View topic - Black River - May 22 to 25, 2014

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2014, 11:45 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg, MB
I paddled the Black River this past weekend. Our group of four had a first time paddler, myself (beginner/novice, I suppose) and two fairly experienced novices.

The current was fast. The water was high making take outs dangerous to reach. The heat was mid-summer-like. The portage trails were good at first but got worse as the trip went on until they were non-existent.

The river was unbelievable. We all learned a lot and from it.

I put a few of the photos here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/124166510 ... 470048839/

I also tried adding them to a map, to get a better idea of where we were:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/124166510 ... 48839/map/

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Day one, Thursday May 22nd

We put in on the Rabbit River on PR 314 at roughly 9:00am. We had great weather, easy portages (with the exception of one longer one which still wasn't bad), a perfect lunch spot with an easily runnable rapid, moose and a great campsite on an island. The campsite faced powerful falls which unfortunately did not provide good camping. At least none we were able to spot. The island we camped on was at the very end of Black River Lake. We struck camp there at roughly 6:00pm after wasting an hour on the lake and at the falls.

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Day 2, Friday May 23rd

We launched around 9:00am. The heat started to set in fairly early. Two of us dumped early in the day. The water was freezing and I lost my knife as the current ripped open the zipper pocket on my pants. We also lost our bailer (OJ container) sometime but we didn't realize it at the time. Hopefully someone picks it up so we don't feel as bad for leaving a plastic container in this pristine river.

The heat on the second day helped dry us out but soon became a nuisance. We thought we were drinking enough water only to realize later we were dehydrated. We saw a mother bear and cubs and watched the cubs scurry up a large evergreen. Lunch was in a nice spot at a bend in the river. We were a little run down at this point but weren't putting a lot of kms past us after spending time drying out in the morning and spending a lot of time scouting the rapids we were shooting.

We thought we were more behind schedule than we actually were. We were looking for landmarks mentioned in the Canoeing Manitoba Rivers book: a logging camp and a change in the trees. Since we didn't see either we thought we could be way behind schedule. We finally set up camp on a rock high above some rapids where a snapping turtle, napping on the portage trail, had some choice words for us. We marked our start, end, first night's camp and the coordinates of our current night's camp on the topos with twigs. We realized then that we were almost halfway to our take out.

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Day 3, Saturday May 24th

We launched around 8:30 and again spent a lot of time scouting rapids and again dumped. This time was not even running a rapid but was rushed and unskilled turn out of an eddy. We lost a paddle this time but at least the water had warmed up!

By the time we finished lunch it seemed like we had made little progress. Too much time rescuing our overturned pack-filled boat, scouting rapids and drying wet items at lunch (a few dry bags weren't so dry). We paddled hard and even though it was a hotter day, some tree and cloud cover made it bearable. We were also better at staying hydrated. The current really pushed us for some stretches. When we reached what we thought was the last few rapids before a long stretch without camping, we decided to push on to make up for lost time.

We had trouble finding a lot of the portages as they are filled with deadfall and starting to fill in with new growth. At one point we were faced with two rapids (probably class II) in succession with no tolerable portage to be found. Finally one of our group decided we should just shoot them packs in. He said if we overturned at least we'd be on the other side with all of our gear. Maybe not the smartest decision but our successful running of the rapids was a huge boost to the confidence of these whitewater beginners!

We made it to our last campsite around 8:30. We were on the water for just over 12 hours but probably only paddled for 8 or 9. Our last campsite was at the bridge for Black River Road (closed) which was filled with garbage because of ATV access. We made sure we were extra careful to put everything bears like into our hanging barrels. We were also able to hang the barrels higher than the other sites. All the Jack Pine on the river doesn't provide a lot of strong branches for hanging food.

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Day 4, Sunday May 25th

We launched around 10:00am after sleeping in to make up for our long third day. We had rain for the entire afternoon. We had many more difficult portages, even one on what remained of a small island that we could barely fit a canoe and packs on. We finally reached the take out at 6:15pm and shot the last rapid, packs in, for good measure.

It was definitely a tough trip but it was a great one. We've already discussed going back next year and doing the river in five days. Hopefully in the five days we'd have time for portage maintenance and re-running some of the fun rapids.


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PostPosted: May 29th, 2014, 2:07 pm 
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Great slide show. Looks like a lot of work dragging the canoes through that brush towards the end of the album.


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PostPosted: May 29th, 2014, 2:52 pm 
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Great pictures! Thanks for posting.


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PostPosted: May 30th, 2014, 2:22 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
I really enjoyed the trip report. I like the honest raw feel.

I've camped a couple of times at the falls RL as well as where you camped on the lake just up of the falls.

That logging road crossing is difficult to find.

May whitewater paddling is a challenge to dress for. A farmer john or shorty wetsuit makes for warmer swims.

Here's to many more Black River trips.

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PostPosted: May 30th, 2014, 10:15 pm 
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Location: Winnipeg
You know, we drive right past there all the time and have never really given it much thought as a tripping river. It can be pretty low water at times.
This looked like a great trip with just the right mix of adventure, fun, and adversity. Thanks for a great report.

Christy


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PostPosted: May 31st, 2014, 8:40 am 
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Brian, we will have to look harder for camping at the falls next time. I love sleeping with the noise of falls. Although, it's hard to imagine any camping better than the island facing the falls.


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PostPosted: June 2nd, 2014, 12:37 pm 
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As Christy stated
"It can be pretty low water at times."
as well as
"a great trip with just the right mix of adventure, fun, and adversity."

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PostPosted: November 30th, 2014, 8:54 pm 
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Location: Lac du Bonnet
Nice pictures Neil. I mapped out your camps on Caltopo and according to it, you paddled just under 40 km the last day while the second and third days you only did 18km. Is this correct? Also wondering why you chose to camp at those locations? Thanks

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PostPosted: December 1st, 2014, 1:04 am 
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There's no picture (therefore no Flickr location) from our last camp. We camped three nights total. The first night we camped at the end of Black river lake. We got there with enough time to move on but we had read there weren't a lot of camping options in the stretch after the lake. Plus we had steak night and a campfire booked. The island at the end of Black River Lake also has an amazing campsite and was hard to pass.

The second day we had a lot of sun and were quite worn out by the time we set up camp. We had also lost time scouting rapids and going for an unscheduled swim. We were too tired to push on and found a nice clearing to camp in.

The third day we had another unscheduled swim which took a lot of time (two of us were stranded on a little island while the other two rescued the boat) but we had good weather and good current so it was easy to push on a little further. Before the campsite at the bridge (where we camped the third night) there was a long stretch where there was no good place to camp and the current was fast which is why we travelled further.

I entered the campsites into a plot I did of the river and found that we camped at 21km the first night, 40km the second night and 74km the last night with the take out being at 98km.


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PostPosted: February 7th, 2015, 5:14 pm 
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Location: Lac du Bonnet
Is there designated sites on the Black or do you just find nice spots and camp there?

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PostPosted: February 9th, 2015, 1:48 pm 
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No designated campsite.

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