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PostPosted: October 19th, 2012, 3:57 pm 
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Hello there peeps

This is my first post here. After looking through numerous threads I haven't found quite what I'm looking for so I thought I'd ask. Pointing me towards a thread will do but it'd be great to hear from some first hand experience. My question is what people think about the various options for getting from Lake Winnipeg (Nelson/Rainy watershed) to the lower Churchill River for a paddle to Churchill? We'll be departing Ely, MN this spring/early summer.

Thanks much.

Mark

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2012, 4:47 pm 
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Mark;
Can you be a bit more specific as to which options you are entertaining ?
Assuming you paddle N out of BW and into Quetico/hook into the Winnipeg R. system Lake of the Woods
Do you want to paddle up Lake Winnipeg/Sask R? or get onto the Nelson and find your way onto the Lower Churchill from there?
Up the Assiniboine into L Manitoba and north onto the Saskatchewan R and work yourself onto the Churchill.
How much time do you have?
Hugh

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PostPosted: October 25th, 2012, 5:56 pm 
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Some years ago, Andy Breckenridge (who used to post here as "paddlenorth") made a trip from Minnesota to Churchill similar to what you are describing.

See the overview map of his trip here:
http://plato.mercyhurst.edu/geology/abr ... onbay.html

He crossed from the Nelson near Split Lake to the Little Churchill in Waskaiowaka Lake, went down the Little Churchill and then the Churchill. (Rappi, from this site, has also paddled the Litttle Churchill.)

I'm not sure of the details of the crossing to Waskaiowaka: I would assume up the Assean and Crying rivers as far as possible, then pond hopping through the muskeg. But Andy's contact information is accessible from that web page, and I'm sure he'd be glad to talk to you about it.

I don't really see another likely Nelson - Churchill crossing, unless you are willing to veer far west, or deal with the Churchill diversion on the Burntwood and Rat rivers.

There is a fishing lodge on Waskaiowaka, with a web site (Google it). They might have some additional information on the area.

Good luck.

-jmc


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PostPosted: October 27th, 2012, 9:51 am 
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Hey Hugh and JMC - thanks for the responses.

Hugh - we're leaving in mid-May from Ely and planning 65 days give or take. So yes, BWCA, Rainy, LotW, Winnipeg River, Lake Winnipeg. Then it's a matter of going to Norway House or The Pas. We've narrowed it down though to the west side of Winnipeg to The Pas to avoid Mtb Hydro diversion around Thompson.

It looks like a good option is taking a resupply in The Pas and then heading to Grass River PP to Reed Lake and from Reed up to Burntwood Lake via muskeg hopping and from there toward High Rock, South Indian, North Indian, Lower Churchill. So in that respect Mtb Hydro but avoiding the Thompson side of things.

Thoughts?

Thanks again.

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2012, 12:52 pm 
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Big trip! Best of luck.

Andrew Spaeth and three others went from Superior to Hudson Bay. You share much of the same route until exiting out of Lake Winnipeg.
http://blog.canoeit.com/blog/voyageur-e ... a-lifetime

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PostPosted: October 29th, 2012, 10:11 pm 
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Hi BirchLake -

Ok, so I assume you will cross "four mile portage" from Reed Lake to Morton Lake, then File Lake and File River to Burntwood Lake. Don't know anything about it myself, but Google Earth shows a trail of sorts for the portage and the File River looks navigable (at least from 6km up).

I'm curious about how you will go from the Pas to Grass River - up the Saskatchewan to Cumberland House, then the Sturgeon-Weir to Goose Creek to Cranberry Portage? Seems like a lengthy swing to the west.

A couple of thoughts -

Last summer a couple paddling across the country (google North American Odyssey) did the Cranberry Portage route to the Grass and continued downstream. They crossed to the Nelson System near Wabowden -to Sipiwesk by a road portage, although had to accept a ride to Cross Lake (I think) because the Nelson was in flood. Might be an option, Nelson to Sipiwesk, then cross over and go up the Grass to Reed - likely more attractive than the Saskatchewan.

Used to be a canoe outfitter in Thompson Manitoba - North River Outfitters? - that had a website with descriptions of the lower Churchill and the Burntwood route to/from Highrock. They are closed now, and the website gone, but I think the owner's name was Jack Cratty. Couldn't hurt to check the Thompson phone book.

Sounds like a great adventure by any route - good luck.

-jmc


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PostPosted: October 30th, 2012, 12:57 pm 
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Also see http://www.canoeing.com/advanced/featur ... whales.htm
as they canoed the ending of your route. Adam was one of the others with Andrew Spaeth who canoed from Superior to Hudson Bay.

Jack Crawley is the name jmc mentioned. From my file, info maybe dated:

Mystery/North River Outfitters info

http://netra.mysterynet.mb.ca/northriver/main.html

Jack Crawley

North River Outfitters
80 Deerwood Drive
Thompson, Manitoba
Canada
R8N 1E1
PHONE (204) 778-6979
E-mail: northriv@MTS.Net

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PostPosted: October 30th, 2012, 4:55 pm 
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Thanks for correcting my "senior moment", Brian.
Cratty is a lake in Saskatchewan.

-jmc


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PostPosted: October 31st, 2012, 2:14 pm 
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Fantastic info all. Thanks so much. I was able to contact Andy - he lives close by - and he'll be a great resource. He's gotten us thinking about changing course again. Getting to the Bloodvein from here (Ely) would be a great trip in itself and one which I never fully realized was that doable. Woodland Caribou/Atikaki are much more appealing than the Rainy/Winnipeg Rivers in terms of remoteness. Then, we'd be back on the eastern shore of Lake Winnipeg and head to Waskaiowaka. Sounds like a doable portage as long as you tell yourself it's probably the hardest portage you'll ever spend two days getting over.

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PostPosted: October 31st, 2012, 5:33 pm 
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One would assume you've consulted Eric Savaried's book as described in Wikipedia.
Quote:
Canoeing with the Cree is a 1935 book by Eric Sevareid recounting a canoe trip by Sevareid and his friend Walter Port.
During the 1930 trip, sponsored by the Minneapolis Star, Sevareid and Port canoed more than 2,250 miles from Minneapolis, Minnesota to York Factory on the Hudson Bay.
The complete route took them up the Minnesota River and its tributary, the Little Minnesota River to Browns Valley, Minnesota. Sevareid and Port portaged to Lake Traverse and descended the Bois des Sioux River to the Red River of the North, which led to Lake Winnipeg, finally paddling down the Nelson River, Gods River, and Hayes River to Hudson Bay.


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PostPosted: October 31st, 2012, 7:40 pm 
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Voyageur wrote:
One would assume you've consulted Eric Savaried's book as described in Wikipedia.
Quote:
Canoeing with the Cree is a 1935 book by Eric Sevareid recounting a canoe trip by Sevareid and his friend Walter Port.
During the 1930 trip, sponsored by the Minneapolis Star, Sevareid and Port canoed more than 2,250 miles from Minneapolis, Minnesota to York Factory on the Hudson Bay.
The complete route took them up the Minnesota River and its tributary, the Little Minnesota River to Browns Valley, Minnesota. Sevareid and Port portaged to Lake Traverse and descended the Bois des Sioux River to the Red River of the North, which led to Lake Winnipeg, finally paddling down the Nelson River, Gods River, and Hayes River to Hudson Bay.


Unfortunately somebody has built a few dams along some of those rivers since Eric did the trip! Several structures along the Red now through Winnipeg and dams at the exit of Lake Winnipeg into the Nelson. The Nelson further down (below the jump across to the Hayes) receives water from the Churchill via an artificial cut and then proceeds over a series of large dams (more on the way!) before reaching Hudson Bay. The Churchill itself was extensively flooded, creating South Indian Lake, displacing a number of native communities to generate power for the south.

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PostPosted: May 28th, 2015, 1:15 pm 
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While mapping in Google Earth, I got sidetracked to see what the route between Crying Lake and Waskaiowaka looks like - and the portage route is visible! There are now high-res images from 4/2013.

The route we took (around 2000) was up the creek to Crying Lake (camped on the island); up the creek to Crooked Lake, and then cross country to Awapawakasik. This was the terrible part - we spent all day on this bushcrash, camped in a muskeg, then finished the route the next day. We rested all the next day - on a portage trail going out of Awapawakasik. This was a little maddening - there was clearly a trail into Awapawakasik. We picked up the trail going west, and followed a rough route to Kamecheekamasik. Then we followed the little lakes west and did another bushcrash into Waskaiowaka - which was not bad. It only took 1 day from Awapawakasik to Wask (I recall camping at the fly-in resort which had already been shutdown for the season.)

There was a fellow in Split Lake that trapped the area (Flett, perhaps his first name was Randy) - an in retrospect we should have made more effort to talk with him (he wasn't around and we would need an interpreter).

Anyway, I can now see traces of the route in GE, including the trail we missed between Crooked Lake and Awapawakasik - it goes directly between Crooked and the small unnamed pond east of Awapawakasik. This makes sense because I scouted the edge of Awapawakasik for a trail coming into the lake and never saw anything.

There's also a trail between Aseepayaysik and Kamecheekamasik, which we did not take - this could be faster than following the small lakes and bushcrashing directly into Waskaiowaka.

........

This is likely an ancient route. It's an obvious place to cross the lower Nelson-Churchill divide. For modern canoers, getting out of York Factory is expensive, but Churchill is comparatively cheap. The Little Churchill-lower Churchill is also fun route and remote.

If anyone has questions I'm at UW-Superior now and live in Duluth.

-Andy Breckenridge


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PostPosted: June 1st, 2015, 1:09 pm 
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Excellent info Andy.
Glad you are still around as I haven't seen you post lately.

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