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08/31/2021 03:34PM  
I have learned over the years that for successful long solo canoe trip you have to want to be there and that you are having at least modicum of fun. I found that neither were the case on my latest trip.

I started off driving eleven hours about two-thirds east and one-third north which got me to Missinipe. Then the outfitter drove me back to my starting point which is just north of La Ronge.

I guess the loss of Quetico one day before I was to leave had a triple toll on my mind. I had a trip planned early and was ready to embrace it when the fires started. I adjusted my trip to stay further away from the fires and was primed to go. Then the hammer hit and with one day to go I was locked out. In addition, I have been thinking about the loss of some of my favorite Quetico spots to fire all summer and how long it takes to recover. The only consolation was that I didn’t arrive at Quetico having spent a lot of money to get there only to find I had nowhere to go.

Consequently, I hastily arranged a trip to Northern Saskatchewan without a lot of knowledge of the area and suffered accordingly. I had arranged a circular route the first week going west on a series of lakes and then two going east on the Churchill River system. Based on pictures I know the Churchill River system is impressive but the problem was getting there.

What I discover was that the first week I went through a number of very large lakes that were not in the Shield, had many large motorboats, plenty of cottages, cabins and fishing camps, had very few campsites because of development and lack of rock formations and were basically fished out.

The portages I did were easy: wide, dry, level and grassy. In fact, some had docks and Lunde boats. The problem was finding them. In nearly all cases the entrances were hidden behind fields of wild rice and other tall grasses. I thought I found a portage and followed it to a cabin, but the portage kept going beyond the house only to discover it led to a outside outhouse by which I mean it had plastic sheets for walls.

The campsites that I found with great difficulty hadn’t been used in years with small disheveled firepits and no used tent sites. If two people were there it would have been crowded.

Disaster struck at the end of the second day. The carrying strap on the bear barrel broke and the chest strap on the other pack was lost. In addition, I had discovered a problem with the canoe which in hindsight was mainly my fault. When I picked the canoe, I obviously tried it by flipping it and carrying it. Based on my normal canoe this was only slightly heavier and acceptable. But it didn’t have a rope hole like the next one that looked exactly like it. I took the one with the rope hole without lifting it. When I got to the first portage, I discovered that I couldn’t flip it without one end on the ground. This canoe was definitely a lot heavier.

Well, I sat at that campsite and pondered my future. My outfitter said he could give me another barrel back where I started so that would mean two days back and then two days back here while not enjoying it. I was also concerned about the weight of the canoe when I got to some of the longer portages. In any event I jerry-rigged the barrel with rope and started back but I knew I didn’t want to continue. So that was the end of my non-trip.

Maybe I will have better luck next year returning to Quetico.
 
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08/31/2021 08:54PM  
Ouch. Sorry...you are not the only one on Plan C, or D, or E at this point. But that's rough; feel for you.
tumblehome
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09/01/2021 10:18AM  
John,

I had a very similar trip some years back to St. Raphael Provincial park in Ontario. I had not studied the maps well enough nor was I excited for the trip.

I ended up on a one way route and had to back track a few days to get out. I saw motor boats, fly-in camps, and modern campsites.

My canoe blew out into the lake from camp during a windy day. Someone slashed my tire at the entry which also served as a native peoples grave yard.

The whole trip sucked. I just wanted to go home.

Tom
straighthairedcurly
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09/01/2021 09:09PM  
Bummer! That sounds like a horrible combination of events. Here's to a better year in 2022.
Minnesotian
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09/02/2021 08:01AM  

Oh man, I'm sorry your alternative choice for a canoe trip this year was so disappointing.
 
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