major thunder and lightning storm, with some rain, blew in in the early evening. I returned to Missinipe the next day. That staircase is steep, isn't it?

What was your summer route?


This summer we had 2 "new to the shield" paddlers and 2 "second time on the shield" paddlers so we kept if easy with only 4 portages. We went from Missinipe to North Falls for two nights then we cleared the "new" portage from the small lake below Upper North Falls to Mountain Lake. We are starting to carry a chainsaw on all of our trips as it seems that there are always portages or campsites that need attention. We paddled down Mountain Lake to the campsite on the island mentioned in the Portage Clearing Trip Report. We spent two nights there with a visit to the church at Stanley Mission and to the store at Stanley Mission on the middle day. We then paddled back up to Twin Falls Resort, camped one night at Robertson Falls then moved the next day to the north campsite on Paul Island for one night and then back to Missinipe.
We're trying to be "gentle" as we break in the new "kids".
Not very ambitious but we're getting them hooked.

Author:  Ralph [ September 25th, 2021, 9:36 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Portage Clearing Report 2021

Yes, the staircase is steep especially when carrying a canoe. It's hard to get the right angle to miss the steps at the front and not have the canoe want to slide off your shoulders because of the high angle. When carrying gear it is a bit like being on a Stair-master trainer.
When that band of thunderstorms went through we were sitting under our big tarp at the campsite on Stroud Lake. It was our second night there so our camp was already set up and we were able to enjoy the light and sound and rain show from a comfortable place.

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