View topic - Waterfound River

It is currently October 24th, 2018, 12:58 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Waterfound River
PostPosted: August 27th, 2007, 10:39 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 3rd, 2003, 11:15 am
Posts: 904
Location: on the edge of the big blue
FARTHEST NORTH 58°45’

It was Friday evening about 8:00 o’clock SASKATCHEWAN time and we were negotiating the last part of a 400 km gravel road that terminates at Points North Landing, a transportation hub for mineral exploration in Uranium country.
It was also silflay time for the local cottontail population, socializing at the shoulders, we stopped counting at sixty.
That night we were the sole occupants of an abandoned provincial park on Wollaston Lake, home of the world record lake Trout.
An early start the next morning on our way to the dock at Osprey wings air service, resulted in a wrong turn and an abrupt stop at the locked gate of the Rabbit Lake Uranium Mine. After a terse discussion with my navigator we turned our backs on this monument to Man’s Complicity in His Own Destruction and continued on to Points North.

Image

It is not a community. There’s no store, no public services, one gas pump, one runway, and one float plane service. People here are on a variety of work schedules trading a good pay cheque for a number of continuous working days IN for a smaller number of continuous days OUT. Most of the commuting is by air.
When we checked in at the office we were told there was a problem with the Beaver and it might be some time before we could leave for the Waterbury Lake put in. We unloaded our gear at the dock and while selecting a red Royalex Prospector from Churchill River Outfitter’s stock of two boats we were told we would be going in with the Twin Otter!
In this beast you sit in a single seat next to your boat filled with your gear. It is all carry-on baggage. We had a crew of two with the newbie in the left hand seat being closely watched by the veteran on the right..
The landing approach at the end of the thirty minute flight gave us a view of the rapids of the Waterfound River as it leaves the northwest end of Waterbury Lake. We were dumped from the rear of the float onto a cobblestone beach in front of two ancient cabins where someone had stuck a Hilton Hotel access card in the door jamb.
We quickly packed the canoe and did the traditional wet feet pushoff thinking we were leaving civilization behind…but around the corner we meet two boats, each with a guide and two fisherman and have this disjointed conversation:

Where are you guys going?

To Waterfound Bay.

?? I’ll have to look at your maps…

We don’t have any maaaps…. as we drop down the first rapid.


Image

If you’re used to paddling shield country, this is a different landscape, dominated by steep sloped lichen covered eskers with the occaisional sandstone outcrop and parklike jackpine benches 1 to 3 meters above the waterline. The best campsites are called beach and bench. You’re in tent and tarp heaven.
Image

Image

We were on a tight schedule and always looming in the background was the 7:00 am pickup time at Waterfound Bay where the Waterfound River joins the Fond du Lac River on it’s way north to Lake Athabasca.
Because we were anxious about making this deadline we didn’t unpack the fishing gear until day two, so we stopped at the first rapid that offered a fishable shoreline. My partner meanwhile (that Harpy) had been berating me and the Gods about the absence of onion and potato for the pending fish dinner. With bow rope in hand and searching for a secure tie point, she suddenly bends over and with a sly smile holds up a large Spanish onion!
A few more steps amidst the river boulders she discovers a minimally gnawed baking potato! Within ten minutes we have two 1 ½ lb grayling to complete the repast.
Image

Image

We had four days of fine to good weather with a couple of 2 to 3km point to point crossings on the lakes in intermittent whitecaps. On the fifth morning we woke to light rain turning the water’s surface into bubbling diamonds, a drop in temperature, a headwind and 20km to go to the pickup point. We had breakfast al fresco under the tarp and quickly packed up our wet camp and headed down river.
I’m going to blame early onset Alzheimer’s I packed my fleece jacket rather than wear it under my rainsuit and went barefoot in my techamphibians. By late morning I’m starting to shiver, even with the wool toque and gloves, and I’m thinking why is my partner warm and happy, maybe I’m not working hard enough. An hour later with the continuing wind and rain, I know I’m in trouble and we eddy out near a tight group of spruce trees. We do a small A-frame tarp setup, crawl under and get the stove going with hot chocolate and Knorr soup (with real cream added). After a quick change including the fleece jacket and wool socks I’m back to my normal body temperature. If you do get into trouble none of the outfitter’s cabins are locked and with a grateful attitude they can be a safe dry haven.
We were picked up on the beach by the back-in-service Beaver and given a 15 minute informative lesson on tying on a canoe. The return flight was 40 minutes under a low ceiling of about 800 feet. When we were taxiing up to the dock I notice my partner sorting through the contents of our small waterproof bag.” Hon, here’s your car keys and your wallet with your drivers license, your health card and your mastercard…we’re back to the mundane.”


THE HIGHLIGHTS

A close encounter with a pack of five large, healthy wolves on the drive in. They seemed to have a problem with who should lead the exit from the roadway, you first…no you go…oh alright.

The potato, onion thing, a close encounter of a different kind.

Rounding a corner in fast water/rapids and coming face to face with a five foot tall unconcerned mature Golden Eagle giving you that “you’ve disturbed my fishing glare.”
This happened twice!

My partner who enjoys breaking the rules, landing a 3lb whitefish on a red and white spoon at the legendary walleye hole below Durant Lake.

Have your camera ready for the curious mink patrolling the shoreline and the huffing and snorting otters singly or in family groups.


THE NOT-SO-MUNDANE LOGISTICS

105km of evenly divided lake and river travel with
15 R1 rapids
9-10 R2 rapids
And 1 R3 rapid
Some of the R1’s combine for exciting runs of 500 to 1400m with one 4km stretch
We ran all the R2’s and I portaged that 80lb Royalex as far as I could around the R3 (Ledge-o-matic) and ran the three sets below solo with the heavy pack and food barrel up front to make for an easy carry.
Image
Image

There's not a plethora of good campsites and if you're not careful you can end up on the beachfront with water two feet from your front door
(It was a long day and a quiet night).
Image


Points North Landing is 800km+ from Saskatoon

Flyin costs
$600 from Points North to the northwest end of Waterbury Lake
(You can drive to the south end of the lake via the Cigar Lake Mine Road but good luck finding someone willing to do the shuttle)
$700 from the west end of Waterfound Bay to Points North

Canoe Rental
$215 the weekly rate from Churchill River Outfitters

The reference for this route was taken from Laurel Archer’s Guide to Fifteen Wilderness Rivers: ‘Northern Saskatchewan Canoe Trips’ Boston Mills Press

Have your camera ready at all times.
Image

Image

return to the mundane
Image

_________________
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass...


Last edited by kingfisher on August 28th, 2007, 12:53 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: August 27th, 2007, 11:12 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 16th, 2004, 2:17 pm
Posts: 496
Location: Pelican Rapids, MN
Kingfisher,

Very, very nice! Thanks for the report. It's the kind of trip we all dream about.

:clap: :clap: :clap: :clap:

pake

_________________
"...I've heard the Pipes of Pan"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: August 27th, 2007, 12:25 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 9th, 2005, 2:27 pm
Posts: 1634
Location: Saskatoon
Thanks very much for the report Kingfisher. A trip that's on my short list (was supposed to happen this year but my short list appears to be very fluid).
Cheers,
Bryan

_________________
Bryan's website - http://pawistik.net
ColdspringPaddling.com
Image


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: August 29th, 2007, 7:10 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: November 25th, 2003, 10:50 am
Posts: 670
Location: Whitney, Ontario
I really enjoyed your report and pictures. Enjoyed also the tucked in quirky humour. I have been Ontario-centric in all of my canoeing adventures so this was really interesting and educational. It also made me realize how small my world has been and how short life is....

The potatoe and onion thing? No other evidence of people around? Just dropped by the goddesses in your time of desire? wow...truly wow!

Also, what is a "silflay"?

thanks for taking the time to share!

_________________
Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit. -- Edward Abbey

http://www.algonquintreks.ca/
http://photosbytessfully.blogspot.ca


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: August 29th, 2007, 7:56 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 3rd, 2003, 11:15 am
Posts: 904
Location: on the edge of the big blue
Tess,

For an introduction to silflay you have to have read Watership Down a novel about the life of rabbits by Richard Adams.
It denotes their communal evening dining hour.

I think everyone should give Saskatchewan a try.
Get a copy of Laurel Archer's book and you'll be hooked.

For closer routes give this one a read.
Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway
by Greg Marchildon and Sid Robinson

_________________
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 3rd, 2007, 9:23 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 28th, 2006, 3:11 pm
Posts: 1340
kingfisher wrote:
Tess,

For an introduction to silflay you have to have read Watership Down a novel about the life of rabbits by Richard Adams.
It denotes their communal evening dining hour.

I think everyone should give Saskatchewan a try.
Get a copy of Laurel Archer's book and you'll be hooked.

For closer routes give this one a read.
Canoeing the Churchill: A Practical Guide to the Historic Voyageur Highway
by Greg Marchildon and Sid Robinson


Wow! Sorry I missed this Kingfisher - what a wonderful trip report - you are a gifted writer !

Watership Down - I loved that book....read it maybe 10 years ago. But for some reason I thought it was about badgers...am I demonstrating early dementia? Will have to check to see if I still have the book since you have now set my brain in turmoil.

So glad you wrote up your trip - its a wonderful adventure. thanks for sharing.
Di

_________________
http://savetheogokiforest.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 4th, 2007, 7:56 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 3rd, 2003, 11:15 am
Posts: 904
Location: on the edge of the big blue
I try and writes what I thinks I knows about.

_________________
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 4th, 2007, 9:46 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: April 20th, 2004, 10:09 am
Posts: 650
Location: Solway, MN
Craig,

Did that trip a few years ago, and I have some of the same esker pictures as you do!

Fabulous trip, and highly recommend it!

J


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 4th, 2007, 3:02 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: May 21st, 2003, 7:50 am
Posts: 2400
Location: Mapping Wabakimi PP!
Nice trip and thanks for the photos.

Did you meet Ric at the Churchill Outfitters shop?

Barry

_________________
It's all about forward progression!


"Preservation of our waterways comes from those with little voices, big paddles, strong backs, weak minds and thick hides with which to ignore the bug bites." Organizer of "The Wabakimi Project"


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 4th, 2007, 5:14 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: July 3rd, 2003, 11:15 am
Posts: 904
Location: on the edge of the big blue
Boneli wrote:
Did you meet Ric at the Churchill Outfitters shop?


We met Ric on the way out, he had just finished an exploratory trip on the White Moose River and had encountered some low water. He said the river was 5 feet wide and 1 foot deep for much of it's length.
He seemed to be surrounded with beautiful women, I wasn't sure which one was his significant other.

Did you ever ask him what he does in the winter?

_________________
Time's but a golden wind that shakes the grass...


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: September 17th, 2007, 5:29 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: October 16th, 2004, 11:11 am
Posts: 692
Location: Wakefield, Quebec
:D
He got the Hat!
http://www.canoeing.com/rendezvous/trip ... norell.htm

_________________
We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.
Goethe


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: September 17th, 2007, 6:22 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: December 28th, 2006, 3:11 pm
Posts: 1340
Way to go Craig! Well written and entertaining...what a great piece. Good for you!

I really like that canoeing.com site...been checking it twice :wink:

_________________
http://savetheogokiforest.blogspot.com/


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: October 2nd, 2007, 1:48 pm 
Offline

Joined: August 28th, 2007, 9:59 am
Posts: 12
:clap:

I enjoyed this!
Looks like a great next year option.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Waterfound River
PostPosted: April 24th, 2011, 7:18 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: June 22nd, 2004, 4:45 pm
Posts: 1215
Location: Canmore AB
Craig;
great writeup! :thumbup: :thumbup:

Hugh

_________________
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
M.T.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 14 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
cron
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group