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05/31/2022 10:05AM  
Just thought I'd share what we saw last week. Chatterton Falls and the outflow from Pickerel were both raging. Boom broken at the Pickerel Dam.

Chatterton Falls, May 25 2022

Pickerel Dam & Outflow, May 28 2022
 
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Porkeater
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05/31/2022 10:31AM  
Wow. That's incredible.
gonorth1
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05/31/2022 10:36AM  
SNS, by chance did I meet your party of four on the portage from Sturgeon to Russell late in the afternoon last week?
05/31/2022 10:43AM  
gonorth1: Not there - we came into Russell from Sturgeon via the Staircase as the sun was getting low (as was our group gas level) on the 24th...did not encounter anyone. We did chat with other groups on the water and portages in other spots, however.

When were you on Russell & Sturgeon?
GraniteCliffs
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05/31/2022 11:06AM  
Great video.
tumblehome
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05/31/2022 11:39AM  
That is seriously messed up.

The water leaving Pickeral must be incredibly tough to navigate all the way to Olifaunt. I'll be in that area next week.

Tom
05/31/2022 12:19PM  
Tom, I can't tell you about the other B lake ports going to Olifaunt, but I can tell you about the Pickerel>Bisk portage.

First, the Parks folks were "recommending avoiding the Bisk/Beg/Bud section".
This altered our route up from Russell, so we went through the rapids to the north end of Sturgeon Narrows instead of up through Alice/Fern & the B Chain.

But once back up on Pickerel, we landed next to the dam (approached with extreme caution - the boom was out and we were really careful to stay out of the Event Horizon). We walked the portage to Bisk, sort of...it got wet and we went inland & buswhacked until we could rejoin it. Had to do this a couple times. I walked it back however, and there were three spots requiring wading; two in knee-deep water, one was closer to the Shrinkage Threshold.

I felt confident that I could have gotten through to Bisk with my gear without much trouble...but I would not send an inexperienced tripper that way until water levels come way down. The Parks people are of course making blanket recommendations with the most inexperienced in mind...

Videos of the Pickerel to Bisk portage
gonorth1
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05/31/2022 01:49PM  
SNS - On the 26th we did the Staircase portage into Russell. On the portage we also meet a group who were also low on energy. They had their hearts set on 2 specific sites on Russell. Having not seen anyone for two days and knowing there were multi sites with decent rating I told them we would not take either of their desired sites. We breezed through the portage as they struggled. We found Russell to have the most flooded sites than any other lake we'd been on. One of their desired sites was flooded. The site closest to the falls on the ridge was occupied. True to our word we left the site the portage folks wanted. We ended up on the tiniest, partially flooded, most crappy site of our trip. Still we made do.
The power of Chatterton was incredible! For .75 of mile or more it was noticeably pushing water into Russell. We wanted to walk the portage to see the upper falls more closely. Never did find the portage. Did you by chance find the portage? Good video of the falls! I'd like to go back in August or Sept. to compare it to last week.
tumblehome
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05/31/2022 02:13PM  
Guys,

Thanks for the info. SNS- I am planning to do Alice to Fern.
How is Alice? Always wanted to go there. And how are the two racer portages from Alice into fern? My notes say the last one is swampy. 400 rods.
Tom

I put in at Nym on Sat.
05/31/2022 04:13PM  
gonorth1, we camped in 13J. I'd wanted to camp at 152 to get a better view of the falls, but it was flooded as I bet you saw. Current still moving a lot of water right past our campsite, a full mile from the falls. We did some hunting & pecking to find a trail - some of which was bushcrashing - on the south side. We got to the point where we could see the surface of Chatterton Lake & turned around.

We had been cautioned not to use the rapids route to/from Russell/Sturgeon, so took the Staircase going in. We did the rapids going out, and were really glad we did. It could have been run with low risk top-to-bottom. In the end, both boats did a very short portage (partly bushwhack) at the top, and one boat ran the bottom set while the other one portaged on the south side to enter Sturgeon.


Tom, we diverted and did not do the Bonhomme or Savage portages. Like you, I was concerned that the marshy part might be flooded and that it might become challenging to know if you are even on it. Who knows, perhaps parts can be floated! GPS might be handy.

I'll wager you can float between the two unnamed lakes between the Racers (thus avoiding that portage). But the other B portages are all in tight quarters close to moving water. Might have to forge a path on higher ground...plan for extra time and caution.
Gaidin53
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05/31/2022 04:32PM  
That is a crazy amount of water moving! Pickerel to Bisk looked like a water chute! Chatterton didn’t really look like Chatterton since so much of the rock character was covered. Hopefully water levels start coming down soon.

Ryan
tumblehome
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05/31/2022 07:18PM  
SNS,

OK I misread your post. You skipped Alice. So you went back up through Deux Riveres’. How was that with the water?

I wish I could bushwhack from Alice to Buckingham Lake. I’m too chicken to do that stuff alone.

I think I am going to rethink my trip and maybe go south out of Sturgeon down to Fred and Camel then up to McDougall, Chatterton and then out to up Deux Riveres’

What was the water like on the narrows of Sturgeon not between Russell though?

Thanks.
05/31/2022 08:33PM  
The Sturgeon Narrows was quick...perhaps 1.5-2 mph at a guess. We thought it would be a long slog against the current, so that factored into our choice to leave Russell the other way.

Deux Rivieres was just a high creek with little noticeable current. Floated right over the two beaver dams.
Waterboy
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06/02/2022 05:13PM  
We were the low on energy group you encountered on that portage! I want to thank you for passing on the campsite we were targeting!!! KUDOS to you! We stayed 5 nights on Russell and had good fishing near the base of Chatterton Falls.

We did scout out Russel Rapids and did exit Russell via Rapids on 5/31 by making our way to the 15 rod portage around the fastest moving water. The water level had dropped 5” over our stay so it was fairly easy to get down the rapids. However, it would be nearly impossible to paddle up the rapids at the base.
06/02/2022 05:45PM  
Waterboy: "However, it would be nearly impossible to paddle up the rapids at the base. "

Indeed. However: we found a trail - not really a portage - and got a canoe through and past that section at the base.

My line in this image is not exact, but should be close. This would allow one to travel upstream, as the section between this and the regular portage about 500m SE has enough eddys and slackwater on the southern bank to be fairly easily paddled.
gonorth1
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06/03/2022 06:48AM  
Waterboy, glad to know you enjoyed your time on Russell. Happy to keep my word on the site you had wanted. It's still amazing to me the huge volume of water that was flowing over Chatterton. Quite a site to behold. I'd like to go back later in the summer just to note the change. During your time on Russell it sounds like you saw a noticeable change on the water level. We easily paddled out of Russell via the fast water. At the top we lined in the middle and rode through the standing waves. The bottom it was a bit swirly but overall a smooth ride. Your party was one of the last we saw on our trip. We had no bugs at all on the entire trip. First night home, Sunday, ate in the backyard and was attacked by bugs. It's been like that each night since. Thanks for the response. It's good to know who it was that we met on the portage. Would image you are happy with your new boat.
Waterboy
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06/03/2022 08:39AM  
yes- we loved the maiden voyage with our new Northstar Northwind 18. Made it through relatively unscathed. Here's a couple of pics.






 
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