Bill Layman & Lynda Holland's 2002 trip
La Ronge, Saskatchewan to Arviat, Nunavut on Hudson Bay - 55 Days a 1000 Miles.
   
 
Day #12 Friday June 21, 2002

Some mornings when I awaken, I marvel at the dreams that have drifted passed my closed eyes. One scene after another, flowing together with no clear beginning or end. Soft muted blues, greens and magentas, an entire palette of colours, suddenly turn to stark blacks, whites and grays. As often as not, I want to go back to the place I have been all night, so I can see more. I always marvel at how quickly the night passes and how much seems to have happened as I slept.

 
A Perfect Sandy Beach on Reindeer Lake
   
  I am now at the end of day 12 of this trip, and although I know that I have traveled nearly 225 miles, I feel as if it all has passed as a dream. The immediacy of each day, and all that I have seen, has blurred into one great continuum. Try as I might I can't possibly go back to grasp the day-to-day events, any more than I can go back and start a dream over again. But the feeling I get when I awaken late at night and drift back to sleep, confident that I can start to dream again, is the feeling I have now. So many days stretch in front of me I can hardly believe it will ever end. And when it does, with any luck, I will get to start all over again next summer in some other northern landscape of dreams. I must already be making plans for where to go. God I hope these dreams never end.

Today was unbelievable. Up at 6:00 (it felt as if we had slept in) and off by 7:15. We had a slight tail wind and although we took a long lunch and stopped for almost an hour to do an MBC radio interview we covered 21 miles by 4:00. We were going to paddle until 5:00 or 6:00 but then a camp spot that rated 12 on a scale of 10 appeared. With a view covering about 10 miles of the lake from our open air kitchen, we are camped on a perfect shelf of smooth gray, white, pink, ochre granite. The tent is about 30 feet behind the kitchen on a flat table of bedrock cover with about 4 inches of soft caribou lichen. The sky promises no rain so we have decided to leave the fly off for the night.

This is truly a spectacular lake. All morning we worked our way along the western shore in and out of a maze of islands. The islands run in a north east to south west direction, the same direction that the glaciers moved along. They are more often than not, longer than wide and the ends of each island seems to have been scoured by the ice sheet and left perfectly smooth. These make wonderful lunch spots.

While Tom tended the stove in his Crazy Creek chair, he could extend his arm and almost reach the water. Within minutes I had 2 gorgeous, firm fleshed, northern pike on the table (if, of course we had a table) and we dined, as would kings. Warm air is moving back in and there are still no bugs to speak of. Tonight we dine on pizza and vanilla pudding.

 
The Huge Boulder with the Abandoned Eagles Nest
 

We found a huge boulder, seemingly dropped along the shore and looking very much out of place. An eagle had started to build a nest of sticks on the top of it, but it had long abandoned the task. We also stumbled on a lovely little cabin behind a beautiful sandy beach where we did our radio interview. What a spot to spend the summer. For that matter, what a spot to spend the winter.

 

 
 

A day and a bit to the Swan Blondeau. I think less poetic ramblings will issue forth when we get there. It is supposed to be quite an unattractive slog from all accounts.

 
  Day #13 Saturday June 22, 2002

Talk about a day with about enough stuff going on! We got up at 5:45 and hit the water by 7:05. We are getting faster and faster starts each day. We have a nice rhythm and neither of us feels rushed. The same thing is happening now at lunch. Today for example we made a bannock, tea, soup and fried a gorgeous, oh so delicious trout I caught. From hitting the shore, to eating like royalty, to a short nap and doing the dishes we were back in the water in 1 1/2 hours. It's really neat how this happens and Tom is right into it. He is absorbing the how to of this out-fit like a sponge. While I'm sure he will make modifications to his own outfit, to reflect his own particular preferences, I'm sure he will not have any trouble making a Christmas or birthday wish list for family and friends. From the Ostrom Nanabijou kitchen pack, to the barrels and harnesses, to the pot set, to the Zaveral bent shaft and Werner whitewater paddles, to the Coleman Apex II stove ... he wants it all. I hope all who know him and are reading this take the time to ask him what he really wants and needs come present time.

 
 
So with coffee done we set off in calm seas. A mounting south wind soon had us sailing for about 3 hours. Tom seemed to really get the hang of this. You see the bow paddler can't do a thing but hold on to the paddles that hold up the sail. The stern paddler (me damn it all) has to keep paddling and steering.

 

 
Tom the Master Sailor
   
  As I noted we caught a trout. This took all of about five minutes. As we drifted past a small island I told Tom to take a break as I rigged up to troll. I had hardly explained how the trout are a little too far off shore to catch by casting and that trolling might work when wham! I had a 5 pound trout. By the time I had landed it we had drifted to shore. We just stepped out of the canoe and I filleted it on a rock Total time under 10 minutes! And was it good? Tom says it was succulent, delicious, heavenly, decadent. Get the idea? This makes 5 lunches out of 13 that we have had to eat fish. Tough life huh?

We were out of the wind on a north facing rock shore for lunch. The moderate seas of the morning hadn't changed much. So we set off into the south east wind only to watch a huge storm race through like a herd of wild horses. The storm was moving at 45 degrees to the steady wind of the morning. As a result we ended up in choppy water and had to turn and run with the wind to a rocky set of islands where we are now pinned. The waves we ran with were easily 3 feet and came up from nowhere! In the end it was fine and the Novacraft Prospector handled it like all get out. But it wasn't what we wanted and we ended up about 2 miles off course. We are now under the tarp trying to figure out if it is going to rain or not. The air is thick with smoke from forest fires. The sky has gone form clear and sunny to a low hazy overcast gray. We may yet paddle .. or we may be stuck here. I hope we can get out of here as this is about a 3 on the 10 scale as camp spots go.

We are due west of Kinoosao (fish in Cree). This tiny little village is probably known to less than a handful of Saskatchewan residents. In spite of the fact that I live in the north I can't remember the last time I was there. I will leave the rest of the days events for tomorrow, since we may be paddling late to make up a few miles.

Good night and hugs to Karin and Lynda from Tom and I.

   
  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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