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Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery
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Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ December 23rd, 2016, 9:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

I was trying to pass along some details from our 2014 Bloodvein trip when I finally decided to write up a trip report before it all fades from my little brain. Information is from memory with some details from Erica's journal so it's quite possible some details were screwed up.

Day 1 – July 3 – Drive to Wallace and camp at Siderock Lake

My wife, Erica, and I started a Bloodvein trip at Wallace Lake in the evening on July 3rd 2014. We picked up Charlie Simard in Manigotagan. He would drive our car back to his place, then move it to the Bloodvein River bridge for July 15th, the earliest we could imagine finishing our trip.

Launching at Wallace Lake

We portaged over to Siderock lake and camped on an island that was full of garbage but near the beginning of our lengthly portages that awaited. It was late by the time supper was made which meant we were late to wake up. Staying up late, packing for the trip, caught up.

Day 2 – July 4– First Mother (Siderock Lake to First Lake)

Not only were we late to get moving but I forgot both our compasses back at camp. I tied loops on them first thing in the morning, so we wouldn’t lose them, then of course left them behind. By the time we started out on the dreaded Three Mothers portages to Obokowin it was after noon.

It’s said that when heading to Aikens Lake, it’s best to use the Obukowin portages in a dry year and the Broadleaf in a wet year. Well for our route to Artery Lake we had to use the Three Mothers portages. 2014 was a wet year.

The second “Mother”

There are three portages (the mothers) to get to Obukowin. The first, from Siderock to “First Lake” was rough and the longest of the three. The second, from First Lake to “Kidney Lake” was worse but not as long. The third was the shortest and wasn’t hard to travel. Having only one large barrel we ended up having five portage loads. That means one of us would be triple carrying.

We had a little trouble getting onto First Lake. The swampy end to the portage was too wet to carry gear on but too dry to drag the boats through. Erica then found a path around the swamp that saved the day.

We arrived at the beginning of the second portage to find out what Real Berard and Martin Kehoe meant by “floating bog”. It looks like shore but it quickly sinks as you walk on it. A turtle walked over Erica’s foot at the end of the bog. We found a nice little campsite here. Lucky we did because it was already 17:30 and a long walk to Kidney Lake. It was a little awkward retrieving water at this site because of the floating bog. Other than that it was a great site to check out blisters and rest for the four big portages and five lakes between us and Artery.

Day 3 – July 5 – Second & Third Mother (First Lake to Obukowin)

The beginning of the portage from First Lake to Kidney Lake is marked with a large cairn nicknamed The Stoneman. It’s high up on a rock, overlooking the lake. It was to keep paddlers from following the snowmobile trail which would be disaster. Unfortunately trees have grown high enough to block it from view of paddlers on lake.

Arriving at Kidney Lake was not fun. I didn’t realize we were in floating bog until I was waist deep with a canoe hat. I got out and trudged to the shore and dropped the canoe. I didn’t make it back to Erica in time and she discoved a different hole to sink to her waist in.

By the time we got to Obukowin, we were so excited to paddle that we just about flew into Carrol and camped on a peninsula just east or the mouth of the Gammon River. We looked at how far we travelled that afternoon and figured it would take us just over two hours to get to Craven Lake where we’d start our next set of portages in the morning.

Sneaking into Woodland Caribou

Day 4 – July 6 – Carroll Lake to Craven Lake

The wind picked up before we left camp. Our two hours to Craven Lake turned into eight. We had a little trouble finding a campsite on Craven. We finally spotted a fire ring at what turned out to be a great campsite.

Carroll Lake wind

Carrol and Craven were beautiful lakes. I wish we had the opportunity explore the lakes in calm water. I’m sure they’re loaded with great camping.

Craven Lake camp

Craven Lake

Day 5 – July 7 – Two bitchy aunts (Craven Lake to Artery Lake)

We nicknamed the two portages (from Craven to Ford and from Ford to Artery) Patty and Selma. Craven to Ford was rough. I found out later from Martin Kehoe that we took the old portage (starting in floating bog as pictured below). There’s a new portage that starts just to the west that we unfortunately missed.

Wrong Portage....oops


The last of the five tough portages to Artery sounded nice from Berard’s description: Starts wet then high on rock ridge for 2km. The rock ridge was a little 10-20ft climb up (somtimes steep!), a walk along some picturesque rock ridges, a slide back down into the wet stuff and repeat. It reminded me of the Mantario hiking trail. It would’ve been great except that we walked it in a rainstorm. The rocks were very slick. A time or two I got Erica to wait at the top of the rock while I ran up with the canoe and she would grab the canoe so I wouldn’t be heading right back down the rock.

I was getting a little smug about how sure footed I’d been on this portage of slick sloping granite. We got to Artery Lake and Erica warned me about a slick spot on the descent to Artery. I was soon flat on my arse with a canoe on top of me instead of celebrating the end of five wicked portages.

We searched for a Hap Wilson campsite in the southern basin of Artery after passing by a decent one on an island. We eventually circled back to the island just in time to setup in another rainstorm. Lesson learned.

Part II:

Author:  MartinG [ December 24th, 2016, 1:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Character building route!

Author:  jmc [ December 24th, 2016, 2:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Nice report(s), brings back some memories of muskeg past.


Author:  Paddle Power [ December 24th, 2016, 3:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Great time to post--ski in the morning and read your trip report in the afternoon. Brought back many memories.

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ December 25th, 2016, 12:17 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Brian, I finally have my skis. You have to show me how to use them now!

Author:  martin2007 [ March 18th, 2017, 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Neil, I missed this report when it first came out, maybe because I wasn't looking here around Xmas. It must have got buried. I'm looking forward to reading it as the region is high on my list for this summer's trips.

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ March 19th, 2017, 12:16 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Martin, other than some bumps and bruises from portages you can't go wrong with the area. What route are you considering?

Author:  martin2007 [ March 19th, 2017, 10:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Neil, great report! We'd love to paddle the Bloodvein, and don't want to miss Artery lake. Your report has me thinking of doing your route from Wallace to Artery and down to Bloodvein F.N.
My son loves fishing, so we'll be poking along at a slowish pace. Damien is 16, a wonderful paddling partner, but not one who takes great satisfaction from negotiating gruelling portages. And that might be an understatement. We have 17-20 days to spend together on the water this August. Obviously, the Wallace to Artery section will be challenging. I've looked at some of Marten Kehoe's videos and maps of the area. He's done some impressive work there. My main resource so far is Hap's book. As I mentioned before, I'd prefer to avoid the costs of flying in or out. I googled the road distance between Bloodvein F.N. and the Wallace Lake put-in and was given a driving time of 3 hours+ each way. Question: do you know anyone I could hire to help with shuttling my vehicle from Wallace to Bloodvein F.N?

Author:  Neil Fitzpatrick [ March 19th, 2017, 1:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

I sure do! Charles Simard. He's a retired River Steward; worked mostly the Manigotagan.

Charles kept our vehicle at his place in Manigotagan until our earliest possible finishing date then drove it up to the new bridge construction site. Not sure how necessary that is now that you can drive all the way to Bloodvein. We were a little concerned having to leave the car by a construction site on the side of the road so having the car stay at Charles' place was comforting.

Now, if there's worry of the five big portages to Artery ruining the trip for him, I would suggest either portaging into Aikens Lake then paddling upstream to Carrol Lake or starting at Red Lake as options.You can't avoid tough portages altogether unless you fly but those are two other options. You can also paddle upstream on the Wanipigow into WCPP but then, I beleive, you're into the burn area from last year's fire.

A good way to sell the tough portages to him is that the route to Artery passes many great fly in fishing lakes like Carroll and Craven.

Hap's book is good but buy the Kautunigan and Sasaginnigak Berard maps. Bird-Manigotagan is also a good one to have. They're not to be used in lieu of topos but they're great for planning and I love having them on trips for their area information. It's also nice to see portage information from 50 years ago. Some portages have completely changed and some are exactly the same.

Author:  Marten [ March 19th, 2017, 2:30 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

For those with plenty of time for a Bloodvein trip I would suggest starting at Wallace Lake and use the Broadleaf route to the Gammon River at Aikens Lake. Take the Tea Pail Portage over to Stonehouse Lake on the Bloodvein. Go upstream to Artery Lake and then head back downstream. Anyplace past where the Gammon River joins the Bloodvein turn around and use the Gammon to Aikens Lake and back the way you entered.

On the Broadleaf the bypass portage should be used in low water years. The wild rice on Leaf Lake in mid August would be more of an issue than wading at some gravel bars.

Author:  martin2007 [ March 19th, 2017, 5:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Neil: thanks for the contact info. I'll look into purchasing the Berard maps in addition to topos.
Marten: thanks for the ideas re: circular-shaped routes, and return routes to/from Artery. Much appreciated!

Author:  segosih [ April 22nd, 2017, 9:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

I will second what Martin said about using the Broadleaf to go through Aikens Lake. A really nice trip with no tough ports to worry about. Waaaaaay better than Obukowin at any time. If it is dry enough to make the Broadleaf a problem, the back country will likely be closed anyway.
And we know for sure the ports are all open and in good shape.

Author:  bethr74 [ June 23rd, 2020, 6:56 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

We are hoping to paddle the Bloodvein River this August, accessing via Wallace to Artery Lake. Has anyone paddled this recently? We are wondering about the status of the Obukowin portages and also alternate routes with timing estimates. We are 4 adults and 6 kids ages 12-15 years old.
We could have 6-8 days devoted to this section if there was good options which avoided nasty portages.

Author:  Marten [ June 24th, 2020, 8:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery I have several reports of these route options here on CCR.

Water levels in Aug. are unknown this far out but if things are not really dry I would suggest the Wanipigow RIver downstream to the Broadleaf River and use that route to Aikens Lake. Wild Rice will be thick in a few places but can be gotten through. From Aikens Lake take the southern channel of the Gammon RIver (the other channel can be too shallow) and either use the Gammon River all the way to the Bloodvein or use the Tea Pail Portage to cross over to Stonehouse Lake on the Bloodvein. The HARD way is to use the Obukowin Portages and go north through Carroll, Craven and Ford Lakes to Artery. Craven to Ford portage is 1500 meters and easy, The 2200 Ford to Craven is really up and down and risky if it is raining. Look for a camp on the east side of Ford to break up the work of these portages. I think the Gammon has more appeal than the over used Bloodvein. If it is a really dry summer you can use the Obukowin Portages to Carroll Lake and the Gammon River.

Author:  bethr74 [ June 24th, 2020, 11:01 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Bloodvein River July 2014 - Part 1 - Wallace to Artery

Thanks so much for all the info Marten
What would you estimate for typical time length to travel the Wanipigow RIver/Broadleaf River/ Aikens Lake Gammon River or Tea Pail Portage route to Bloodvein?
Also- do you have reliable source for finding out water levels closer to the time that we could check in with?
take care

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