Canoeing The Bloodvein Day 12 – Kautunigan Lake to Gorge Rapids (W56)

Previous Post –  Day 11:  From  Below  The Bloodvein/Gammon  Junction   to Kautunigan Lake

Most of Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park lies east of Kautunigan Lake. West of the lake, the Park is reduced to three narrow river corridors with one-to-two-kilometer strips of land on each side as the rivers – the Pigeon, the Leyond, and the Bloodvein – make their way to Lake Winnipeg. None of the corridors goes right to Lake Winnipeg itself; the Bloodvein corridor ends where the new bridge crosses the river about 10 kilometers east of the Bloodvein First Nation village.

Atikaki Park -west side corridorsDay 12 would mark the first of five days we spent paddling this final stretch of the Bloodvein. Still to come were some scenic sets of falls and rapids and the best campsites of the trip! While there were times when we thought that we were paddling on the prairies and not the Canadian Shield,  we continued to enjoy the river and its many twists and turns – and a whole bunch of rapids yet to come – as the day’s maps below illustrate.

Day 12 - first section

Day 12 – the first section

Day 12 - to campsite and beyond

Day 12 – to the campsite and beyond


distance: 31 kilometers

weather: wind and rain in the morning, giving way to a sunny and hot afternoon and overcast evening


Day 12 Rapids run + portages done

campsite: perhaps our nicest one so far – just above Gorge Rapids (W56)


I walked back to the tent site for one last look-around for stray gear, and then it was off.

a last look at the campsite before we set off

A last look at the campsite before we set off

While we did pass a few rock faces like the one in the pix below, for the most part, the rock outcrop was horizontal as opposed to vertical!

rockface on the Bloodvein shore above Chap Falls

more vertical rock - but no pictos!

As we paddled down towards Chap Falls and the day’s first portage – and prime photo opportunity – we did pass a few potential campsites. Given the great ones further down the river, these would be emergency sites only. Here is the front of one of them – you’ll also get an idea of the look of the river in this stretch –

checking out a portential campsite 3 km above Chap Falls

checking out a potential campsite 3 km above Chap Falls

And then it was on to Chap Falls. Another quick carry – by Day 12, our food weight had been reduced by 50 lbs.! – and we took some time to watch the water tumbling down and creating foam that collected to the sides.

Chap Falls foam and water

looking back up the Bloodvein at Chap Falls –  foam and water and fantastic scenery

Max assumes the paddlers’ version of the classic Ken Dryden “leaning on his goalie stick ” pose – our four paddles still tied together from our ninety-meter portage.

Chap Falls - W48

Chap Falls – W48

The Bloodvein's Chap Falls - W50

The Bloodvein’s Chap Falls – W48

The Bloodvein's Chap Falls - foam at the bottom

looking downriver at the Bloodvein’s Chap Falls

After Chap Falls, we paddled for another hour and a half, stopping once or twice to stretch our legs or answer nature’s call. The following two pix come from one of those stops – Max is getting the next bit of the river straight while I focus on a mushroom from my seated position!

the Bloodvein before Sekak Rapids - Max reads the charts

the Bloodvein before Sekak Rapids – Max reads the map

the boreal forest floor

the boreal forest floor

Every once in a while, we did paddle by some vertical granite complete with natural red streaks in them, which, from afar, looked (to me, at least) like potential pictographs. Max humoured me by agreeing to paddle over, knowing full well that his brother was suffering from a bad case of Picto Fever. The rock face below is just one of the many he called correctly while I kept insisting on illustrating the maxim – “Believing is seeing!”.

Bloodvein Thunderbird Pictograph - not!

Bloodvein Thunderbird Pictograph – not! Picto Fever strikes again…

lining Sekak (Skunk) Falls (W50)

lining a stretch of  Sekak (Skunk) Rapids (W50)

After dealing with Sekak Rapids – a combination of lining and portaging – we figured it was time to stop at the put-in spot for lunch. Out came the peanut butter jar, the Wasa bread, the butane stove, and the pot to boil some water for the soup and tea. It was downright hot as we relaxed by the side of the rapids; it was also sunny enough that we moved our camp chairs to the shade of the trees you see on the right of the image below.

lunch at Sekak Rapids after lining the canoe

lunch at Sekak Rapids after lining the canoe

After lunch, we paddled another couple of hours, dealing with a few portages, a couple of runnable rapids, and lots of swifts which moved the proceeding along nicely. The flat wetlands look- as in the pic below – predominated.

The Bloodvein - Where did the rock go?

The Bloodvein – Where did the rock go?

We knew we had found our campsite when we approached Gorge Rapids (W56). On the right-hand side were a nicely sheltered campsite and a flat rock outcrop. Even better was the view downriver – on river right, a vertical rock face lined the river.

Day 12 Bloodvein Campsite just before W56 - gorge with swifts and CII

Day 12 Bloodvein Campsite just before W56 – gorge with swifts and CII

looking towrds W56 and the gorge section

looking towards W56 and the gorge section

sunset over the Bloodvein

sunset over the Bloodvein

The Bloodvein at sunset - looking towards the Gorge (W56)

The Bloodvein at sunset – looking towards the Gorge (W56)

sunset on the Bloodvein

sunset on the Bloodvein

Next Post: Canoeing the Bloodvein Day 13 – Gorge Rapids to Sharp Rock Rapids (W73)

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