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 Post subject: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 18th, 2011, 10:08 am 
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Joined: August 8th, 2009, 5:59 pm
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Location: Swan Hills, AB
So i've done lots of lake caoneing and next summer I'm planning on trying a few river trips. What is a good rule of thumb for estimating how many days to spend on the river? I understand that if the river is faster than another that will change the time but generally would you say 20kms a day or something like that?
Thanks

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 10:12 am 
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Joined: February 12th, 2004, 9:28 am
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Location: Waterloo, ON
It could be faster or slower travelling on a river compared to a lake. Overall - probably faster but there are a lot of "rivers" out there that are pretty small, narrow and could be really low water.

A good starting point would be finding some trip logs or guidebooks for the rivers/routes that you are thinking about. If you can mention some routes that you are considering then I'm sure folks here can provide some insight on what to expect.

Some general considerations:

1) What's the real distance?
- if the river wanders a lot, you can end up going a lot farther on the water than it looks like on the map
- for example there is a big oxbow on the Grand River just downstream from Brantford that comes out to about a 4 hour paddle and you end up about a mile from your starting point to walk back and get your car.

2) Moving/Whitewater - I love the Petawawa - at least the parts I've done from Lake Travers to McManus - but it is a whitewater route. That brings up the questions of both gear and training. It's a comfortable 3 days on the water if you running the class I/II stuff but would have some long portages if you aren't.

3) Seasonal water levels - spring can be too high, summer can be too low so depending on the route (and without trying to rhyme) we'll really need to know when you plan to go

4) Don't forget the shuttle - I know rivers can be part of a loop trip, but often you'll be doing a one-way trip and need to add time to shuttle vehicles and gear.

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 11:30 am 
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Joined: August 8th, 2009, 5:59 pm
Posts: 30
Location: Swan Hills, AB
Thanks for the reply Splake.
I have read a few trip reports on the section of the athabasca river that I want to do (berland river to whitecourt). But there are a few other sections that I want to cover. As well as a few sections on the McCleod river that I'd like to do. I've used google earth and have done some rough measurements with the ruler tool for the river distance. I was just wondering how the people that run rivers all the time go about judging the time needed.
For example, the McCleod river is usually a slower river (can't find any flow volumes for it) but for the one section I've looked at its about 56kms between highway 40 and highway 43. I'm thinking that this would be a good over nighter assuming about 25 kms a day?
Thoughts??

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 12:22 pm 
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Joined: December 20th, 2003, 9:27 am
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Simmered,
Splake has offered a lot of good advice. Canoeing has a lot of "it depends" aspects to it.
I'm going to give some approximate times for paddling some reaches on the McLeod but remember that your speed will depend upon water levels and how much time you paddle each day.
The McLeod River from Highway 40 (between Robb and Cadomin) to the road from Hinton to Robb is considered a Class 2 run and is either a long day or an easy two-day trip.
From the Hinton-Robb road to where the river crosses Highway 47 is considered a long trip for a weekend. It would be better as a 3-day trip. That section has a lot of sweepers.
From Highway 47 to Highway 16 would take about 10 hours of paddling.
From Highway 16 to Highway 32 (near Peers would take about 8 hours or so (I'm not as familiar with this run).
From Highway 32 to Highway 43 at Whitecourt is considered to be a very long 2-day trip and it would be better to take 3 days. The river slows down considerably as you approach Whitecourt and it can be very shallow.
After having said all of that, I would strongly recommend Mark Lund's Guide for Alberta Paddlers. It will help you with planning.
McLeod River flow rates (as are flow rates for most Alberta Rivers) are available to Alberta Environment at: http://environment.alberta.ca/apps/basins/default.aspx

Hope this helps,
Ralph


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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 1:35 pm 
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Joined: August 8th, 2009, 5:59 pm
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Location: Swan Hills, AB
Ralph,
Thanks for the info, I must say I really messed up the highway numbers! :( oops!
It seems like you have a lot of experience on the McLeod river. I did a small day trip from the eagle river outfitters campsite to whitecourt in earlier this August and I completely agree that the river can be low in spots! walked it over some rock beds a few times! When would be the best time to go? I'm thinking late June or early July would be a good time to travel the river. Water levels should still be high from spring run off as well as not so low your rubbing the bottom.
Thanks for all the info.

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 3:34 pm 
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Simmered,
Once again, when to go depends upon the flow levels. I'd recommend going to the Alberta Environment website and look at the charts for the McLeod. They will give you averages for different times of the year and the usual range of flows. Mark's book has some guidelines for what constitutes reasonable flows for each river so you should be able to use the two resources to help plan your trip.
For the McLeod around Edson, I usually use the reporting station just above the Embarras confluence and I find that from about 10 cms to 100 cms is OK. As it goes below 10, it gets harder to find deep enough channels and above 100 is starting to get pushy. I have paddled it at 284 cms and that was quite pushy with lots and lots of debris in the water.
Ralph


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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 19th, 2011, 6:32 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
As others have mentioned there are plenty of variables such as weather condition, current, rapids which require scouting, solo or tandem, personal preference for effort expended and time on the water.

To give you a simple answer.....20km is a reasonable goal, at worst you will have extra time around camp and at best you might need to paddle for an extra hour per day.

I like to have breaks both stopped and drifting, I paddle solo so wind is an issue, my general experience is that 3.5km/hour is a reasonable average pace when one includes breaks.

A tandem boat with two aggressive paddlers and the right conditions might be able to double that.....but why?

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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 20th, 2011, 10:25 am 
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Joined: November 12th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Lethbridge, Alberta Canada
I mostly had to post to say hi to a fellow brother firefighter.

Ralph has said it all.
Especially for Alberta, the streamflow website is invaluable
Also agree, get Mark Lund's book.
http://members.shaw.ca/marksguide/index.htm


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 Post subject: Re: Trip Planning????
PostPosted: September 20th, 2011, 4:26 pm 
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Joined: August 8th, 2009, 5:59 pm
Posts: 30
Location: Swan Hills, AB
Always nice to meet fellow firefighters Mark!!

Thanks for all the suggestions. Im going to track down a copy of that book for sure, and I guess day dream about all my trips next year!!!! :thumbup: :thumbup:

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