Swan Lake - Esker On Blondeau River
Distance 19.5 km, made good / 40km+ paddled [488 km]
Yet another long hard day on the water. We had packed up and escaped our very buggy camp by 7.30am and entered the mouth of the Blondeau River by 8.30am. The Blondeau is a very pretty river full of meanders, I counted 221 turns shown on the map but it felt like a lot more. This meant we not only had to fight the current but were continually prying and drawing the canoe. It is lined by deep, muddy banks covered in grass and alders, then a background of Black Spruce, Tamarack with a few Jack Pine. There were lots of small Arum like lily plants which appear to a favourite with moose. In fact soon after entering the river we disturbed a cow moose and her calf. The only other wildlife we saw today were 4 beavers, one came close as he swam in front of the canoe, he was much greyer than any we have seen previously.
The current ranged from difficult to aggressive, the river itself is narrow varying in width from 10 metres to 30 metres and though it is mostly mud lined there were enough difficult to see boulders to keep me staring into the water. We did one longish portage around two sets of rapids, we had no information about it and started to cut and flag our own when we came across a reasonable portage about 600 metres long. It took us about two hours to get through. During the day we had to drag the canoe over four beaver dams fortunately all had been damaged by high water so were no real problem. We also had to cut our way through one large tree that had fallen across the river.
Although we didn’t make our goal we had both had enough by 5.30pm and made camp on a sandy esker in open Jack Pine parkland. Great place for the tent but high above the water with steep banks so a pain for kitchen duties. Was super buggy so in tent by 9pm.