Paddling the Dubawnt and the Kazan - 2004 Canoe Expedition

Day 1, Thursday July 08, 2004

Well the adventure is starting again. Sort of starting that is. After what feels like about a million years, we are within an hour of Stony Rapids. By noon tomorrow we will be at the south end of Selwyn Lake, en-route to Baker Lake.

Rather than burning ourselves out by driving into Stony and trying to fly out, all in one day, we stopped at the Wapata River bridge to camp. The plan is to head into Stony early and do a bit of visiting, then hit the water by about noon.


This road is beyond belief. For anyone who has the temerity to complain about roads in the south, try the 200 kilometers from Points North to Stony. It takes about 6 hours if things are going good! Lots of soft sand and bare rock boulder fields could easily serve as a proving ground for a "Built Ford Tough" truck commercial. We are filthy from dust and grime and beat from bouncing around in the truck for 11 hours. People that we know were working on the road. Raymond Fern from Fond du Lac said he figures about 10 years and the road might be as good as the worst one in North America. Just as we were finishing supper Glen Strong from Stony stopped and gave us a bag of caribou meat for tomorrow's supper. Man, is that going to taste good.


So, right before we left the sat phone quit, my Palm Pilot (that I use for emails) crashed and is wrecked, and my battery charger ate two phone batteries. The canoe arrived at the last minute and I had to spend 8 solid hours rigging it out and putting on the spray cover. Oh - did I mention that I ordered about $1500 worth of high-end Montbell gear - sleeping bags and the like - and after 16 days the USPS guaranteed-3-day-delivery-to-Canada package hadn't arrived?

On the plus side we have strong south winds and the temperatures are in the mid 20 range. Stony holds the high in the province CBC tells us. About time! Saw a few huge fires off in the distance along the road. There's a downside to hot summer weather.

More tomorrow. It can't help but be better when we hit the water.

Day 2, Friday July 09, 2004

We both had a horrible sleep last night. Just as we finally crawled into the tent, filthy and exhausted, a semi stopped by the bridge right next to where we were camped. This was not just any old semi, but one with a "reefer" to keep the trailer cold. The compressor motor kept turning on and off all night and then another big rig stopped and let his motor idle until they both left at about the same time as we got up.

We visited with a good friend who is now in long term care at the new Stony Rapids Health Care Facility. Lynda has known Father Jean Megret for over two decades and in fact helped him to write his memoirs. He was excited to hear that the book - Benasni: Forty Years with the Dene - is going to be reprinted by Lynda (with a new title and much expanded). Father was so excited to hear about our trip. He wished us well and it was clear if his health permitted he would love to be going with us. But for me, I am jealous of the way he travelled with the Dene when they were still nomadic, when they lived almost entirely off the land and not in the confused malaise that are the villages of the north now.

Just as we were off to Northern Dene Air to load the Beaver, we saw Rose Good sitting on her porch. Rose is the daughter of Adeline Chaffee - a northern legend - and as did Father, she wanted to come out in the bush with us. I told Father that the first caribou we saw would be for him and I told Rose that the second would be for her. Jokingly I added that the third would be for the cooking pot.

We got away at noon. I was puzzled as I was sure the flight would be cheaper than what Nicole calculated. It wasn't until Matt, our pilot, was heading over Bompas Lake that I figured out Nicole had calculated the mileage to near Selwyn Lake Lodge which is nowhere near where we wanted to go. I showed Matt our drop off on the map and pointed at a beach just north of the portage from Bompass to Selwyn. He pointed us straight down and we got off at the exact same beach where we landed 2 years ago on our Dubawnt trip. Nice try Nicole! I know it's your anniversary today but you can't subsidise your night out with my check. It might bounce anyway.

Matt had a sign in the plane that said "Tipping the pilot ensures he will remember where to pick you up." I gave him $25.00 and made him promise NOT to pick us up. "In fact just forget where we are and don't tell anyone," I added.

Perfect hot sunny weather with a trailing tail wind saw us paddle some 14 odd miles. We are now under the tarp and are the good kind of filthy and tired - the kind that is from hard work, too long in the wind and sun, and with a limitless horizon of wilderness stretching to Baker Lake some 35 days away.

Caribou steak grilled over an open fire with foil-wrapped veggies and corn on the cob is on the menu. Then all we have to do is sleep like two children tonight. The stress and pressure of the day to day will vanish now as the familiar routines and rhythm that is paddling through this land takes hold once again.

We are so happy to be here.





Web Casts on

Paddling the Dubawnt and the Kazan - On Going 2004

Vermette Lake, NWT to Stoney Rapids, Saskatchewan - 2003

La Ronge to Arviat on Hudson Bay: 55 Days and 1000 miles - 2002

Paddling the Dubawnt River through the NWT and Nunavut - 2001


Expedition Sponsors

Globalstar - Satellite Communications

Iowa Thin Film - Portable Solar Power

Mont-Bell - Outdoor Gear and Clothing

North Water - Paddle Sports Equipment

Nova Craft - Canoes

Socket Communications - The Mobile Connection Company

Tilly Endurables - Travel Clothing


Other Rivers

Coppermine River - Northwest Territories

Fond du Lac River - Saskatchewan

Kazan River - Nunavut

Thlewiaza River - Manitoba/Nunavut

Thelon River - Northwest Territories/Nunavut


Other Articles

Canoe Gear For The Subarctic


Other Features

Kanawa - Canada's Paddling Magazine

Canoe and Kayak - America's Paddling Magazine


Related Links


All contents copyright © White Cat Media 1995-2004.
Click here if you have arrived at this page directly from a search engine
and/or you don't see the navigation bar on the left