Hawkrock Rapids - Porcupine River Confluence
Distance 37km [781.5 km]
A big day – This was our last day of running white water on the Fond du Lac. It has been exciting, scary, fun and an enormous learning curve but we are not sorry to have our last opportunity to run white water this afternoon. We do go through Burr Falls tomorrow just before entering Black Lake but that is a compulsory portage.
After the debacle that was being wind bound virtually all of yesterday we were determined to make distance today. During the night the wind had dropped so we were up before 6am and on the water by 7.15am. Already the wind was starting to pick up however we only had to paddle west into the headwind for about four kilometres before turning north then north-east giving us a tail wind.
Of the 50 or so sets of rapids on the Fond du Lac, varying in length from 50 metres to 1.2 kilometres, only 5 were still ahead. These were a mixture of class 2, 2+, and 1, with three having a number of ledges to negotiate. We ran all 5 successfully, John is getting pretty good at reading the water and steering us through. We would not have even got wet today but for an incident at Perch Rapids. John went to step out of the canoe in order to scout the rapid and in particular the position of the class 2+ ledges, he thought he was stepping into shallow water but was immediately over his head, there was a bit of a minor panic as I was still in the canoe in strong current and only 50 metres above the rapid fortunately a few strong strokes and I joined John on the shore. Whilst scouting this rapid John found our first blueberries for the trip and yummy they were.
The weather continued cool and windy, though today we actually saw blue sky for the first time in weeks. When we left this morning it was blue and sunny but before long we had a typical Saskatchewan sky with big blobs of fluffy cumulus just hanging in the blue, these increased in number and size until we had towers of cumulonimbus threatening to rain. We enjoyed seeing the Saskatchewan sky, so common in previous years but such a rarity on this trip.
We are now camped on a sand esker near the confluence of the Porcupine River. It is a lovely spot with beach landing and flat open parkland allowing for lots of good camping spots. Tomorrow we will be at Burr Falls with its 1 kilometre compulsory portage and from there it will be Black Lake and the end of the Fond du Lac. The Fond du Lac river is definitely a river for white water enthusiasts, the rapids are very different in character from those we have learnt to run in previous years on the Churchill River. Whereas the Churchill rapids are generally short with a few large boulders to dodge and often with relatively deep chutes, the rapids of the Fond du Lac are very long, frequently in sets of two or three and tend to be shallow, ending in boulder gardens. I guess we now think of ourselves as belonging to the marathoners of the canoeing world, the long distance trippers who can paddle for hours without a break and handle the worst of portages definitely not the excitement junkies who would rather dash through white water than portage.