Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-08 page 3 of 40

Day 3 - Great Slave Lake

We had a very good night sleep, no rain. We set off at 8:09 am. The sky was heavily overcast, steel gray. The wind was very light and from the west, giving us a nice nudge all day, and fortunately the rain held off. Jenny was feeling much better.

We left the spray cover fitted all day.

Our route was basically eastward, past Old Fort Providence which we didn't see. Then we followed the coast southeast throughout the day. We enjoyed paddling among the islands large and small. The entire area is bedrock although we saw a couple of rocky/gravel beaches. Not large though, not even big enough for us to land on. Most of the land is forested: black spruce, birch, and some very tall Labrador tea. We saw many hundreds of ducks, a number of loons, a jaeger and an osprey.

We have pulled the canoe out of the water for a shore break. Note: We don't drag the nylon fabric boat across the rocks for more than a couple of inches. Instead, we lift the bow, then pull the boat over the rocks with the stern still floating, then set the bow down.

In Drybones Bay we stopped on a small island for a shorebreak. Just here were a couple of baby terns. We could have caught them by hand. The parents scolded us incessantly. They babies were quite large and fluffy, almost larger than the parents, but they had no flight feathers. They tried to hide in the tall grasses. They were tan brown with dark brown spots, a perfect camouflage. Our shore break lasted about 3 minutes until the bugs discovered us.

Young tern

We finished crossing the bay. The wind picked up from the west-northwest, giving us a nice push, but making the steering more difficult. Reaching Burnt Island we couldn't tell if it was an island so we switched on "Geepus" and very soon found ourselves on the map.

We paddled behind Burnt Island and then behind Cabin Island. This is when the wind began picking up even stronger. A few white caps, and the boat wallowing in the swell. We were getting a bit concerned about the conditions, but we didn't want to stop because we were getting such a good push. But it soon became evident that we needed to get off the lake.

We stopped at 3:00 pm on a small island. This was a beautiful little island, full of lush growth, yet still exposed to the wind. I found a luxurious tent site atop six inches of heather, surround by birch and small spruce on three sides.

We walked around, out to a peninsula, where locals had camped in the past. We found an old table and a fire pit. Jenny had an accidental slip into a shallow bay where she tried to cross on slippery rocks. We also found a whole grove of wild onions and more of the precious little pink and yellow flowers. The Labrador tea grows 4 feet tall and are crowned with their white tufts of flowers. Jenny worked on organizing our food, our half dozen grocery sacks is now down to two.

We are using the Transverse Mercator Projection and finding it much easier and quicker than using Lat/Long.

24 miles, 7 hours. Camp #3: UTM 12W 359380 6885907 Map 85I

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