Paddling the Dubawnt and the Kazan - 2004 Canoe Expedition

Day 13, Tuesday July 20, 2004

   

Just rolled into camp at 7:00 pm after starting at 7:30 this morning. 28 miles in 8 hours and we are now camped at the base of the hill where Tyrell left his cairn. But ya' know what? I am too pooped to give a rat's ass. We will look at it in the morning and I will do a more detailed e-mail then. Now I need food and sleep.

The weather was great and the paddling was easy. But neither of us slept worth a darn last night. Note to self. On a layover day, don't drink 8 mugs of coffee mixed with hot chocolate. Duh!

 
 

Day 14, Wednesday July 21, 2004

Well the best laid plans of mice and men. We were up at 7:30-ish and generally took it easy. We decided to pack up and head up to the Tyrell cairn where I could do a radio interview with CBC at 9:30. The mosquitoes and black flies were from outer space. Clouds of them swarmed us but the wind was still from the west and held them at bay. The day promised clear skies and a tailing wind so, after the interview, we headed the 2 1/2 miles to the first portage. Lynda suggested I would be too warm as I had my NRS fleece pullover out. Was she WRONG.


We got to the portage and made our first trip across. It was your standard tundra portage. Wide open peat fields and hummocky as all get out. Hard walking but it was short, at 15 minutes for a bit over 1/2 km. On the trip back for the next load we were amazed to see how the sky had darkened. It was as black as the ace of spades and rain clouds were fast approaching. We were barely into our gortex when the full force of the wind and rain hit us. 20 to 25 mph wind and almost horizontal sheets of rain assaulted us as we hauled load 2 of 3 across. Somehow the gentle west wind had been stopped dead by a northern force to be reckoned with.


Ever been in a bar when the toughest guy in town shows up and cleans house? Well it was like that. One minute the west wind was pretending to be tough ... then this braggart showed up and took his woman, hit him over the head with a pool cue, drank all his beer and laughed all the while. One look at the 3-mile-long north-facing lake and we knew there was no way we would be going anywhere for awhile. Lines of whitecaps charged down the lake in precisely the direction we would be forced to paddle. We were forced to put the tarp up in a shoreline willow bog, the only place that afforded a bit of a break from the wind. We crawled under and what wasn't soaked from the outside rain was soon saturated from the soggy ground beneath.


Hot tea, bannock and soup helped warm us from the inside. And I got to try my new high-tech Montbell down jacket. In its stuff sack, it's the size of a potato and weighs about as much as a chocolate bar. Put it on and instant heat. That piece of gear is going onto "my-always-take-along" list . Now if the dolts at USPS hadn't lost all the other stuff, I would be in heaven.


Anyway, as fast as the bully hit town he was gone with his torrential rain clouds in tow - about an hour. We both looked at each other and I quizzed, "What was that all about?" It ended so quickly. But he left his brother behind -the damn wind. It won't quit and is steady at 12 mph gusting to 25. Remember my wind meter? No way we can paddle in this so we are now in the tent on a piece of tundra bog. A little soft and lumpy - like me really - but so comfortable - like me really. The Marmot Fortress is laughing at the wind and just begging for more so she can show her stuff.


It is very unlikely that we will get anywhere else today, so score 3 hours, 2 1/2 miles and a 1/2 kilometer portage for "Baunl-eye Teak-ah-zay" - bald white guy - as my pal George St. Pierre from Wollaston has taken to calling me.


Did I mention how much I love to portage my new Novacraft Bluesteel Prospector? It only weighs 55 pounds and is a delight to carry - well, as much of a delight as any boat is to carry in a 20 mph cross wind across a hummock peat field. If you haven't seen these boats give them a call at 519-455-6252 and get a catalogue. Tim and his crew make fantastic boats. Tell him I said so.


Later kids.


 

Resources

 

Web Casts on Out-There.com

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

 

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Other Rivers

Coppermine River - Northwest Territories

Fond du Lac River - Saskatchewan

Kazan River - Nunavut

Thlewiaza River - Manitoba/Nunavut

Thelon River - Northwest Territories/Nunavut

 

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Canoe and Kayak - America's Paddling Magazine

 

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