Bloodvein Headwaters Day 3: Knox Lake Portage to Murdock Lake

Previous Post: Bloodvein Headwaters Day 2: Crystal Lake to Knox Lake Portage

Day 3 - getting breakfast ready - tent spot was behind the canoe

Day 3 – getting breakfast ready – tent spot was behind the canoe

The empty area behind the canoe is where the tent had been; now it was tucked away for the day and the canoe was put into temporary service as a table.

Our breakfast is definitely low-fuss.  A serving of instant oatmeal, supplemented with cranberries, raisins, chia seeds,  hemp seeds, and walnuts – individual servings all prepackaged at home in small plastic zip-lock bags – is the daily fare.  While we’re taking down the tent we put a liter of water to boil on the butane stove. After the tent is down and packed away, one of us takes care of the breakfast – preparing the oatmeal and setting up the coffee filters and mugs for the main course!

Meanwhile the other person is getting the lunch bag ready – instant soup packages, Wasa bread, different spreads (peanut butter, dehydrated black or pinto bean spread, or mushroom pate). Also laid out on the table are the snacks for the day – a Clif Bar and another zip-lock bag with mixed nuts and fruits for each of us.  It means that during the day there is no need to go “furkling” (Thanks to the mountain guides in the Canadian Rockies for teaching me that word!)  through every bag to find a snack or to put lunch together.

Bloodvein headwaters Canoe Trip Day 3 map

DAY THREE BASICS:

distance: about 17 km.

weather: sunny in the morning; noticeable WSW wind once on Knox lake

rapids/portages  3 – all portaged around + the one into Knox L; distance: 1935 m

campsites: our best one so far at Pictograph Point at the east end of Murdock Lake

In a few minutes we were at the start of the day’s major undertaking – the big portage into Knox Lake. We would spend two hours getting everything to the  Knox Lake side.  Our usually-efficient portage system broke down pretty quickly. The first 500 meters or so  looked pretty much like what you see in the image below – carrying a 60 lb. Hooligan pack and then a 30 lb. duffel on top of that was not possible, given the absence of any sort of predictable footing!  After about thirty meters we were down to one bag per carry – and even that was a challenge.

Knox Lake portage - the first stretch

Knox Lake portage – the first stretch

Eventually we got the packs beyond the initial muddy stretch.  That still left the canoe! Impossible to walk up the middle of the trail with it and impossible to walk along the side of the trail, we were reduced to dragging it through the mud.

hauling the canoe through the mud

hauling the canoe through the mud

The other two-thirds of the trail was quite walkable and helped us forget the mud pit we had just experienced.  At the end of the portage there is room for a couple of tents if a campsite is required for paddlers who took on the portage at the end of the day.

the put-in at the end of the portage into Knox Lake

the put-in at the end of the portage into Knox Lake

And then it was north to the outlet of Knox Lake and the first three of the eighty-nine rapids we would face for the rest of the trip.  The “89” comes from the Wilson/Aykroyd guidebook Wilderness Rivers Of Manitoba.  Their chapter on the Bloodvein is in the essential category for planning a trip down the river.  In it they identify 89 different sets of rapids that paddlers will face in getting to Bloodvein Village on Lake Winnipeg. For most of these rapids, they provide a grading system (using the Class 1 to Class V system), accurate drawings of rocks and channels to be dealt with,  information about what to look out for and what to avoid, as well as various portage options.

We’ve used their numbering system – and the names which they gave to some of the rapids – in our posts.  So – W01 125 refers to the first set of rapids described in the Wilson/Aykroyd guidebook.  We added our estimate of portage length at the end.  The length is in meters – one meter equalling 1.1 yards if you want to make the conversion into a measure you understand better. For the Headwaters section of the river you can also find rapids/portage information on the official WCPP Map and on the Chrismar Adventure Map for the park.

the bottom of W02

the bottom of W02

We will admit to really liking the feel of being on a river, as opposed to paddling a series of lakes connected by portage trails, which is what the first couple of days from Douglas Lake to Knox Lake mostly felt like.

the middle section of W03

the middle section of W03

Looking SW on the Bloodvein after W03

Looking SW on the Bloodvein from the put-in spot at the bottom of  W03

Lunch at the end of W03 and then it was time to move on. We had a stretch of actual river to paddle down – being able to see both sides of the river as you move down creates a sort of intimacy that you don’t get in the middle of crossing a big lake.

outpost:cabin on Murdock Lake

outpost/cabin on Murdock Lake

Coming out into Murdock Lake, we soon paddled by the outpost (nobody home!) on our left.  Our eyes were on the look-out for a pictograph site indicated in Wilson’s book. We realized later that he only provided a general indication of where they are.  The first one ended up being maybe 200 meters further south than we had estimated from looking at his map. Perhaps this is his way of making sure that everyone still gets to experience the thrill of discovery!

Outpost, Picto Site, and campsite on Murdock Lake

Outpost, Pictograph Site, and campsite on Murdock Lake

approaching the Murdock Lake pictograph site

approaching the Murdock Lake pictograph site – our camp site would be on the point to the left

Murdock Lake pictographs

Murdock Lake pictographs

Murdock Lake pictographs - the enitre panel up close

Murdock Lake pictographs – the entire panel up close

Murdock Lake pictographs - two up close

Murdock Lake pictographs – two up close

We got to the point just south of the pictographs around 4. Thinking that it might make a good place to stop for the night, I scrambled up to the sheltered area above the sloped rock face on the shore. I found the best campsite so far! The significant SW wind that we’d have to deal with if we continued down Murdock Lake convinced us to call it a day – and take on the next stretch early and rested the next day instead.  it was an excellent choice.

Murdock Lake campsite - tent is up on the top

Murdock Lake campsite – tent is tucked away on the top of the hill

Day 3 camp on Pictograph Point

Day 3 camp on Pictograph Point

looking up Murdock Lake at sunset

looking up Murdock Lake at sunset

sunset on Murdock Lake

sunset on Murdock Lake

Next Post: Bloodvein Headwaters Day 4: Murdock Lake to Larus Lake

2 thoughts on “Bloodvein Headwaters Day 3: Knox Lake Portage to Murdock Lake

  1. Hi,

    Love your stories and your photos.

    Might I use one to combine with some prose or poetry? See http://www.facebook.com/waveofinsight

    I’m often looking for just the right piece to pair, and for permission from the photographer when/if the piece isn’t marked as Creative Commons-Share Alike or some such.

    In gratitude.

    • Hasna, feel free to make use of any pix. My pleasure is in being there with my camera in the first place. That they resonate with others is a bonus! You might provide a link to my site or to the page with the image on it so that others see where you got it.

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!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s