Ric's Almost Daily Blog

Parent Category: CRCO Info

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Parent Category: CRCO Info

The Christmas season has now come and gone. As usual gifts were given and received, copious quantities of food were prepared and consumed. Unusually warm temperatures made playing outdoors a major part of the season.

At the CRCO Christmas party, held again on the longest night of the night of the year, we solved a mystery that has been bugging historians for several centuries. As part of our evening’s entertainment we worked through a murder mystery. Who really did kill Jean Wadin on that fateful day in 1781? Historians know his body was found out on the ice of Lac La Ronge. It is generally assumed the murderer was Peter Pond. But did he really do it? All present at the party became characters from that time period. We had fur trading partners, country wives, real wives, a general from the US Army, rival fur traders, and of course Peter Pond was present. Being that Wadin was already dead – I represented him. Solving the mystery was enhanced by mulled wine, regular wine and quality Paddockwood Beer. The dog got involved when some smoked turkey got dumped on the floor. In the end the murder was solved and all of us went on to more serious things like eating, drinking and conversing.

I wish all an awesome New Year filled with paddling and camping in the best canoe country in the world – northern Saskatchewan.

Ric Driediger

Parent Category: CRCO Info

One of the great things about canoeing in northern Saskatchewan is how interconnected the different water ways are. It is really easy to take a normal trip and just by doing a portage off the route, you can create a whole new route. Or even connecting different water sheds with a few portages. An example of this is the route between the Geikie River and the Foster River. Most summers there is at least one group that does this either by going up the Foster and then over to the Geikie or up the Geikie and over to the Foster.

Two summers ago (2010) we had a group who flew into Big Sandy Lake on the Geikie River. They had a SPOT device with them and promptly turned it on. I began to receive location messages the first evening. I think it was the second day into the trip the SPOT stopped moving. It seemed to be located at the end of a portage. I soon began getting calls from others receiving this unmoving SPOT message. “What should we do?” “Should we notify the authorities?” “Should we send out a plane to check?” But because the message hadn’t changed to ‘we are in trouble’, we could only assume they forgot the SPOT device at the end of the portage.

For 5 days the SPOT remained stationery. Then one day the SPOT began to move back upstream. Again, I started getting phone calls. “Why is the group going back upstream?” “What are they doing?” We had dropped a group from Germany at the Geikie River bridge about 8 days earlier. They were heading up river and were planning to portage to the Foster River and then down the Churchill River ending at Missinipe several weeks later. It became obvious that they had picked up the SPOT device. We got to follow their progress over the route between the Geikie and the Foster, down the Foster River and down the Churchill River to Missinipe. At the end of their trip they were interested in hearing the story on how the SPOT ended up on the portage on the Geikie River. They happily returned the device to its owners.

Parent Category: CRCO Info

Our guests keep coming up with new routes – or at least routes that are new to me. A group this past summer phoned and asked if I had any information on getting into the Clearwater River from Black Birch Lake. Well he had me there. First of all, I didn’t even know where Black Birch Lake was. So I immediately went to my computer and looked at the maps around the Clearwater River. It turns out that Black Birch Lake is the headwaters of the Black Birch River which flows into the Virgin River which in turn flows into the Clearwater River. It turns out they had an awesome trip and it also turns out this is a beautiful way to access the Clearwater River. But it is not for the novice. You can view the photos from their trip at http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/5222042/1/Roe%20to%20Contact?h=024f52

There are common ways to get to the Clearwater River. By driving you can get dropped off at either Lloyd Lake or the bridge at Wearner Rapids. Groups that are after a considerable challenge start at La Loche and do the Methy Portage (all 21 km of it)!

There are others who fly in either from Buffalo Narrows or Fort McMurray. There are several other innovative ways our guests have accessed the Clearwater, in addition to the above example. We occasionally have groups who fly in to Nyberg Lakes at the headwaters of the Virgin River. This route requires some good whitewater skills. This adds 47 km to the trip.

Other groups have started further up the Clearwater River from Lloyd Lake. Dell Lake has been the popular place to fly into. This adds about 49 km to the trip. I’ve never received good reports on this portion of the river. It is very swampy with hundreds of switch backs. It does not look interesting on the maps.

The Clearwater River remains one of the most picturesque rivers in the province. The past 15 years it hasn’t received near the attention it used to get. With La Loche Airways closing and with Clearwater Raft Tours shutting down, there are not near the number of groups on the river there once was. My fear is that with the tar sand mining moving further east, we may see the beginning of irreversible changes to this magnificent river. Paddle it now while it still remains.


Parent Category: CRCO Info

When I look back over the summer, there are a number of events that stand out for me. One event I will never forget began on an afternoon in the middle of August. I received a phone call from a young lady with a nice Quebec accent. She informed me a group of 8 were paddling across Canada and were told by one of their sponsors in Ottawa that they must stop in Missinipe and talk to Ric. They were in Stanley and would be here the next evening. I told them I would have a cabin for them. They arrived on schedule and I invited them and my staff that were around over for dinner. We ate, drank wine and beer, played instruments talked well into the night. (At least for me it was well into the night.) The group had met at university in Ottawa and somehow ended up deciding to paddle from Ottawa to Inuvik in one summer – quite a task. There were 4 men and 4 women and a dog.

The next morning I met one of them in the laundry room. He thanked me for the evening and said they really did not want to leave. I jokingly said – well then stay, I’ve got work for you. Then after a week I can drive you further down the Churchill and you can continue. Later in the morning he came to me asking if I was serious because he discussed the idea with the group and they would like to take me up on it. They stayed, I put them to work. They were wonderful to have around. One was something of a French pastry chef. We had fresh blueberry pies almost daily. A week later only 6 went on their way, two stayed because of injuries that needed further healing. The two met the group in Ft. McMurray.

I am so proud of this group! They arrived in Inuvik on October 14. They accomplished something only a few have done and they did it in one season. My staff, Theresa and I will always fondly remember the week they spent with us in Missinipe. They are a fine group of young people. Check out their web site at www.transcaneauda.ca.

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