Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

High water levels create hidden dangers

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A group of young men travel by boat along the new, swollen shores of Souris River in Melita on Friday evening.


A group of young men travel by boat along the new, swollen shores of Souris River in Melita on Friday evening.

For the second time in four years, southern Manitoba is afflicted by a province-spanning flood.

This spells disaster for some and creates stress for others, at a time when the vast majority of us are used to enjoying the brief summer.

Due to high water, some outdoor amenities are closed. But the heavy June rain has also extended the navigable season for some smaller rivers.

Here's a selection of what's open and closed, based on observation and official reports:



SEINE RIVER: During a so-called normal paddling season, the Seine River is only navigable within Winnipeg after the spring snowmelt, from mid-April to early June. Continued rains have extended the season to the point where the Seine is running well above seasonal levels from the Red River Floodway to the mouth of the Red.

Paddling the entire stretch from inside the city takes about five hours. Put in at the north end of the floodway siphon in Vermette, south of Willowgrove Road, and take out at Lagimodiere-Gaboury Park in Old St. Boniface.

Be careful at culverts. Portage over them if you have any doubts about squeezing through.



ASSINIBOINE RIVER: RCMP have asked paddlers to avoid the main stem of the Assiniboine River while it's flooding. Not only can you run the risk of running afoul of the law, invisible strainers below the surface can trap moving debris and present a drowning hazard.

It's also disrespectful to kayak or canoe down the Assiniboine in view of volunteers and property owners struggling to monitor or maintain dikes.

PEMBINA VALLEY PROVINCIAL PARK: The popular Pembina Rim Trail -- the 6.5-kilometre day-hike that descends and ascends the 100-metre Pembina Valley -- is partly closed due to washouts on the north side, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship says.

WHITESHELL PROVINCIAL PARK: In the central Whiteshell, Caddy Lake Tunnel is closed to paddlers due to extremely high water, preventing access to backcountry campsites at South Cross and North Cross lakes, the province says.

In the north Whiteshell, all beaches along Nutimik, Eleanor, Margaret and Dorothy lakes are closed because of high water on the Winnipeg River. So are the boat launches at Otter Falls and the Nutimik Lake campground.

The province has requested all motorcraft avoid the Winnipeg River shoreline and create no wakes in areas where cottagers and park staff have erected sandbag dikes and other flood-protection measures.

SPRUCE WOODS PROVINCIAL PARK: The main road leading into the Kiche Manitou campground is submerged by Assiniboine floodwaters and closed to vehicle traffic. So are canoe campsites along the Assiniboine. Access to the main campground is possible through the rear entrance, the province says.

The popular Spirits Sands and Devil's Punch Bowl walking trails are closed, as are the Spring Ridge and Isputinaw self-guiding trails.


LAKE WINNIPEG: High water has submerged wilderness beach campsites along the ridge north of Netley-Libau Marsh, throughout Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park and elsewhere in the southern basin. Consider alternative campsites.

EASTERN MANITOBA RIVERS: Expect increased river volumes along all whitewater rivers in the Whiteshell and Nopiming Provincial Parks. Both the Manigotagan and Bloodvein rivers are running about a metre higher than they were at this time last year, according to the Water Survey of Canada. This means more fewer rock gardens but higher waves.

MANTARIO TRAIL: Expect low-lying sections at Olive Lake and Moosehead Lake to be submerged due to high water.

LAKE OF THE WOODS: High water has submerged some rock reefs and boat docks, presenting a grounding hazard to anything with a motor. Follow charts during the day, and don't be stupid at night.



While flooded fields look like the perfect place to practise kiteboarding, what appears fun to you could represent the loss of some agricultural producer's livelihood.

When in doubt, ask permission to play on private land.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 12, 2014 C12

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About Bartley Kives

Bartley Kives wants you to know his last name rhymes with Beavis, as in Beavis and Butthead. He aspires to match the wit, grace and intelligence of the 1990s cartoon series.

Bartley joined the Free Press in 1998 as a music critic. He spent the ensuing 7.5 years interviewing the likes of Neil Young and David Bowie and trying to stay out of trouble at the Winnipeg Folk Festival before deciding it was far more exciting to sit through zoning-variance appeals at city hall.

In 2006, Bartley followed Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz from the music business into civic politics. He spent seven years covering city hall from a windowless basement office.

He is now reporter-at-large for the Free Press and also writes an outdoor-recreation column called Offroad for the Outdoors page.

A canoeist, backpacker and food geek, Bartley is fond of conventional and wilderness travel. He is the author of A Daytripper’s Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada’s Undiscovered Province, the only comprehensive travel guidebook for Manitoba – and a Canadian bestseller, to boot. He is also co-author of Stuck In The Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg, a collaboration with photographer Bryan Scott and the winner of the 2014 Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award.

Bartley’s work has also appeared on CBC Radio and Citytv as well as in publications such as The Guardian, explore magazine and National Geographic Traveler. He sits on the board of PEN Canada, which promotes freedom of expression.

Born in Winnipeg, he has an arts degree from the University of Winnipeg and a master’s degree in journalism from Ottawa’s Carleton University. He is the proud owner of a blender.

On Twitter: @bkives


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