BWCA Paddle: Barclay to Lund/September 15-25. Boundary Waters Group Forum: Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
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   Group Forum: Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
      Paddle: Barclay to Lund/September 15-25.     

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09/29/2021 01:26PM  
Good travels: a canoe trip through the Woodland Caribou landscape of Ontario. Time away brought dreams of bears on distant shores, caribou galloping down sandy beaches, groans of float planes flying north, quiet forests echoing gray jay chirps, swans, at water’s edge sounding at dawn, rapids tempting us/challenging a solo run between boulders between Hammerhead and Gammon Lakes, and always the wind swaying the jacks, ruffling aspen leaves, shaking rice stalks in the river.

When the border opened, the fires died, the sirens called us and we went north. Simple route: the Bloodvein River upstream: start near the Manitoba border, paddle large lakes, portage rapids, struggle across a few boulder fields, and end on a logging road some two hours north of Red Lake, Ontario. Our skills were rusty. Yes, we paddle a lot around Hayward, sneak away to the BWCA monthly, but this area smacks you more: more wind falls, an extra island during a lake crossing, wind gusts from the prairie provinces that cut waves, press hard on the canoe while throwing a mix of cold air from Hudson Bay...and always space...no roads/for now, to the north, long views teasing one's discipline to stay the course, the next river bend begging for exploration before night fall.

We started at Barclay Lake, where the Musclow River drops onto the watershed...surveyed swans, watched a bear ramble over rock into the charred forests, counted geese on takeoff, marveled at the teal exploding out of the reeds.

Of course, the big news along the Bloodvein are the fires...started late May, ended by September, some burned recent burns, some grew hot enough to open the landscape to a cover of granite, some teased the forest: stopping before a stand of aspen, jack pine, or spruce; some ignored logical burned right through a wetland, jumped over the lakes and landed kilometers on the other side before traveling many more.

Four days of river/lake travel...narrows, digging routes from islands pretending to be land, watching ducks take stupid routes into the woods only to find that is the way the river goes. One day, we lounge on a long shelf of rock, maybe 100 meters...warmed by the sun, we set camp very early, listened to loons gather for trips south, watched clouds grow into thunderheads, and waited at night for Orion to appear, the northern lights to glow, the equinox moon to rise...hoping that time would stand still...forcing us to remain in this warm autumn forever.

Finally, the Bloodvein got serious: dropped about 1000 meters of rapids to portage around...hid the trail in regrowth of blueberry plants, grasses, charred downfalls of jack pine, and willow shoots. Twice, rock gardens puzzled us, no apparent portage, simple downstream paddles, too powerful for a paddle upstream...we labored, loaded and unloaded the canoe/cursed (Tom), balanced on boulder steps mid-stream, lifted Birch into the canoe and went east and north.

Birch, age ten, a bit sore this summer, hung tough...scooted between us on portage trails, sniffed out routes often hiding in the bush, guarded camp, and cleaned the plates after dinner...he shared the tent with us, finding place in a tent corner only pushing his way into our sleeping bags on the coldest nights.

At the end, the last portage seemed too short, the morning breakfast just right, and the sip of water wonderfully clear, cool, and sweat lake...Our pray and gift on the shores of the last lake, gave thanks for this mix of water, forest, changing landscapes, and safe passage.

 
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10/01/2021 10:50AM  
Superb!
 
Que
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10/02/2021 09:59AM  
It was a real treat to have a couple of hours with you both at the end of your trip into WCPP. Oh how I missed the visitors.
 
joewildlife
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10/06/2021 12:23PM  
I wish I had your skills of appreciation and your eloquence in recording it!
Sometimes I feel I'm missing something out there...I'm not...just can't put it into words.

Thanks for your trip report. Mine are so much more mechanical and so much less artistic. I'd rather do plumbing than painting, or a brake job vs. bodywork!

Joe

 
10/22/2021 08:01PM  
After such a hard year with the fires, it’s great to hear about some happy days paddling there. And that canoe looks like it’s never touched a rock - how do you manage that?
 
10/25/2021 03:49AM  
...that one was probably at the start of the trip...don't worry, as we pulled over a few rips on the Bloodvein...and worked over the shallows to get to the portages we scratched it...this was a canoe rented from Goldseekers Outfitters in Red Lake...and this year's model...at home we have a several canoes that have collected several? marks...this is wonderful country/and we enjoy it tremendously...since coming into the WCCP in 1989 we have watched fire regrowth...obviously this year was very dramatic...it will be interesting to watch the regrowth...
 
Coldspringtripper
member (12)member
 
10/30/2021 01:35PM  
Nicely said, oldzip!!

How were the portages coming through the area?

One would think that everyone will be bringing tarps just for sun shade on those hot summer days in the years to come!
 
11/01/2021 04:17PM  
...the portages were good...someone had cut some downfalls, cut some of the brush that grew up in the open areas...often the fire seemed to stop at the portage trails...like the portage that comes out of Knox...
 
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