View topic - The Bloodvein River - July 2014 from Artery Lake On Down

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PostPosted: September 29th, 2014, 9:40 pm 
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Our canoe trip down the Bloodvein River from headwaters to Lake Winnipeg struck my brother and I as a paddler’s version of A Tale of Two Rivers.

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The first section - The Bloodvein River headwaters in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park - involved lots of lake paddle. After portaging in from Trout Bay at the west end of Red Lake, we paddled through Douglas Lake, Hatchet Lake, Crystal Lake, and Indian House Lake on the way to Knox Lake. Then it was on through Murdock Lake, Larus Lake, and Mary’s Lake to Artery Lake and the Ontario-Manitoba border. Along with some backbreaking portages, the first week on the headwaters offered two of the finest pictograph sites we have ever visited, as well as a few other minor ones that were worth the detour.

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The second section - The Bloodvein River in Atikaki Provincial Park in Manitoba – that is, West of Artery Lake, is where the Bloodvein truly becomes a river – a more intimate one framed by stretch after stretch of vertical granite rock face along its shores. The rapids (some eighty by Hap Wilson’s accurate count!) are of the ledge type, making most necessary portages short and easy. One memorable campsite would be bettered by the one the following day, and it in turn would lose its rank the day after that.

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The Manitoba section of the Bloodvein River from Artery Lake to Bloodvein First Nation on Lake Winnipeg makes an incredible two-week canoe trip - ten to twelve days to spend on the river and, depending on where you're coming from and whether you can afford to include a bush plane drop off or pick up, two to four travel days.

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I’ve just finished a series of posts for the ten days we spent on the Manitoba section of the river in Atikaki Wilderness Park. While it may be a bit late to be planning a Fall trip, the summer of 2015 won’t be long in coming!

If you want to see more, here is the first of the posts on the Manitoba section of the Bloodvein - just click on the link to get started.

http://wp.me/p25mXk-2o8

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Last edited by true_north on December 16th, 2016, 6:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2014, 2:38 pm 
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What an awesome trip. Truly great report and resource. Thanks for putting this all together!

Excuse me if I missed this somewhere in your report. You took what appears to be a composite Dumoine with you on this trip. Which layup was it? I'm sure the weight of a composite canoe would helped with all the portages of your first week. Once you were downstream of Artery Lake did you ever wish you had a Royalex boat? Did the construction of your boat influence your decision to run or portage any rapids?

Thanks again for a great report!


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PostPosted: October 1st, 2014, 3:31 pm 
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The Bloodvein seems very similar to the Pigeon just to the North, the runnable rapids are mostly just big volume with very few rocks to avoid.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2014, 10:27 pm 
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Your shot of the Stagger Inn guest book shows the note my wife left on July 11th.


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2014, 12:38 pm 
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A great report and resource.

What is the blue long sleeve shirt in the the-put-in-at-bloodvein-w23 image?

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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2014, 7:30 pm 
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Very well done, an enjoyable read.

-jmc


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PostPosted: October 2nd, 2014, 9:20 pm 
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That was a great TR, very informative and entertaining, I was inspired to order Hap Wilson's book to learn more. I'm not sure if it will happen, but I can plan and dream...Thank You


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PostPosted: October 6th, 2014, 10:53 am 
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Martin, our Swift Dumoine is the 16’ 8” Kevlar/carbon. The 40 lb. weight was one attraction, though we did add the skid plates which added 2 lbs. to the total. See here for the Swift fact sheet on the canoe –

http://www.swiftcanoe.com/canoe/canadia ... ecomp.html

While having a 70 lb. Royalex does give you more flexibility in terms of what you might consider running, the rapids on the Bloodvein (as recped points out) are mostly ledge-type rapids where the action is confined to the flow of water over the drop. On either side above the ledge is often a short lift-over or portage that makes it possible to avoid the chute.

Given that we travel alone in a lightweight Kevlar canoe, we tend to err on the side of caution. We’re also in our sixties and seem to be happy with lower levels of adrenalin-producing thrills! We have our memories of Greenhill Rapids on the Missinaibi to remind us of earlier days! This video of some guys going down gives you a flavour of the sustained action that you do not see on the Bloodvein -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLk0rlKtT3I

A younger crew - especially a party of two or more canoes - okay with dealing with the weight of a Royalex and willing to embrace the possibility of a bit more craziness, would for sure barrel down some of the Bloodvein rapids that we portaged around.

Recped, I can’t comment on the similarity of the Pigeon with the Bloodvein from my own experience, but Hap Wilson describes it this way in his Wilderness Rivers of Manitiba:

“The Pigeon possesses that rogue temperament of being extremely picturesque with an underlying ferocity. Its flow is almost double that of the Bloodvein during the summer but because the physiography of the Pigeon is similar to the Bloodvein, the hydrological character is certainly more spirited. This means greater volume through the runs, less reaction time to maneuver, bigger standing waves and more of them, and a greater percentage of technical rapids requiring more advanced skills.'

He concludes by writing that “it is…one of the best whitewater rivers in Canada.”

BTW, recped, it was a post of yours on a canoe trip you did in Manitoba (was it the Pigeon?) that first put the idea in my head that we could do something like that too – a different place to paddle. So thanks for that!

It sounds like the Pigeon is the river for you and that Royalex, Martin!

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PostPosted: October 6th, 2014, 11:13 am 
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Neil, I hope you didn't mind me posting that picture! I wanted to illustrate different route options people take to get to The Stagger Inn and your wife's entry captured it nicely.

Amazing to think that your visit on July 11, the next visit on July 16, and ours on July 18 were the only paddlers going down the Bloodvein during prime time. One hates to extrapolate from such limited data but - If it was a typical week and there are, let's say, fourteen paddling weeks each year, that means about 40 to 45 canoe parties going down the Bloodvein each year.

While I certainly don't object to solitude, I am amazed that the river is not more popular. Perhaps the issue of getting to the start point and then getting back from Bloodvein Village is more than most people want to deal with. It also requires more than a week of time and maybe that is too much of a commitment? Seeing hap Wilson's maps with eighty sets of rapids on the Atikaki section can also be a bit intimidating!

I'm sure you savoured your trip down just as much as we did.

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PostPosted: October 7th, 2014, 12:17 pm 
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true_north wrote:
It sounds like the Pigeon is the river for you and that Royalex, Martin!

I'm no adrenaline junky and I'm a white-water novice. While I have done a couple of river trips I tend to err on the side of caution and may portage more than I have to. Thanks for the info on the rapids. I have access to a Royalite Dumoine and own a Kevlar Fusion Prospector. After reading your description and recped's comment I think I'm leaning towards the Bloodvein and the Prospector.


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PostPosted: October 7th, 2014, 1:14 pm 
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true_north wrote:
Neil, I hope you didn't mind me posting that picture!


Definitely don't mind. My wife was so excited when she saw that picture.

true_north wrote:
Amazing to think that your visit on July 11, the next visit on July 16, and ours on July 18 were the only paddlers going down the Bloodvein during prime time.


There were a lot of paddlers just ahead of us. We hadn't seen anyone after leaving Wallace Lake but looked through the book and saw something like four groups that had signed the book the day before us. We caught up to one group of 12 the next day and they said they were racing another large group for the campsite they were at. The other group did not sign the guest book. We came across two other groups (one group of four and one of ten) on our last day. Neither one had signed the guestbook.

I think it's a pretty well travelled river but I think a lot of paddlers skip the guestbook. I also wonder if paddling groups come in bunches due to the logistics of starting a trip.

It sure looks like you got better weather than us. We had wind almost every day, a few thunder storms and were even hailed on.


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PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 4:28 am 
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True North,

I have not been on an extended canoe trip the last two years opting instead for mission trips to the Philippines. I began looking around for a trip this summer and read somewhere that you consider the Bloodvein the most beautiful river you have paddled. That really caught my attention! I know you have seen the Kopka and the Allenwater to name two. And you ranked the Bloodvein above them in beauty.

I have been considering another trip somewhere on Lake Superior or a return trip to the Kopka. Thanks to you I am seriously considering the Bloodvein. Currently, the plan is this will be a solo trip.

Any comments?


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PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 8:47 am 
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Ipaddle, handing out prizes for "most beautiful" or "most demanding" or "most whatever" should probably wait until I have seen all the contestants! In the case of the Bloodvein River system I still think we got it right. Perhaps things - weather, campsites, Anishinaabe rock painting sites, portages and water conditions, our expectations - all aligned perfectly just for our 17 days on the river. Perhaps we will have similar luck with this summer's choice!

For a solo trip down the Bloodvein - from Red Lake or some nearby put-in or from Artery Lake if you want a shorter trip - you will have the experience of two fellow myccr forum contributors to draw from.

recped's account of his solo 2015 trip here - http://recped.com/bloodvein/

Allan Gage's series of Youtube videos starts here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXYsIFR53Tw

For a different take on the river, check out VAPaddler's trip report - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXYsIFR53Tw

VA didn't get quite the whitewater he was hoping for but his comments about the river were still positive!

Given all the trip reports, you certainly won't be lacking in up-to-date info and maps and tips.

Get in touch if you have any pressing questions!

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PostPosted: May 6th, 2016, 9:00 am 
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Thanks for the response. The other spot you have mentioned that caught my attention was Cliff Lake in Wabakimi. That seems like it would be a great place to stay put a few days.


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PostPosted: March 23rd, 2017, 9:29 pm 
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true-north: I re-read your report tonight on Artery down to Bloodvein FN. Incredible detail that will be a big help towards planning. My son and I are planning on a 18-20 day trip starting either at Red Lake (requiring an air shuttle) or Wallace Lake. Neil F. and Marten K. have interesting accounts of trips north from Wallace and have suggested some options. Frankly, I'd consider copying your report for direct reference while on the river. If I can figure out a practical way to do that (IT isn't my strong point!), and it may involve a lot of printing__would you be okay with that?


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