Overnight on the Rice River

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Jan 31, 2013
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Warren, Manitoba
This was an overnight trip that was supposed to be much longer. We had been planning a trip for a year for a friend coming up from Washington State for her first time in Canada, with the intent of doing a week wilderness canoe trip. Late spring my company decided to no longer have the annual two week shutdown and that everyone needed to put in for vacation time and that seniority would rule in each department. So, despite stating on the form why I needed this week off, I didn't get it. So the plan changed that my roommate/paddling partner Christine would take Rashelle out for a week while I worked.

We had told Rashelle to "get some sun" prior to coming since summer in Manitoba and spending that much time on the water could be intense. Well, she arrived with a 1st degree sunburn and unable to even be "in" the sun at all the first few days. Seriously bad stuff. We treated her burn the first 4 days and on Wednesday, Christine got her out on the water on a local lake to see if she could handle the sun and paddling, plus to give her some paddling instruction since she hadn't been in a canoe in 30 years.

After passing that, we hastily put together an overnighter on a small river system that we have used before, that would give her the sense of being in the wilderness and give her the opportunity to catch her first Pickerel and Northern Pike.

The river is easily accessible from a new road that used to be just a winter road and where we actually camped, 9km upstream, is still only a few km from the road itself, although you cannot actually hear any traffic.

We arrived at the put in and we on the water by 11am Thursday, which was also my 52nd birthday. We had noticed at the falls at the road the water level was down significantly and later would determine it was down at least 18". It was a beautiful sunny day with the forecast calling for a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms later. At the first rapid we lined it since there wasn't sufficient current to force using the portage. Around the corner we had to pick our way through the rock garden then arrived at the next rapid, which is a drop and did require portaging.

The two boats we used for this trip was Christine's stripper I built a couple winters ago and my 14 foot Chestnut solo'ized. It was funny since last year the first trip I took my Huron wood/canvas boat on was this same river. This also gave us the advantage of splitting the load and my being able to play with trimming, however, even with the light pack behind me and the heavy one in front, I couldn't peg the front stem at all so in the future, I would put a pack and barrel up front and that might work. Overall though, I like the Chestnut more than the 15 foot Huron, it tracked better and was easier to paddle and the cane seat was very comfortable.

We proceeded upstream, at the next portage we waded the boats rather than portaging since it is faster. Of the actual 5 portages to get to where we camped we only used two, wading the rest of them.

We had a thunderstorm roll in behind us as we were wading another rapid and it was booming and banging away a long time before it arrived so we mostly only got rain by that point. What is one to do when sitting in a canoe on a river next to really tall trees? I pushed into some lily pads next to the bank and away from the trees and got down low and waited for it to pass.

We had that storm in front of us and then another moving in behind, but it missed us and we never caught up to the first one. We did see some ground lightning and had some fear of a fire since the bush is very dry up there, but nothing came of it.

We arrived at our camp around 5, taking our time coming upriver and fishing as we went. Camp was set up and we got out for evening fishing and had a good time, Rashelle getting some nice pickerel and one small chunky pike.

As the sun went down and while Christine was cleaning the fish next to the falls we camped alongside, Rashelle and I heard a pack of wolves not far off. This is the first time in 6 years of tripping up here we have heard wolves and to have them so close was a real treat. We only heard them the one time, for a couple of minutes, so they must have been moving away from us.

The next morning was a little chilly, much cooler than is usual for August in Manitoba and getting moving was slow. We got back on the water around 10:30 and decided to not fish our way out, except for me since I could move faster. A couple of the places we waded we could actually float down so less time was spent moving downstream, although we had a stiff headwind that would actually push us upstream against the current and it gave me a good workout.

After getting through the last rapid we took some time to fish some more since Rashelle was leaving the next day and we wanted her more opportunity to catch fish she cannot get in Washington. We were on the road by 4:30 and back home around 8p.m., all rather tired out.

Wildlife... one eagle, 3 hawks, one giant Heron, ducks, 2 beavers, 6 river otters ( a group of 4 twice and another pair), heard the wolves and saw a couple of bear tracks, really big sow and a cub. Not bad for 28 hours out in the bush.

It was a good, short trip and I got to test the new boat, got the paint off down to the filler in a few spots but it held up well. Christine cracked her boat good, gouged into the strips and cracked a few but we can lay some glass on it to fix that and will likely add a layer to the football since she is abusive. We see a Royalex boat in her future.

















 
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28 hours in heaven. Thanks for sharing Mihun. Seeing wildlife like you did sure is a treat. I love seeing otters.
Is there any connection between Rice River and wild rice? My wife and I would be sure to buy some on our visits to family in Manitoba. Just wondering.
Thanks, and take care.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
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2,290
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Warren, Manitoba
Brad

Yes, wild rice, most of the rivers and lakes out that way have it in abundance. The lake that feeds this part of the river gets choked with it over the summer. Some of the lakes up there used to have a rice harvest, the natives would use airboats to collect it. We saw one being used on a portion of the Manigotagan River a couple of years back. We have found the remnants of the old airboats on some of the lakes we have paddled.

Karin
 
Joined
Feb 1, 2013
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3,460
Very nice! How was the insect population? Don't know how Manitoba is this year, but in Northern Ontario we're having one of the worst bug years ever, plus temperature barely rising to the the double digits. Those pics were making me envious!
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
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Location
Warren, Manitoba
It is quite cool this weekend, the overnight was 7c and our highs are low 20's for the weekend. Summer lasted a few weeks but it seems Autumn has come early this year. Well below normal for here. As for bugs, on this trip, no stable flies, a few deer flies but plenty of mosquito's, especially near and in the bush and at sunset, not as many as we have seen in the past years though, likely due to the lack of rain. Need a trained barn swallow to trip with for the bugs.
 
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Jun 12, 2012
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Appleton, Maine
Nice trip, some great pictures, the last 4 are my favorites, but that one of the tent is really nice too, shows the real wilderness you encounter in your trips, or is that not even a campsite, just a clearing off the river?
Love those narrow ribbed Chestnuts and those scratches on the canvas, Thanks.
 
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
2,290
Location
Warren, Manitoba
Robin

The campsite there is actually just a clearing along a portage. There is an old moose camp there as well, a pole structure built back into the bush with cots made from birch poles as well and this year, a little table down by the water where they cook. It is and isn't wilderness I guess, it is less travelled for sure, until moose season and dependent on water levels. Personally I would prefer not to see the structures/table, but Christine liked the table for cooking so she was happy. I found a nice natural rock depression just butt sized for sitting in.
 
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