Day 19

Bigstone Point to 4km East of Muskox Creek

Distance: 18km – [cumulative total 359 km]

InReach: Day 19 Canada Day Camped early due wind. Highlight herd 20 muskox with 3 calves Paddled canoe within 20 metres of them! Kate thrilled

Camp: 62.920°N 109.688°W

Wow, days like this are why we put up with the cold, the bugs, the wind and the rain to paddle and experience wilderness. Woke to no wind, glassy water with a slight mist drifting across its surface. Away by 8am across a wide bay to Bigstone Point, as we paddled the sun appeared, burning off the mist and the sky filled with banks of white cumulus clouds mirroring reflections on the glassy water. We kept stopping to admire the beauty of the sky and take photos. The water was crystal clear and we saw our first pan sized fish swimming near the canoe. Late morning as we crossed a large bay with a grassy river entering at the end we commented that it was the perfect spot for grazing moose, having seen both moose scat and hoof prints a number of times in the past few days we were on the look out for them. John then spotted what appeared to be two dark shapes deep in the bay, thinking they could be moose we paddled quietly towards them snapping photos and expecting them to spot us and take off. They were joined by more dark shapes and we realised they were a herd of Musk Oxen. There were about twenty including at least three young calves. We kept paddling towards them and were within twenty metres before they startled. They didn’t run away but encircled the young and stood their ground staring at us in the canoe. So fantastic to see. I can go home happy now as seeing musk ox has been on my bucket list. We called the place ‘Muskox Creek’.

Paddled on but a headwind had now sprung up and the sun had disappeared behind what was now an overcast and threatening sky. Not wishing to get caught out we headed for a nearby sandy beach for lunch. The wind showed no signs of relenting so we decided to call it a day and set up camp before the rain. We had made eighteen kilometres and had enjoyed a beautiful and exciting morning so there was no loss. The beach was sheltered backing onto a burn probably two or three years old. It was flat and sandy with excellent ‘kitchen’ rocks at one end and a good tent site so the decision was easy. The afternoon was conducted at a leisurely pace. We had time to explore and noted there were lots of raspberries in bud some already in flower also lots of moose prints and scat about and the black flies were now making their presence felt.

Paddling east in dead calm conditions

Muskox in a defensive circle with the young in the middle