Canoeing Coppermine River & Pikes Portage

Yellowknife to Arctic Ocean

Northern Paddling Adventure #8

39 days, 960 miles, Jul-Aug 2005

Ray & Jenny Jardine

2005-07-13 page 8 of 40

Day 8 - McLeod Bay

Calm night, except for some rather noisy Sand Hill Cranes nearby. The morning started out cloudy and calm. We set off at 6:23 am. For most of the morning the air was cold.

Very soon a headwind started wafting, growing gradually stronger throughout the day. But interestingly, across this vast lake, there were some areas of no wind, some areas of lighter wind, and some areas of stronger wind. Every now and then we would reach an area of no wind, and here we could take a break and relax. Before long we'd reach another wind zone.

The closer we came to Thompson Landing, the more fishing skiffs we saw zooming this way or that. Also, the stronger became the headwind and the steeper the head seas. In the distance ahead to the east was an immense cumulonimbus slowly headed our way. The cloud was black, with virga trailing along behind and under, an occasional split of lightning followed - after a long delay - with the rubbling of thunder. The fishing boats started zooming toward the village.

While crossing the bay at Thompson Landing we watched the most amazing natural phenomena. Very often throughout the day we feel different pockets of air; some balmy, some frigid. These thermo-clines are exactly what causes mirages. We watched a mirage flowing into the bay along the far shore, like a wave of surf. It was maybe 100 feet thick and was moving about 15 mph.

Stormy skies.

Four hours at this site, waiting for the storm to pass.

Reaching the far shore of the bay, which was number of rocky islets, the lightning and black sky ahead prompted us ashore in the interests of safety. It was 3 pm. We decided to pitch the tent, wait for the storm to pass, then pack up and proceed. So we pitched the tent, established camp as usual, amid a horrendous mob of black flies and mosquitoes. We spent the next 4 hours resting. Not far from the tent was pile of old bear scat. The main storm passed by, but there were still several more to the east and south. They didn't look as foreboding, so we shoved off again at 7 pm.

Glad to be shoving off again, hence the theatrics.

Headwind and sloppy seas made for slow going. We had gone 2.25 miles and were just about to cross a small bay when we noticed on the side of our faces very cold air from the south. We looked out across Mcleod Bay to the south and could see large whitecaps coming our way. Most fortunately we were not far offshore. We quickly scanned the shore for a place to land. There was no good landing, but Jenny found a small pullout between rocks. It was just enough to get the boat in. By the time we had stepped out of the boat, the tempest struck with strong wind, a vicious chop, and rain not far behind. We puulled out our rain jackets and decided not to pitch the tent, but just wait for this storm to pass. We wanted 30 miles for the day and we were still five miles short.

Landing at a small pullout, to wait for the next storm to pass.

We hung around for an hour in some light rain, admiring beautiful rainbows. We had pulled the canoe just far enough out of the water to avoid the waves smashing it. The rock here has a lot of copper deposits and iron pyrites. Someone had done a lot of test digging, blasting, drilling, apparently didn't find much; the testing evidence was everywhere.

The day was getting late, 8 pm, the storm slow in passing, so we decided to camp. Found a tent site on the rocks.

Pretty minerals here. Looks like iron pyrites and some copper and lead.

25 miles, 9.5 hours. Camp #8: UTM 12W 0520583 6977803 Map 75L

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