Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-28 page 23 of 40

Day 23 - Thonokied Lake

Light rain much of the night. And the rain continued in the early morning so we slept in.

The rain stopped about 9:00AM and we set off an hour later. I had the bright idea of carrying fully loaded pack boards, as before, but carrying the canoe over our heads this time. This worked great for the first 100 yards. The second 100 yards our loads felt heavy, and by the end of the third 100 yards we had to set the canoe down. The canoe weight was pressing down on the pack frames, and combined with our loads it was too much to bear on the shoulder straps, at least for our present level of conditioning.

So still carrying the loaded pack boards, we hand-carried the canoe and rested often. Soon we were at the first bit of navigable water. As we worked our way through shallows among the boulders, we saw a wolf on shore. It was white, large, and somewhat mangy-looking. For a while he acted like he didn't see us. Then he looked at us and actually walked toward us. but soon he must have caught our scent because he turned and trotted cautiously away.


We crossed to the right side and lined the boat quite a ways. This was difficult because the shore was not accessible because of the rocks and willows. So we had to wade on unsure and slippery footing.

Paddling in shallows

This gives an idea of the size of the river we're navigating. It's not very large, and growing smaller as we approach the hight-of-land, the divide between the waters that flow south into Great Slave Lake, and those that flow north into the Coppermine River and Arctic Ocean.

More rock gardens.

Portaging rest stop.

Reaching Afridi lake.

After a great deal more paddling in shallows, every now and then having to get out and wade a ways, we reached the open water of Afridi lake. This lake was windy out of the south, with some whitecaps far out, but not much fetch where we were, so the water wasn't very rough. the wind quit, and we had four miles of wide lake, like a placid river, and beautiful, sunny warm weather.

We made a 1.5 mile crossing to where the Thonokied River emptied into Afridi Lake. Here the map showed what was to be our final rapids for the day. And here we found a great fishing hole where the rapids spilled into the lake. I handed Jenny the rod and reel with the blue moon lure attached. The blue moon is her lure, and she has caught a bunch of fish with it.

Where the Thonokied River emptied into Afridi Lake, we stopped for a round of fishing.

The first cast didn't go too far, maybe 30 feet, but it was enough to catch the attention of a sizeable fish. Unfortunately when Jenny tried to set the hook, she pulled the lure out of the fish's mouth. She cast again and it looked like the same fish followed the lure back to shore. On the third cast the fish took the lure right away, but then to our surprise, a second fish about the same size started parlaying for the lure. Quite a tussle ensued. The second fish followed the first one to within a few feet of shore. Jenny dragged the hooked fish out of the water and onto the bank. After a couple of photos she measured it at 30 inches. It didn't quite look like a lake trout. It had an orange/golden hue on the fins and belly and it was not so rotund.

With our present portage system, as described we keep the gear loaded on the pack boards, so it is a simple matter when starting the next portage to put on the backpacks, pick up the canoe, and go. A couple hundred yards later we were back on the water enjoying the beautiful Thonokied Lake.

Paddling the beautiful Thonokied Lake.

We passed to the right of a tall, striking island and then made our way north following the left shore. The wind died again and the sun came back out and it was a glorious afternoon paddling. Earlier during our portaging we had heavy cloud cover, cold and light wind, perfect for portaging.

We saw a small caribou with an injured front leg, limping along. It was trying to use the leg, but it looked in pain. It is not uncommon to see young caribou by themselves, but we felt sorry for this fellow. A few hours later was saw another lone caribou.

On one of the portages we saw fresh tracks of a large herd, so for the second time in a few days we had just missed them. Across Thonokied Lake was a camp of some sort. Very strange, shiny structures or objects. Most likely a fish camp.

We crossed the lake in perfectly flat water. We saw another bald eagle. Where the lake pinches off before entering a large circular area, we pulled out and made camp on the left bank, at 9:00PM.

Camp #23 on Thonokied Lake.

25 miles, 11 hours. Camp #23: UTM 12W 0561845 7145242 Map 76C

The story has 40 pages. This is page 23.
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