Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-25 page 20 of 40

Day 20 - Clinton-Colden Lake

Sporadic rain during the night, and continued well into the morning. A good excuse to sleep in late. Unfortunately we awoke to find we had let the tent fly door open at the foot end, and the foot of the quilt had gotten wet. We dried it with the sponge first, then with the glasses cleaning towel and some toilet paper. Then we went back to sleep, hoping that our body heat would dry it even better, which it did.

The rain stopped about 9:00AM so we dressed, which is a lengthy procedure considering all the layers we wear, and crawled outside. At which time the rain started again. We waited about 5 minutes for the cloud to pass so that we wouldn't get our gear bags wet. Then we packed up and set off at 9:40 am.

Looking into the miniature harbor.

We followed the shore one mile then made the mistake of cutting across the bay. Out in the bay there was a rocky island about 1/3 way across. We steered straight for it. This island was about 20 feet high, 150 feet in diameter. A huge pile of rocks, many of them big and massive.

When we arrived we were very surprised to find an opening on the south side. The island was shaped like a tight C, with a miniature harbor inside. The large rocks had lichen growing on them. Taken as a whole, this formation was one of the strangest I had ever seen. If it was natural it would be a freak of nature. If it was man-made, why? But the presence of lichen on the rocks suggest they haven't moved in a very long while.

The water was getting rough and we pressed on across the bay. We were a long ways from shore and we really should not have made that crossing such rough conditions. We were 3/4 of the way across when the wind strengthened even further so we made a hard left and headed straight for shore, which seemed like it was about half a mile away.

We finished off this shoreline paddling one mile directly into the blow, then a couple miles around the corner we cut another bay in somewhat reduced conditions. Then it was a couple more miles of slogging along the shore directly into the wind. And it was a cold wind with mostly gray, cold and heavy clouds.

Occasionally the sun would pop out between passing clouds to warm and cheer us. Throughout the day the clouds spat light drizzle. Also throughout the day our speed was about half, while our exertion level was doubled. It was actually a wonder that we were out paddling today on Clinton-Colden Lake in such rowdy conditions. But if we waited for better weather though, we might never leave camp.

After several more miles of following coast and jumping bays we made a long jump to the north point of Thanakoie Narrows. This was again in rough water but the closer we got to shore the less became the fetch. So we followed the north shore through the narrows, cutting the bays.

At one point we stopped for a brief shore break and hiked up on the hill for a wonderful panoramic view.

A wonderful panoramic view

Jenny with padded shoulders, wearing her life jacket under her rain parka.

We stopped at a pullout behind some boulders. There was a nice well of rock which blocked the wind so we sat in its lee and Jenny made cuppas. The sun came out and it was a wonderful few minutes of warmth.

The early evening wind was stiff and we had to paddle into one of the bays to where it narrowed, where we could cross safely. From there we had a bit of a downwind run for about a mile so we trolled the fishing line without success.

With calm conditions, I try to do a bit of fishing for dinner.

Nearly through the narrows we stopped three times looking for a place to camp. We were chilled because the sun was low and the day was late. We needed to get out of the wind and rain. At the third stop, at 7:45 pm, we found a lumpy spot that would have to make do. We had to wait a few minutes for the rain to stop. Then with a quick burst of action I pitched the tent while Jenny unloaded the canoe.

We carried the canoe up to camp, Jenny loaded it, as usual, with the night's unneeded items (heavy food bags, fishing bag, tennis shoes, etc) while I finished pitching the tent. Because of the tent site, the tent had to be broadside to the wind. So I staked out all 3 guylines on the windward side. Jenny was busying about camp and she stepped over one guyline and reminded me not to trip on the guy lines. Before her next breath, that is exactly what she did. Went down like a sack of potatoes, flat on her face. Fortunately the tundra was soft and spongy, so no harm done. I was also amazed that the stake did not pull out, and happy that the tent held together. In the lee of the tent Jenny cooked corn spaghetti and finished the cooking just before the next squall.

We piled in to the tent with the onset of rain drops. It felt good to get out of the wind and cold. This next rain was heavy and prolonged.

We had seen jaegers today, and one raven. The ducks are maybe Oldsqaws. Geese, terns, seagulls, loon. Often during the day we had clouds of bugs swarming past. Small mosquito-like insects, but not biting. It was like a side-ways blizzard of bugs. I have a feeling that they land on the water, but for some reason they were heading for shore.

21 miles, 10 hours. Camp #20: UTM 12W 0643219 7108277 Map 76B, 76C

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