Canoeing with Graeme, Stanley to Drinking Lake, July 19

Graeme under tarp at Drinking Lake campsite

Graeme under tarp at Drinking Lake campsite

Graeme didn’t arrive from Estevan last night — it’s a very long drive — until after 1 am. We did get up though at 6 am, and were finished his packing and on the road by 7:55.

It rained sporadically as we drove north to La Ronge. We ate in the truck at Stanley Mission since it was raining quite a bit, and the rain continued as we loaded up the gear. Fortunately though it didn’t keep raining much for more than about an hour, and it had stopped by the time we reached Stanley Rapids.

We shot Little Stanley Rapids (13 U 533294 6142736) on river left, very close to the large stone that sticks out at the top of the drop on the left. It was a good line, and we went through virtually unscathed. The water is very high as you couldn’t see more than one roller of the roller portage. The rest of the rollers were completely under water. Perhaps we got a litre of splash water in while shooting, though there was also quite a bit of water in from the rain. We did stop on the first island in the middle of Drope Lake and emptied out the canoe — mostly with the sponge — as there wasn’t much water in it.

We had a south wind, and had to paddle into it occasionally, though not often.  The strongest was just after passing Frog Narrows (13 U 537591 6141709).  There the lake was open to the south, and quite windy.

I asked Graeme if he wanted to go to see Nistowiak Falls (13 U 540104 6138712), and he said, “I wouldn’t mind” so we did that (it was the best most protected route across the main part of Nistowiak Lake anyway).  There was a dog at the portage, so we made sure we repacked our fresh meat into the pack and moved it to the back of the canoe, but then the dog followed us all across the trail anyway!  The falls were quite high.

As we approached Potter Rapids (13 U 545586 6140262) we debated whether to look for a campsite, as it was after 4:30, but there isn’t anything available as you approach the rapids.  All the good sites have semi-permanent tents on them . We came across the skid portage very easily though there are some big screws sticking out to be wary of.  There was no one that we could see at the cabins on the portage side (river right) of the rapids, though there was on the other side.

Below Potter Rapids there is a very large amount of current at this water level.  It wasn’t particularly rough, but there were a lot of boils and current eddies.  We stopped on a point just before the main part of Drinking Lake.  It is just coming back enough from the fire (in the late 1990’s) that there are now some nice spots for tents in the short poplars and birches.  There is a good spot for our fire on a large flat rock, though no-one seems to have had a campfire here before.  They have tented here though.

We set up the tent, and were soaked from sweat as it was very humid, so decided to have a swim.  There is a bit of current visible in the water here, but less than I expected while swimming, and it is a very good place to get into the lake water.  However there were a lot of black flies here this afternoon.  We put on repellent as soon as we got out of the water, but I still have a bite behind my ear.  The bugs got much better after we got our campfire going.

We had hamburger, noodles and fresh spinach for supper.  I asked Graeme if he wanted a cookie with his tea, but he said no, so I guess he had enough to eat.  It is a fairly nice evening.  Graeme is patching some of our map case dry bags as they seem to have gotten leaks.  There are a few mosquitoes, but the smoke from the fire is keeping them at bay. There is almost no wind, and it has only rained a couple of times, and then not very heavily since we got in.

Sunset on Drinking Lake

Sunset on Drinking Lake

We just discovered that neither of our water bottles have marks on them, so we will have to do some guessing, or make a mark using the measuring cups.  Earlier today I thought that I had forgotten my compass, but it was inside the pack with my hat. I was surprised I couldn’t find it earlier, as I was sure that I had completely emptied the plastic bag it and some of our other gear was in as we left the truck.

Paddled 23.9 km

Camped 13 U 0547145 6139538 (NAD83)

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