25-Aug-2003 -- This is the first of three confluences we hoped to visit on a four day, three night trip to northern Saskatchewan. Our trip covered 1842 km from Regina to the culmination of the CANAM International Highway at Southend on Reindeer Lake and back home again. The CANAM (Canadian/American) highway begins in the deserts of Texas and makes it way north through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Saskatchewan before it ends at the edge of Reindeer Lake. It is a paved highway to La Ronge; gravel north of there.
Saskatchewan is perceived as a flat "boring" prairie province consisting mainly of farm and ranch land. Most of the confluences done so far are indeed in southern flat farm fields thus perpetuating this notion. We decided it was time to become adventurous and tackle some of our province's northern confluences. The northern half of the province comprises most of the 54% of Saskatchewan that is covered in forest. Many of these confluences may never be reached as they are in remote spruce, pine, birch, aspen or tamarack forests, interspersed with hundreds of lakes, streams and rivers. We chose three confluences that had the potential for success.
La Ronge, a northern town on the shore of Lac La Ronge, was our base for two nights. The village of Air Ronge, the First Nation of the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and the town of La Ronge snug together along the shore to form a community of 7,000. Lac La Ronge comprises 103 square kilometers and contains 1100 islands. The confluence is out in the lake 21.4 km from the town site and 17 km from the dock at Napatak, on the Potato Lake Road. There is an Indian Reservation on the far shore of the lake (at the end of highway 912) that is 12.5 km from the confluence.
As we drove closer to La Ronge we could receive only two radio stations. One was in the First Nation Cree language and the other was CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). CBC had a news story about the dozens of volunteers who were out on Lac La Ronge searching for two families who had not returned from their boating trip on the rough water the day before. Late on the 25th the people were found safe and sound on an island where they had sought refuge from two meter waves. It was still very windy on our arrival. The marina was even closed. The still waters of the protected bay did not reflect the stormy waters out on the open lake. We would not be going out to the confluence.
We stopped to take pictures at the Float Plane Waterbase in La Ronge. Three float planes were docked when we arrived. One was being loaded with lumber and took off while we were there. Someone in a remote area obviously needed building materials. We thought it would be ideal to rent a float plane to take us out to land on the lake at the confluence. Maybe next time. We saw float planes moored on several lakes on our travels. They are a popular way of transportation in the north.
The La Ronge area and Lac La Ronge Provincial Park are year round vacation destinations. There are hiking trails, golf courses, fishing, beaches, campsites, canoe expeditions, houseboats to rent and sightseeing trips to waterfalls, Indian rock paintings or sand cliffs. In winter there is cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, a winter festival to enjoy and northern lights to view. There are many holiday outfitters and wilderness resorts in the area. Some you can drive to, others are fly-in or boat-in. These resorts range from small fishing and hunting camps to family oriented holiday resorts to resorts with adventure activities such as canoe trips, photography tours, guided nature hikes, raft trips or jet boat fun. One fly-in resort with hot tubs and a swimming pool has conference facilities for up to 100 people.
The La Ronge Indian Band owns a meat processing company in La Ronge and runs a first class resort with a golf course at Eagle Point. Trapping is still an important way of life in the north. There are two fur buyers in La Ronge. One of the most unique industries is wild rice harvesting. More than two million pounds of wild rice are harvested from the waterways each year. Wild blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, pincherries as well as mushrooms (morels and chanterelles) form an important part of the economy. Mining and exploration have economic significance for the La Ronge area. Copper, gold, nickel, zinc, platinum and uranium are found in the hard igneous and volcanic rocks of the PreCambrian Shield.
There are various ways for someone to reach this confluence on a calm summer day. Houseboats, motor boats, and float planes are all available in the area. In winter the confluence could be reached by snowmobile, snowshoe or by a dog team with sled as the lake freezes completely over. There are outdoor adventure companies in the area that could assist in arranging your "adventure".
You can read more about La Ronge and area at La Ronge Online.