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Travelling up the MacFarlane River?
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Author:  jwhite [ May 11th, 2015, 8:20 am ]
Post subject:  Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Hi, this is more of a curiousity, but anyone who's gone down the MacFarlane might have a sense of this or be able to answer this - but what would upstream travel be like on this river? Is it pool & drop enough to consider? Or constant flow?

Specifically looking at the idea of going upstream to around MacFarlane lake and connecting somehow to the Karrass river to get into Cree Lake. The Cree River sounds like very continuous flow so likely not a good upstream river.

Any thoughts would be welcome, thanks,


Author:  Sam82 [ May 11th, 2015, 9:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

I've considered the same sort of idea in trying to make a loop trip somehow. Unfortunately cannot help with your question. I'm looking to explore Saskatchewan paddling eventually...looks beautiful up there!

Good luck

Author:  Paddle Power [ May 11th, 2015, 12:47 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Try contacting Bear Paulson, now works for NorthStar Canoes

Author:  jmc [ May 11th, 2015, 1:02 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Good, if a little dated, trip report here, with a map sketch of rapids. ... all_93.pdf

Haven't been there myself, but my impression is that the rivers in that sandstone country tend to have more continuous current and rapids - are less pool and drop - than the shield rivers further south and on the north side of Lake Athabasca.


Author:  Paddle Power [ May 12th, 2015, 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Timing might also be critical as it's a shallow river. It may be wadable to do upstream travel.

You could ask Ric D at CRCO.

Have you looked in Laurel Archer book?
Tried the canoe sask website?
Read Dave Curran's book Canoe Trip: North to Athabasca?
Karpan's Northern Sandscapes book might have an image or two of the river.

Author:  Sam82 [ May 12th, 2015, 4:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Laurel Archer's book is excellent. It's what is encouraging me to paddle north Saskatchewan. I don't remember much info on upstream travel but one could examine the rapid description of a river and make an educated guess on upstream travel. From my research I don't think gong upstream on the Cree would be fun.

Author:  kingfisher [ May 12th, 2015, 7:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Cree River, only one extensive rapid, we ran it but there's probably a portage. Some short boulder gardens at the ends of some swifts, most of it is a good steady 3mph flow. ... 12&t=33592

Author:  jwhite [ May 12th, 2015, 8:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

Thanks for the thoughts everyone. Yes I have the Laurel Archer book - she mentions in the historical section under the MacFarlane that it had been used in the past to connect to the Karras river as well as the Clearwater. So it's been done and anything is possible. Was wondering about flow on the river, if you'd be always be fighting a current, or you might get some sections of flat. The Fond du Lac for example has tons of flat water, it would be an okay river to go up. I suspect the MacFarlane has more flow - but probably less so then the Cree. Anyway just a curiosity, seems like it could make a potential big loop, if you could connect to Cree Lake and then go down the Cree after.


Author:  Bearpaulsen [ June 2nd, 2015, 2:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Travelling up the MacFarlane River?

I flew into Bonazew Lake, went down the MacFarlane, paddled Athabasca and then up the William to Carswell Lake. That's roughly 180 miles on the MacF and a little under 50 on the William. MacF was 12 days, up the William was 10 with one layover. 5 on Athabasca. Water was high, which made the MacF fast and made for a real workout on the William.

With enough time you could certainly get up the MacF. Roughest part would be having to portage the long rapid below the second canyon, and then the canyon too.

I spent the entire trip on the William in the water, mostly to my waist, but sometimes well above (I'm 6'5") The shoreline in high water didn't allow for any lining. I found I could walk up class IIs as rated by Archer, anything called II+ necessitated a portage.
If you went in low water - August - it'd be easier, but you'd still be doing a lot of walking.

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