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PostPosted: August 14th, 2018, 11:00 pm 
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Joined: August 12th, 2018, 11:36 am
Posts: 3
Great to see a 2018 update! My wife and I are planing to do the loop in early September. What should we expect for river conditions and water levels? Greatly appreciate all of the information!


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PostPosted: August 15th, 2018, 6:21 am 
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Joined: August 27th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
Water will probably be quite low by Sept. There will be fast water, but probably not much in the way of rapids. You may have to drag through shallow water a few times, but it should still be doable. Thanks to Biigtigong First Nations, you will have a nice time on the ports!


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PostPosted: May 29th, 2019, 9:26 pm 
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Joined: October 5th, 2010, 12:42 pm
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I'm looking to do this route around June 10th. Just looking for an idea from those that are in the area about the water levels on the river portion. I'm guessing they will be very high??? I've done the route before in late August when the levels are low. Are the water levels going to be a concern? And thanks to all of you that have posted videos and maps. They were a great tool on my last go around... Thanks!


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PostPosted: May 30th, 2019, 7:46 am 
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Joined: August 27th, 2002, 7:00 pm
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Location: Geraldton, Ontario Can
Water is high right now, not abnormally though. I might take a trip down next week if i have time and have a look, if I do, I'll get back to you.


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PostPosted: May 30th, 2019, 8:59 am 
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Joined: December 13th, 2016, 6:37 am
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I will be going through in July so any Intel on current condition would be much appreciated as well. THX !!


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PostPosted: August 25th, 2019, 4:07 pm 
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Joined: August 12th, 2018, 1:52 pm
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My daughter and I descended the Steel River from Evonymus Lake to the Santoy Lake take-out from August 4th to the August 9th 2019. Last year my son and I did the entire loop and I want to start our report here by comparing water levels between the 2 trips. The water levels recited here are from the Government of Canada, Real-Time Hydrometric Data website, where the gauging station is located below Santoy Lake. Historical water level data may be retrieved from this website for any date range desired.

In 2018 our trip ran from August 2nd through the 8th and the water level dropped during this period of time from 7.15 to 7.07 meters (3.1” drop). Our 2019 trip ran from August 4th through the 9th and water level dropped during this period of time from 6.97 to 6.93 meters (1.6” drop). But the important fact here is that the average 2018 river level was 8” higher than the river level on the 2019 trip, that made a significant difference in navigating the shallower river sections in the upper half of the trip. This year it was much scratchier than last and we’d have demolished the Kevlar canoe we employed on the 2018 trip if we used it this year. Fortunately for us we chose a Discovery 174 (x-linked polyethylene with foam core) that was very slippery and took the abuse well.

We started our trip by accessing Evonymus Lake via the Terrace Bay Mill Rd/Catlonite Rd ~ 26 mi south of Longlac. Here we saw a cluster of flagging tape in the bush on the E side of the road and upon further inspection found an ATV trail down to the lake with a couple boats at the bottom-end. It was a decent grade all the way down to the lake such that we loaded the canoe at the roadside, coaxed it toward the grade and fairly effortlessly slid down the hill and were at the lake in no time at all with essentially no dragging involved (it had just rained so everything on the trail was lubricated nicely). I wish I could pinpoint more accurately where we started but did not get a location from the inReach. The image below is my best guess given the topography and the time it took us to reach the waist in the lake below us.

Attachment:
Evonymus Access.jpg
Evonymus Access.jpg [ 54.32 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

The creek connecting Evonymus Lake to Eaglecrest Lake was navigable, but had barely enough water to float on. We got off to a late start due to weather so it was appropriate to take the campsite about 0.5 mi down Eaglecrest lake on the E side, listed at the link below as SC1, which fully lived up to its billing as “one of the nicest sites in Northern Ontario”.

https://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtopic.php?f=108&t=42739

Attachment:
SC1 on Eaglecrest Lake.JPG
SC1 on Eaglecrest Lake.JPG [ 136.12 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

On Day 2 we dawdled (fished and paddled leisurely) down to SC3, which is also a very nice camp site across from a scenic rock bluff. However, when we departed the next day we swung in to SC4 (less than ½ mi further downstream) for an inspection, and this would be my preference since it too is generous in size but much flatter than SC3. But…. there was another reward for us at SC4, and that was a couple fresh cans of Coors Banquet beer and a bag of fresh potatoes. We decided the beverages would be good later on so took them along, but left one beer and the potatoes for the next needy party that swings in. We had another leisurely day of fishing and canoeing and stopped at SC5 for the evening. A nice high site with a built-in 8 ft long lumber counter span about 4 feet high situated between 2 large conifers. We found the counter very convenient for food prep, etc.

Just as occurred last year, we were again treated to the startlingly beautiful blue walleyes. We caught the same looking fish as last year with the deep blue backs and the deep yellow belly coloration, but this year also got some of what I’ll refer to as the “silver-phase” fish, where the belly is snow white and they almost look like a salt water species. At any rate there were spectacular looking and afforded a nice fish fry last night.

Attachment:
Blue Eyes.JPG
Blue Eyes.JPG [ 173.07 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

Day 3 started out wet, so we slept-in, had a late breakfast and didn’t get on the water until noon. We paddled to Rainbow falls, rested at the overlook, dried our socks and boots and took in the beauty of the locale. We finished the portage around Rainbow about 4 PM and I assumed we’d set up camp at the end of the portage. But my daughter had other ideas and suggested she had not yet had enough fun for the day and wanted to press on. I cautioned that the Deadhorse Bridge was 2 hours away, that the 1st log jam was another hour beyond that, and that I had no recollection from last year of a suitable campsite in that area. I explained that we might have to hack a campsite out of nothing and that it could be mosquito heaven. She maintained her resolve insisting it was a beautiful day and that she wanted to see this section today since the weather was optimum. This entire affair may have been of my own doing, since I had been extolling the beauty of the river between Rainbow Falls and the Deadhorse bridge sine we stated the trip.

At any rate we loaded up and were back on the water ~ 4:30 PM heading downstream to some unknown camping experience. As we enjoyed this special section of river under clear skies, our bluebird day was interrupted by a small cloud that came out of the west, and before long the heavens let loose and we were paddling in heavy rain. The rain didn’t last but 30-40 minutes and thereafter the sun returned briefly before falling behind the steep canyon walls in the area. We rolled into the 1st log jam portage ~ 7:30 PM and much to our delight there was in fact a very suitable campsite here in a cedar grove. I took a brief walk upstream on a moose trail and about 50 yd away was another significant clearing in a cedar grove that could be suitable. The smoother of the sites would definitely be the one downstream. So if you are ever on this trip and either your timing or preference does not allow an overnight at Rainbow Falls, there is a very nice camping option at the 1st log jam. Another consideration in your trip planning, regarding canoeing/carrying the entire log jam section, is that by camping at the 1st jam, you have knocked 3 hours off the usually challenging full day trip from Rainbow to Santoy.

Attachment:
jam 1 downstream campsite.JPG
jam 1 downstream campsite.JPG [ 135.9 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

Attachment:
Jam 1 upstream camp site.JPG
Jam 1 upstream camp site.JPG [ 137.05 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

Day 4 – We were up early, had a quick cold breakfast and were on to the portage. We noticed last evening when arriving at the 1st log jam (SP5) that the Pic River Band had a fresh shingle out announcing they were maintaining the portages on this section. And we can report they have done an excellent job.

Attachment:
DSCN7425.JPG
DSCN7425.JPG [ 104.79 KiB | Viewed 260 times ]

Last year this particular portage was redirected away from the river, poorly defined, and due to some blowdowns, was an absolute bitch to carry a canoe through. That has all been rectified now, the port is straightened out, stays near the river and it has been extended a bit further downstream to allow an easier descent to the river. The shore is still all quicksand, so you’ll have to decide whether you prefer the old descent where gear has to be let down a steep drop or whether the more gentle walk-down slope is your preference.

The ports at the remaining 3 log jams were all in good shape and passage was OK. There is however always the issue of the river bank eroding over time and removing some of the portage trail which results in the trail being a “little thin” as you pass by some of the larger trees in close proximity to the trail, especially when carrying the canoe!

We arrived at Santoy ~ 4:30 PM and as yesterday my daughter did not want to camp this early as she was enthralled with Santoy and wanted to see more of it. There was a modest wind out of the NW so we headed to the west side of the lake and then south to the river outlet where we planned to camp. Once upon a time the campsite at the outlet was OK, but at this juncture appears nobody has been staying there and the flora has been encroaching. Regardless of the condition this was our site for the night and we made the best of it. By comparison, the camp site at the 1st log jam is dramatically nicer than this one.

We chose to come to the outlet because we were entertaining thoughts of continuing down to Hwy 17 if the portage trail were deemed to be in decent shape. But to our disappointment that was not to be the case. The trail was decent to start with, but as we moved long it became more and more choked with brush and we stopped near the 2nd major pitch of the falls, where the trail heads toward the river and descended into thicker stuff. Even if the trail were in great shape it would be one long portage.

Day 5 – Up early, on the water to get ahead of the predicted wind, about an hour long paddle on this crystal clear morning and we were back at the take-out to meet our shuttle. During the trip we did not encounter much rain, but what we did encounter was untimely, i.e., just at the moment we were drying out our rig, it would pour. Consequently we were a bit on the soggy side. Once we reached the take-out we pulled all the gear out of the canoes, laid it out on the dock, got some cold cereal and milk out, and heated up some water for cocoa-mocha. As we were enjoying our breakfast and cup of hot sustenance, I commented that “given our fortune with rain on this trip, wouldn’t it be fitting if the little cloud just coming over the horizon from the west gave us one last shot of rain to add insult to injury”, to which my daughter replied, “Dad, don’t tempt fate by saying such things”. Well, the words had no more than left her lips when I saw rain drops on the water, it started raining steady, and as we hurried to cover and stow it all away once again, our shuttle arrived.


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PostPosted: August 26th, 2019, 7:15 am 
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Joined: March 28th, 2016, 8:19 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Marathon/Superior
Great TR Speckling. It's funny how that campsite at the first log jam always seems to get forgotten. When I passed it last month, I don't even recall there being a firepit there.

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