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PostPosted: Yesterday, 9:24 pm 
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Portage Clearing 2020

Every fall for a number of years, a group of paddlers from Alberta has been coming up to the Missinipe-McLennan Lake area to clear portages, campsites and to establish portages and campsites. This is our report for 2020.

We consulted with Ric at CRCO about areas that needed attention. Ric asked us to look at Little Devil Portage, Great Devil Portage, the portage around Clark Falls between Hayman Lake and Bellows Lake, the campsite on Champagne Island in Bellows Lake and the portage between Bellows Lake and Weaver Lake.

Little Devil Portage (~740 m) was very muddy and quite rough. We cleared all the trees that were across the trail and we were able to re-route the trail around some of the worst mud holes. It is far from perfect but it has been improved. See note below.

Great Devil Portage (~ 1100 m) was also very muddy in places but much of the trail was in good condition. We were able to re-route the trail around some of the worst mud holes but we did not address all of the mud holes.

Portage around Clark Falls between Hayman Lake and Bellows Lake (~100 m). We removed some large poplars that had fallen across the trail. There is one wet area but generally the trail is in good condition.

Champagne Island campsite had a lot of downed trees and leaning trees. We removed many of the downed trees and any leaning trees that we thought were a danger to campers. There is room for a number of tents.

Portage between Bellows Lake and Weaver Lake (~400 m). The map wrongly places the portage as being in the burned area. It is east of the burn, just inside the unburned area. We removed a number of downed trees as well as removing two tangles of deadfall around which people had made temporary trails. Once we removed the two tangles of deadfall, the trail was much straighter and easier to negotiate, especially with a canoe.

Note about Little Devil Portage options
At Champagne Island we met Steve, a solo paddler, who said that he does not use most of Little Devil Portage. When coming upstream from Devil Lake, he stays to the river right side (left side as he is coming upstream) and portages across the narrow peninsula to avoid the last set of marked rapids which are part of Little Devil Rapids. He then ferries across the river to the start of the branch portage trail that joins with the main Little Devil Portage trail after about 200 m (I’m not sure about the exact length of this branch trail).
On our way back from Champagne Island, we camped on the island between Great Devil Rapids and Little Devil Rapids and explored Little Devil Portage. As we went down the trail we found a trail that branched off to the right and ended at the river below the second marked set of rapids. We cleared this trail down to the river so it is easy to use. The next day we portaged our gear down Little Devil Portage to the branch trail and then down the branch trail to the river. We ran the last part of Little Devil Rapid then eddied out to explore the portage across the peninsula. We found that the first part of the trail was fine but the upstream end of the trail had a small stream flowing down it. We cut a trail to the side of this small stream up to the open water above. I would recommend that upstream travelers go up the river right side of the bottom part of Little Devil Rapids, portage over the peninsula, ferry across to the bottom of the branch portage trail and then portage to just above Little Devil Rapids. Coming downstream it is possible to avoid the more difficult parts of Little Devil Rapids by using the branch portage trail and then running the rest of the rapid or by ferrying across to the upstream side of the peninsula then portaging to below the last part of the rapid. By doing these things, travelers will avoid the lower part of Little Devil Portage which has the most mud holes and difficult places.


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