Coming soon! Actually it’s happening slowly. Link below will take you to the daily journal entries to which we are slowly adding photos. Should all be done by February 2019.
Typing this journal months after returning home has been a strange and not always comfortable experience for me. Re-reading what I wrote then has caused me to re live much of the experience and I have found myself dreaming of it at night or lapsing into day dreams about the different places and happenings. As I noted at the close of my 2014 journal the reaction to such a demanding journey is complex. There is the elation of accomplishing something not many people would even attempt, the special feeling of having done it together and the awe of the places and things we have been privileged to see but these are tempered by sheer exhaustion and toll it takes on your body. In reading what I wrote in my summation of the 2014 trip it is very up beat almost ecstatic and in so many ways what I wrote then could also be said of this trip but… there is always a but.
Much as I had great satisfaction and yes even joy on this trip it was harder than expected. It was not just the physical act of carrying heavy loads, paddling long distances, sleeping on cobbles and being constantly cold and wet, these you expect, it was also the emotional and psychological demands. I think the disappointment of having to change from the much anticipate Back River trip, to Baker Lake via the Hanbury, after all the months of planning, preparation and work was more profound than we appreciated at the time, especially for John. In addition to the disappointment there was always that nagging sense that we hadn’t done our usual research and didn’t know where the portages were or what we should expect from the river, terrain etc. I suspect, for me, turning 70 before we set out gave an added sense of vulnerability, it was the first birthday ever that I felt like I no longer had forever. In fact age was a factor, we both came to realise that our fitness and strength was all very well on a daily basis but what we now lacked was the stamina to bounce back day after day.
However, hardest of all was watching John under pressure. The constant cold, small meals, his weight loss and need to make miles but keep us safe weighed heavily on him. As is his nature he felt responsible to make every facet of the trip go well and when things, like the wind or catching a fish for dinner didn’t go to plan, he just tried harder and harder, consequently he quickly became exhausted and struggled both physically and emotionally. This was one of the few times that the person I have always depended on for a practical solution to most situations just couldn’t. On each of the five previous canoe trips I have taken great pleasure from seeing John relax and bloom in his ‘spiritual home’, Canada’s north, this time it didn’t happen after Great Slave Lake. The trip for me was a lesson in our vulnerability and a heightened awareness our mortality.
Having said all that am I glad we did it? Yes, yes and yes. It was amazing, exhilarating, awe inspiring and a privilege to experience wilderness in such an in your face way. Would I do it again? NO.