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PostPosted: October 4th, 2013, 5:25 pm 
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Trip Report: Leaf Rapids to Churchill, Manitoba
Via the Barrington, South Seal and Seal Rivers
July 1st-August 8th, 2013


Nights on Trail: 32
Start: Paddled out of Granville Lake Campground, a few kilometers south of Leaf Rapids, Manitoba on July 4th, 2013
Finish: Paddled into Churchill, Manitoba on August 4th, 2013
Distance: 880km (546 miles)


The route:

I’ve broken the route up into the different sections.

The Churchill River:
We paddled on the Churchill River, out of Leaf Rapids, for three days. Saw a handful of motorboats (from a distance) and a few cabins along the river. Not very good camping because of the dam has caused quite a bit of erosion due to the reservoir type nature of South Indian Lake. There was a fair amount of current where the river pinches.

The Barrington River:
This was the beginning of our upstream travel, all the way to LeClair Lake. The long blue line section to Barrington Lake was very scenic and had very well defined portages around all the rapids and (small) waterfalls. We saw lots of wildlife on this rarely traveled river. The blue line north of Melvin Lake was a little more difficult in large part because of all the beaver dams that stopped up the river; expect more portaging over dry boulder fields. The height of land portages into LeClair Lake were relatively easy walking. Faint traces of a trail at some points but mostly just map and compass work.

The Lake Section:
From LeClair Lake to Wolf Lake was very straightforward. A few small rapids between lakes, the longest section was at the outlet of LeClair Lake. Big Sand Lake is everything it’s name says it is. There is a lodge located on the western shore about a third of the way up. There is also another little outpost at the mouth of Wolf Lake.

The South Seal River:
A fun little river, that started out very shallow for us and slowly built all the way until Tadoule Lake. We were able to read and run almost all of the marked sets (scouted a few at the end). All along the South Seal there are beautiful eskers and a few established campsites (the first ones of the trip).

The Seal River:
From Tadoule Lake to Hudson Bay. Our water level was very low (400 cubic meters/second) so a lot of the ‘big’ sets were easily run along the edges. Prepare yourself for a lot of paddling and camping through not-so-old burn. We saw our first ring seal at the end of Shethanie Lake and saw a handful everyday until the Bay. We encountered our first polar bear family about 55km from the mouth of the Seal. Hitting the Delta at high tide is preferred. The Batstone Cabin is on RL at the mouth.

Hudson Bay:
NOT RECOMMENED. We paddled from the mouth of the Seal to Churchill, Manitoba over the course of four days (one day we were windbound). Saw the vast majority of our polar bears between the Seal and the Knife River Deltas.

Logistics:

Departure:
Drove two cars to Leaf Rapids, from Minneapolis MN, with all our gear and three canoes. Dropped everything thing off at Granville Lake Campground. Both cars drove back to Thompson, Manitoba.
Dropped one car off at Thompson Fire Station (fill out a form and leave your keys with them, give a donation to the fire station upon car retrieval). Drove back up to Leaf Rapids in one car. Stored car in Leaf Rapids for $65 CAD then got a ride from town back to the campground.

Return:
Took the train from Churchill to Thompson, Manitoba. 14 hours long, through the night. Canoes were $100 each.
We were able to arrange for a Department of Conservation Officer to drive our car in Leaf Rapids back to Thompson for us the day of our train ride (free). Walked from the train station to the Thompson Fire Station (20 minutes) to retrieve our vehicles.
Drove straight from Thompson, Manitoba back to Minneapolis, MN in 16 hours.

Phone Numbers:

VIA Rail: 1-888-842-7245
Jack Batstone (Mouth of the Seal River to Churchill Boat Shuttle, which we did not use): 204-675-2300
Tundra Inn (Owners of the hostel in Churchill): 204-675-8831
Churchill RCMP: 204-675-2551
Manitoba Conservation Fire Program: 204-677-6624 (Emergency)
204-677-6625 (Non-emergency Line)

Other pertinent information:

Printed and used the tide tables for CHURCHILL from the Canadian Hydrographic Service, while paddling on Hudson Bay. A good guideline for tides but by no means exact!

Emergency Devices:
Carried a SPOT Locator Beacon and a Satellite Phone (rented from SatellitePhoneStore.com: Total cost $320 US)

Evacuation Points:
Leaf Rapids RCMP (204 473 2944)
Big Sand Lake Lodge (204-774-6666)
Tadoule Lake Community
Seal River Heritage Lodge (Hudson Bay)
Dymond Lake Lodge (Hudson Bay)
Churchill RCMP (204-675-2551)

Water Levels:
We had very low water levels on the Seal River (400 cubic meters/second). Two boats had spray decks and the third was equipped with bow/stern flotation. Both deemed unnecessary at our low water level.

Fishing:
Bought fishing licenses on our drive up. There was really good fishing all the way until reaching the Seal River.

Resources:
Hap Wilson’s: Wilderness Rivers of Manitoba Book
Canadian Water Office website for water levels (SEAL RIVER BELOW GREAT ISLAND [MB] (06GD001)
Paddle Manitoba Website (limited information regarding Barrington River)


Actual Route:

7.1 Driving (Camped at Pembina, North Dakota)
7.2 Driving (Camped north of Thompson, in a gravel pit)
7.3 Driving/Car Shuttling (Camped at Granville Lake Campground)
7.4 Churchill River: 26km (Narrows south of Ginter Lake Fuller)
7.5 Opachuanau Lake: 30km (Halfway up Swampy Bay)
7.6 Barrington River: 25km (Upstream of first marked set west of Opachuanu Lake)
7.7 Barrington River: 13km (Halfway up narrow sections before Larson Lake)
7.8 Barrington Lake: 12km (Right at beginning)
7.9 Barrington Lake: 28km (Narrows before blue line into Melvin Lake)
7.10 Melvin Lake: 16km (West shore, 3km south of blue line)
7.11 Lake 315: 20km (Northwest end)
7.12 LeClair Lake: 14km (First island after marked set from Chiupka Lake)
7.13 Big Sand Lake: 20km (Right at beginning)
7.14 Big Sand Lake: 43km (North of Mistay Narrows on west shore)
7.15 Big Sand Lake: 37km (5km northwest of Peterson Narrows)
7.16 South Seal River: 23km (At the mouth, east of Wolf Lake)
7.17 South Seal River: 40km (Single Bar set, upstream from Loon Lake)
7.18 South Seal River: 43km (Davis Island at the end of Chipewyan Lake)
7.19 Thuychokaneleen Lake: 38km (East shore at the base of esker)
7.20 Tadoule Lake: 45km (At Chip Point)
7.21 Shethanei Lake: 48km (South shore on esker, 5km after Negassa Lake)
7.22 Seal River: 50km (3km upstream from Wolverine River)
7.23 Layover: 0km
7.24 Seal River: 27km (Islands north of Neff Lake)
7.25 Seal River: 30km (At split of Lavelle Channel)
7.26 Seal River: 27km (Beginning of 9 bar rapid)
7.27 Seal River: 40km (5km from edge of Map 54L)
7.28 Seal River: 30km (Halfway up south-to-north section)
7.29 Seal River: 30km (Before river turns east)
7.30 Seal River: 20km (Island on west side of river, 30km from the mouth)
7.31 Hudson Bay: 30km (Shack on RL at the mouth of the Seal River)
8.1 Windbound: 0km
8.2 Hudson Bay: 50km (Entering Button Bay)
8.3 Hudson Bay: 15km (Across Button Bay at Seagull Gully)
8.4 Churchill: 10km (Tundra House Hostel)



Please feel free to contact me through email (austindanicic@gmail.com) if you have any questions about this route.
Also here's a quick video of our trip:


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PostPosted: October 5th, 2013, 7:44 am 
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danic373 - what an epic trip! Your video clip was downright invigorating - stunning video clips to driving music. Thanks for all the useful info you've compiled - this will definitely bring the Seal River trip report file up to date.

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PostPosted: October 5th, 2013, 10:54 am 
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Location: Thunder Bay, Ontario Canada
Thanks for posting this TR Danic373. Good info on the logistics, and I really enjoyed the video. The choice of Amadou & Mariam's music was a great one! I posted a comment on YT in my "winter" identity, but will repeat here: I really enjoyed that, thanks! I paddled the South Seal and Seal in 1994 - a great trip. Brought back memories.

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PostPosted: October 5th, 2013, 11:57 am 
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Great video and music! Lots of current, useful information. Thanks for posting.
Ralph


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PostPosted: October 6th, 2013, 4:13 pm 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
Looks like a great trip and and good work on pulling that video together.

I have a yearning to see Big Sand Lake but doubt I'll have the time or money for a full Seal River Trip. Looking at the maps I'm wondering if it would be possible to access the Barrington River at Eden Lake/Adams Lake paddling upstream to the park for a a week then turning round to come back downstream again.

Any comments? How do you think it would be coming back down the Barrington?

Chris

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PostPosted: October 6th, 2013, 4:45 pm 
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It's definitely possible to access the Barrington River at Eden/Adams Lake. The narrow stretch up to Barrington Lake is really pretty (lots of moose!) and there are maintained portages by one of the locals (clears them in the winter time) all the way to Barrington Lake. Going down the Barrington River would be fine, pretty small rapids (could be bony at times) and small drops.


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PostPosted: October 6th, 2013, 9:37 pm 
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Joined: June 22nd, 2004, 4:45 pm
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Location: Canmore AB
chris randall wrote:
Looks like a great trip and and good work on pulling that video together.

I have a yearning to see Big Sand Lake but doubt I'll have the time or money for a full Seal River Trip. Looking at the maps I'm wondering if it would be possible to access the Barrington River at Eden Lake/Adams Lake paddling upstream to the park for a a week then turning round to come back downstream again.

Any comments? How do you think it would be coming back down the Barrington?

Chris

Chris
I know some locals who have a cottage on Adam lake and have paddled the Barrington. They are paddlers as well. PM me if you want contact info.
Hugh

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PostPosted: October 7th, 2013, 7:47 am 
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Location: a bit south ofWinnipeg
Thanks Hugh

It's definitely on the possible list for next year. We didn't get a proper trip in this year and I'm determined not to let it happen again!

Chris

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