Bill Layman & Lynda Holland's 2002 trip
La Ronge, Saskatchewan to Arviat, Nunavut on Hudson Bay - 55 Days and 1000 miles.
Day #36 Monday July 15, 2002

So let's start at the end of the day for once.

We got to Caribou Rapids, which we have run before, at about 5:00 p.m. A tight turn to river right with a HUGE ledge hole across the left side about 1/2 way down. Right near the ledge is a rock which is about 20 feet from shore. On the other side of the rock there is a slick 15 foot wide run which, if taken, puts the rock on your right and the ledge hole close enough you can smell it's breath.

A Day for a Sail
  Last time we ran it, we kept the rock on our left to stay near shore and avoid the slick tongue route.

I'm not sure what happened, but the tail got too far away from shore and the left side of the boat hit the rock. No bigee.. if we had been able to slide down on the right side of the rock. Instead, we pivoted around the rock and got dragged backward onto the tongue right beside the hole. Lynda screamed a whole series of expletives and I made a new plan that saw us front ferrying past the hole and safely to the bottom of the run. Oh, would I like to have that run on video!

The next rapid is equally bad and we sanely lined it on river right. Annie Benonie must have gone to church and prayed for us yesterday. We had wind and cold rain from the east all night. When I woke up I expected to be wind bound, as it was howling. I stuck my head out of the tent to have a look and discovered that, during the night, the wind had turned 180 degrees and we had a huge tail wind and sunny skies. After about 7 1/2 hours, we got about 27 miles. We sailed lots and got the boat up to 5 1/2 mph according to the GPS. Lynda could barely hang on.

Charcoal Lake is spectacular. The Dene call it Sunrise Lake. It is easy to see why people from Lac Brochet and Wollaston trapped and lived in the area. There are many sand eskers that are all burned. The standing dead gray fire-killed trees contrast wonderfully with new green growth dotting the horizon. Toward the outlet there is a lot of rock that it is all exposed due to the fire. Many of the eskers at this end are gravel and are dotted with pink and grey and white boulders.
The sparse new green growth of jackine is interspersed with purple fireweed. In the low wet area all the Labrador tea is blooming white as a snowstorm.

Huge flat-bottomed clouds floated in a sky of blue all day. We saw many eagles today and at lunch on the second cast landed a five pound pike which we just finished ... and was it good. The wind is still howling in from the west. Much more and we would have a hard time paddling with it.

Tomorrow will see us into Manitoba and off the Cochrane River as we work our way into P G Downes' "chain of little lakes." By about noon we will be following the route of thousand of Dene, dozens of trappers and freighters and Magee and Ernest Oberholtzer. The fourth time for
me on this route and the third for Lynda. So much compelling history here.

  Day #37 Tuesday July 16, 2002

The wind gods are having an arm wrestling contest for sure. Last night it started to rain buckets. Remember how strong I told you the wind was? Well it drove in a storm and just kept up all night. Again, it did a 180 so it was in our face when we got up. It was real cold and we piled on the clothes.

Leaden skies with clouds and mist so low you could reach out and touch them with an outstretched hand. Never enough rain or wind to make it bad enough to quit, but enough to make us miserable. At lunch, after three hours, we had ground out about 9.5 miles. We made a long stop under the tarp and out of the cold for lunch.

After all kinds of "let's go, let's not" discussion, we set off. Do you think I can get my dearest to quit? Not a chance. She had a plan and it involved being into the P G Downes "chain of little lakes". We have been at a certain camp, where there is lots of old "memorabilia" scattered about, and Lynda wanted to camp there tonight. She seemed to ignore the fact that this would result in a 20 mile day, all into the wind. We made it, but not until 7:00. It is now 8:00 and we have camp up and supper about ready. But I for one am beat.

We ran three nice S turn rapids today and did far better than yesterday. Lynda told me to mention that she LOVES LOVES LOVES her new Extrasport lifejacket. I don't know what model it is, so tomorrow I'll get a picture of Lynda wearing it. Its hard to get a lifejacket that fits a woman but Lynda wore hers all day for warmth and said it fits just great and is very comfortable. I have the same one and agree that it is a keeper. My MEC jacket is up for sale when I get back.

On the topic of comfortable, if you don't have a Crazy Creek chair you have to get one. We went for near a decade without them. Then Lynda sat in one. The rest is history. At the end of a long day, it is a blessed relief on the back I can tell you. The minimalists in the crowd can use it to sleep on. We use 3/4 light Thermarest and pop the chair flat and use it under our feet on cold nights.

  We saw a cow and a caramel-coloured calf moose today and many eagles. Too wet to get any pictures, but trust me, this is a great spot. We are tucked in behind a burned esker, on new grass, with beans on the go, life is just fine.

Oh. Mosquitoes from HELL. The same thing happened when we hit this spot last trip. The Dene say "de julie thon" about this area. Lots of mosquitoes. Are they right! But under the tarp and in our "Original Bug Shirts" we laugh at the little blood suckers. With lots of carrying tomorrow, the bug shirts are going to get a workout for sure.

View from the Campsite
  La Ronge to Arviat Trip Map
Here are the
Sponsors & Introduction Story for the 2002 trip
Check out Bill and Lynda's
2001 trip to the Dubawnt River in NWT & Nunavut.
Bill Layman's bio - with other Trips & Stories by Bill.
Live text edited by
Joan Eyolfson Cadham, freelance writer/editor, Foam Lake Saskatchewan.


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