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PostPosted: August 21st, 2011, 7:54 pm 
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Joined: August 21st, 2011, 7:02 pm
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I am looking to solo kayak from Thompson, Mb to Churchill ( and train back). I was wondering if anyone has done parts of this trip or all of it? Looking for advice or information. Thank you.

Phil


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PostPosted: April 3rd, 2015, 10:02 pm 
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Did you complete this trip? I'm looking to do the same thing this summer.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2022, 10:16 am 
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Joined: September 9th, 2021, 1:40 pm
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Paddled this route this summer,

We paddled up the Burntwood River in Thompson. Up the Rat River, to S Indian Lake, then connected into the Churchill River at Missi Falls.

We were able to store our vehicle at Thompson's Fire Station for the summer for free. Just call ahead to make sure you still can. The Fire Dept. just asks for a donation.

Burntwood river had a section where the water was flowing too fast to paddle up. That section was a few km below the Waskwatim Generation Station and after Opegano Lake. We had to get out on the shore. Portage up a bluff and make a shitty bush crash trail. We learned on this trip that Manitoba Hydro is really useful. We camped past the portage and up more on the Riv Left side of the dam. Luckily Hydro came down to us in the morning and helped us portage with their trucks. The portage around Wuskwatim Dam is fairly long (a few km). If you can find a Hydro worker they should help you portage if you ask. One employee told us that "Hydro legally has to provide services like this to the public". After Wuskwatim you'll find a few more rapids you'll need to line/portage on the Burntwood but once you get off the Burntwood and onto the Rat River it is easy paddling to Southern Indian. There are some decent-sized lakes while paddling the Rat River that could give you some difficulty if it's windy. Luckily those 3-4 days we were on those big lakes getting to Southern Indian Lake we had water that was glass every day and warm temps!

South Indian Lake village has a clinic and a Northern Grocery Store. Everyone in the town is very accommodating and kind. If you are a few days behind schedule (like we were) or the weather looks very bad for the next few days. You can ask Manitoba Hydro in South Indian Lake if they can bring you across the lake. This worked out for us and we got a 2-hour boat ride with 2 canoes strapped on the top of the boat and all of our packs taking up the floor of the boat for free! This made us get back on schedule and now we don't have to worry about getting windbound on S Indian Lake for a few days. The Hydro workers gave us an ATV to use to portage around Missi Falls. The portage around Missi Falls was one of the shorter portages on the trip but it still was nice.

Once on the Churchill we realized that this river is big and fast. There were 2 rapids that we were able to shoot between Missi Falls and Partridge Breast Lake. After Partridge but before Northern Indian there are some rapids that could give you trouble. On a high water year the area where the River flows out of Partridge Breast and heads east and then turns straight north to gods rapids. There could be some tricky stuff around that bend. God's rapids were completely unshootable without certain death we decided. It was like a little canyon. All of sudden the water just starts flowing super fast and tries dragging you in. The portage is on Riv Left. It's a long portage. There is an old portage route on this rapid. On our first trek across we couldn't find it and had to walk through tiring moss and some other fun stuff. On the way back to grab more gear, we found the trail. The trail seemed like nothing more than a game trail but it worked and was overgrown in areas but certainly was better than the moss. After God's there isn't anything until you get off N Indian Lake. The marked rapids on the maps after N Indian Lake were nothing more than a little ledge that we shot blindly and super easily. Don't be fooled by the river flowing into Fidler. The river gets skinny and canyon-ish but the river just speeds up and there isn't any whitewater. There is a Manitoba Hydro Water Station on Riv Left a few hundred meters above Fidler Lake, We camped here it is probably one of the better areas to camp on the lake. The water station had a makeshift helipad that was perfect for tent spots. The whole lake seems to be a big swamp and not great for camping. (The next morning when we paddled the lake it was super foggy and we could not see super far so no clue how the lake actually looks.) After Fidler you will come to a decent-sized rapid set. We chose not to shoot it and portaged on River Left. I would suggest portaging River Right. River left was a burn area and was shitty. River right was a nice forest. After that rapid, you can see a fall. We found a really nice portage on Riv Left of the falls. Immediately after the falls there are some rocky outcrops that make a really great camp opportunity. Also had a mossy forest floor which was perfect for tents. Definitely the best campsite of the whole trip. After the falls a few km down the river bends west and there is an island before some rapids. The first set of rapids is fairly simple to shoot. The second set of rapids is around an island and is big. Definitely want to portage around. We pulled into an eddy on Riv. R to scout. We decided Riv. R was too scary to shoot so we ended up walking down Riv. R and looked up Riv L to see if it looked fine. It looked like nothing we couldn't handle, Little did we know that behind the island where we couldn't see there was a big ledge that led into nasty shit. We ferried up to the current that was running Riv L. Caught in and tried staying close to the island on Riv L. (because there were some standing waves lower down on the banks of Riv L.) Well, everything was going fine until we saw the ledge and the hell that was underneath. There was nothing we could do but pray and paddle our asses off. Both boats flipped and 4 guys were in the water swimming. I personally got sucked under for about 5-7 seconds and tried swimming up for the life of me but couldn't and luckily the current shot me back up. I was also the first person to reach the shore. Luckily our whole party swam to Riv Left and we were all reunited. We lost our tents, lunch pack, and almost all of our paddles and spare paddles and that's where our trip for the Churchill ended. If you have any questions about anything feel free to reply to this.


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PostPosted: November 2nd, 2022, 2:04 pm 
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Joined: February 7th, 2006, 1:24 pm
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Location: Preeceville, Saskatchewan
Yikes. Very glad everyone got out safely! How did you arrange to get back to civilization?


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PostPosted: November 4th, 2022, 1:02 pm 
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Michael Pitt wrote:
Yikes. Very glad everyone got out safely! How did you arrange to get back to civilization?




We had some people back at home who were supporting our trip. We had them make calls to local charter companies in Thompson. We flipped on a Wednesday in the morning. All of Wednesday was spent finding the boats and finding gear and such. Like I said earlier we only lost our lunch pack and tents and paddles. We were told by our person at home on that Wednesday evening that the Charter companies didn't have any pilots in to talk about options of pickup but that Thursday they should have one.

We awoke Thursday destroyed by bugs from sleeping under a tarp. Thursday we learned that there would be more waiting but it seems like the lake 4KM to the north of where we crash-landed on the river there is "Barre Lake" and that would be our pickup point. Friday morning we got confirmation on that and started clearing a rough bush crash. We all set out with a full Nalgene each about 9 rolls of flagging and saws. We used a compass + map to find the lake. It was a hot day and we didn't bring any more than 1L of water for each person. We also didn't bring with us our water filters so we couldn't filter some creek water. By about 12:30 -1pm we ran out of flagging and had to go back. By 2pm we were back at the river and were taking down camp getting ready to portage. We were told earlier that day that we could get a flight at the latest at 5:30 pm that night. Our main concern was getting our personal gear out then the canoes.

The portage was through swamp and deep moss for most of it. When we left at 2 pm we had full Nalgenes again and drank maybe .5L while packing up. We were not in the best psychical shape to portage. Everyone was dehydrated but we didn't really think about it. We left the camp and everyone was going at their own pace. I eventually dropped my pack and started walking the rest of the way just with the water filter so that once I got to the lake we could filter water. I was the most mentally drained ever these few days of the trip and I remember talking to myself trying to decide if I should take the pack the whole way or stop and grab the filter out and take it the remaining way because that would be faster and then I could drink water and feel better faster. All in all, I decided to take off my pack and start walking toward Barre lake with the filter. At one point I decided to drink water out of the swamp. It was a small pocket of water and a frog jumped out of it but I drank it anyways. It was really cold and refreshing and I only drank a few sips because I was scared of viruses and such.

I eventually made it to the lake, My hips ached really bad from the uneven terrain and the heavy pack. I had my crewmate go back for my pack which was maybe .5-1km away from the lake. Once we made it to the lake we opened the Sat phone and learned that the pilot decided that landing on Barre lake was too dangerous and he was afraid for rocks. So Friday evening we portaged all of our personal gear + kettle pack to the lake but didn't bring food since we thought we were getting picked up. Luckily we threw some tortillas in my pack for "portage food" and one crewmate had some rootbeer barrels. We ate a few tortillas, a handful of rootbeer barrels, and some beef jerky for dinner that night. Barre lake is basically a big swamp and the bugs were worse on the lake then by the river.

Saturday morning we learned that the pilot wants to meet us on Pekisayaw lake and pick us up there. On our maps it showed that from the Western edge of Barre lake there was a stream that ran to Pekisayaw lake and that we "might" be able to paddle it or at least float our gear down. Saturday we spent all day portaging our heavy royalex WW boats to the lake and getting the rest of our food over. Saturday evening we had our first actual meal in 2 days and it was delicious! Saturday evening a storm came in and I remember being oh so scared for widow makers to fall down onto us. Luckily we made it to Sunday and Sunday morning came with high hopes. We ate a good breakfast and headed out for Pekisayaw lake. We were told by Homebase that we would be able to get picked up on Pekisayaw at the latest at 6pm. We paddled (with our 3 remaining paddles) to where the stream started then started walking our boats through this small creek. It was barely wide enough to fit our boats in it but it was 3-4 feet deep. This creek was fine while we were in the swampy area. But once we got to the area where the creek got to the wooded area it was deadfall city. We would push the boats slowly at a foot per minute. Literally dragging loaded boats over trees. It was awful. We did this for about 3 hours til at noon we checked our progress on GPS it was around .5km of progress out of the 5km we needed to do. We made the executieve decision there that we would have to drop the boats. It was worth fighting the mosquitoes for a few more days to bring boats home that would be ****.

We dropped the boats and started walking and following the stream to Pekisayaw Lake. The person with the lightest pack followed the stream and the 3 others would walk up top in the woods where it was easier to walk and we played Marco Polo for 4 hours til we made it to the lake. At 4PM we made it to Pekisayaw lake. We were all super tired and beat up. We made a call to home base telling them that we made it to the lake. We sat on the shore of the lake and admired it. I personally thought that it was a 30% chance that the plane would pick us up. I thought if it did pick us up that it would crash while we were inside. The whole trip was really messed up from day one. I am planning to present this at some paddling event in the future.

Key take away, Don't rush a route.


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PostPosted: November 5th, 2022, 12:49 pm 
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Amazing! I thought the first part of your trip was tough. Glad you made it out safely!


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PostPosted: November 5th, 2022, 1:06 pm 
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Joined: February 7th, 2006, 1:24 pm
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Location: Preeceville, Saskatchewan
So did the plane pick you up that day? A real struggle, but you got a great story out of it.


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PostPosted: November 5th, 2022, 2:07 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Thank you for sharing your experience.

Barre Lake. Link to Google Maps:
https://goo.gl/maps/iJRdffZ5M8HvbUTK9
It also shows Pekisayaw Lake to the east.
And look downstream to Fidler Lake. That would have been downstream travel inside of overland portaging.

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http://www.JohnstonPursuits.ca

 


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PostPosted: November 6th, 2022, 5:04 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
My error, it’s looking UPSTREAM, to Fidler Lake.

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http://www.JohnstonPursuits.ca

 


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PostPosted: November 7th, 2022, 9:31 am 
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Joined: September 9th, 2021, 1:40 pm
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Michael Pitt wrote:
So did the plane pick you up that day? A real struggle, but you got a great story out of it.



Sorry not to clarify, Yes. We did get picked up on that Sunday and it was about an hour bush plane ride back to Thomspon.

Looking back on it we were not super prepared. The week prior to leaving for this trip we were planning to paddle the George river in Quebec. We had all of our maps and notes ready but didn't have a plane ride back to our start point yet. We called around and did some research and it was going to be about 12-20.000$ CAD to get flown back by charter with our gear. We all decided that was out of our budget. So we decided to try the Churchill River. In about 4 days we planned the whole route out. Got topo maps from CalTopo and decided to head out. (We really wanted to paddle badly...)

We were truly heading into the unknown for us. No river notes on anything we paddled and every day was a new adventure.

I am going to try to set up some sort of presentation and link it later on once I figure out my plan for the trip presentation.

Sorry for hijacking this thread!


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