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.
Day 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 entire 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 BASICS:
distance: 31 kilometers
weather: wind and rain in the morning, giving way to a sunny and hot afternoon and overcast evening
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.
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!
As we paddled down towards Chap Falls and the day’s first portage – and major 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 –
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.
Max assumes the paddlers’ version of the classic Ken Dryden “leaning on his goalie stick ” pose – except he’s got our four paddles, still tied together from our ninety-meter portage.
After Chap Falls we paddled for another hour and a half, stopping once or twice to stretch or legs or answer nature’s call. The next 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!
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!”.
After dealing with Sekak Rapids – a combination of lining and portaging – we figured it was time to stop for lunch at the put-in spot. Out came the peanut butter jar and the Wasa bread, as well as 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.
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.
We knew we had found our campsite when we approached Gorge Rapids (W56). On the right hand side was a nicely sheltered campsite and a flat rock outcrop. Even better was the view down river – on river right a vertical rock face that lined the river.