Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-07 page 2 of 40

Day 2 - Great Slave Lake

There was heavy rain during the night and it was still drizzling in the morning. There was not much wind, but the morning was not inspiring either, so we slept in. The last few day's preparations at home, the traveling to Yellowknife, and the preparations there, had left us deeply fatigued. Now, at last, it was time to relax. we slept most of the day.

The boat had collected several inches of rain. Although most of the gear we had left in the boat was in dry bags, we had left half a dozen plastic grocery sacks full of groceries like bread, crackers, cheese, fruit, and cookies that got rather soaked.

Late afternoon, we're loading the canoe.

The weather started looking better about 4:30 pm, so we decided to move on. Besides, as the afternoon wore on the day had grown warm and the tent's interior had become intolerably hot, even though the skies were still very cloudy. We set off at 6:22 pm and paddled south, staying outside of all the islands of size. Then we finally, ducking through the channel just before reaching the last large island in the chain, we paddled southeast with a light crosswind across 1.5 miles to the next island chain.

The tower on the skyline is a shaft headframe at a mining site.

We stayed outside of all of these islands until Post Island where we ducked inside. The sky let loose with rain again. We did not have the spray cover fitted, but at least we had our waders and rain jackets at the ready. For 15 minutes it was a full-on deluge. From Post Island we steered due east. About 10:30 pm we had had enough. Jenny was feeling ill, and had vomited over the side. She had picked up a bug of some sort in Portland and had been feeling pretty rotten the last 3 days.

At 10:48 pm we stopped at the last island before reaching the mainland. The shoreline slabs were covered in thick, luxurious lichens that were sopping wet like sponges. The bare rock was extremely slippery. I located a barely-make-do tent site on the rocks 20 feet above the water. We hauled the boat out of the water. shivering, I felt deeply chilled. I had not realized I was so cold. Jenny said she was not chilled, but she wasn't toasty-warm either. Carrying the gear and canoe up to the tent site warmed us up. In the bleak weather we felt like we were on the ragged edge, and the thick mosquitoes were not helping. I had to wonder what was the attraction for such a trip. It seemed ridiculous to be putting ourselves through all this toil. (in my hiking books I had described such feelings of gloom, under the heading "Trail Shock.")

We couldn't find any loose rocks so to anchor the tent we used food bags.

Fortunately, that feeling would soon change. We crawled into the tent and it was surprisingly comfortable for such an improbably site. In the water below camp I saw a fish jump. In the trees behind was an eagle. Despite the rain we enjoyed the scenery. Small but sturdy spruce, dark green against a sky as blue as the water that reflected the whole scene. The late evening light had a pink tinge. The clouds lifted to the west and the sun gleamed through golden. Our constant companions rested or fished nearby: gulls, terns, ducks with ducklings, loons, eagles, osprey and ravens. We fitted the spray cover for the night. 4.5 hours, 11 miles.

11 miles, 4.5 hours. Camp #2: UTM 12W 645133 6908402 Map 85J

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