Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-11 page 6 of 40

Day 6 - Hearne Channel

Yet another calm, peaceful and restful night. And once again the heat of the sun prompted us out of bed. We set off at 8:00 am, the sky was mostly clear, wind zero, and the bugs followed us about 2 miles. We paddled extra far out and eventually lost them. It is always with relief that we remove the bug clothing in the morning: headnets, bug mitts, and jacket.

We worked our way along the shoreline and then paddled outside the southwestern island and the inside of the narrow island. This is extremely beautiful country. We saw a few fishing boats out. Mid-day we picked up a light tailwind which gradually increased and for the rest of the day we romped along in 2 to 3 foot following seas which were often white capped. The canoe seemed to handle this without problems.

On a long, thin island in the middle of a nameless bay we paddled past a small hunting cabin, then in the next narrow bay was a conclave of something, a collection of boats and tents. There was even a fellow fishing from a float tube. We hoped he didn't land a fish that would sink him.

About four miles further along we started hearing airplane engines. The planes were not flying past, but seemed to be going around and round. About 15 minutes later we caught glimpses of two of them, large, amphibious, painted yellow and red. Suddenly one appeared from over the nearby hill and flew almost directly over us at an altitude of a couple hundred feet. Beautiful planes, freshly painted, the piston engines sounded strong and sweet. Then they continued going round and round for maybe 40 minutes. The area they were circling was 457/6918. We could only guess they were looking for something. What, we couldn't imagine.

We rounded Sachowia Point in a southwesterly 15 knots. Despite the boisterous conditions, there was no place to land for about 5 miles, it was either cliff or steep, forested rock. Very pretty. We were very glad to get around it in such conditions. We started looking for a campsite, stopped a couple times, didn't find anything we liked. This is not a pristine wilderness by any means. We find lots of evidence of fishermen, hunters, campers. Even name writing on rock faces.

We finally found a primo spot on a two-pronged peninsula adjacent a long thin island that from camp looks like the mainland. The land here is gargantuan scale. The water behind Narrow island would have made an extra large size lake in the Lower 48.

We stopped at 5:45 pm.

Carrying gear up the hill to our camp.

Camp #7 has a commanding view.

With the evening's sun still bearing down, Jenny finds a patch of shade for cooking dinner.

It is interesting to note that all along the shore there are a finite number of decent camping areas. They are not ubiquitous, although they are many. These same campsites get used from generation to generation, going back to who knows how long. And they are often marked with tent hold-down rocks. These hold-down rocks are not like tent ring rocks of the Arctic. Here they are much smaller, for whatever reason. This evening I found an old campsite featuring a set of hold-down rocks overgrown with very thick lichen. lichen grows very slowly in these latitudes, so very thick lichen growing on the rocks suggested they had not been moved in a long time - perhaps 50 to 100 years. We always leave such sites alone.

34 miles, 9.75 hours. Camp #6: UTM 12W 0464950 6924823 Map 75L

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