Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-12 page 7 of 40

Day 7 - McLeod Bay

The night was calm and so was the morning. The sky virtually cloudless. The whine of the mosquitoes greeted us when we awoke. We set off at 7:02 am in flat, clam water and struck a direct course along the bay, actually keeping closer to a series of 3 long, narrow islands, than to the northwest shore. The shore was a continuous stretch of brush and trees with very little accessible high ground. And in fact for the next 15 or so miles, camping along this shore would have been problematic at best. So we were glad to have camped where we did last night.


From the third island we headed directly across the bay, keeping 1 or 2 miles offshore. As we were rounding the corner into the Narrows a float plane passed overhead and landed at the Narrows Fishing Resort. The resort was a number of small white cabins with red roofs, a couple of float planes and a number of skiffs out front. We didn't stop, but just there we did meet, of all things, a small (about 27 feet) sailboat headed the other way. We chatted for a few moments with the man and woman crew. Apparently a charter, they were towing an inflatable. They had sailed from Yellowknife, and had left on Thursday, the day after we did. On Wednesday night, the night we had left Yellowknife, we had seen a sailboat. They didn't say how far ahead they had gone. They were sailing in light air away from us, so we had a short and limited conversation. They asked about our trip.

The Fishing Resort and the sailboat.

Directly in the narrowest part is a low, rocky island and while rounding this to the east we encountered a substantial counter-current. This seemed odd in the middle of a large lake, and the size of the McKenzie River draining it. Immediately rounding the corner to the right, following the eastern shore, this seemed to be a new and different lake. The water was stunningly clear and just as cold. The character of the shore had a different feel, more remote, less trampled.


We paddled across to a large island #990 in a strong-ish, 10 knot headwind that had been building since The Narrows. We paddled a ways along the eastern shore of 990 and the wind started to drop and at one point we entered a small area of no wind where the water was mirror still. Jenny suggested we take a shore break on a beautiful rock slab. I thought that in no wind we would be overwhelmed with bugs. But it was such a pretty spot we couldn't resist. We pulled the canoe onto the slab just far enough to ensure it would stay there. We climbed on to the slab and were absolutely amazed at the beauty of this particular spot. One of the prettiest we have seen anywhere. The rock slab was glacier polished, warm and smooth. It sloped gently into the emerald, clean water into which we could see 20 to 30 feet down. Small clefts in the rock held tiny tufts of wild flowers. There was a lovely birch, with its beautiful white trunk and vibrant green leaves. A cliff backed the area, but to the east of our slab was a cobble beach, clean and sparkling, with a trout feeding in the small bay. Remarkably, the bugs were absent. We bathed in the frigid water.

The rock slab,

The east of our slab was a cobble beach, clean and sparkling.

We hated to leave. But pushing on we paddled to the island's end and then set off across another gap, directly, a couple miles to a peninsula, then crossed another gap to another peninsula. We had variable headwinds, from none to robust, nothing major. The sun was hot, but the wind was frigid, except for an occasional waft of warmed air.


Another float plane, a Twin Otter, flew directly overhead. We saw or heard only a couple of boats. Far across Mcleod Bay on the south shore we saw what appeared to be a large chunk of ice on the shore.


In a few more miles the wind calmed again, and for the last five miles of the day we paddled in still calm, so we stayed well offshore. It was a pleasant afternoon, paddling mechanically. My seat started squeaking annoyingly, so I paddled the last several miles kneeling on the floor. It was actually quite comfortable.

On a small island just short of Sosan Island we stopped for the day at 5 pm and made a nice camp on the rock slab. No wind, no shade. Without the cooling wind the heat was almost overbearing. I laid the reflective mylar ground sheet over the tent and that helped cool the interior a great deal.



Camp #7

30 miles, 10 hours. Camp #7: UTM 12W 0487132 6961054 Map 75L


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