|Bill Layman & Lynda Holland's
2001 trip, on the
Dubawnt River in the North West Territories & Nunavut.
Tuesday July 03 / Wednesday July 04 / Thursday July 05 / Friday July 06 / Saturday July 07 / S
|A longer day today, with about 8 1/2 hours and 22 miles. Right now at our campsite, de julie thon (Dene for lots of mosquitoes). As well, the blackflies are beyond belief. Still, we have a fresh caught thlewizane (trout) for supper tonight. YIPEEE!|
|It is a GREAT day, with
huge, grey-bottomed clouds with white fluffy tops
floating in a sea of aquamarine. I know it sounds silly,
but it looks just like the sky that opens the Homer
Simpson show. (Honest. Take a look.) Lovely to have sun
and hot weather. We luxuriate in it. There is just enough
breeze so that we don't overheat. We make miles like
I have to stop for a radio interview with MBC in La Ronge and I do it right from the middle of the lake. Different. It's fun to talk about our Dene pals in the north who all listen to Missinipe Broadcasting. This country means so much to them.
Just before we left to come up here we had to go to a funeral. I was in a real bad space and then we stopped to visit a couple we know from Wollaston. Hector and Maryanne Kkailther were at their daughter's house in Prince Albert. Hector was more than excited about our trip. He looked at me with a smile and a far off look in his eyes and said, "That country is so beautiful. If I won the lottery I would live there forever." He would.
Just like clockwork, at lunchtime a magic spot appears in an otherwise bleak shoreline. We find a little rock outcrop where we can nestle the canoe and lift the kitchen pack onto a perfect tabletop. I sit in my Crazy Creek chair (thanks to our friend Megan whom we met last year on the Thelon) and cook up some awesome Bear Creek Tortilla soup and a bannock with tea. On days like this, I remember why we are here. We are truly so lucky to be able to do this. Health and finances allow us to follow our dream.
We put in a big afternoon and finish the day at a rapid. This is the first moving water we have seen, at the outlet of Wholdaia lake. For the next many days we will be on a river, so we should see lots and make mucho miles. We are camped on top of a tundra peat field with the scent of what I imagine a Scottish highland smells like wafting over us. The gulls camped beside us are eating the millions and millions and millions of caddis flies that must have just hatched. I know there are grayling in the river but tonight it is Bill's Best Pizza and Bear Creek fudge brownies. (Lynda votes these12 on the 10 scale.). We made just over 24 miles today.
|Tuesday, July 10
Last night when we went to the tent it was covered with mating caddis flies. There must have been thousands. So what's the deal? They like Northface stuff, too? In the morning, the canoe was filled with them as was the water pail and everything we own including our boots.
There are thousands of blackflies and mosquitoes and midges and mayflies. What an explosion of life. I try to imagine what it must be like for a Lapland Longspur to fly around, mouth open, consuming the equivalent of a Big Mac every few seconds. Small wonder they like the tundra.
We stopped at the last island out of Wholdaia and visit an old Black Lake winter trapping cabin in a lovely spot, sheltered from northwest wind and with a gorgeous tundra esker in the back. Lots of neat stuff around, from an old Skidoo Olympic chassis to a net jigger for winter net setting. Someone will know whose place this is and we will check it out when we get back to La Ronge.
The river is breaking into tundra now but is far from pretty and, in fact it is even hard to find a lunch spot. When we do, it is a beauty, and well worth the wait ... a rock table top with enough lichen to make a great place to lie down a snooze for a few minutes after we eat. And bless the gods or goddesses NO FLIES!
The warmish weather and wind have re-ignited the forest fires we passed yesterday that were still smouldering. As predicted, the current is a great help and we bang off 30 miles, stopping at 6:00 at the base of a gorgeous sand esker on Hinde Lake. A fox scooted off of the beach as we landed the canoe and I am looking at a giant caribou rack from where I sit under the kitchen fly. On the beach we found some pieces of wood with copper nails that I conjecture is from and old wood and canvas canoe.
|Real fun afternoon. I
love the boat we are in. The Prospector hull design rules
as far as I am concerned and the 17-foot Novacraft
royalight boat we have performs as any good Prospector
should. She is ornery in a crosswind on a big lake but
put her in rapids and she dances. It is so nice to have a
boat that does all the work for you and listens to the
most subtle of paddle strokes. Given the Dubawnt canyon
portage of 2 1/2 miles, it doesn't hurt my feelings that
she weighs only 67 pounds.
We are surrounded by tundra birds - Canada geese, tundra swans, snow geese, and curlews, greater and lesser yellowlegs - as well as common loons and even a few eagles. Grayling are jumping everywhere all day and the trout are surfacing to eat the caddis flies. I resist the urge to fish and we dine on Bear Creek Damn Good Chili and wild rice pilaf.
I think I am working Lynda too hard. Today when she lay down on the boat to take a quick break as we drifted along she said, "Gee, I wonder why every time I stop to rest and then sit up, I can only see in black and white for awhile." l said nothing. Any doctors got any ideas? Will I get her through the trip?
Lots of marked rapids for tomorrow so it could be exciting. We had a good breaking in today and all went well. But it does feel funny to go from our bent shaft Zaveral paddles that weigh about as much as my coffee mug to a whitewater paddle. Feels like you just picked up a ton of bricks.
Oh and just to whimper ... I stood on my reading glasses today and broke them. Since I can't see, map reading is going to be a real chore. I can just see the headlines when we take a wrong turn and end up in New Mexico or go over a waterfall....
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