when the whole scene just "got to me." I smiled, I laughed,
and then for no reason I could fathom I broke into tears. Such a sight.
So overhelming I simply didn't know how to react.
When Lynda walked over her eyes were as big as a child's at Christmas.
We walked back to the canoe and "babbled" about all we had seen,
our good luck, and what in the world could top this day.
As we neared the rapid out of Thirty Mile I was already thinking we should
stop and take a break and wait out the wind. It was gusting to 30 mph
and coming right up the river. And this is a nasty rapid with lots of
manouvering. Not at all the kind of place you want to be fighting wind.
Besides we knew there shoulld be some Inuit sites at this
As we pulled up to the beach I saw a few caribou trotting along the crest
of the high rocky hill. Then the few became a hundred and the scene started
all over with another herd. We ran up to the top of the hill and sat on
the edge of a rocky outcropping as hundreds of animals streamed by. We
sat there and watched then for 45 minutes and they were still coming.
They were all headed to a high hill at the bottom of the rapid where they
may still be herded up for all we know. I would guess we saw easily another
2000 or more animals.
After they passed, we explored and found tent ring after tent ring. We
found all manner of shaped wood, some mortised together beautifully with
hand made copper rivets. We found a paddle and tent poles and tent pegs.
We found stone arrow heads and a old metal "tankard" with a
pour spout. While we were looking at all this Lynda made a noise. I turned
around and saw 20 caribou standing watching me.
After a day like this, how could I possibly bore you with the details
of the fur trade history?
We have never had a trip like this one. It keeps getting more and more
and more unbelieveable. I will surely have a hard time trying to sleep
tonight as I think about all we have seen. In town a month can slip by
and you can find one or two "perhaps highlights." Out here,
and particularily on this trip, every day is a miracle and filled with
I am happy beyond words. I can feel it in my bones, in the core of my
Day 34 - Tuesday
August 10, 2004
Just when we thought it was all over it started again.
We were finishing supper under the tarp - how do people live out here
without one? - when we heard a grunt. " Not again," I said aloud.
I peeked out of the corner of the tarp and the entire several thousand
caribou had drifted to within 10 meters of our kitchen. Even when I got
out to stand and look at them they seemed relatively unconcerned. They
finally quit inching toward us and veered away a tad. Then they all, the
many tens of hundreds, slowly ambled by us about 15 meters away. We watched
for what seemed like forever as they trooped by unconcerend. Some grazing,
some shaking, some stopping to lie down and rest, the tiny ones gamboling
about with the frenetic energy of youth.
I followed them up to the top of the nearby hill and walked through their
line of travel. This had the effect of steering those to my left one way
and those to the right the other. Like a stream, they parted as a river
would past an island. Further away, I could see where they were joining
again. To my right was a "clot" of a thousand animals so tightly
packed that they were rubbing shoulders as they moved. To my left there
were sevearl more hundred and in the valley below was a living moving
mass of "tuktu" - easily another 1500.
In spite of all the emotion of the day I slept like a child and dreamed
about all we had seen. Then about 6:00, while I was dreaming about the
herd we had seen behind the tarp, I could hear them grunting. It was a
waking dream, it felt so real. Then I woke up and looked out the door
of the tent and they all were back again. Lynda and I lay in our warm
bags and watched them on more time. Lynda went back to sleep. She was
sort of "Ho Hum .. another thousand caribou." Besides she loves
We were on the water by about 8:00 and the huge rapid turned out to have
a fairly easy "cheat" line down the right. Where we did a "mad-dog"
fight-for-your-life ferry across to the left in '98 we opted for lining
the right side this time. In '98 we couldn't line as this spill over channel
was dry. The ferry was still doable and I sorely would have loved to make
the move again. But with the easy lining and the little wisdom my age
has given me, lining was the better choice.