View topic - drive to Points North or fly to Stony Rapids?

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PostPosted: March 27th, 2004, 5:35 pm 
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Joined: March 27th, 2004, 5:07 pm
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Location: Texas
Thinking about Porcupine river coming summer.
I have few "getting there" questions.
What is road quality between La Ronge and Point North?
Is it reasonable to drive that road with normal sedan?
I have Nissan Maxima.
Or it is better to fly from La Ronge to Stony Rapids and take float plane there?
Can I safely park car for 3 weeks at La Ronge airport, or it is necessary to make special arrangements?
Where can I park car at Points North?


Thanks,

Maxim.


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PostPosted: March 28th, 2004, 1:24 pm 
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Joined: April 2nd, 2003, 10:56 pm
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Location: Air Ronge SK
You just plain wouldn't make it all the way to Stony Rapids in your little car. That last bit (about 120 miles) from Points North to Stony would kill you. Even in a 4wheel drive truck, it takes about 6 hours. But, you could try and drive up as far as the Points North Air Base, however, not everyone who does that in a small car enjoys it. Even in my truck, I always take two spare tires. The road's condition ranges quite a bit. Some days it is better than other days. You can make it just fine if you don't mind going slow, and putting some wear and tear on your vehicle. Stone chips in your window are a certainty. A flat tire or two quite likely.

All that said, are you taking your own canoe all the way? If not, that sort of changes your plans. Flying a floatplane with a canoe on it all the way from La Ronge, or rather Missinipe, would be quite costly. If you fly a scheduled (off the runway) flight out of La Ronge, leaving your vehicle there is no problem. As well, the folks at Point North can give you a safe place to park in their compound.

'Osprey Wings' is also now flying this year out of Points North, in addition to their floatplane base at Missinipe:
http://www.myccr.com/SectionForums/viewtopic.php?t=7771


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PostPosted: April 6th, 2004, 8:38 am 
Vern,
Since you know the area a bit I figured I would ask you this question.
We are planning a trip on the Waterfound River this mid July. My question is about the road to Waterbury Lake. I do understand it is rough, (we are used to bad roads) have you traveled this road before? If you have can you give me more information on it?

Thanks,
Jerry


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PostPosted: April 6th, 2004, 7:32 pm 
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Location: Air Ronge SK
The Waterfound is a beauty. And you've chosen a good time to travel it. I assume you'll do the Fond du Lac as well?

Anyway, very few people travel that old road into Waterbury. It's not a road really. Actually, it is a trail hacked out years ago by the power company, to get their equipment in to build, and then service the line as need be. But of course, it is not maintained, as transmission doesn't go back there very often, and uses choppers when they do.

From the nearest maintained road, (that runs past PN air base) it is about 5km or so of travel to Waterbury. We did it in about 40 minutes once, in a nice high clearance 2WD Dodge. A 4WD would be necessary if the trail was sloppy. Sometimes it takes a couple of hours, even if you don't get stuck. Lots of low spots to get stuck in, and plenty of boulders to bounce over.

Some people portage that last 5km in. I know one guy who did just that, only to be met with a gale the next day, and the next day, and by the time they sat around for days waiting out a fierce storm, they had run out of time to complete the trip and had to portage out again!!!


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PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 11:13 am 
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Maxim,

Vern is so correct. You will never get from Points North to Stony in a sedan. Plus, there are no service stations, and no gas available after PN at least 6 hours driving if the road is average. This is about a remote a road as you will ever get. There is nothing on it. It barely qualifies as a road. Have you paddled in n. Sk before? The Porcupine is a diffcult river requiring lots of northern paddling experience and very good whitewater skills. See my comments on the Clearwater post about the difference between the Porcupine and Clearwater rivers for more about the dfficulty of the river.

Jerry,

As I recall, there may be a gate to the road that leads to the trail to Waterbury Lake you are asking about. Andy Eikel from PN used to have a key. You should inquire at PN about access, just to be sure whether you can drive right in or not.


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PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 11:20 am 
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Yah, but you likely won't need the key. Just head for the substation, and travel around it's right hand side. Then keep going.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: just an echo
PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 11:31 am 
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Hey Jerry,

I'll quickly echo Vern's comments and say that there's no way in heck that you'll get a nissan maxima in on that road to Waterbury. Although apparently that's what Maxim drives not Jerry :wink: . Or, in other words 'what road'. Basically the reason for this is that the looser soil has washed down and what's been left is a literal rock garden, with large stones protruding quite high. At any rate, I wouldn't let this ditract you from doing the Waterfound/FDL. I haven't actually done it myself, I'm just a shuttle driver. But from what I hear, its a beaut.

Cheers,

robpw


Last edited by robpw on April 7th, 2004, 2:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 2:47 pm 
Thanks all for the advice, it's always best to hear from the people who have been there.

Vern, I whish I had a bit more time to do the Fond du Lac also but, alas I don't.
We want to fish a bunch too, so a shorter paddle with more fishing hits us about right!

Laurel, I picked up your book when I was at Canoecopia in March. Reading your report on the Waterfound got me thinking about doing it, again. Have wanted to do it for a while, but just never got off center, that is until I read your trip report. Thanks!

Rob, thanks for your advice too. You got me mixed up with maxim who started this string. We will be traveling in either a full size Chevy 4x4 slightly beat up at that, or a 4 wheel drive blazer. Either way we will carry the appropriate tools for the job at hand. I have much experience on the type of road that this one sound like. Grew up in NE MN and also live in N ID for a long time. Mountain roads are bony too!

Good idea about portaging the last 5km of the road. I'd appreciate any other advice I could get too.

Thanks again,
Jerry


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 Post subject: the mixup
PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 3:03 pm 
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Joined: January 27th, 2003, 7:00 pm
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yeah, sorry for the mixup, I fixed it now.

as for hearing about your vehicle all i can now say is, good. you should have fun now. catch a few walleyes for us eh!

robpw


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PostPosted: April 7th, 2004, 3:34 pm 
Nothing better than fresh pickerel in a wild place!

Last ones we ate were on a lake in Woodland Caribou, just a couple of days before we hooked up with Scott and Kathy for lake trout dinners!

J


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PostPosted: April 8th, 2004, 12:33 am 
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Joined: March 27th, 2004, 5:07 pm
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Location: Texas
Vern, Laurel, thank you for your answers.

Laurel, special thanks for your nice book. It is the most informative book I read so far about Canadian rivers. May be only "Canoeing Canada's Northwest Territories" written in the same informative manner as your book.
I read your book carefuly and it is why I asked only about road quality between La Ronge and Point North. I thought about 2 options : or to drive to Points North
and to fly from there to East Porcupine river (if I will find information about it)
or to fly from La Ronge to Stony Rapids and take float plane from there to
Selwyn lake and go on Porcupine from it headwater. Considering Vern answer I will strongly prefer to fly from La Ronge to Stony Rapids.

I never was in North Sascatchewan and it is why I am going there.
Another and may be even bigger reason -exelent book by Laurel, which gave that necessesary information to plan an actual trip.
Back at Russia I was very fortunate to travel altogether 30+ wilderness rivers mainly class 5-6, including 4 trips above Polar Circle. At Canada, so far, it was only one river -Moisie, Quebec. With nearly 100km on lakes and 450 km on river, with many excelent rapids and alot of portages it was, I will say, an adventure of Sibirian scale . But what I nightmare for me was to find information about it - just some pieces on Internet , some articles in books just with one or two sentences of valuable information in them about river itself and how to get there.

Some things which are, I am sure, obvios for you, for me are not clear.
Let say -what can i buy in Stony Rapids? Should I bring all food with me or can I buy all food easy there ? What about items not aloud on regular planes llike
gas for stove and repelent in aerosol. Can I buy them in Stony Rapids?

I am used to travel by catamaran more then by canoe. Porcupine looks like
good river for catamaran -no shallow rapids, lakes not to big.
I will go with my friends from Germany and with my 2 sons 12 and 10 years old. With catamaran I feel save to go up to class 3 rapids even with kids.
Especially in drop-pool kind of river.
Stronger rapids and falls I plan to portage. In case of very big water, let say such as was described on web by Bill Layman (sorry if I spell name not correct) can I take round route through McIntyre river rather then lowest part of Porcupine, as it mentioned in Laurel's book? Or Jervois Creek even in very high water not navigatable for catamaran? (Catamaran seating just 2-5cm in water, but ~1.8-2m wide). If it is possible, could you give me the chain of lakes throught wich it goes?
I plan 20 days for 185km from Porcupine to Black Lake comunity and it should give us possibility to not to hurry at any place along the route.
Lakes through wich Porcupine river is going should give, in case of real emergency,
possibility for float plane evacuation. For such purpose I want to take satelite phone with me (never did that before).

If you can answer any of my questions or have useful comments, I will apreciate to see them here.

Thanks,
Maxim.


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PostPosted: May 2nd, 2004, 6:09 pm 
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Hi Maxim,

Sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but I was on my first trip of the season sea kayak guiding ten days on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Nice to be back in a boat again. Anyway, in answer to your questions:

Yes, you can buy whatever you need - repellent, white gas, and food in Stony Rapids, but it will be expensive and there is limited fresh produce available.

You could drive to Points North in a sedan, but you wouldn't make it to Stony Rapids. The road to PN isn't so bad, but farther north it is terrible. So, if you want to run the East Porcupine flying from there, you would be fine -- just take extra spare tires and don't get a new paint job.....I've never paddled the East Porcupine, but you can. I know two parties that have done it in canoes. If you are rafting the Main Porcupine, you will be fine, even in high water. Don't let Bill Layman's experience scare you off. You would probably portage the same amount regardless with a raft in high or normal water levels. Lower water would be to your disadvantage. The first couple rapids are bony, and some of the other rock gardens might hold you up. I think you are right that the Porcupine is a good choice for a catamaran raft trip.

20 days is tons of time, even if you portaged everything! I do not reccommend Jervois Creek from what I've seen of it. Way too shallow and narrow, I think. I don't know the names of the lakes for the old canoe routes in the area with enough accuracy to give you advice on them. The lake routes would involve huge amounts of portaging, anyways. I would take the river, expecially given your experience and the amount of time you have.

Thank you for your kind words about the guidebook, and I would love to hear what you think of the trip notes once you've done the river. Any suggestions about how to make it better and more accurate most gratefully accepted and acknowledged.

Cheers, Laurel


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