Contents
  Day 1
  Day 2
  Day 3
  Day 4
  Day 5
  Day 6
  Day 7
  Day 8
  Day 9
  Day 10
  Day 11
  Day 12
  Day 13
  Day 14
  Day 15
  Day 16
  Day 17
  Day 18
  Day 19
  Day 20
  Day 21
  Day 22
  Day 23
  Day 24
  Day 25

Canoeing the Kazan River

Kasba Lake to Baker Lake

Northern paddling Adventure #7

25 days, 560 miles, Jul 2001

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2001-07-18 page 9 of 25

Day 9

The east wind blew steadily throughout the night, and at seven the next morning we rose to find the mighty Angikuni Lake solidly white-capped. However, I had figured a route to avoid the worst of the open water. So we soaked the spray cover while breaking camp and loading the canoe, then fitted the cover to the boat. In theory, if we put the canoe in these wave-thrashed waters and and managed to survive the first few moments, then we should do just fine the rest of the morning.

Putting in, on the leaward shore.

Jouncing along the western shore and taking the full brunt of the easterly wind and seas, we passed behind the lee of a pair of islands lying half a mile offshore, and soon turned seaward and paddled three quarters of a mile directly into the wind to a third island. This we passed to its northwest, and then with great difficulty punched into the headwinds along the south shore of a large bulbous peninsula. The paddling was strenuous and the ride was wild, but actually we enjoyed the challenge and the excitement, the wind in our faces and the complete lack of bugs. Once in a while I would ask Jenny if she wanted to stop and make camp, or stop for a shore break, but each time she replied that she wanted to keep going. That suited me perfectly. All this fun was thanks to the Back River for honing our open water canoeing skills.

Two years ago on the Back River we had paddled numerous days like this, except that today was warm, probably in the mid 60's or so. And motivated by a month of cold feet during that trip, I had returned home and designed a set of waders that actually worked. They were working fantastically well, and with them we were no longer concerned when cold water splashed into the boat, nor did we have to stop paddling and sponge the bilge. On the Back we had to sponge incessantly so that our boots and socks would not soak up even more cold water and make our feet even colder than they already were.

This was the first time we had used a spray cover, even though we were finding it more psychologically comforting than anything. As rough as the water was today, the spray cover was not taking very much. My rule of thumb is to keep the hull pointed toward the water. Flippant though that may seem. When the water is flat calm, that means we keep the hull pointed straight down, of course. But when the seas are coming at us hard abeam, we tilt the hull into each oncoming wave by flexing our hips. Done correctly, this goes a long ways in keeping the water out.

Finally we rounded the peninsula, and after passing through a narrow gap to the east of a large island and into the island's lee, we paused for a rest. But the wind was increasing and very rapidly blowing us away from land, so we pulled in again and positioned the boat beam-to a rock, such that the wind was now pinning the canoe to rock. While I studied the map we drank some water, ate a few snacks, then pressed on around the corner. Here the wind was east-northeast at a solid 25 knots, though the land was protecting us from it somewhat. For some reason the seas did not rise. Whereas earlier in the morning we wallowed in 3 foot waves, here they were only about one foot. Apparently the current was flattening the sea state. But what wind! We literally inched our way along the three mile shoreline, paddling with great vigor. At one point we lost control and landed on the rocks near shore. This was no problem even though we had been paddling full tilt, since our actual boat speed was minimal. I simply got out and shoved the canoe back out into deeper water.

Reaching the island's lee, we pulled onto a beautiful gravel beach for a shore break. Dragging the canoe completely out of the water, we indulged in a 20 minute walk up the hillside for a revitalizing round of leg exercise - to say nothing of enjoying the view du jour. The tundra was spongy, lush and beautiful, and walking on it felt almost like walking in soft snow. Our feet sank in a good six or eight inches with each step. After a short while, however, walking on sponges eight inches thick tends to be a bit strenuous to legs unaccustomed to such work. But the beauty of the tundra was unsurpassed, with color, vibrancy, intermingling fragrances, textures and countless small plants and berries to admire. Mortal man or woman could not create a more beautiful garden.

Shore break

Back at the canoe we shoved off and paddled across a bay 1/3 mile wide with the wind doing its utmost to pile-drive us out to sea. Rounding the far point we left the protection of land, and in so doing barely managed another 15 minutes in winds so strong that we could make no further measurable progress. From here my route led across a mile wide gap directly into the wind, but nature seemed to be suggesting that we call it a day.

Our next objective was the land directly behind Jenny. But the wind had increased to more than what we could paddle into. So we landed ashore and made camp, and here we would remain - stormbound for the next couple of days.





Nature had also provided us with a beautiful place to camp. The shoreline here comprised ice-smashed rocks, topped with a beautiful tundra plateau eight feet over the water. So here we landed, or should I say were driven ashore, at 12:30 pm. Right away we pitched the tent, then feeling entirely at home we sat on a lichen covered boulder reveling in the near lack of bugs, and eating a picnic lunch. Picture us there, enjoying the hard-won view, breathing the brisk air, and watching the wind whipping across the straight. Jenny commented, "Now this is the Arctic I know and love."

Pitching the tent in strong wind.



Then we seized the moment by braving the cold water for a well-needed bath and a laundering of clothes.

Even though we couldn't paddle across this part of the lake in the strong winds, we could at least bathe in it. We always took a quick sponge-bath in the tent after a long day of paddling, but even so, it was always refreshing to go into the water every couple of days for some serious scrubbing. And it felt even better to get out of the water. It was cold!

Day's mileage: 8 - not much, but it sure was a lot of fun.

About 5 pm we heard thunder booming away to the west. It grew louder and closer, and we closed the doors just as the torrent began pelting the tent. The strange part is that as the front approached, the 25 knot east wind stopped dead. Moments later came a blast so strong that we actually had to support the tent's walls from within to prevent a total collapse. Rain cascaded from the sky and we were only hoping the canoe would stay put. Again, we always weight it down with food bags etc, but this wind was so strong that it might have sent both boat and the bags cart wheeling.

After 20 minutes the rain gradually subsided, ending the most phenomenal storm I had ever witnessed. Curiously, all morning the wind had been blowing a steady 25 knots from the east, and this storm had moved in from the west. Go figure. Then once the westerly tempest had passed, the wind resumed howling from the east. Meteorologically, I cannot imagine how something like that could occur. At least the hammering rain had annihilated the hoards of ground hugging insects, or so we imagined. But the minute the wind let up, (two days later) the mosquitoes and blackflies were swarming at our netting door as usual.

The story has 25 pages. This is page 9.
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