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Thread: Bloodvein River - a magical canoe trip

  1. #1
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    Default Bloodvein River - a magical canoe trip

    The Bloodvein is not as spectacular river in comparison with other well-known canoeing rivers in Canada but it has a mixture of everything, to make for a fantastic canoe voyage on Canada’s first heritage river.The 200 km Manitoba section was nominated a Canadian Heritage river in June 1984 and Ontario followed suit in June 1986, meaning that the entire Bloodvein River corridor is protected.

    The name itself may have originated from Indian accounts of a fierce riverside battle when many Indians were killed and the name "Miskwi Isipi" or "Blood River" was applied. The name "Bloodvein" appears to have been first used in an 1818-19 Hudson's Bay Company journal but may have referred to the red granite veins of the river bed.

    You can experience pictographs (native paintings of red ochre) dating from between 900 and 1200 AD, serene landscapes especially early morning after cool nights and evenings just before sunset, unshootable waterfalls, exciting rapids and many, many portages. In addition, the wonderful camping spots, cooking on camp fires and spotting wildlife (geese, turtles, eagles, crackles) all contribute to making this a truly great canoe trip.

    Despite there being moose and bears in the vicinity we did not see any.

    We paddled the river between 25 august and 11 september and our local guide Cam,who has paddled the river many times, had never seen water levels so low. This meant even more portaging than a normal trip as many rapids had become complete rock gardens. Despite the extra portaging we thoroughly enjoyed our paddle down this river.

    We have tried on several occasions to try and organize our own trip on this river but for various reasons we never got it together. We decided therefore this summer to enroll for a guided trip with a small outfitting and guiding company based in Winnipeg, Northern Soul.

    We were in total 7 participants and our guide of which 5 people lived in Winnipeg. It was an interesting to talk and paddle with Canadians and our only regret about a guided trip is that we missed the thrill of inspecting each rapid by ourselves and deciding whether to portage or paddle. This decision (rightly) was always made by our experienced and very competent guide, Cam.

    We flew into Artery Lake and travelled to Bloodvein village, a distance of 225km. In Hap Wilsons guide,"Wilderness Rivers of Manitoba", the number of portages is described as 48 for an experienced novice and 27 for the creative intermediate. I lost count of the number we did but it was certainly more than 27 which I had been hoping for mainly caused by the exceptionally low water levels.

    In Bloodvein village we were treated to a traditional sweat lodge and thereafter a magnificent meal by a local family before our departure back to civilization. The normal method for getting out of Bloodvein is to take a ferry across lake Winnipeg to join a road but the ferry had mechanical problems and was out of service till further notice. We chartered two local guys who whizzed us across the lake in their fishing boats making for an exciting end to the holiday.

    I have a selection of photo’s which I hope gives an impression of this wonderful river as it winds its way down through the Canadian Shield down to Lake Winnipeg.


    Packed and ready to go



    Flying in - view of the Canadian Shield from the float plane



    Campsite on Artery lake



    Pictographs at Artery lake





    Morning at Artery Lake



    First rapids





    Paddling in evening light



    Making a chain for the endless loading/unloading of the canoes



    Barrels, barrels....



    Characteristic rock walls along the river. Perhaps the pink/red rock is the reason for the river's name.



    Hubbie carrying double load on portage. I must admit I only managed one barrel at a time.



    Morning at Stone House falls


    Delicious cinammon buns for breakfast - a Dutch oven was an essential part of the group equipment!





    Morning at campsite Red Rock Café.



    A short stop to visit Bennets trappers cabin and sign the log book.



    Morning at Shangri La campsite







    Morning at Chap falls



















    Lagoon Rapid



    Evening at Eagles Nest campsite



    The last few km before Bloodvein village. At this point a bridge is being built so that next year Bloodvein village will be connected by road to Winnipeg.



    We set up camp in the garden of Yvonne Young's house in Bloodvein village and were treated to a traditional sweat lodge ceremony conducted by her sister Martina.

    The sweat lodge is built of flexible boughs formed into a dome and covered with heavy canvas tent pieces for the roof. A roaring fire outside heats up the stones. In the middle of the lodge is a pit. The stones are taken out of the fire with a pitch fork and slid down a wooden plank into the pit in the centre of the lodge. The lodge is in total darkness and the heat becomes unbearable. Martina gives us a moving speech and related some personal tragedies in her own life she has recently experienced. Not only are mythical native beliefs included in the ceremony but also a total belief in Jesus and Christianity.



    The children had more fun with the canoes.



    The next morning a local fisherman ferried us at high speed over the lake to Pine Dock.



    This final boat ride made a fitting end to our two week trip on the Bloodvein.

  2. #2
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    Wow, that looks wonderful. Some superb images, and it sounds like a stunning trip. Thanks for sharing.
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  3. #3
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    That looks like an amazing trip, thanks for sharing!
    To Canoe is to be moved!!!

  4. #4
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    What a great paddle on a beautiful river. Thanks for posting

    "I'm very good at hearing badly but very good with my bad eyesight"

  5. #5
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    Amazing trip. Looks fantastic. Some great scenery and some very nice looking rapids. Thanks for sharing.
    Matto

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.


  6. #6

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    Yvonne said she met some folk from SotP.

    Glad you had a great trip.

    Chris
    "All right" said Eeyore "We're going. Only don't blame me"

    www.canoepaddler.me.uk

  7. #7

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    Absolutely stunning and something I'd love to do some day. The shots of the mist rising off the water are especially nice.

  8. #8
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    Great blog and love those morning shots
    Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything....................

  9. #9
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    Gob smacking! stunning looking trip, perhaps the location for the next SOTP big meet?
    Mike

  10. #10
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    Spectacular photographs of a great looking trip! cheers
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  11. #11
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    Wow what an adventure thanks for posting ...

  12. #12
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    Many thanks for posting...maybe one day....

    Paul

  13. #13
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    Spectacular pictures and spectacular scenary well photographed. Nice action canoe shots too.
    http://www.davidwperry.blogspot.co.uk/

  14. #14
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    Great trip - not sure what would be more intense, the rapids or the sweat lodge

    Thanks for posting.

  15. #15
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    Well, you did get to run *some* good rapids, no? With loaded canoes, far from civilization, rapids are less fun and often worth a portage.

    My brother-in-law, drift boater, elk hunter, steelhead fisherman, built a sweat lodge back of his house and was hanging a lot with native American friends. Then they told him he couldn't be a real Indian, so he decided he was an ancient Celt. Anything for tradition.

  16. #16
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    That was some trip. I'd love to do one of those.
    thanks for showing it
    MarkL
    www.canoemassifcentral.com
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central


  17. #17
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    Looks like a nice trip, but you missed a great meeting in the Weerribben.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digger View Post
    Looks like a nice trip, but you missed a great meeting in the Weerribben.
    Yes, I heard - I met by chance Twinkletoes in the Wieden last weekend. Anyway there will also be a great meeting in 2014?

  19. #19

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    paddler.nl, your trip report reminds me that I've got to get to the Bloodvein some time soon! Great pix and a good promo for the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield. Thanks for posting.

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