Bill Layman & Lynda Holland's 2002 trip
La Ronge to Arviat on Hudson Bay - 55 Days and 1000 miles.
   
  Day #61 Saturday August 10, 2002

Wind. energy robbing, in your face wind that makes every paddle stroke an effort and every mile an eternity. We slogged our way down the river and managed 24 miles after another long hard day. I watched a few caribou today and thought how the wind doesn't bother them a bit. It keeps away the blackflies and mosquitoes that plague them. But then caribou really have no where to go in particular. We have a goal in mind and unfortunately we are in "finish the trip" mode. Me less so than Lynda, but both of us can see that end and the warm shower and the clean sheets. And the thought of waking up and suddenly realizing you don't have to load the canoe and paddle your daily 24,000 strokes - yes, that's about right - would be so nice about now.

I woke up to pee at 5:00 and when I looked out I groaned so loud that Lynda woke up. The Bay had blown in a heavy blanket of fog that you could cut with a knife. The humidity was 100 % and everything was soaked. I rolled over and feigned sleep. When I looked again at 6:00, it was as bad, so we decided to give it an hour. By 7:00 you could see the sun trying to burn off the fog so we got up. By 8:30 the sun had given up the fight and the wind - in our face of course - was really getting up there.

By lunch, after four hours of battle with the wind, we stopped on a rock beach and made a hurried very uncomfortable kitchen with the tarp. But by 2:00 the sun was starting to appear even if the wind was relentless. Our tempers are short and we are both exhausted. We both know that this is the price of admission to Nunavut but it doesn't make it any more fun day after day.

   
 
Where we are now camped it is gorgeous, perhaps the best camp spot we have had on this river. A sandy ridge with a perfect flat spot covered in juniper and cloud berries and Labrador tea. We are under the tarpnmaking spaghetti for supper. For the short term, we are half dry and almost warm. To the west of us we can see one male caribou feeding. But the sky to the east where the weather is coming from is that blacker than black colour that I am getting very very tired of. We will see what we will see tomorrow. For now I will revel in the moment of near comfort however short it may be.
Caribou Trails
   
  We saw many tundra swans today and a handful of caribou.
   
  Day #62 Sunday August 11, 2002

Cold you say? Well, we got up at 6:00 and when we left I had on my heavy fleece underwear, a pair of wind pants and gortex pants on my bottom half and all of that was hidden under the spray cover. The top half was a tee shirt, undershirt, windshell, gortex and a toque with earflaps. On top of this I wore my lifejacket all day. I was still cold long past noon when it started to warm up a bit.

Anyway, as to the here and now. It cleared off all afternoon until now at 7:00 it is just about nice. Not quite but just about. Of course, who knows in this country? Is it any wonder that a sociologist I read about described the Inuit in the 1930s as the world's only true existentialists? What would be the point in making any plans in this country?

We saw several more tundra swans and the caribou are back. We stopped at one spot and saw 16 all within close range.

The morning was hideous with a big wind in our face across Ranger Seal Lake. Huge waves - 2 1/2 to 3 foot and more- and it seemed to take forever. But then we hit the river and the wind started to back off a bit and we flew. We are now within 15 miles of salt water.

Two big rapids today. Both were ledges that involved a lot of ferrying from side to side. A ferry here from side to side is a long way. Easily 1/2 kilometer and more. When we slipped past the ledges I got that "Oh, my God, if you ever fell into that, you'd be toast!" feeling. The river is huge and in places it feels like you are on lake. Then you look at the GPS and see that you are going 6 to 7 mph.

 
     
 
Just when we were ready to quit for the day Lynda spotted 4 canoes off in the distance. We raced to catch up. It was a group of young women form Minnesota from Camp Manito-Wish. That's the picture I am posting for today. If anyone knows the e-mail for the camp, tell them to take a look at their party of paddlers 15 miles fromm the Bay. As I told you, they are going to paddle all the way to Arviat. I tried to talk Lynda into going up the Bay with them but she wouldn't hear of it.
Expedition Team from Camp Manito-Wish
   
  The weather looks like it might hold for tomorrow and if it does we have a good chance of being in Arviat tomorrow night. Mixed feelings here about being finished. At the start it feels like you will never be done and yet here I am somehow at the end. And I gotta' tell you it's true. It isn't the destination, it's the journey that counts.

I'm already thinking about where to paddle next year. This trip will close at about 950 miles and 55 odd days for me. It wasn't too many.

   
  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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