Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-15 page 10 of 40

Day 10 - Charlton Bay

During the night I was sleeping with my hand against the side wall of the tent and received some mosquito bites. The tent is fairly small inside, and unlike our past tents, this model does not use mosquito-proof nylon.


We set off at 6:12 am. We had not slept soundly, so we were still very tired from yesterday. The wind had blown some during the night and this morning it was blowing headwinds for us (northeast) and this persisted all day. The going was slow and strenuous, but it also meant that we had to paddle much farther into the bays than we otherwise would have. This added mileage. The sky completely clouded over, strato cumulus, which was a blessing because the previous day we had a lot of glare off the water. The glare is more intense early in the morning.

A shore break to to put on more clothes.


The morning was also very chilly. About 11:00 am we stopped on a breezy rock island point to put on more clothes. We felt like Michelin Men paddling, but the warmth was well worth it. We saw one goose and the usual gulls, ducks and two terns. Also of note, for the entire journey along the shore of Great Slave Lake we saw not one wild four-legged animal.

Coming to the east end of the Great Slave Lake.

At long last we can no longer see empty horizon to the east. We were coming to the east end of the Great Slave Lake, it was a little disorienting and but also quite momentous. Reaching the Reliance Peninsula, we paddled southwest a few miles and pulled into a bay behind a hook peninsula at 6002/69610 and landed ashore at 3 pm at a small gravel beach. Here we would portage the peninsula.

While Jenny prepared the gear bags, I scouted the portage, climbing the hill to the east - about a 100 foot climb. Then I scouted along the ridge looking for a way down, past the cliffs. By working northeast I soon found a nice way down which led through the forest to the lake's edge, which was a grassy swamp. I returned to the boat and Jenny was just tying a heavy load to the frame packs. We wore running shoes and climbed the hill very slowly, sweating heavily in our bug clothing.

Are you sure this is a lightweight backpack?

Jenny had just shouldered her backpack, with my help, but the minute I let go she lost balance and went down with a crash.

Starting up the hill with the canoe.

Going down the hill we arrived at the shore of Charlton Bay (still Great Slave Lake) in 10 or 15 minutes. The portage was about 1/8 mile. Back at the boat we loaded the remaining gear bags on Jenny's pack and I lifted the canoe. But I only made it about 1/3 the way up the hill. I needed padding on the thwart. So we split Jenny's load and we both carried the canoe with the seats resting on our heads. In this way we reached the top of the hill, still very tired. After ten days of lake padding we were not used to this new type of exercise.

wading through the marsh to lake's edge (Charlton Bay).

We hand-carried the canoe down the far slope to our first pile of gear at the water's edge. In short order we loaded the boat, then waded through the marsh to lake's edge, and set off. The time was 4:45 pm. Once again in headwinds and lumpy seas we paddled southeast through a few islands then a couple miles across the bay. then we worked our way south another four miles to the beautiful sand beach at the beginning of the famous Pike's Portage.

Paddling across Charlton Bay.

A momentous occasion! We reach the start of fabled Pike's Portage.

There was quite a bit of debris left on the ground by previous parties. Most of it was quite old. there were parts of a shoe that looked nearly a century old. There was also evidence of winter parties: parts of sleds, snowmobiles, fur hats. There was a rusty one-pound size can of chewing tobacco with a painted label still legible. A metal porcelain dish, which must have weighed a pound. The staging area was quite extensive here and it was intriguing, as we rambled around, wondering what the adventurers were like, who they were, their objectives. Each one must have been a hearty soul with interesting stories to tell.



We pitched the tent and I wandered up the trail a ways, and found lots of caribou tracks and droppings, and lots of squirrel trails running from one tree to another.

30 miles, 12 hours and 40 minutes, 1 portage. Camp #10: UTM 12W 0603115 6953990 Map 75K


The story has 40 pages. This is page 10.
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