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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 3:32 pm 
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Hi, I've read through some past Steel River threads and gotten a pretty good sense of the route, I did however have a few questions specific to our planned trip for 2. Basically my friend and I are car-less Toronto folk, and cheapstakes, I own a pakcanoe. The plan is to Greyhound it to Terrace Bay, hopefully pay for a shuttle drop off to Santoy Lake but we wanted to avoid a shuttle pickup on return (largely for freedom & flexibility of not setting an out time), and canoe to the highway and hitchhike back into town.

1). How is the river mid-June, water temp, would the difficulty of rapids be easier or harder with the water levels at that time? Yeah any thoughts specific to our timeframe would appreciated (Jun 17-26-ish). Blackflies probably bad I would think.

2). And the only other question mark is related to a portion of the river that most people would never do as part of the usual loop. Has anyone done the steel river south of Santoy Lake to highway 17? Anything worth noting, falls/rapids? And do you think it'd be possible to physically get from the river to the highway? Not sure what the bridge going over the steel looks like, I guess it depends on terrain & height of bridge, which I'm sure of. Wanted to know if this idea would be realistic?

Anyway if anyone has any thoughts, I'd love to hear from you. Thanks,

jason


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 4:13 pm 
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Hi jwhite....

jwhite wrote:
How is the river mid-June, water temp, would the difficulty of rapids be easier or harder with the water levels at that time?
Mid-June is no problem with the water levels if they are fairly typical. I ran the river the last week of June a few years back...no problems.

jwhite wrote:
Blackflies probably bad I would think.
That's just part of the gig.

jwhite wrote:
Has anyone done the steel river south of Santoy Lake to highway 17? Anything worth noting, falls/rapids? And do you think it'd be possible to physically get from the river to the highway? Not sure what the bridge going over the steel looks like, I guess it depends on terrain & height of bridge, which I'm sure of. Wanted to know if this idea would be realistic?
Although I didn't take the route, I know some take the Steel all the way to Superior - so there should be information that details that portion (maybe Kevin Callan's book? Ontario's Lost Canoe Routes). Otherwise, I'd call Tom Falzetta from Slate Island Shuttles. He knows the area well and is one of the folks that shuttles canoes for paddlers on the Steel. His number is 800-825-9333. He has reasonable rates and is reliable. I'm sure he could provide information on bridge access.

Also, there was an article in Canoe & Kayak 2 yrs ago highlighting a Steel River trip by Jacobson and McGuffin. That may have some additional resource information.

Good luck.

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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 4:36 pm 
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I live not far from the Steel, and fish it quite frequently. The river below Santoy is steep, narrow, and rocky. The thick bush makes scouting rapids difficult. June water levels may be too low to run some of the drops along this section in a loaded canoe, but wading may be an option. Just be aware there are no portages below Santoy except around the falls at the beginning of this section. We did this section with 2 loaded canoes in May. It took us 2 days to negotiate this section due to the challenging conditions and extremely high water.

Terrace Bay is about 30km from the river. A long walk if you can't hitch a ride.

Gord


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 4:55 pm 
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Gord..is there actually a path from the bridge down to the river? I seem to recall it was pretty steep there.

PK ran the river two summers ago in a pak canoe. Rapids on the Steel are quite straightforward, only thing to worry about will be sweepers/strainers, and there might be a lot of these this year. Didn't run the river last year, but the water was extremely high at the beginning of summer, so hard to say what has happened...might have flushed some things out or left some new obstacles. Below Dead horse Creek bridge will no doubt be interesting. I cleared all the ports two summers ago, but I'm willing to bet some of those log jams have moved quite a bit, and some of the ports have probably disappeared. Don't be surprised if you a see a port sign, but no logjam, or vice versa. Sometimes they build up river, sometimes they move down.


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 7:59 pm 
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Rob,

At Hwt 17 there is a very steep trail down to the river. One can actually eddy out under the highway bridge and haul gear up to the small parking area next to the bridge.

Gord


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 10:37 pm 
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Jason,

PK here. Laura and I ran the Steel in late July 2007. We were damn fortunate on two accounts. First that we had a super wet early July which made for high water. Second, Rob was nice enough to clear the ports about 3 weeks before.

We did the entire loop from the landing at Santoy Lake in 1 Pakcanoe 165. It worked out great, I took the boat apart and carried it in a port pack for Diablo, rather than drag it. I don't think many canoes get ported over Diablo the conventional way. I ported everything else with a yoke. We ran all the rapids except for the falls with no problems. The boat came out with absolutely zero damage. Infact, we took the same boat down 360 clicks on the Missinaibi this summer with essentially zero damage as well. So you should have no problems with the Pakcanoe.

I'm not sure I can help you much with your logistics. We stayed at the Coach House Hotel less than 5 km west of the Steel River Bridge. I think I recall seeing a bus stop around there. Might be worth your trouble to chat with the driver and see if you can't get off there. I'll bet for a modest fee, Patti or Dennis probably would help you with a shuttle to the dock. You might be able to get them to help you get back too if you could get ahold of them. http://www.coachhousemotel.net/CHM_throughtheseasons.html We stayed there on both ends of the trip. They are really nice and well worth talking to about your needs.

Oh, if you ask Rob, real nice, he'll probably send you his maps of the river, or I can email you copies of the map Rob sent me in 2007 that I scanned into PDFs. We had Rob's Maps, the old MNR Canoe Brochure (I have a PDF of that as well), Kevin's trip report, and atleast 3 other Trip Reports from off the web. Rob's maps were by far the best, but it was fun to compare.

PK


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PostPosted: January 22nd, 2009, 11:04 pm 
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So PK, how did you like "the hill"...?

I actually thought the bizarre rock shards on the top of the hill were worse than the hill itself...can you believe it, we finally got to the top and the frackin' island camp sight was taken :cry:

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 7:29 am 
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For the river portion below Santoy see Cliff Jacobson's account (he did this some years ago). It is not in the link below but he mentions about the difficulties he encountered while doing this section years before

http://www.canoekayak.com/whitewater/ca ... nthesteel/

Here is also PK's account of his trip:

http://www.canoeing.com/rendezvous/trip ... knoerr.htm

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 8:44 am 
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Strathcona wrote:
So PK, how did you like "the hill"...?

I actually thought the bizarre rock shards on the top of the hill were worse than the hill itself...can you believe it, we finally got to the top and the frackin' island camp sight was taken :cry:


Diablo is a tough haul. But the "Devil's Den" as you mentioned after climbing, sweating, swatting is virtually as bad at the climc. It could be real easy to twist an ankle and essentially end your trip before you begin it. :doh: That island campsite was a nice place to savor a cold Boddington's. :lol:

Thanks for posting that trip report on canoeing.com. I'd forgotten about that... got a nifty red cap for posting it. CCR's trip reports were all bungled up.... probably should send it to Allan for CCR's trip database.

PK


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 10:54 am 
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pknoerr wrote:
That island campsite was a nice place to savor a cold Boddington's. :lol:
Well, there is a consolation prize. A couple clicks past the island we found a trapper's cabin in the bush. Got us a flat spot to pitch our tents and some furniture to sit on.

Image

It always seems to work out in the end.

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 11:10 am 
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Yeah, I have a picture there too. That's a nice scenic spot.
Image

But Jason, this is what you go up there to see. Damn, near ran into this big boy a few bends further along as he came charging back across the river with neither of us expecting to meet again.
Image


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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 11:20 am 
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Is that the cabin on the narrows on Diablo Lake? I came up on a big moose that was grazing there a couple summers ago. Where the lake splits he was grazing around the point and we surprised each other. I watched him for a few minutes then got a great shot of his hind end as he wandered off.

Quote:
We did this section with 2 loaded canoes in May. It took us 2 days to negotiate this section due to the challenging conditions and extremely high water.


You could pack up your pak canoe and walk out to the highway in a few hours from the Santoy launch. Chances are you'd catch a ride and it would be even faster.

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 11:21 am 
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That black furry thing in the center of the photo I posted is my friend's lab-mix Murphy. Well, he was swimming in the lake right outside the cabin...and suddenly we heard a vicious snarl/cry and a giant black mink(?) went flying into water after Murphy. We were yelling to Murphy "Get out of the water" like there was a shark or something...Well it brushed by the dog and charged up bank right under our tents. We looked around for it to no avail... crazy.

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 11:24 am 
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GWA wrote:
Is that the cabin on the narrows on Diablo Lake?
I'd have to check my maps to be certain. But I recall its on the west bank just south of the narrows.

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PostPosted: January 23rd, 2009, 12:29 pm 
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GWA wrote:
Is that the cabin on the narrows on Diablo Lake?


GWA, Yep as I recall it was in the narrows, on the southwest side of the lake before it divides. We paddled that far northeast arm of Diablo just for shits and giggles. We found one place where there was an amazing amount of dark hair floating on the surface. I assumed it was moose hair just due to the amazing amount of hair. I tried to look for footprints in the bottom, but never saw one there. That whole north end of Diablo looks like it would have alot of moose. I could have spent a couple days just paddling around that lake, and the bottom end of Cairngorm.

PK


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