I spent 2.5 days over the 2018 September long weekend on a canoe trip with two brothers-in-law (Mike and Calvin) and our sons on the Red Deer River, canoeing from Content Bridge near the Tail Creek Campground to Tolman Bridge, near the Tolman Campground. This is a fairly nontechnical, low consequence river canoe trip that is perfect for families or novice canoeists. Later in the year water levels drop to a point that you should expect to be out of your boat several times per day in order to avoid grounding on the river bottom!
Day 6 was the last day of the group trip and the first day of my solo effort. It was a day full of mixed emotions and excitement – most of it good and some of it a bit different than I expected. As with every good adventure worth having, my first solo canoe trip in WCPP started and ended much differently than I antcipated. I’ll pick up with a journal entry from the end of the group trip while waiting to exit the park for the outfitter pickup at the Onnie Lake entry point.
As usual for WCPP over the past few trips, all of our pre-planning kind of went out the window as the end of July 2018 approached, thanks once again to wildfires. In 2016 my plans were thwarted by both a sprained foot and a huge wildfire, this year it was just a whole bunch of forest fires that cut us back to “plan B” planning. Of course, as usual, WCPP “plan B” trips still consist of pristine wilderness, amazing landscapes, endless amounts of fresh Walleye, Pike and Lake Trout, moments of peaceful tranquility and excruciating pain and suffering, so it’s pretty hard to complain too much about them. The main impacts of changing plans last minute was that we ended up with two days that were a bit small and short compared to what we normally do.
The sun was hot and the sky was “summer blue” as we drove the dusty, bumpy, rocky road that starts out as an easy 80 km/h drive and gradually slows to a 20 km/h crawl or even less on rougher sections past the first 18km off highway 518. We were in excellent moods as I parked the truck on the sandy parking area off the road at the Onnie Lake entry point. We were a bit surprised to see three vehicles parked there already, but on inspection we noticed they were all from Wisconsin and one of them was pulling a large canoe trailer so they were obviously all part of one large group. With feelings of anticipation and trepidation about how my injured foot would handle things, we prepared for the first portage of the trip – 350m right from the parking lot.
In north-central Saskatchewan there is a town called Missinipe which is the base for a paddler’s paradise of rivers and lakes nestled in the gorgeous geology that is the Canadian Shield which is the backbone of Canada and among the oldest surface rock on the planet. Long used by the Native Peoples of Canada and by the fur traders that paddled her waters for trade, the Canadian Shield is characterized by countless square kilometers of 3.96 billion year old Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rock, covered in a thin layer of soil which supports incredible numbers of spruce and trees and water ways. The rivers and lakes are teeming with fish and support wildlife of many types from moose to bear to ducks and birds.
One of my goals for the 2011 canoe trip was to make it feel like we were on a route we hadn’t done before, despite having done a very similar route in 2009. One way to make this happen was by doing it in reverse from our previous outing. I also added some variations – obviously these could be ignored depending on weather and other factors.
Trip Dates: Monday, July 13, 2009 to Saturday, July 18, 2009Total Trip Distance (km): 102Difficulty Notes: Woodland Caribou is well off the grid. You should assume that you are completely on your own and must have the requisite survival skills and experience to live as such. Bringing a satellite phone or other emergency beacon is a good idea. GPS Track: Download GPX File Lakes Traveled: Leano, Bunny, East Lunch, Landing Crane, Burnt Rock, Jake, Mexican Hat, Nutria, Amber, Aegean, South Aegean, Talon, Boomerang, Kilburn, Leano Preamble […]