|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 /
|The down side is that
when we got into our sleeping bags, our feet didn't thaw
out till 3:30 a.m. However, we had made it to Aberdeen
Lake and set up camp on the beach.
The next day we were up at 10 and had breakfast on the beach in the kitchen tarp, then set out paddling by about 11 a.m. When we quit at 6 p.m., we had covered another 20 miles. We've done over 40 miles in the last 24 hours and, if all goes well, we'll end up at the narrows between
Aberdeen Lake and Shultz Lake in a day. From there, the last 50 miles stretch is an 8 hour day, so it won't be long until we are at Baker Lake and the end of the journey.
It struck me, up here, that nothing is free; you pay a price for everything. When the weather is comfortable, the bugs are horrible. When the weather is miserable, the bugs are gone. Speaking of weather, we now have low overcast skies, with north west'ish winds. They just help us in the morning. Right now we're digging into some Bear Creek chili, smothered in home made caribou burger, and my homemade salted bacon. We are looking to pack on the fats right now to help us to stay warm.
|Saturday August 4
Last night we were so cold that when we went to bed at 10 p.m., we were wearing all the NRS fleece we own, plus our toques. All this, after having some Bear Creek vanilla pudding with granola that had half an Eatmore bar broken into it, just for extra fuel. I woke up at 3 a.m., dreaming of Mexico. It felt like we were in a sauna. I had to strip naked and lay on the tent floor to cool off.
This morning, we awoke to drizzle and cold dark skies. A flock of honking geese sailed by, about 10 feet over our heads, and landed directly behind the tent. The wind is huge from the west but we are going to try to get in it and sail. That is, of course, if we can launch from the beach where two foot waves are crashing. I keep on thinking of a variation of a song. "Only mad dogs and Layman canoe in the wind for fun." Just as I finished my coffee, two Inuit boats from Baker hammered by into the wind. They're 140 miles from home. Some fishing trip! I wish they could have stopped, but it would have been impossible where we are. My guess is that they are after Tukto (Caribou). It's now 12:15 and we are lunching under our tarp behind a huge continuous sand hill that runs along lake's edge. We've paddled/sailed for about 12 miles and we are frozen solid. The tarp is up to get some shelter from the wind and rain. It's amazing how much heat builds up under these things when you have a Coleman Peak Stove going.
At this point last year, we did a night paddle. At 1 a.m., there were still so many flies that we came across a lone caribou standing on an huge ice wall on the shore (where the lake waters had pushed it) trying to get away from the swarming bugs. Later that night, we glided into what we though was a rock-studded beach. While we unpacked, the rocks got up and drifted away. Caribou. The next day we woke up to a hot sun (where has it gone this year?), and the caribou were back, sleeping just a few hundred feet from us.
The shore is all sand with perfect tabletop camping just about anywhere you stop. You can see frequent gullies/washouts, strewn with boulders, where the rain and the spring run off drain into the lake. The lake is low this year. The place we paddled through last year is a foot out of the water.
The wind is starting to shift north again and we have solid leaden skies and cold, cold, cold. Without the NRS fleece, the Northwater spray cover and Northface Gortex, we would be real unhappy campers. As it is, we are just tired, filthy, stinking (Lynda says she smells like a rose) wet campers.
Bear Creek curry potato soup, fried bread (Bannock, deep fried in lard) and hot coffee for lunch. Yummy! We ground away the afternoon with a strong wind from the north. Remember I said that the prospector is stubborn in a crosswind? I feel like my left arm is about to fall off from drawing all afternoon. There's still lots to tell but it will have to wait until tomorrow because we are as fried as a couple of well done rib steaks in a road side diner and just about as damn tough.
We ended our day with 22 miles. The Peqetuaz Hill rises behind our campsite. We are just off Aberdeen Lake with 115 miles to go. Pizza and Bear Creek chocolate chip brownies for supper. It's such a hard life.
|The shoreline, from where we launched to were we are camped, is littered with 20-30 foot gravel ridges pushed up by ice at break up. The narrows from Aberdeen Lake is a Caribou crossing and there are all manner of Inukshuks and rock hunting blinds.|
|At one point when Lynda
left the tarp, a rather confused Longspur flew in. It
took us a minute to get him/her out. I found it rather
interesting to have it fluttering about my head.
We awoke this morning to the promise of a perfect tee-shirt paddle; it was dead calm and hot, and stayed that way all day. Later in the day we came across a group of paddlers. A couple from Ottawa and another from Phoenix. They were enjoying the Thelon to Baker Lake route at a leisurely pace. They described seeing a grizzly, along with the spectacular sight of some male musk ox males in rut, butting heads. In addition, they had been into the middle of the 3000-member Beverly Caribou herd near Hornsby Point. By some weird serendipity they had met a neighbour of ours from La Ronge, Rod Dubnick, who is up here in a Cessna 185. I guess he stayed in the herd for so long his pals had to drag him out.
We will paddle late, as the water is flat as a mirror and it is still warm. Yesterday, we were frozen. Go figure. We just passed the 600 mile mark and we will spend the night very close to Shultz Lake, the last hurdle of a fantastic trip.
This has to be a first for Palm and Globalstar, as I am actually filing this report from the canoe in the middle of the river.
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