Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-19 page 14 of 40

Day 14 - Artillery Lake

During the night a large animal ran through camp, a caribou judging by the rattle of hooves on rocks and the clicking of caribou ankle bones, although we didn't see the animal. The nights are becoming darker, also.

We set off at 6:05 am in a perfect calm. Even far out their was no wind to blow the mosquitoes away, so we had to do a lot of swatting to eliminate them from around us, one by one. Then we were free to remove our headnets and enjoy the morning. Like yesterday, the morning never warmed up - even though the sky was blessed by frequent periods of sun.

On a no wind morning we have to rid the the mosquitoes by swatting them, before we can remove our headnets. And as long as we stay away from shore, where more bugs will find us, we can keep free of them.

At one point we watched the canoe's shadow gliding across the sandy lake bed with the bow and stern wakes clearly casting their shadows on the bottom as well. It was quite unique.

The boat's shadow on the lake's sandy bottom. The water was amazingly clear.

In another place we observed very perplexing objects on the sandy lake bed below. Oval mounds about 14 inches long and half that wide. They appeared to be about 3 or 4 inches tall. There were hundreds of them and much too regular to be rocks. They were in about 8 feet of water, in a nearly 1/8-mile area.

After six hours of wonderful calm, the headwinds began - lightly at first then gradually building. At about 7015N we left the main shore and paddled due north to an island, two miles distant. Arduously hobby horsing in the waves, we powered ahead in a very strong headwind. Reaching the island, we paddled to the next island to the northeast, and there we landed, hoping the wind would subside.

The seas are becoming rougher and Jenny is pointing to a possible landing in the distance.

We enjoyed a three-hour shore break. Jenny heated our leftover fish chowder with instant potatoes. This was the only island of size that I have ever been on that had no signs of human presence, present or past.

Before leaving we fitted the spray cover. Never again will we take a snap-on spray cover. It is a tedious task and it took us much too long, 15 minutes, and even then I had to leave the back part open.

We set off into the difficult headwinds and pounding head seas, padding to the next island with just the front portion of the spray cover attached. But I took a large splash into my cockpit, so in the lee of the small island I fitted the remainder of the aft spray cover.

The wind kept increasing with white caps everywhere and sizeable surf on the rocky shore. So we decided to call it quits. We pulled into a protected bight at 2:45 pm. Hoping this wind would diminish in a few hours, as it has done on many days past, we heaved the loaded canoe onto dry rocks and strolled up to the ridge for a view.

I wandered around some more to see what there was to see, and when I returned I found Jenny in her insulated parka asleep on the rocks next to the canoe. I suggested we make camp, but she was hopeful of the wind calming. So I put on my insulated parka and joined her on the rocks for half an hour's sleep. Thanks to the wind there were no bugs. And even in the presence of the clouds, the sun warmth was radiating through. Our warm clothing blocked the chilly wind. It was comfortable and pleasant, despite any appearances to the contrary.

The clouds built in the afternoon until the sky was completely covered. At 6:30 pm the wind was still blowing strong, and the weather looked like possible rain. So we scouted around for 20 minutes looking for a tent site. It was all rocks, tundra hummocks or sloped ground. We finally settled on a makeshift tundra patch that turned out quite good.

The boat and tent are about a hundred feet from the water's edge, contrary to appearances in this photo.

19 miles, 8.75 hours. Camp #14: UTM 13W 0367739 7020312 Map 75O (75 Oh)

The story has 40 pages. This is page 14.
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