Bloodvein Canoe Tripping – Some Images We Paddled Into

This July my brother and I spent seventeen days canoeing the 350 kilometres of the Bloodvein River system. We started in its headwaters east of Knox Lake in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park just west of Red Lake, Ontario and ended up at the Bloodvein First Nations community on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. The verdict – the river is the most beautiful one we have ever paddled.

our route from Douglas Lake off Red Lake  to Bloodvein First Nations village on Lake Winnipeg

our route from Douglas Lake off Red Lake to Bloodvein First Nations Village on Lake Winnipeg

The trip was really made up of two separate sections:

1. The Bloodvein River headwaters in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park.

This section involved lots of lake paddle.  After portaging in from Trout Bay at the west end of Red Lake, we paddled through Douglas Lake, Hatchet Lake, Crystal Lake, and Indian House Lake on the way to Knox Lake. Then It was on through Murdock Lake, Larus Lake, and Mary’s Lake to Artery Lake and the Ontario-Manitoba border.  Along with some backbreaking portages, the first week on the headwaters offered two of the finest pictograph sites we have ever visited, as well as a few other minor ones that were worth the detour.

2. The Bloodvein River in Atitkaki Provincial Park in Manitoba

West of Artery Lake, the Bloodvein truly becomes a river – a more intimate one  framed by stretch after stretch of vertical granite rock face along its shores. The rapids (some eighty by Hap Wilson’s totally accurate count!) are of the ledge type, making most necessary portages short and easy.  One memorable campsite would be bettered by the one the following day, and it in turn would lose its rank the day after that.

While we are not keen on repeating the 4100-kilometer road trip by car to Red Lake and back home, we are very glad we did it this once. It has replaced the Missinaibi on the top of our own Canoe Hall of Fame as #1 in the river category!

Given Hap Wilson’s comprehensive trip report of the river (see here), the world is hardly in need of another one. However, over the next few weeks I will upload a few posts which will add some visuals and other info to Wilson’s beautifully detailed maps and sketches of the river .  They  may be of use to  next year’s paddlers as they work out their own versions of our Bloodvein trip.

In the meanwhile, here are a few pix which will find their way into the eventual posts.

Car and canoe at the Super 8 in Red Lake

Car and canoe at the Super 8 in Red Lake after our 2000 kilometre ride up from Toronto

canoe ready for the water shuttle to Trout Bay

canoe ready for the water shuttle to Trout Bay from Red Lake’s town dock

bush plane central - the harbour at Red Lake

bush plane central – the town dock at Red Lake

and so the adventure begins!

and so the adventure begins!

a cloudy morning on Red Lake

a cloudy morning on Red Lake

Harlan's buddy Keeto as we approach a small pictograph site

Harlan’s buddy Keeto as we approach a small pictograph site

Harlan dumps us off - the portage into Douglas Lakej

Harlan dumps us off at the start of the portage into Douglas Lake.  Given the 80 lbs. of food we started with, portaging on  the first couple of days were the worst since we were at our heaviest.

the other end of the first portage

the other end of the first portage – Carrying the canoe was the easiest since it only weighs 42 lbs!

portage markers - tree blazes

portage markers – tree blazes …most portages were easy to find

Max gps-ing at the start of a portage trail

Max entering a  gps waypoint at the start of a portage trail

Day One Campsite on Crystal Lake island

Day One Campsite on Crystal Lake island …

early morning mist on calm water

early morning mist on calm water

dream paddling

dreamland  paddling

Day Two Camp - ready for rain

Day Two Camp – ready for rain

the muddy portage into Knox lake

the muddy portage into Knox lake – a 1600 meter slog with the first 500 m the worst ever!

Knox Lake portage - dragging the canoe

Knox Lake portage – dragging the canoe through the mud, definitely a first for us

Day Three- approaching Murdock

Day Three- approaching Murdock …signs of recent fires

Murdock Lake east pictographs

Murdock Lake east pictographs – our campsite was 100 meters away

Max enjoying a Murdock Lake sunset

Max enjoying a Murdock Lake sunset

Murdock Lake sunset

Murdock Lake sunset

breakfast spot on the way to Larus

breakfast spot on the way to Larus –  we sometimes just pack up and go early in the morning and have breakfast a bit later when the sun is really out

our island bkft stop after the storm

our island bkft stop after the storm

the pictograph site east of Larus Lake

the pictograph site east of Larus Lake – next to the Artery Lake site it is the most dramatic

max scans the rock face east of Larus on the Bloodvein

max scans the rock face east of Larus on the Bloodvein

shaman holding infant (or medicine bag?)

shaman holding otter skin medicine bag (or infant?)

the Larus side of the 750 m portage from Murdock

the Larus side of the 750 m portage from Murdock

the waves on Larus

the waves on the east end of Larus Lake  – whitecaps meant our day ended a bit early

looking for patch up jobs on the canoe

looking at some scratches and scrapes for possible patch-up jobs

sunset on Larus Lake

sunset on Larus Lake

bkft stop after crossing a calm Larus

bkft stop after crossing a calm Larus – we got up at 4:45 and were paddling by 5:30

moose sighting on the way to Barclay Lake

moose sighting on the way to Barclay Lake – the previous night we had been visited by a bear!

moose closer up

moose closer up

campsite south of Barclay Lake

campsite south of Barclay Lake – up just in time for the downpour

foreshadowing tomorrow's rain

heavy sky foreshadowing more rain the next day

Max -Artery Lake

Max -Artery Lake – where he spent his 60th birthday!

Artery Lake canoe picto

east end of Artery Lake  pictograph site  – the Bloodvein’s #1 site

 

Artery Lake buffalo panel

Artery Lake bison panel

Max and the granite face of Artery Lake

Max and the granite face of the Bloodvein’s #1 pictograph site on Artery Lake

shaman panel with buffalo panel

the two most famous Artery Lake panels  – shaman panel and the  bison panel

on the provincial border

on the provincial border – from one park to another

lining a set of rapids

lining a set of rapids

the jumping rock

the jumping rock – Anishinaabe legend has it that young men would jump across the gap

up close and contemplating the jump

up close and contemplating the jump

view from the top of the rocks

view from the top of “the Jumping rocks”

Fineview Campsite

Fineview Campsite

canoe done for the day at Fineview Camp

canoe done for the day at Fineview Camp

the rapids near camp

the rapids near camp

the patio at Fineview

the patio at Fineview

portage time on the upper Bloodvein

portage time on the upper Bloodvein

campsite on X-Rock Island

campsite on X-Rock Island..room for at least a couple of dozen tents!

X-Rock Rapids and Island from Above

X-Rock Rapids and Island from above – an aerial shot taken during our flight back to Red lake

River Left rapids at X-rock

River Left rapids at X-rock

The X in X-Rock!

The X in X-Rock! The name is one given by Wilson in his guidebook

studying a set of rapids

Max on river left studying a set of rapids – we did the carry!

Day 9 Campsite (before W29)

Day 9 Campsite (before W29) – the W refers to Wilson’s map of the  Bloodvein

Day 9 ends

Day 9 ends

checking out the trapper's cabin

checking out the trapper’s cabin

the river view from Day 10 campsite

the river view from Day 10 campsite on the Bloodvein (W36b)

inhaling the negative ions of the Bloodvein

inhaling the negative ions of the Bloodvein

sunset by W36b

sunset by W36b

the red veins in the rock - bloodveins!

the red veins in the rock – the bloodveins!

foam and ripples at a set of rapids

foam and ripples at a set of rapids

the boreal forest floor

the boreal forest floor

Day 12 Campsite - just before W56

Day 12 Campsite – just before W56

Day 12 sunset

Day 12 sunset

abstract patterns on the water at sunset

Max checking the maps

Max checking the maps

Missing is another week’s worth of pix – they will appear in the final trip report.

Bloodvein Village

Bloodvein Village – waiting for the Viking Outpost Beaver to fly in from Red lake

the old Anglican Church at Bloodvein Village

the old Anglican Church at Bloodvein Village

The Beaver dashboard

bog from 3500 feet above

bog from 3500 feet above

island in Red Lake

island in Red Lake

approaching Red Lake town

approaching Red Lake town

the yellow Viking Beaver

the yellow Viking Beaver

at the Viking landing dock

at the Viking landing dock

emergency flight supplies for the next flight in

emergency supplies already loaded for the next flight into WCPP

 

Keeto chillin' at the Red Lake Outiftters' Store

Keeto, Harlan Schwartz’s husky,  chillin’ at the Red Lake Outftters’ store in downtown Red Lake

Update: A month has passed and I’ve written some text to go along with the pix. I’ve also included some maps of the route with portages and campsites indicated.  If you’re interested in seeing more, start off with the post below –

Canoeing the Bloodvein River system: Introduction, Planning and Map Resources

The specific posts on the headwaters section of the Bloodvein in Woodland Caribou Provincial Park starts with this post:

Bloodvein Headwaters Day 1 –  Red Lake (Trout Bay) to Crystal Lake

The Manitoba section of the trip – the downriver part – starts off with this post –

Canoeing The Bloodvein – Day 7 – From Artery Lake to “Moosebone” Rapids

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2 Responses to Bloodvein Canoe Tripping – Some Images We Paddled Into

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great report! Is there a driving option from Bloodvein without taking the ferry?

    • true_north says:

      Anon, the all-weather road will apparently be open in the fall of this year. As I mentioned in my trip report, we paddled under the bridge crossing the river about 10 kilometres from Bloodvein Village. It is 77 km from Highway 304 to the bridge. See here for a map which shows the road from Manigotagan up along the east side of Lake Winnipeg.

      I guess the question is – How would you get your car to Bloodvein? What some trippers have started doing is driving up to Bissett and Bluewater Aviation, getting flown in to some lake on the river – Knox, Sabourin, Barclay, Artery, Bushey, Kautunigan – and paddling down to Bloodvein First Nation village. Meanwhile the folks at Bluewater shuttle the vehicle(s) to the village ready for you to load up the canoe and gear when you arrive.

      Or you could drive to Red Lake and then have someone shuttle your car to Bloodvein while you are paddling down the river. Red lake Outfitters could make the shuttle arrangements for you.

      No matter what way you do it The Bloodvein makes for a great canoe trip!

Your comments and questions are always appreciated, as are any suggestions on how to make this post more useful to future travellers. Just drop me a line or two!

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