Day 5

Hearne Channel to Narrow Island

Distance: 34km – [cumulative total 159 km ]

InReach: Day 5 Head wind all morning then wind eased D 34km Had coffee at fishing camp for Cdn vets ex Afghanistan Also hit first patches of ice All OK J&K

Camp: 62.245°N 112.085°W

Finally getting organised we were packed up and paddling by 7.30am. It was overcast with a pronounced swell and gentle but freezing headwind, the headwind continued for most of the day with occasional calm periods. Despite the wind we made fair progress along extremely rugged cliffs about 100 plus metres. Great Slave Lake may present challenges to land the canoe or camp but it certainly has some impressive ever changing scenery. The number and size of remnant snow/ice banks increased until we started seeing sizable sections of floating ice. Early in the morning the temperature dropped and we had to stop and put on more clothes however by late morning the sky cleared and the sun emerged. There was nowhere to go ashore for lunch so we pulled into some long grass in a sheltered bay and ate in the canoe, we must have been near a tern nest as we were swooped throughout lunch.

We paddled on after lunch and entered what appeared to be a channel blocked by rotting ice. We could hear music so paddled along the ice edge towards the sound. We came to a small island with five shack tents similar to the set up John had in his geological out camps in the 1970’s. We could hear voices so paddled around calling out. We were greeted effusively and invited in for coffee by the residents, three French men and two dogs. They were part of a fishing camp being run by the Canadian government for Canadian veterans from Afghanistan suffering from PTSD. One of the guys was from French television and was there to make a program on the camp. The other two were French Canadians, one the cook the other organising the fishing etc. They were intrigued by us having come from Australia and doing such a challenging trip. They were able to tell us that the section of channel we were in was clear as far as Plummer’s Fishing Camp at the entrance to the east arm. They also told us that the water temperature was 3 degrees – no wonder John’s first dip was so short. After half an hour of excited chatter, mostly in broken English, and a great coffee we continued up the channel through rafts of floating ice searching for a home for the night before we got into the wide section of the Hearn Channel. We finally found a suitable point and camped on glacial scoured clean rock with was a slight slope for the tent. The canoe had to be some distance away from the tent but we were glad of a good site.

Visiting the Afghan War veterans fishing camp

Spectacular glacial striae on the smooth rocks where we set up camp