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 Post subject: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2021, 12:07 am 
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Location: Saskatoon
On the September long weekend 3 friends and I flew from Missinipe into Larocque Lake and paddled the Weaver River to Hayman Lake, then back to Missinipe after portaging around Sluice Falls. We did the trip over a casual 5 days, including driving from Saskatoon to Missinipe on the first day and flying at 2:30 in the afternoon. That day our paddling was limited to travelling a few km from the landing spot to find a mediocre and exposed campsite toward the NE end of the lake. The portage at the south end of the lake would've been a much nicer spot with room for several tents (and trees suitable for hammock tents).

On the second day, we paddled to the north end of Larocque Lake, viewing the remarkable pictographs along the way. These are the second-most impressive pictographs that I've ever seen (the most impressive ones were between Hickson and Maribelli Lakes, en route to the Paull River). We portaged into Auld Lake to check out the pictographs there as well, then checked out where the Weaver flows via a stony rapid and waterfall into Larocque Lake. Before seeing it, we optimistically thought maybe we could line the canoes back down to Larocque but upon getting there we realized that would be either impossible or treacherous, and very much not worth it. There was a little rapid up above the falls a hundred meters or so and I was able to run one canoe through that, then we ferried the other 2 paddlers down the rest of the way to the waterfall. After checking out the falls from above, we headed back to the portage and proceeded back to Larocque Lake and our campsite from the previous night for snacks and to pick up our gear. From there we continued on to Forbes Lake via the short portage.

That second night we camped on Forbes Lake toward it's southern end. The GoTrekkers map merely mentions that "camping opportunities" exist on the islands in the southern portion of Forbes. We didn't see much in the way of "opportunities" at all on Forbes, but did find a fantastic campsite on the SW corner of MacMillan Island. There may be other spots, but that's a good one to keep in mind for sure.

Our third day saw us do a few portages to get onto Bellows Lake and a fantastic spot on the eastern tip of Champagne Island. We avoided one portage by running and lining a rapid where a mining road used to cross the Weaver River. It was pretty tight to get down at the current low flows. In a higher water year it would've been easier, I'm sure. We spent some time at Standunder Falls where the Weaver flows into Bellows Lake. Only one of us (not me) was brave enough stand under Standunder Falls - it was a pretty tight fit and it was damn cold.

On our fourth day we portaged around Clark Falls and the end of the Weaver River at Hayman Lake on the Churchill River. We completed the 1 km portage around Sluice and camped near bottom of the portage beside Sluice Falls. It's a large site and quite nice though it suffered a big blow down several years ago (after which my buddies and I spent some time and effort clearing the portage and campsite with chainsaws). Once camp was set up in late afternoon it was time to fish since fish was on the menu. It took a while but I caught a nice size walleye and a small one, which together with another two small ones made a nice feast for supper.

Our fifth and last day had us paddle out to Missinipe. Rob & I did the short carry at Ric's Falls to bypass Corner Rapids and Rod & Jay ran corner. They took some water on and had a pretty good ride and so Rob and I decided not to chance it and did the carry instead. From there we went down the channel to Dieter Rapids and out onto Barker Lake. We checked out the new composting toilet which will hopefully help mitigate the poop impact that this busy area sees. Since it was Tuesday after the long weekend in September, we had the entire area to ourselves. Actually, it wasn't until we left Barker via the 3 Sisters Rapids route and got past Staircase Falls that we saw the first other paddlers of the trip. Those paddlers were on Devil Lake near the launch. On the Weaver itself we'd seen a couple of motorboats with fishermen at Forbes Lake, but otherwise no-one. At Otter Rapids we ran the rapids using the sneak route tight to river left and got down onto Otter Lake mostly without trouble (don't go TOO far left or you might grind to a halt on rocks a few meters from shore). After that it was paddling on Otter Lake toward Osprey Wings in Missinipe. While loading up, Gary Thomson shared many jokes with us then invited us into his office so that we could each select a couple prints of his paintings. With canoes loaded and prints in hand, we drove back home to Saskatoon and were tucked in bed well before midnight.

As usual, it was a great trip. This was our 20th annual trip for the four of us who call ourselves Northstar Expeditions (this is horribly out of date, but I used to maintain a blog for us at https://northstarexped.blogspot.com/) - actually 20th annual is the average - Jay completed 21 trips and has never missed a year, Rod & I each have missed one year (hey, I had a daughter born and a thesis to defend), and Rob missed 2. Because of the special(?) occasion, we had decided that we needed to extend the trip by a day compared to typical, and to splurge on the flight. The Weaver River is accessible from the road via numerous portages and paddling on some small lakes. It would take about a day to get to Larocque Lake where we got dropped off, but it's a tough day and reputed to be more portaging than paddling. Our weather was decent - cool, not cold, occasionally warm and sunny, a bit breezy at times but never too windy, occasionally calm. We had a brief but spectacular show of northern lights one night, and a couple great nights of amazing starry skies. I was happy and comfortable each night in my hammock tent. The other 3 complained of rough ground at times but I never had any issues with that (though the first night my trees were subpar, they were adequate).

Here are some photos that I posted on Facebook with captions. https://www.facebook.com/bryan.sarauer. ... 1049525259
And here are some much better photos that Rob (an actual photographer) posted: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?van ... 2231570121

Well, would you lookat that, I wasn't going to write a report, I was just going to post a link to some pictures on facebook, but there we are, a report seems to have happened.

Cheers,
Bryan

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 Post subject: Re: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 22nd, 2021, 12:26 am 
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The best resource for information on the Weaver is the GoTrekkers map which is produced in conjunction with Churchill River Canoe Outfitters. https://www.canoemapscanada.com/product ... er-sk.html

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 Post subject: Re: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 5:35 pm 
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Bryan,
Thanks for the report.
Sounds like a great trip! I was talking to Dan at CRCO about starting that trip at the road near Roundish Lake and he said that much of the portaging is in this first section but the worst portage was between two lakes a little further on. (I think he said it was between Batter Lake and Auld Lake???) I have been considering this trip for a few years so, after reading your report I'm thinking next year will be the year.
Cheers!


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 Post subject: Re: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 6:07 pm 
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Hi Ralph,
If you're on facebook, there's been a few reports from folks who've paddled the Weaver this summer in a Sask paddling group. I'll find & post links if they are shareable. If I had to guess, I'd guess that more groups have done the Weaver in the last 2 years than had done it in the previous 10 years.

Here's a link to that fb group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1989570851294879/ - note, there's a lot of "advice" posted in that group that I find sketchy at best. There's some really good information, too, but it's reader beware.

Here's one of the Weaver trips posted recently: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1989570 ... 402048282/

It is a good trip (aren't they all?) and if you don't mind some work, it's pretty accessible to a variety of budgets and skill levels. Some friends (Mark Lafontaine who used to be on MyCCR as wildpaddler, and others) did the trip about 10 years ago, starting at the road. https://wildpaddler.blogspot.com/2010/0 ... -june.html

Cheers,
Bryan

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 Post subject: Re: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 24th, 2021, 11:41 pm 
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Thanks so much for the links. Some reading and thinking to do.


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 Post subject: Re: Weaver River
PostPosted: September 25th, 2021, 10:31 am 
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Joined: August 26th, 2008, 8:48 pm
Posts: 118
Great report! Thanks Bryan.
Heard of a number of people doing the Weaver lately, the word is out!
I’ve used the Weaver to get to the Pink and Paul rivers. The section form Batter to Logue is beautiful. It’s a pretty easy climb minus a few burned out spots, it has the potential to be an awesome route. There’s remnants of portages along most of the route and a few really good camp sites along the way. Four good days gets you to Maribelli from Devils.
MC


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