Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hey, I Re-Invented Something...

This one's for Rod, who comes up with something genius at least once a trip. And, unfortunately we have to let him know it's already been done.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Official Beer of NSE

Might as well stick with the beer theme. Though we've never had it, AC/DC Beer is now the official beer of Northstar Expeditions.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Where to Go, 2013 Edition

We have 4 days, plus driving up the previous evening. Here are some options I've got rolling around in my brain and that I've been discussing with the group:
  • Option 1.1Upper Sturgeon-Weir River, from Pelican Narrows to Pawistik Lodge on the Hanson Lake Road (Hwy 106). Not very long (50 km), 3 portages around small falls and rapids, sections of swift water. Simple shuttle can probably be arranged via Pawistik Lodge or another area outfitter. I expect typical shield scenery. 
    • Option 1.2: Adding another 50 km to the above, paddling from Jan Lake Lodge to Pelican Narrows. Big water, lots of islands. 
  • Option 2Lower Sturgeon-Weir, from Denare Beach on Amisk Lake to Sturgeon Landing. Paddling off the shield on the lake onto limestone benches of the river with lots of fossils. Starting at Denare Beach, this is 30km of mostly open lake followed by 38 km of river. River is many small rapids with 2 larger rapids that can be portaged if needed. 
  • Option 3McLennan Lake area. Fish, new area. 
  • Option 4Surf City, Corner Rapids. Need I say more?
  • Option 5: Montreal River, Montreal Lake to Hwy 165 Bridge, 66 km. Continuing to Air Ronge brings total distance to 146 km.  Current flows are over 60 cubic m/s; we would want that to drop some, maybe to about 40. Considering this is a spring river, this could be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to run it in September. Never mind that it's been runnable in the fall probably 4 of the last 5 years. 
  • Option 6: Lac LaRonge by kayak. I need more big water kayak camping experience before I go for my Level 3 certification. LaRonge past Nut Point, Wadin Bay, Jay's uncle's cabin or just explore the islands. Head to Hunter Bay. 
Bryan's favourites, in order:
  1. Option 2 Lower S-W
  2. Option 5 Montreal R.
  3. Option 1.1 or 1.2
  4. Option 6 Lac La Ronge
  5. Option 4 Corner Rapids
  6. Option 5 McLennan Lake

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


For some reason I have a hankering to bike past the LBS and pick up a case of Boh.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Camp Coffee

This one's for Rod, who takes his coffee very seriously.

The refrain starting at about 1:43 is especially apt for Rod. I totally agree with him, but you don't wanna mess with a coffee-less Rod.

Kevin Callan put together this video about making camp coffee and is pretty much what we do on our trips, including the Littlebug Sr. stove. The video is pretty good, despite his sense of humour. ;)

Happy birthday, buddy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013


The service station trade was slow.
The owner sat around,
With sharpened knife and cedar stick.
Piled shavings on the ground.
No modern facilities had they,
The log across the rill
Led to a shack, marked His and Hers
That sat against the hill.
"Where is the ladies restroom, sir?"
The owner leaning back,
Said not a word but whittled on,
And nodded toward the shack.

With quickened step she entered there
But only stayed a minute,
Until she screamed, just like a snake
Or spider might be in it.
With startled look and beet red face
She bounded through the door,
And headed quickly for the car.
Just like three gals before.
She tripped and fell -- got up,
and then In obvious disgust,
Ran to the car, stepped on the gas,
And faded in the dust.
Of course we all desired to know
What made the gals all do
The things they did, and then we found
The whittling owner knew.
A speaking system he'd devised
To make the thing complete,
He tied a speaker on the wall
Beneath the toilet seat.

He'd wait until the gals got set
And then the devilish guy,
Would stop his whittling long enough,
To speak into the mike.
And as she sat, a voice below
Struck terror, fright and fear
"Will you please use the other hole,
We're painting under here"

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Ski to Sea Race, A Goal For 2018?

I learned today about a pretty awesome looking race in Washington, the Ski to Sea Race. It's a relay race involving 7 different sports:
  1. cross country skiing (4 mile loop), 
  2. downhill skiing (2.5 mile loop), 
  3. running (8 miles), 
  4. road cycling (42 miles),
  5. canoeing (18.5 miles),
  6. mountain biking (13 miles) and
  7. sea kayaking (5 miles)
You'll note that I mentioned that the first two events are loops. That should make the downhill ski section pretty interesting! 

I mentioned 2018 in the title because I think it'll take me a while to get into race condition, though Jay should be nearly there since he's an experienced adventure racer and is competing in the Dirty Donkey this summer. 

Maybe our Montreal River/Otter Lake/Churchill River trip from 2009 could be considered our warm-up event (cycling, packing up, paddling, driving, more paddling, for a single day total of 77 self-propelled kilometers, with a hangover).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Northern Saskatchewan "Highway" Shuttle Service

Wherever we end up going for our 2013 trip, it looks like we can rely on Churchill River Canoe Outfitters to pick us up!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kayaking The Great Bear

What do you think guys, a trip to BC and the Great Bear Rain Forest?

KAYAKING THE GREAT BEAR, a Search for Wilderness from Kayaking the Great Bear on Vimeo.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fishing Bet

This is a great video about some friendly competition between father and son on a fishing trip. As a group of fathers, Northstar Expeditions approves!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Shuttle, Explained

Most of NSE's trips have been circuit trips requiring no shuttle, except that year with the infamous bike shuttle. However, we may want to expand our repertoire so this video by Paul Mason may offer some helpful tips.

p.s. Not to brag, but I met Paul on Tuesday of this week and watched him playboat in the icy Ottawa river for a while. I also met Becky Mason and Joyce Mason this week, and stayed in the home of Joyce and the late Bill Mason (OK, so I am bragging).

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Scarred For Life

(I suspect her dropping her paddle didn't make a lick of difference.)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Time Sequence Down Otter Rapids

I love this series of photos of  +Bryan Sarauer & +Jay Stark  "running" Otter Rapids on the Churchill River at the end of our 2007 trip. Photos taken by Rod on shore.

So far so good....

At this point we are doing just fine, but the trough between the waves is large enough to completely hide us.

I think Jay just wet his pants.

We might have taken on a few ounces of water here.

Floating a little lower now.

You can't see it here, but there was some valiant bracing occurring in an effort to save our sinking ship.

While Jay does the "Gunnel Grab", Bryan is still reaching for water to brace with and pulling hard on that left knee.

The gunwale can just barely be seen in this photo.

Maybe a bit of extra floatation in the canoe wouldn't hurt.

+Bryan: "You got it Jay? OK, good, I'm going to leave it in your capable hands while I swim to shore now."
All participants involved in the above survived, except for +Rob Kunz's bailer which was never seen from again. Some day we'll have to get Jay to tell the story of his epic swim at the end of the rapids.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dreaming of Summer

It's -36°C outside (colder with the windchill considered) and time to dream of summer paddling. While sorting photos on my computer I came across this photo that Rod took on our trip in 2007. It's an awesome reminder of warmer season paddling.

Corner Rapids, Churchill River, SK. Rod Smith photo.
So, with those warm paddling thoughts in mind where should NSE head in 2013? Three of us are turning 40 this year so I think it would be a great year to take a couple extra days and do something more ambitious. I think I'm going to lobby for a fly-in trip on the Paull River (see here for the route description [trip 36] and here for a map) or maybe the Wapiskau and Reindeer Rivers (see here for route description and here for a topo/satellite map), or maybe the Sturgeon-Weir River (here is the route description for the upper S-W river [trip 14] and here is the lower S-W [trip 44], and here's the map), maybe we should just start at #1. Time to start scheduling some trip planning meetings.