Bloodvein River Journal 2015
This trip was the result of my original plans to paddle the Swampy Bay River in Northern Quebec disintegrating. Left on my own I decided to do a solo trip and settled on the Bloodvein for a number of reasons. The Bloodvein is a relatively easy river, the runnable rapids are not dangerous and the unrunnable rapids & falls have short and well used portages. Although there are no permanent residents along the river and only one road crossing (a recent development) just a few km's before Lake Winnipeg it's not that isolated, I expect that I will see a few people, fishers at outpost camps and perhaps a few other paddlers.
The Bloodvein River headwaters are located in Northwestern Ontario just West of Red Lake and lie within Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. The 75km Ontario portion of the river consists of a series of lakes separated by short channels with single rapids. From the ON/MB border just west of Artery Lake the river flows 225km through Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park ending at Bloodvein Village on Lake Winnipeg. The second section is much more river like although it is without doubt classic “pool and drop”. Rapids are widely separated, ranging from many short and easy Class II’s to unrunnable rocky Class IV’s or single ledges. Portages exist for almost all rapids, trails are well used. There are many long flatwater sections without any perceptible current, prevailing winds are not your friend on this river!
The Bloodvein has been used by aboriginal peoples for hundreds if not thousands of years, there is ample evidence of this found in the numerous pictographs on the rock faces surrounding the lakes and river. I'll be taking my time hunting out these sites and enjoying the many great campsites all along the route.
There are a number of options for access to the Bloodvein, by water from Red Lake via some more arduous portages or flying in to many locations along the river. Popular starting points are Artery Lake (225km) or Knox Lake (300km) which are located 50+km north of Bissett where the Blue Water Aviation float base is located. Either would work for me but in order to save on flight costs I was able to split on a flight into Artery by hooking up with a group from Virginia. I planned to spend up to a week going upstream through the lakes before returning to Artery to begin two weeks on the river proper.
Water levels were as expected at Summer lows, this made for mostly easy rapids although a few that would be runnable in higher water were too rocky. The benefit of the low level was easy approaches to the bigger ledges/falls, frequently easily passed by lining or drag overs.
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