View topic - Portage Clearing - McLennan Lake - 2019

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PostPosted: September 22nd, 2019, 9:53 pm 
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2019 Portage Clearing Report

McLennan-Fowell-Davis-Bryan-Versailles-Minuhik-Davis-McLennan
With a side trip from Bryan through MacLachlan to Minuhik
September 9 – 14, 2019

The purpose of our trip in the McLennan Lake area this year was to identify and clear campsites as well as improving some existing portages. We were also interested in re-opening a route south from Bryan Lake through MacLachlan Lake to Minuhik Lake.

Day 1 – Launched at Bear’s Camp on McLennan Lake and travelled across McLennan Lake to Liggett Bay.
Portage (~125 m): Liggett Bay, McLennan Lake southeast to a small nameless lake on the way to Fowell Lake – good condition
Portage (~160 m): small nameless lake to another nameless lake to the southeast, on the way to Fowell Lake – good condition.
There are several potential campsites with room for one tent in a pinch in the south bay of this nameless lake. There is also room for one wind-resistant tent on a small island a few hundred metres southeast of the end of the portage trail described above.
We cleared and established a campsite for up to 5 tents on the east side of this nameless lake. It is located near the portage to Fowell Lake.
Portage (~270 m): Nameless lake to Fowell Lake – good condition, but wet through a bog in the middle (we returned the next day and cut a shortcut to the east thereby missing the boggy section).
We established, cleared and flagged a campsite on the west shore of Fowell Lake near the last portage. 4 tent sites. We camped there.

Day 2 – Potential campsite: on larger island midway down Fowell Lake. Lots of deadfall to be cleared.
Potential campsite: on smaller island SW of the latter. Not much clearing required. Room for three tents on an extensive carpet of Labrador tea.
We established and cleared a campsite on west shore of Fowell Lake, on a rocky ledge about 200 meters from the south end of the lake. 4+ tent sites. We camped there.
Campsite: on the small island in the south end of Fowell Lake, near the portage. Cleared two tent sites. Pretty location, but difficult access.
Portage (~400m): We had some time in the afternoon so we explored the portage from Fowell Lake to Cushon Bay of Davis Lake. We cleared the portage of some deadfall. This portage is through a 2015 burn, and not located where it is shown on the map. The north landing is accurate, but it goes straight SW to the small bay at the end of Cushon Bay. The south landing is in the small bay at the very end of Cushon Bay, about 150 meters east of where it is shown on the map. The portage is generally in good condition.



Day 3 – we went through the portage to Cushon Bay.
Potential campsites: there are two on the southern island in the middle of Cushon Bay, which is not burned although the latest map shows that it has been burned. Room for 3+tents.
Campsite: on long low rock ridge on the SW end of Cushon Bay just around a point from the narrow connection to the main part of Davis Lake (55 52.274 N, 104 19.207 W). Beautiful site, with room for 7 tents.
Portage (~20m)(~25m): Cushon Bay to Bryan Lake. This is two very short portages with a small pond in the middle. It would be possible to start at the first portage, carry around the pond and continue on to the south portage. N landing is in the small bay at the extreme SE end of Cushon Bay, just to the west of the inlet stream. We hauled two of our loaded canoes up the stream over poles on the rocks. The other canoe portaged. After paddling across the small pond, the next landing is to the west of the inlet stream channel. The portage trail is rough, over big boulders with holes to watch out for. One boat portaged up the inlet stream bed, which was mostly dry. The other two boats took the portage trail.
Potential campsites on Bryan Lake: on the first island just south of the prominent peninsula that juts out from the NW side of the lake – 3 tents.
: on the second island South of the peninsula – 2 tents.
: on the third island South of the peninsula – 1 tent
Campsite: on the rock ledge on the SW end of Bryan Lake (shown on the map). We enlarged it, clearing more tent sites. It now has 5 tent sites. We stayed here for two nights, while re-establishing the route through MacLachlan Lake to Minuhik Lake. This campsite is marked on Ric’s maps.

Day 4 - Side trip – Bryan through MacLachlan to Minuhik Lake. Over three days, we re-established the five portages on this route. There were no signs of recent use of this route, and only occasional traces of the old trails.
Portage (~100m): Bryan Lake to nameless lake. N landing on the east side of the inlet creek. S landing on the beaver dam on the east side of the creek. Short portage rough footing, steep at the N beginning. We established, cleared and marked this new trail, no sign of the former trail.
Portage (~250m): First nameless lake south of Bryan Lake to second small nameless lake south of Bryan Lake. N landing on the E side of the creek, by a squared pole. S landing in brushy sedge 50 meters E of the creek. It runs through a thicket of young spruce. Fairly level with good though mossy footing. Established, cleared and marked. Mostly this is a new trail, except at the N end.
Portage (~250m): Second small nameless lake south of Bryan Lake to MacLachlan Lake. NE landing in sedge 30 meters east of the end of the lake. SW landing 30 meters west of the NE end of MacLachlan Lake. Mostly through open pine forest on a rocky ridge, with mostly good footing, rougher and mossy at the NE end. Established, cleared and marked.
Portage (~150m): MacLachlan Lake to first small nameless lake south of MacLachlan Lake. NE landing in the outlet creek, right on the west end of the beaver dam. SW landing on the edge of 20 meters of brushy bog near a beaver lodge. The SW landing is on the east side of a bay west of the creek outlet. We found the old trail, which goes up from the edge of the beaver dam and then follows a rocky, open ridge. We marked the trail. It could use some brushing to clear away alders.
First nameless lake south of MacLachlan Lake: it looked like there are potential camping sites on the rocky ledges on the shore of this pretty lake, and on the margins of the forest on the N end of the portage trail to the south.
Portage (~250m): Small nameless lake south of MacLachlan Lake to Minuhik Lake. We found the beginning of a trail from the north side and then lost it in deadfall and new growth forest. We retreated back to our campsite on Bryan Lake as the day was getting late. The next day, we found it from the south and established, cleared (a lot of cutting) and marked it. The NE landing is by a big rock 30 meters west of the outflowing creek. There is an old blue aluminum fishing boat by the landing. The SW landing is in the inflowing creek, on the west side of the small bay in the middle N arm of Minuhik Lake. The trail from the NE landing goes on the margin of the spruce forest. The middle part is through open birch forest, and the SW part is through a dense, old forest with rough footing.

Day 5 - Portage: Bryan Lake to small nameless lake east of Bryan Lake. N landing is on the E side of Bryan Lake, about 200 meters from the extreme S end of Bryan Lake. S end of the portage is in floating sedge, on the W side of the end of the small nameless lake. The portage trail deviates from the winter trail, to the W, for the most of the S half, to avoid the long bog of floating sedge. When traveling from Bryan Lake, go up onto the ridge and across the ridge until just before the trail drops down on the east side of the ridge. At that point, the new trail turns right and goes along the ridge. As you near the small lake, the trail goes off the ridge and down onto the floating sedge to the south landing. There are about 20 meters of floating sedge to negotiate to get from the ridge to the south landing. We corduroyed the approach to the S landing and we cut a few trees to straighten the trail along the ridge. If approaching from the S end, canoeists should head left (W) from the landing, across the 20 meters of floating sedge, straight to the dry footing along the ridge. We couldn’t find a feasible alternative to the S landing.
Portage: small nameless lake to Versailles Lake. N landing in the outflow creek mouth. S landing is in the end of the small bay on the NW end of Versailles Lake, NW of Walker Peninsula. This portage has poor footing and is very wet with water running down the trail. A possible good alternative route would be just to the west of the existing trail; it looks to be level and straight with good footing, but would require a lot of cutting with chainsaw, through a dense young spruce thicket on the N end and a large tangle of big deadfall at the S end. We didn’t have time to re-route this trail on this trip – perhaps next year.
Portage: Versailles to Minuhik Lake. Good condition, very short and flat. The E landing is on the S side of the mouth of the outflow creek, behind a steep rock ledge. The W landing is on the S side of the inflow creek.
Portage: Minuhik to Minuhik Lake. Good condition, very short and flat but boggy. The frequent traffic seems to have worn through the turf and created muddy sections, which have been partially improved by the placement of lengthwise poles.
Just to the west of this portage we paddled into a small bay and re-established the portage trail mentioned in the Day 4 report.
Campsite: we camped on the pretty little island in the end of the NW arm of Minuhik Lake, near the portage to Davis Lake. 4+ tent sites. This beautiful campsite show sign of heavy use, but it was clean with not much sign of abuse.

Day 6 - Portage: Minuhik Lake to Davis Lake. As shown on the map, to the west of the inflowing creek. Excellent condition, a virtual highway.
Portage: Middle of west shore of Davis Lake to middle of east shore of McLennan Lake. As shown of the map. Up and down over a ridge separating the two lakes. Excellent condition.
End of trip: back at the roadside landing by Bear’s Camp on McLennan Lake


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PostPosted: September 22nd, 2019, 11:25 pm 
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Hi Ralph -

Once again, thanks to you and your group for your efforts in this area. And, once again, sorry I didn't run into you - your group was already out when I arrived and had left when I returned to Missinipe.

I went through that MacLachlan chain some years back - I'll have to check my notes and see how my experience compared with yours.

My trip this year was warm and sunny - a big change from last year's. Hope you had good weather as well.

-jmc


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PostPosted: September 23rd, 2019, 10:05 am 
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Hi, jmc,
Yes, too bad we missed connecting in Missinipe. Our weather was much, much better than last year. Monday was somewhat drizzly but the weather got better and better and by Friday and Saturday the weather was glorious.
I'd really like to know what your notes say about the Bryan - MacLachlan - Minihuk route.
Maybe we'll meet on the ski trails this winter.
Ralph


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PostPosted: September 26th, 2019, 8:18 am 
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Nice descriptions in there; worth a print for a trip. Did you see many trippers out there, did you park at the camp or in Missinipe, and where do you get the info that campsites or partages need to be cleared (so you don't go a week after someone else might have done it)?

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PostPosted: September 26th, 2019, 2:16 pm 
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Thanks again Ralph and crew for your efforts.

For those who are interested, Tom Wolfe recently created a facebook group about portage clearing: Churchill River Portage & Campsite Maintenance https://www.facebook.com/groups/2481982395197033/

Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: September 27th, 2019, 8:00 pm 
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Hi, GRS,
We saw one paddler during our trip and several at the take-out as we were ending our trip. We parked at Bear's Camp.
We get our information about which areas need attention from Ric at CRCO. Not that all paddlers stop at CRCO, but enough do so that Ric has a good idea about areas that need work. This year, Ric indicated that he is getting requests for short trips but there are not that many campsites so we developed a few along with exploring the Bryan - MacLachlan - Minihuk route. We usually have a number of possibilities of places to go to do maintenance and then choose based on weather, time, group energy, etc. Over the years we have become more and more familiar with the McLennan Lake area as well as several other areas so this knowledge helps with our decision making. We have worked a bit along the Churchill, in Lac La Ronge Provincial Park and on some other routes that lead onto the Churchill. Maintenance is a never ending issue especially after fire and severe weather events can create high needs in an area very quickly. I encourage paddlers to carry tools to at least get themselves and their gear through a portage that needs attention. We have taken to carrying a chainsaw even when we our main purpose is recreation rather than portage clearing.

Hi, Bryan,
Thanks! It is our pleasure to help out with portage/campsite maintenance. We like to hear about people going paddling and having a good time and we are happy to help support those trips.
I visited the Facebook page and submitted a member request. Thanks for that info. What a good idea!


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