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 Post subject: Reindeer Lake Paddling
PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 2:27 pm 
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Hi folks,

I would like to connect with anyone who has paddled portions of Reindeer Lake in Northern Saskatchewan & Manitoba. Or, I would be interested in reading any published reports. There is some information referenced in past discussions here at MyCCR but I'm sure that there are other people and/or reports out there.

I know a couple of folks here have started some northern expeditions from this lake.

Here's a picture of Southend (at the south end of Reindeer Lake, of course) when I was there for work in the spring of 2015. I'm hoping to go back in 2017 to paddle. The community can be seen in the left side of the picture.
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File comment: Picture taken from just north of Southend while in search of spawning Pike in the name of science.
DSC_0440_smaller.jpg
DSC_0440_smaller.jpg [ 129.59 KiB | Viewed 3628 times ]


Thanks in advance,
Bryan

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Last edited by pawistik on October 25th, 2016, 6:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 3:22 pm 
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I've been wondering about both Reindeer and Wollaston Lakes as destinations for lengthy, 2-weeks or more, portage-free kayak trips. Morse, Downes, and countless others make mention of these lakes, but they always seem to be just trying to put the big lakes behind them on their way to somewhere else. I followed Alan's recent trip out of Wollaston with intense interest and would like to learn more from paddlers who have made the huge lakes a destination rather than a gateway to somewhere else. Bryan, I'm not able to access your picture attachment.


Last edited by martin2007 on October 25th, 2016, 3:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 3:23 pm 
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I have looked into this lake quite extensively, though I've not paddled it. I have a bucket list trip in my future, which includes the Churchill R, Reindeer Lake, and the Wapiskau R. - essentially a loop beginning with a shuttle from Missinipe. In reality you could spend weeks exploring the nooks and crannies of Reindeer Lake.

There's not a lot of literature on Reindeer L. A few short anecdotes. Some references by P.G. Downes, as well as David Thompson. A few modern-day trippers mention the lake in passing, but unfortunately there is little detail out there.

I like the idea of heading up to Reindeer and just cruising for weeks on end. I chatted with Ric from Churchill River Canoe Outfitters a few years back. He said there's a group from B.C. that head into Reindeer Lake regularly for a big kayaking trip.

You'll just have to give it a go and publish a killer trip report!

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Last edited by canoeguitar on October 25th, 2016, 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 3:24 pm 
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Your picture isn't showing up for me.

Never paddled the lake myself. PG Downes wrote quite a bit about paddling the lake and the surrounding area. Talks about it some in his book Sleeping Island and much more extensively in his published journals, volumes I and II of Distant Summers. In the journals is a lot more talk about the communities, the people who live there, and their memories of the past. This took place in the late 1930's/early 40's.

Distant Summers is out of print but is well worth finding either used or NOS copies. I was able to find both volumes I and II at Abebooks.com at a good price.

Alan


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 3:34 pm 
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Hi Alan! I've been reading "Sleeping Island" the past few days. Some recent serendipitous events have also piqued my interest in Reindeer and Wollaston. I re-connected a few weeks ago with a long-lost friend, a fellow Waterbury Lake fishing guide from decades ago who's a band councillor in Wollaston Lake (Hatchet Lake Denesuline).


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 6:12 pm 
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Thanks for the comments so far. Yeah, I've seen a few mentions of Reindeer, but it seems more like it's just the starting off point for the real adventure for those heading elsewhere. I'll talk to Ric and see if he can put me in touch with the folks that kayak there since that's what I have in mind to do.

Thanks for letting me know that the picture wasn't showing up properly. Hopefully that's fixed now and I've added another below for good measure.

In June of 2015 while I was still at the Toxicology Centre at the UofS we were doing fish studies and needed pike eggs & sperm. We killed off the eggs we had collected earlier from Lake Diefenbaker so we attempted to chase the spawn north. The spawn was really early though so we missed it there, but it did mean that I got a teaser taste of Reindeer Lake. :)


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File comment: From just south of Southend, looking south toward the southend of Reindeer Lake. :)
DSC06210.JPG
DSC06210.JPG [ 172.24 KiB | Viewed 3632 times ]

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 6:13 pm 
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I've had the P.G. Downes books/journals on my list for a while. Time to move it from the list to the nightstand!

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 10:30 pm 
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After suffering a bit of sticker shock at the price on Amazon.ca, I requested the Distant Summers book from my local library. The price was better at AbeBooks.com, but not quite as good as the library. :)

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 10:55 pm 
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pawistik wrote:
The price was better at AbeBooks.com, but not quite as good as the library. :)


Yeah, lot of good that will do you on a cold day next January when you want to pull it off the shelf and re-read a section or two. ;)

Alan


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PostPosted: October 25th, 2016, 11:27 pm 
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True, but this means I get the short-term satisfaction of reading the book, plus the long term satisfaction of finding it in a used bookstore somewhere. Getting the book from the library and buying a copy are not mutually exclusive. I do have a decent (but not quite large enough) paddling library - I'm currently enjoying Jon Turk's In the Wake of the Jomon. :)
Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: October 26th, 2016, 10:54 am 
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We've paddled Reindeer (started at Pelican Narrows, so we paddled the lake from Southend to the Cochrane River).

I recall seeing a few people down near Southend (I remember being gifted a duck that some locals had just shot). We never saw any other boats - the weather was poor when we got near Brochet and didn't go into town).

I'm not keen on paddling big lakes because the scenery changes so slowly, and it's easy to get windbound - but Reindeer Lake was easy to camp on. There's nothing special about Reindeer in my opinion, it looks similar to a smaller lake. You need to get in a certain mindset that accepts the monotony when paddling a large lake .

Superior is more interesting. I'd also paddle Athabasca to see the sand dunes. I'm curious about Great Slave - and wonder how it compares to Superior - but I'd guess Superior is more interesting just because the geology is more varied. (Between the Apostles, Isle Royale, Pukaskwa, Lk Superior PP, and the Slates - Superior has some very cool places to paddle)


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PostPosted: October 26th, 2016, 11:47 am 
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Quote:
I'm not keen on paddling big lakes because the scenery changes so slowly, and it's easy to get windbound


From my limited experience paddling across Wollaston Lake a couple times this summer I'd agree with this. You start in the morning looking at an empty horizon and paddle towards it all day. The "fun" comes from choosing a safe and efficient route as you hop from island to island trying your best to avoid the wind and waves.

But since it sounds like you'd rather spend all your time on the big lake, maybe without the requirement to actually cover large amounts of water, perhaps that wouldn't be an issue for you. There is certainly plenty to explore in all the coves, bays, and islands. A couple times on Wollaston I came across old trappers shacks. Well, not quite. The shacks were long gone with nothing more than a rectangular depression in the ground with trees growing up. But it was obvious there was a shelter there at one time and the ground was littered with old tin cans, iodine bottles, broken scissors, ceramic coated basins and pieces of old wood stoves. If the stuff was 10 years old it would be an eyesore but since it's more like 70-100 years old it's fun to poke around a bit and imagine what it was like to spend the winter there.

Alan


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PostPosted: December 1st, 2016, 10:46 am 
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Thanks for the book recommendation! Although it has taken several weeks to get to me via interlibrary loan, I am now thoroughly enjoying reading Downes' Distant Summers book. I marvel at the number of miles that they have paddled in a day. I'm pretty sure that I'm not up to putting in so many hours per day. I am at the point in the journal where they have just left Southend on Reindeer Lake. Although I've been working long hours this week and am dead tired at night, I have found it easy to read a couple dozen pages then have to force myself to put down the book and knock off for sleep. I've also added the book to my Christmas list, so maybe it'll appear under the tree in a few weeks.

As for the big lake scenery, I guess we'll see. I have done coastal paddling where every bay and island brings some new bit of scenery. That is what I am hoping for, without having to drive 20 hours to get there. I know it's not the ocean, but it is in my back yard, so to speak. This trip would bring some challenges related to large expanses of open water and that is part of the appeal, but so is the myriad of nooks and crannies to check out.

Cheers,
Bryan

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PostPosted: December 1st, 2016, 6:30 pm 
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Years ago I read PG Downes' Sleeping Island and it remains one of my favourites.

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PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 11:31 pm 
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Indeed true, Reindeer Lake is a convenient portal to the north. Lots of islands with sandy beaches, enough drift wood for a fire and trees for protection while you listen to the winds howl at night. I would think a walk through Brochet where Downes spent a lot of time would be rewarding. Maybe some old folks might share a memory of back when. Or even memories of memories.


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