Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-08-01 page 27 of 40

Day 27 - Lake Providence

The night went by very fast. We both had slept like logs. We set off at 7:20AM, starting by hand carring the gear across the short 75 yard portage then returning for the canoe. The sky was clear and no wind to speak of.

Paddling a couple miles on a small and flat lake.

We paddled a couple miles on a small lake and just behind an esker was an old tent cabin frame. The next section of rapids in retrospect we could have run. However, we couldn't scout it. We couldn't see the water because of the willows and rocks, and we couldn't get close to it without wasting a lot of time. Because of the inaccessibility, in the same amount of time it would take to scout it, we could portage around it. So we did the portage on river right.

Once at the bottom of the 150 yard sluice we finally laid eyes on the river. It was a fairly clear run with lots of small rapids. We put back in, paddled to the start of the next section of rapids, quite close. This one was obviously not for us, but we couldn't find a good place to pull back out, so we had to paddle back to nearly where we had just put in.

This portage was about half a mile and a real blubber burner. We waded through thick willows for 2/3 of that distance, with lots of step ups and step downs on the uneven terrain, with rocks and hummocks. For most of the way we couldn't even see the river. Add to all that: broiling sun, hoards of bugs, sweat pouring down our faces and salt stinging our eyes. It was not a torment by any means. We went slow and took plenty of rests without removing our loads. And I worked hard to stay centered, which was big help.

Eventually we gained a higher slope where the willow was not so dense or tall, affording a great view of the river rushing below. Before long we were down at the water's edge at the bottom of the rapids, putting the canoe afloat and setting our packs into it.

Looking back upriver we could see that this rapid was a straight, long and very boisterous chute. Definitely not for the likes of us. Now on Lake Providence, we headed north across perfectly calm water, in the company of a hoard of lively bugs, mostly black flies. The bugs are very numerous which seems odd for this late in the season. We are hoping this means many more days of good weather to come.

A couple hours in the day's paddling, the squeaking of my seat became too much to bear, so kneeling in my cockpit and facing aft I lubricated everything with WD40.

Late afternoon the northwest wind piped up, but nothing more than 8 or 10 knots. Amazingly, all the bus stayed with us. I was surprised they could fly and keep up with us in that strong of a breeze. And they stayed with us all day as we paddled. I thought what a remarkable little system to have that much power and endurance in such a tiny package.

At one point we were surprised to see a moose standing in the willow close to shore. It looked like a small female, a little skinny, it was remarkable to see a moose this far north. The willow, which they love to browse is incredibly abundant all along here.


A very pretty lake

This was a very pretty lake with an interesting shore of beautiful rock slabs. As usual in calm weather, we saw quite a few fish rising to the surface, fins out of the water. At the north end of the lake on the east bank was installation of some sort. An aluminum structure, it looked like Tin Man City. Perhaps related to the infernal diamond mine operations.

Reaching the next section of rapids, or nearly so, we stopped at 7:45 pm, at what looked like would be the last decent camping, and made a pleasant camp.

Camp #27

31 miles, 12.5 hours. Camp #27: UTM 12W 0435675 7198206. Map 86A

The story has 40 pages. This is page 27.
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