Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-18 page 13 of 40

Day 13 - Artillery Lake

We set off at 6:55 am into light headwinds with the sky mostly clear. Interestingly, the morning did not warm up. The sun had a definite warming effect, but the chilly northeast wind counteracted it. And when the clouds obscured the sun, it was even colder. Here along the shore of Artillery Lake there are very few trees.

Adjacent the lake's outlet (Lockhart River) we could hear a surprisingly loud roar of cascading water. The morning cold chased us into warmer clothes. It felt odd, here in the middle of summer, under bright, gleaming sunshine, to be dressed in so many layers of clothing.

At one point Jenny spotted a wolverine traipsing along the tundra bank above shore. The wolverine's mode of walking is the opposite of a cat. Instead of flowing, it bounces, doing a hobby-horse motion. This wolverine was very light colored, light beige, and appeared large and healthy.

By now the headwind had intensified, so the paddling was arduous. A few times it borderd on the whitecap stage. The tendency was to haul ashore and call it a day, but we were still making progress although not as much as we would have liked. I often thought of Verlen Kruger who was little affected by headwinds.

We stopped for a 15 minute shore break to wash socks and my shell jacket. This was a challenge because the water was so cold, and we had very little reserve warmth in our bodies. But back on the water, the paddling kept our metabolism on an even keel.

A 15 minute shore break

The water clarity in this lake is astounding. We can often see the bottom 30 or 40 feet deep or more. Sometimes we see fish. And the air is wonderfully clean, clear, crisp. Breathing in a full lungful feels healthy. Along the east shore, where we are paddling, are occasional snow patches. We paddled past one extensive patch of shore ice.

A small patch of Lingering snow.

We approached a giant buttress standing like a Rock of Gibraltar. On its seaward walls was a community of swallows. We could barely make out their mud nests, the birds swooping and gathering insects then flying back to the nests. I put out the fishing line here, but didn't have much hope because the water was so rough. But after awhile the line went tight and in fact so tight that I thought I had snagged the bottom. The seas were wild at least to us. It was all Jenny could do to keep us safely away from shore while I dealt with the tugging fishing line. After a minute of this I realized that we were moving slowly ahead and so it couldn't be a snag because we were moving.

After a good workout that tired my hands and arms, I got the fish close enough to the boat for a good look. It was a nice looking lake trout, almost too much to handle in the boisterous water, especially when it sounded directly beneath the canoe as my fishing pole bent over pointing straight down.

Eventually Jenny grabbed the line and taking a chance of losing the fish, she hauled it into the canoe at her feet. In lieu of a net, that was about all she could have done. Reaching into the gills would have been risky because of the hooks. Jenny knocked it out and kept a foot on him to keep it still.

Because of the surf we could not land there. We paddled to the second sandstone island, landed in its lee and cleaned and sectioned the fish, wiped out the canoe where the fish had been, then set off again.

Lake trout for supper (and meals for the next day or two).

The wind began to abate and we made our way along the shore, behind Crystal Island which is a 5-mile long land mass in its own right.

Camp #13 on the shores of Artillery Lake.

To cook a fish, Jenny boils it, in pot-sized pieces, then when the meat falls off the bones, she removes the bones and its ready to serve.

At 5:05 pm we called it quits for the day on a clean gravel beach. We relished the pot of boiled fish and broth. Today we saw some Canada geese on a grassy slope, about a dozen. When you see a dozen objects clustered together and they're all the same color, size and shape, you need to keep watching because they might start moving. So much for nature's camouflage.

26 miles, 10 hours. Camp #13: UTM 13W 0354213 6994889 Map 75O (75 Oh)

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