View topic - McLeod River: Hwy 32 Bridge Peers to Whitecourt Trip

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PostPosted: August 2nd, 2018, 9:49 am 
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This past weekend my wife and I made this trip, from Hwy 32 bridge near Peers, down to Whitecourt. July 28-29-30 2018.

We both were paddling Pelican Catch 120 kayaks, which are 12 footers. There was no problem at all to carry enough gear between our 2 boats.

We stored all our gear in drybags that I got at MEC.

We used a Katadyn Hiker water purification system.

Other than that, we had no fancy gear, nothing high-tech. Basic stuff. A 3-man tent, airpads, mummy bags, bear spray and a K-Bar knife.

First bit of info, the water was at above average flow rate. But I have not used the APP for the McLeod water flow. I know there is one that you can reference.
Edit: Referenced the Aberta River Basins Flow Reports for the McLeod R. @ https://rivers.alberta.ca/
July 28 94.04m3/s, July29 81.31m3/s and July 30 69.9m3/s.

First day we paddled 7 hours, and pitched camp just along the river. Our tent was literally 8' from the water's edge, but was 2' above the water. So no issue, except the noise of the rapids we camped beside.

Huge fog on the water the next morning, heavy dew on everything. If it had poured rain our gear, tent, kayaks etc couldn't have been any wetter. This delayed our departure a couple hours, as the wife wanted everything cleaned and dried before packing.

Paddled at 09:00 on the second day. We wanted to reach Groat Creek, that day, as we know that stretch of river, and would be comfortable in knowing how long it would take to reach Whitecourt.

And we made it to Groat Creek by 18:00, so 9 hours paddling that day.

Again made a nice dry camp, just above Groat Creek.

Day 3, it took us 4-1/2 hours to paddle the last stretch from Groat Creek down to Hwy 43 landing at Whitecourt. There was one change in the conditions, which was a pretty good breeze was coming up, and down near Whitecourt there are several flat stretches of water, where you have to paddle against that breeze.

Notes: There are more Bald Eagles on the McLeod River, than any place I've been except Alaska.
We saw Kingfishers, Osprey, Mule Deer, Whitetails, Moose.

The weather was hot; 28-32C in the daytime, 10-14C at night. No escape from the sun, during the days.

There are spectacular canyons/cliffs in the waters below Hwy 32. A lot of slow, wide areas, with deep pools, big bends in the river. Some nice rapids but with the river flow rates, no problems at all.
I would say in lower water levels, these might be more problematic, as more rocks would be exposed, might drag the boats some.

In particular, we encountered one rapid, maybe 400 yards long, of steady whitewater on the 29th (day #2), that was maybe 1/3 of the way into the trip to Whitecourt. In the 'Canyon Section'. In low water conditions this rapid could be nasty.

As the water was a bit higher than normal, it was a bit 'stained' in colour, so fishing wasn't spectacular, but I managed to catch 3 walleye and 1 pike. Wasn't really focussed on fishing however.

In lower water flow rates, I could easily see this trip taking 4-5 days.

I shot the trip with my GoPro, hope to produce a decent video from the footage...

Bottomline: We are already talking about doing this trip again.


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PostPosted: August 8th, 2018, 3:21 pm 
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Joined: October 24th, 2007, 1:52 pm
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Location: Beaumont, AB
Good writeup. Sounds like you had a great trip. I have never paddled the McLeod River and have been considering rectifying that!

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"Everyone must believe in something. I believe I'll go canoeing" - Henry David Thoreau


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PostPosted: August 10th, 2018, 9:41 am 
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Joined: December 20th, 2003, 9:27 am
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Thanks for the trip report. Good information to add to my notes for when I do this trip.


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