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 Post subject: Bloodvein v Pigeon ????
PostPosted: November 10th, 2014, 10:42 pm 
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Location: Virginia
Can anyone out there compare the Bloodvein to the Pigeon in terms of a canoe trip?
Is there a better whitewater choice in Manitoba?
Is there a better whitewater choice in ON or QC?

(Looking for a week-10day-12 day trip, lots of whitewater <CIV, not a lot of portaging, great scenery)

Thanks,
Christian

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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 10:26 am 
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See Hap Wilson's Wilderness Rivers of Manitoba for good descriptions. If you are looking for Class IV without portaging neither river is going to meet expectations, although the Pigeon is more challenging than the Bloodvein. I think that something like the University (Dog) in Ontario may be closer to what you are looking for.


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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 12:01 pm 
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VA - check out this thread in the Manitoba Trip Reports folder for my trip report on the Bloodvein and some comments on the Pigeon -

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 14&t=43329

From Wilson's comments it would seem that the Pigeon is more of a whitewater river though the Bloodvein and its 80 sets of rapids from Artery Lake to Lake Winnipeg would certainly provide you with some challenges and potential drama!

Given that you live in Virginia, the 1800-mile and thirty-hour drive up to the start point would be the biggest issue. The best approach might be to get up to Matheson Island just across from Bloodvein First Nation and use Wamair to fly you to the start.

If it was the Bloodvein, you'd fly from Matheson Island to the Manitoba side of Artery Lake and, after a visit to the #1 pictograph site on the river at the east end of the lake, spend ten days going down the river.

I am assuming that Wamair does drop offs for canoeists. I may be wrong. Hopefully someone else can confirm - or suggest another air service. See this recent thread about this very topic for some info -

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 13&t=42093

Another possible river is the Missinaibi. You would drive up to Chapleau and use the outfitter there to shuttle you to the beginning at Missinaibi Lake and then paddle down as far as ten to twelve or a bit more days would take you. You would hit some whitewater that is certainly more challenging that what the Bloodvein has to offer. Ideally it would be great to paddle all the way to Thunder House Falls and perhaps use the same outfitter to arrange a plane pick up on the river a bit down below the Falls. As with the Bloodvein and the Pigeon, we're looking at a bit of $$ for bush plane service.

Never too early to be planting the seeds of another memorable canoe trip! Good luck with the planning...

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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 2:36 pm 
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The Wilson/Aykroyd book is definitely the best way to decide between the Bloodvein and Pigeon. It goes into great detail about almost every rapid on both rivers. From Artery to Lake Winnipeg there aren't any severely bad portages on the Bloodvein. I can't speak for the Pigeon. Depending on your whitewater skills there could be a lot of portaging in the Bloodvein.

As far as logistics go, the Bloodvein is probably best accessed via http://www.bluewateraviation.ca/ out of Bissett. They will even shuttle your vehicle to the new road so you don't have to deal with the ferry. The new road crosses the river (bridge still being built) where the power line crosses about 20km upstream from Bloodvein F.N.

http://www.eastsideroadauthority.mb.ca/ ... nSites.gif

Wamair moved from Matheson island to Biscuit Harbour / Jack Pine Resort (and possibly changed their name) around 2009. Jack Pine Resort is quite close to Pine Dock. Jack Pine could be your best bet for the Pigeon River. The guys in this video: http://vimeo.com/49076200 used them. Pigeon involves flying out so the cost is considerably higher.


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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 5:36 pm 
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Oops! Sorry, missed the "less than" symbol in front of the Class III. Even so, the Pigeon seems to meet the stated requirements best. I have to say that I'm not a great fan of the Missinaibi -- too much flat water. Hap Wilson also did a book on it, so it should be relatively easy to compare (at least in the abstract.)
It's sort of hard to provide more advice without more info. There are so many Ontario and Quebec options that you need to know the expectations of the group, the skill level and the time of year to target in closer.


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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 10:38 pm 
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Thanks for the info, everyone.
Wilson's book is on its way, I just thought I'd get a head start.

True North - I have read your TR blog from stem to stern. 'Thorough' doesn't touch it - great job. Yes, its a haul, but the road trip is part of the fun. And, we have exhausted the majority of 'wilderness' rivers east of the Mississippi in the States and heading out to the Rocky Mtn rivers is even further and tend to be raft trips rather than canoe trips. Would like to see this as a practice lead-up to a NWT trip in another year or two.

Peter, Recped had pointed me toward the Mistassibi a couple years ago. We loved that trip, if that gives you any sense of what we're looking for. Not really interested in portaging (we will if we have to) or travelling ultralight. We paddle trippers solo and have rigged them with saddles and flotation, and rapids below CIVs we will generally run (sometimes a swim is easier and quicker than a carry). So we're looking for long stretches of river with plenty of drops in a beautiful and remote setting.

Neal - Loved the Pigeonheads video - that's what made me look into the Pigeon initially. Those guys seem to roll at about our speed. But the Bloodvein's length, and cultural element is also appealing. Will just have to compare the rapids and the amount of flatwater of each, and the cost.

Thanks for the logistical info on flights. No one mentioned Red Lake Outfitter...? Would they not be appropriate for either trip?

Will look into University (Dog) River. Any other suggestions?
Thanks,
Christian

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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 11:42 pm 
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You would have some mandatory portages on the Pigeon but they are relatively easy and frequently come with great campsites.

Flying in from Red Lake is definitely an option you should consider especially if you would be flying out as well. There are other exit options for the Pigeon, hire a boat from Berens River or if you have the time paddle Lake Winnipeg (with caution of course). For either of these flying out from the Manitoba side is preferred.

I enjoyed the Pigeon very much, the only downside being that it's a real pool and drop river, there are no extended sections of rapids.

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PostPosted: November 11th, 2014, 11:48 pm 
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If the Pigeon is what you're looking for but not long enough, why not tackle another river while you're up here?

The Black is a small river that is a great four day paddle (depending on water levels). I posted a trip report but my group was (by the sounds of it) a lot less experienced with white water so we portaged a lot.

It was high water on our trip and apparently can get quite bumpy in low water so it might be one to skip in low water. Both the put in and take out are accessible by car.


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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 12:15 am 
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Always a pleasure, Ben. I hoped you'd chime in.

I don't mind the pool/drop formation as long as there are plenty of drops. Any opinion on one over the other (Bloodvein or Pigeon)?

And any other suggestions that are as good as the Mistassibi?

Looking forward to seeing some new country.

Christian

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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 10:09 am 
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Hi VA.

You mentioned that you want to use this trip as preparation for the NWT. IMO southern trips are limited in that respect. The preparation can be effective for working out your team dynamics etc. But I think the differences are more significant than the similarities.

The size of the rivers in the NT generally dwarf anything in the south (unless you are talking something like the Grand Canyon). Even the style of paddling is different since the boats are often bigger and more heavily loaded. Quick moves are rare and line is everything. Some of the best river portions in the NT are above the treeline, and you are often in mountains. That impacts dramatically on weather. Gear is different. Safety and rescue procedures are also different. If you dump, you could get swept downriver many kilometres. If you wrap a canoe mid-river, forget about trying to use a Z-drag to pull it off - the distance to anything solid will probably be longer than all your ropes put together. Even setting up your tent is different since gravel bars are home many nights.

Please note that I am not trying to discourage you from going to the NT. In fact I highly recommend it. Once you go, you will be reluctant to paddle anywhere else. I suggest going the first time with someone who is competent and experienced in that part of the country. You may even want to go guided the first time (no, I'm not a guide).

Travel safely.


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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 1:24 pm 
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Hey VA Paddler, just sent you an email.

Harlan

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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 2:39 pm 
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I think you will be able to decide once your get Wilson's book.

The word on the river (street) is the Pigeon is better for whitewater compared to the Bloodvein.

Harlan at Red Lake Outfitters is an option, and a very good one if you are doing a longer trip and starting more east. For a shorter trip in Manitoba Bluewater out of Bissett is most likely better.

Have you paddled any of the Quebec rivers into the bay such as the Broadback River or Harricana River?

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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 3:18 pm 
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While my bro and I used Red lake Outfitters/Viking Outpost Air for our Bloodvein trip, it was because we were doing the whole thing - starting with a one-week paddle across the Bloodvein headwaters in WCPP. Since VA paddler mentioned his quest for whitewater, that eliminated the WCPPsection of the Bloodvein. Flying out of Red Lake if you want to start your trip in Artery Lake is spending $ on unnecessary air service.

Really, as Neil and Paddle Power both point out, if doing the whitewater part of the Bloodvein - or doing the Pigeon - is the aim, then a Manitoba approach is the way to go. Neil, thanks for updating me on the Matheson island situation - 2009 is along time agoI

Flying in from Bissett and the end-of-trip shuttle making use of the new road from Highway 304 to Bloodvein First Nation is definitely the most efficient and cheapest option; the road should already be open and will certainly be by next summer.

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PostPosted: November 12th, 2014, 6:35 pm 
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During the summer of 2014, paddlers were using the 304 road out at the end of their Bloodvein trips with great success. That road section is in better shape than the road to Bissett, where they were flying out of at the start of their Bloodvein trips.

The road Tender R10 was recently awarded so at some point road egress from the Pigeon and then the Berens will be possible. http://www.eastsideroadauthority.mb.ca/ ... 292014.pdf

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PostPosted: December 29th, 2014, 11:58 pm 
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Ok, so a month later and only a little closer to a decision.
Who out there has done both rivers...???
We like aspects of both, but the Pigeon's ww and remoteness are big factors in its favor. Hap calls the Pigeon the best ww in Manitoba. BUT, its twice the $$$ as the Bloodvein. Sooo.. IS IT WORTH IT??? Or, is the Bloodvein good/close enough???
Thoughts???
And, short of going north of 60, recommendations for rivers just as good or better???? We've done the Mistassibi NE and the Bonaventure (loved them both). Am I missing anything????

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