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 Post subject: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 12:39 pm 
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Joined: March 28th, 2015, 12:30 pm
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Unfortunately I had to turn around on my Hayes River trip as I was moving too slow to make it before the site closed for the season :( Now I'm looking for last minute trip ideas and the Bay is still calling me. I have a kayak pretty much packed and ready to go, I just need new maps and a LOT more info about the route. Has anyone done Leaf Rapids to Churchill? Can you provide details of the route, Rapids, etc? I would like to head out next week if I can get maps in time (is it possible to show up somewhere and buy them in person or do I have to order online?)

Also, for the kayakers out there: I still don't have an efficient system for portaging yet, do you have any tricks to share?


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 2:39 pm 
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Joined: June 20th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Toronto, Ontario Canada
How much time do you have?

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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 4:38 pm 
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I'm interested in the same. Want to canoe it though. In the midst of preparations for a full length Churchill river trip but was thinking of breaking it up into two segments. Leaf Rapids to Churchill is certainly not the section with the most information on it. Let me know what you find.


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 5:02 pm 
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I haven't paddled the Churchill downstream of South Indian Lake, my guess is that there isn't much information because it's really just one long lake and not very interesting.

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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 5:26 pm 
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I pretty much have unlimited time, so anything is open, but I was thinking of a 2-3 week trip. I don't mind if its basically one long lake, Im just trying to get a heads up on any rapids and such. Basically I have a sea kayak and want to have some fun in the bay once I get there, but dont want to take the easy road (the train).


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 6:52 pm 
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Joined: March 28th, 2015, 12:30 pm
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Can anyone confirm the maps I require for this trip? I have the following list:

064C, 064C08
064B, 064B12, 064B14, 064B15
064G, 064G01, 064G08
064H, 064H05, 064H06, 064H02, 064H01
054E, 054E05, 054E11, 054E12, 054E14, 054E15
054L, 054L01, 054L02, 054L09, 054L08 (E) and/ or (W)?

Any chance I can get away with 1:250,000 for some of the trip? (Im thinking the last bit to Churchill).


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 7:36 pm 
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OK so please understand my actual information on the Lower Churchill is not first hand.

Since the South Indian Lake diversion in the 70's much of the water for the Churchill now goes to the Nelson. In the 90's a weir was built a bit upstream from the mouth to raise the water levels which were badly affected by the division. My impression is that the weir just caused a different set of issues.

So I offer an alternative which is the Seal River via South Indian Lake, it involves only 2 to 3 pretty easy portages and a short stretch of an upstream creek drag. there is a bit of upstream paddling but I think would be able to dbl blade upstream 98% of it without issue (a few very small logjams and one 100m C1 rapid). Once you are over the height of land there are ZERO portages for 100's of km's. Only at the very end might you find a short bit of rapids that might not be quite so great in a sea kayak. everything prior to that is runnable I would say. In the end you can get to experience Hudson Bay down to Churchill (maybe 2 longish days), it's not recommended for open boats but a sea kayak would be perfect. Some who have paddled it have done it marathon style so as to avoid the need to camp and the potential polar bear issues involved in that.

You can read about my trip on this route here: http://www.recped.com/seal

As far as the time involved, we were in two solo canoes, don't exactly paddle fast and were windbound for a couple of days. On the other hand we had a motorboat shuttle for the 120km of South Indian and then again from the mouth to Churchill.

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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 22nd, 2015, 8:06 pm 
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Regarding the rapids at the end- is there a portage? The seal is on my list, but I didnt even consider it this time around as I was under the impression it was not a great river for solo travel, and I also thought there were a lot more difficult rapids along the way. The 2 days to Churchill would be an amazing feat, but Im just not sure if it would be safe- if I run into issues and need to head to shore, it is prime polar bear time. Any idea on the distance from the mouth of the river to Churchill?
I am going through your trip report now, will likely have a lot more questions, but I would aim for 35-50kms a day so it does appear to fit within my timeline.


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 24th, 2015, 12:54 pm 
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Look at Google Earth. Southern Indian Lake is over 250 m asl. The lower Churchill is not a long lake - the Churchill is one of the larger rivers in North America, which was rarely canoed before the diversion (too much water/rapids). You'd think it'd be more popular now - I wouldn't call the lower Churchill uninteresting. (I've been on both the upper Seal and lower Churchill).
...
I've heard more than one story about someone dying crossing Button Bay west of Churchill, and have seen a paddling presentation about the crossing. I recall scenes of them camping on a tiny plot of grass, only a few inches above the waves (hoping the waves didn't build any higher). Someone also stood guard to ward off the polar bears in the area. The shoreline has a very low relief, so if the wind/waves come up, it's not easy to get to safety. I wouldn't make the trip.
....
There's a good guidebook for the Seal, and the route is a lot shorter, and the access via Tadoule easier (I've flown in commerical with a pakboat, but your kayak may be more problematic). You may be able to get a shuttle to Churchill like Recped did.

The route from Leaf route is significantly longer, and there's no guidebook. Here's an online resource I found Googling: http://www.forgey-cabin.com/1972canoeexpedition.html. (The author eventually bought a cabin on the lower Churchill River, and wrote multiple wilderness medicine guidebooks.) There's also a published account in a book by Bill Rom titled Canoe Country Wilderness.

People canoe the Knife as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 24th, 2015, 11:51 pm 
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I am leaning towards the Seal. Only hiccup now is just how long the trip will take (fly in is jot an option). Can I do it in under 3 weeks, paddling the bay included. Also, does anyone have a Churchill contact for a possible boat pickup, and for those who have paddled it, can I do it in one long, painful day?!?


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 25th, 2015, 3:24 pm 
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Location: Manitoba
I'd say 4 weeks from Leaf to Churchill via southern indian lake to the seal river...

Charlie Batstone of Churchill does motorboat pickups.

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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 26th, 2015, 10:10 am 
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Just heard back from one off the boat operators and apparently they stop running pickups mid August because the water is too rough to cross.... That does not sound promising for a potential kayak across the bay!


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 Post subject: Re: Leaf to Churchill
PostPosted: August 28th, 2015, 3:41 pm 
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A September trip in this area will have cold weather implications. Last-minute research and preparation for a solo trip of this magnitude gives me pause. I encourage you to consider a less ambitious September route that will not involve such tight time parameters and so many potential problems.


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