Drinking River to Robertson Lake

CanadaSaskatchewanLower Churchill
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Jan Romanowski
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
170 km
Duration: 
7 days
Loop Trip: 
Yes
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
20
Total Portage Distance: 
5000 m
Longest Portage: 
1000 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Intermediate
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Low
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

This is a loop trip starting and ending in Stanley Mission, Sask. Vehicle can be safely parked by the Northern store after asking the store manager. The first part is on Churchill River from Stanley to Drinking Lake as described in Trip #29 of Documented Saskatchewan Canoe Routes. Then the route follows Drinking River up stream to Wapassini Lake.
From Wapassini there is a good portage to Robertson Lake and from Robertson to a small lake south of Solymos Lake. From this point the trip follows route #27 of Documented Saskatchewan Canoe Routes to Mountain Lake and to Stanley Mission.

In my description I will concentrate on the section between Drinking Lake and Robertson Lake as it is not covered by any documented routes. Some of it is used by local trappers in winter and up to Irving Lake portages are in good condition. From Irving to Wapassini portages are badly overgrown and much lining , wading and bushwacking is required. Yet, the scenery is beautiful and worth the sweat. Wapassini is one of the most spectacular lakes I have seen in northern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Good navigational and overall wilderness skills are required, as you can not count on help from passers-by, there will be none.

For more details go to Trip Diary

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Day 1: Stanley Mission to Drinking Lake as per Documented Saskatchewan Canoe Routes. Short walk to see Nistowiak Falls recommended. Good camping on a little island close to the south shore of Drinking Lake, the first obvious island east of the rapid and portage from Nistowiak Lake.

Day 2: Drinking Lake to Soroski Lake.
Portage between Boland and Pitching Lakes: on river left, ~500m in good shape. It is bypassing a waterfall and rapids. Some old mine workings can be found close by, capped shaft and remnants of a small headframe.
Portage between Pitching and Malchow Lakes: on river left, few hundred m, good shape.
Portage between Malchow Lake and small lake North of Malchow: on river left, few hundred m, good shape. This portage starts in a cove ~100 m East of the stream flowing into the lake.
Portage between a small lake North of Malchow and Soroski Lake: on river right, less than hundred m, fair shape.
Camping by the trappers cabin close to narrows between Soroski and Irving Lakes.

Day 3: Soroski Lake to Dirks Lake.
Narrows between Soroski and Irving Lakes pose no problem. Watch for river inlet on the East shore of Irving Lake. After short paddle up this inlet one comes to a shallow rapid that has to be lined or carried over in low water years. We carried the packs and waded and lined the empty (almost) canoe. There used to be a portage on river left, but so overgrown that it was easier to line.
There are three small lakes between Irving and Dirks Lakes, which not knowing their names, I am going to label lakes 1, 2 and 3.
Between lakes 1 and 2 there are two rocky and shallow rapids separated by a pond. We carried the canoe and packs over rocks of both rapids on river right.
Between lakes 2 and 3 there is one shallow and rocky rapid, carried the packs and lined the canoe.
Between lakes 3 and Dirks there is an old overgrown portage on river left. The start of it is difficult to find from the lake, it is the best to follow some old rocky river bed on river left into the bush where the portage is better visible.
~300 -500 m poor shape, overgrown. After short paddle against weak current there is another short rapid, which we waded and lined.
Camping on the first island on Dirks Lake, beautiful, well established campsite.

Day 4: Dirks Lake to Robertson Lake.
Portage between Dirks and Wapassini Lakes consists of two sections separated by a beaver pond. The first section is on river right, ~200m long and in poor shape. It was badly overgrown and difficult to find, but we cleared it somewhat and should be easier to find now. The second part of it, past the beaver pond, is a short carry over rocks on river right following the stream flowing in a beautiful small rocky gorge.
Wapassini, as mentioned before is a very beautiful lake and worth spending a day or two to explore it and enjoy the scenery, which regretfully we didn't do.
Portage from Wapassini to Robertson Lake is between the obvious westernmost bay of Wapassini to the easternmost bay of Robertson. It is ~300 m long and in good condition. There are many good campsites on islands of Robertson Lake.

Day 5: Robertson Lake to Kemp Lake.
Portage from Robertson Lake to the small lake south of Solymos Lake is ~ 1000 m long and in fair to good condition. It starts in the narrow westernmost bay of Robertson Lake, as shown on some topo maps. There is also another portage from Robertson Lake to Solymos Lake, which we walked but did not use, it was about the same length as the one we used but wetter.

From this point we followed route #27 of the Documented Saskatchewan Canoe Routes to Mountain Lake and to Stanley Mission, which took two more days.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
73P Lac La Ronge, 63M Pelican Narrows<br />
Other Maps: 
Some close-ups from Toporama website and Google Earth.<br />