1. ADVRIDER Print Magazine!
    We're doing two more print magazines year. July & November. 144 pages of high quality adventure riding stories, photography and interviews!

    Click here to purchase both for $35.
    Dismiss Notice

Port Nelson Manitoba

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Biker_Andy, Jan 3, 2021.

  1. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes

    You would likely be the first person to ride a motorcycle at port nelson (wouldn't be able to ride it much though), but may not be the first person at York Factory. The Hudson Bay company had staff there until the mid 50's. Parks Canada may not appreciate a bike on their grounds, as its fragile organic soil on top of permafrost. Damage to the soil might allow the sun to heat it up, causing a domino affect of melting ice. I know their atv they use there has turf tires, and they drive it along a wooden board walk whenever they can.


    The boats would easily use 300L of fuel, maybe double. As for costs, you'd have to check out their websites or contact them. Travel times are restricted to the timing of tides, so you may head out, then have to wait to head back. I've never done it, so I don't know much more info.

    The Wier river is a bit smaller than the Assiniboine. More of a rocky bottom, so in shallower areas you can walk across. Current might be swift enough to make it unsafe in a few spots. I've tried wading across the limestone river near Bird a few times, and I've failed a couple times when the water was higher.

    Have you checked out the rail bed using both Google Maps and Bing Maps? In areas, either one will have better imagery than the other. There's a lot of open water along the route that may be chest deep.

    A few years ago there was a lot of rain and snow melt that heavily damaged the rail line to Churchill. The same water would have flowed through the incomplete railbed.

    TB
    #21
    Biker_Andy and gpfan like this.
  2. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes
    Oh ya, I just noticed maybe two of them. They may be some of the trapper cabins I've seen. I do have a photo of one somewhere. Most of my flying around there was along the river, paying attention to ice and shorelines.
    #22
    Biker_Andy and Lycan1 like this.
  3. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes
    Wier River a few kms upstream of the Nelson River

    Attached Files:

    #23
  4. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes
    Nelson River downstream of Conawapa. The twin engine boat is the one owned by Northern Current Expeditors. The little jet boat is what I used to go towards Gillam Island.

    Attached Files:

    #24
  5. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,796
    at one location, if an old building, it would have to be the biggest trapper cabin ever, the footprint looks house sized.

    i have run across trapper cabins in the remote bush, a few usable, most in disrepair or fallen down. the one room cabin i remember most was a structure i found in the spring before leaves were on the trees, otherwise i would have missed a tiny glimpse of the roof line and gone right by. the cabin was fully stocked, nothing disturbed, and had everything a trapper would have required. rows of traps hanging on the wall, axes and hand saws, cast iron cookware, and all the rest. it looked like some guy stepped out the door one morning 50 years earlier, never to return.
    #25
  6. Biker_Andy

    Biker_Andy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    Yes Parks Canada may not appriciate a bike at York. Not sure how far the heritage site encompasses but I absolutely don't want to damage anything along the way especially at a heritage site. Having a big wheeled, slow moving bike would certainly help not to damage the permafrost. Honestly the idea of cutting trees along the rail bed just to blaze a trail is a bit disheartening as I won't even be using the trees I cut. The rail bed has already permanently changed that bit of landscape and new trees will replace them quickly but still.

    By sticking too the old rail bed I shouldn't have to deal with much swampy conditions or lakes but certainly have a lot more trees in the way. Yes many washouts, rivers and streams to tackle.

    Yes I have stared at Google Satellite pictures mousing over it's entirety for years. Only recently have higher res pictures been available. I haven't used Bing, I didn't realize they had different Sat images. I can't see the rail bed changing from a relatively flat high surface except where there's rivers or creeks making washouts even after over 100 years. The rail bed was totally completed the entire length from the Pas to Port Nelson this is well documented but Canada entered WWI at that time. Steel was in high demand and rail laying wasn't a priority. Also track laying crews were years behind the rail bed crew. This rail bed was built starting at the Pas and over 90% of this rail bed is still in use to this day with very little changes in over 100 years except repairing washouts and trimming the vegatation. Some of the bridges, like the one in the Pas are still the original bridges even.

    If the Weir is slow moving then a raft or Argo can handle it. I wonder if anyone in Gillam has an Argo.
    #26
  7. jdrocks

    jdrocks Gravel Runner

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    8,796
    @Bootht99 you should talk the helo pilot into flying that old rail bed. i looked at it in a little higher resolution and there are some anomalies out there that could be identified.

    liking your photos.
    #27
    Biker_Andy and B10Dave like this.
  8. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    5,735
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    #28
  9. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes
    #29
  10. Biker_Andy

    Biker_Andy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    So part 1 of my plan, bike & boat to Port Nelson Island and York Factory is looking like a real possibility.

    Parks said "If you do manage to get your motorcycle here, we have a winch and trailer system where we could work with you to bring it up to the top, but again, I am not sure how easy it will be to get it to the site."

    Just waiting to hear back from John at Northern Current Expeditors who happens to have a cabin right near York. Paying him to stay at his cabin where he moors his boat while leaving me to play on the man made island a night with another night at York seems like a real possibility. Not sure if it's possible to bring the bike onto the Island. Never hurts to ask though.
    #30
    gpfan and shuswap1 like this.
  11. Bootht99

    Bootht99 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2017
    Oddometer:
    150
    Location:
    North of Camp Hughes
    Awesome! If you do go with John, you'll be in good hands.
    #31
    Biker_Andy and shuswap1 like this.
  12. klahanie

    klahanie Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Tri Cities, BC
    Wife and I had a tourist visit to York Factory in Aug 2015 using Nelson RA. I'll second that the owner Clint is a solid, knowledgeable guy - and suggest that he might be worth contacting for info / options even if your working with someone else. This is not meant to diminish the other outfit (I'd don't know them).

    It's a long run from the Gilliam area to York Factory (120 miles per the Nelson RA website) and the Nelson looked to be a serious river. So, a lot of time and jet fuel.

    Anyway, I just looked thru our old pics. We were pressed for time so didn't stop long around Port Nelson, or what was left of it so don't have much to add just a perspective from the water. As for polar bears, we were lucky to spot an adult and cub swimming the across river (impressive). York Factory has a fenced camping area and Parks staff stay armed when outside. Very cool place, we're lucky to have seen it.

    Good luck with your adventure !


    IMG_5786.JPG IMG_5791.JPG IMG_5687_cropped.jpg IMG_0161_cropped.jpg IMG_0197.JPG IMG_5720.JPG IMG_5781.JPG

    EDIT for formatting
    #32
  13. Biker_Andy

    Biker_Andy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    Just curious, for anyone who has taken the boat, how much did it cost? I was quoted $7,000 and it seemed a bit high.
    #33
  14. klahanie

    klahanie Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2014
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Tri Cities, BC
    ^ Re cost. The N R Adventure website shows $750/person for the tour to York Factory. That's inline with what we paid 5- 6 years ago when one considers inflation etc. There was a minimum group number, maybe 6, I don't recall. That's a full day (1/2 there, 1/2 back) on a good sized jet boat.

    A multi day itinerary for one would be expensive, for sure.

    Not sure what you're currently thinking about riding the old rail grade but - my .02, and you probably already know this - the rail bed to Churchill, which probably runs on some of the old Port Nelson right of way to Amery, is famously challenging to maintain. I believe on account of being built on permafrost in the north and muskeg in the south, plus the damage caused by seasonal flooding.

    In short, while the rail bed is visible on sat photos I can only image how challenging the 'on the ground' condition would be. And that's in an already very tough and unforgiving environment.

    OTOH if you could ride off the island via the bridges that would be very cool, and very hair raising I'm sure !

    -- some crappy pics from the train east of Gillam and one from an island near Port Nelson (note the flatness)

    Attached Files:

    #34
    Bootht99 and gpfan like this.
  15. Doc Brown

    Doc Brown n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2021
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Manitoba Canada
    Cool thread, I like the idea of getting a bike up to Port Nelson, it looks like quite the final stretch. I lived in Sundance from 86-92 while Limestone was being built, one of my bucket list items is to go back up there on a bike and camp, fish, explore for a few days. I grew up in that area with snowmobiles and bikes so the trails in the area are burned into my memory. I plan on going this summer, not sure when exactly but maybe I can be of assistance in some way?
    #35
    Biker_Andy likes this.
  16. Gaulin

    Gaulin Orange (& Blue) Crush

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    Oddometer:
    483
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canuckistan
    Some more info and good footage here:

    #36
    Doc Brown and Biker_Andy like this.
  17. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    3,452
    Location:
    north vancouver bc
    750 - seems like a bargain.
    that would be the experience of a lifetime.
    my gggrandfather landed there in 1813. employed by HBC. ...... more like chucked off the boat, due to a typhoid outbreak - half the boatload died in transit.
    #37
    gpfan likes this.
  18. Biker_Andy

    Biker_Andy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    I have no set dates yet, but my ever changing plan is currently to camp the first night at Little Limestone Lake on route then Sundance the second night. Having a second person to share cost would make the boat ride a lot more reasonable. I know the history of Sundance but I don't know about its current abandoned condition. Is it fenced or posted 'no trespassing' or 'no camping'? Can I assume your a 2034 member? 2085 myself. Having someone with knowledge of trails would be a huge asset, could easily spend a couple days exploring up there. Several roads seeming go nowhere, and a few old abandoned sites. If I could share cost then the boat ride to Port Nelson/York factory is doable. After all that I was thinking of throwing my bike on the train and experiencing Churchill for a few days, still not sure if they will let me load my bike in Gillam or if I need to backtrack to load it on in Thompson. On the way back I want to do an overnight at Kwasitchewan falls but am unsure how I will keep my bike secure. Then last night of my journey at Steep Rock checking out the caves. If any or all of this sounds interesting let me know.
    #38
  19. Doc Brown

    Doc Brown n00b

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2021
    Oddometer:
    8
    Location:
    Manitoba Canada
    Sounds very interesting to me, I was thinking paint lake first night, just to give extra time the next day. Second night I have a nice spot behind the pits to west of henday on the bank of the limestone river, great fishing! 3rd day I want to explore the area, fish, swim and just relive my childhood a bit. After that it would depend on how much time I have. For the ride home I would probably have to race back in one day.

    The old townsite of sundance is pretty much abandoned but the trails still look somewhat open. There’s a lot to see in that area and it’s stunning in the summer. If I have the time I’d go for that boat ride for sure
    #39
    Biker_Andy likes this.
  20. Biker_Andy

    Biker_Andy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    Paint Lake is beautiful but I was thinking more off grid. Also when I discovered the YouTube video on York, posted above, I found out about Little Limestone Lake, also uploaded by Travel Manitoba. I never knew such a place existed, even driving by it several times, but a color changing lake sounds pretty interesting and worth exploring.

    In fact if visiting everything mentioned I would be exploring 5 of the 7 wonders (Little Limestone, York, Churchill, Falls & Caves) on a single trip.
    #40
    Doc Brown likes this.