Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-08-10 page 36 of 40

Day 36 - Impenetrable winds

In the early night, the wind increased, still from the southwest and blew about 40 mph continuously. Quite a lot of rain during the night. In the morning we had to bail out the canoe.

The morning was still very blustery, with a fine drizzle, clouds low and dark. The wind was much less and had veered to the northwest which was here perpendicular to the river.

We spent 20 extra minutes before breaking camp, working on the spray cover, installing tie-up cords on the cockpit collars, to get the infernal collars out of our way. We set off at 7 am.

The river was flowing fast, with one-foot waves everywhere. We had high hopes of many good miles again today. Before reaching the Kendall River, the river widened and was festooned in gravel bars, some exposed, some just below the surface, requiring us to snake our way carefully among them. But the three rapids marked on the map never materialized, for which we were thankful on a day like this.

The northwest wind was picking up quickly and it was quite chilly. We paddled while bundled up. Typically we wear our life jackets inside our rain parkas for the extra warmth, along with our fleece mitts and waterproof shell mitts.

Strong headwinds are billowing Jenny's rain parka.

The scenery was extremely pretty, even on such a cold and cloudy day. We rounded the big island to the right, paddled among half a dozen strikingly white boulders in the river, admiring the limestone and sandstone cliffs on the left bank.

Following the land bank, we proceeded down a narrow, shallow channel and at this point the wind had increased to about 40 knots, now a direct headwind. We were paddling very hard, the current was flowing at about 3 knots in our favor, and we were barely making progress. And we had a great deal of difficulty controlling the boat.

We persisted for 15 minutes, came to what looked like the last good camping for a long ways, and stopped on the left bank, pulled the canoe on shore and scouted for a tent site.

Finally the headwinds have become too much to handle, so we have landed ashore to make camp.

Climbing the short rise and stepping into the trees felt almost like stepping indoors. The wind felt like it shut off, so effective was the shelter of the trees. Back at the canoe, I had to hold down the bow while Jenny unloaded the gear, to prevent the canoe from blowing away. Leaving the gear on the shore, we carried the canoe up to camp and tied it to a tree. Then we brought up the gear.

Fortunately the rain was holding off, so we spread things to dry and hung our wet socks and clothing on the tree limbs. Everything dried mostly, except for the wool socks. For the first time, things are mostly dry. This was the driest we've been in a week.

Jenny made hot cuppas and a large pot of corn grits. Light rain drove us into the tent. The ground was very lumpy. I had to put my life jacket under my bed, among a number of other items of clothing and empty gear bags. We slept for several hours.

We were disappointed to have been stopped by the weather. Our food supply is starting to run low, which is why we fished yesterday. We have enough food left for 3 or 4 days, but no more munchies.

Today we found lots of berries, cranberries, tiny blackberries, huckleberries.

Camp #36.

10 miles, 3 hours. Camp #36: UTM 11W 0536750 7450123 Map 86N

The story has 40 pages. This is page 36.
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