West of Hoarfrost River to Northern Fairchild Peninsula
Distance: 35km – [cumulative total 414 km]
InReach: Day 21 Long visit with Kristen & daughter Liv Olesen at Hoarfrost River Tomorrow will paddle to start Pikes (set 9 portages & lakes)
Camp: 62.793° 108.978°W
Today started out so well with me sighting what I believe was an otter playing in the bay about 25 meters offshore. On the water by 8.30am and arrived at Olesens a hour later. Dave had just left taking one of his planes to Yellowknife to have the wheels changed for floats. Kristen and their daughter Liv were home. We spent a delightful couple of hours chatting having coffee and some of Liv’s birch cookies decorated with wild rose petals. She cooks them using a sugar syrup tapped from the nearby birch trees, it tastes and looks like a light version of molasses. She also uses the new green spruce tips as herbs or in salads. The Olesen’s lost their home in the forest fire four years ago, the same one we have been observing the results of as we paddle so they now live in Dave’s workshop but whilst there we saw the foundations of the new log house they hope to erect this summer.
We paddled on passed the exit of the Hoarfrost River and finding a beautiful spot for a shore lunch, a sheltered beach where a swift flowing creek entered the lake. After lunch we pushed on for about six kilometres to the narrowest part of the peninsula separating Great Slave proper from the large Charlton Bay. John thought this the most likely spot for a portage through to Charlton Bay where we hoped to visit old Fort Reliance before reaching Pikes Portage. We couldn’t find anything that looked like the entrance to a portage so beached the canoe and walked along the top of the ridge on what was a post glacial fossil beach until we found an old cut line which gave the appearance of not having been used in years. It was steep with overgrown entrance and exit so we elected to paddle back along the peninsula into McLeod Bay where there was another possible site for a longer portage but with less pronounced topography. We found what was probably the portage but it was in a swampy overgrown condition. After discussion the consensuses was to find a camp for the night and paddle down and around the peninsula in the morning and from there across to the beach at the start of Pikes Portage. This meant giving the ruins of old Fort Reliance a miss which was very disappointing. We were a little frustrated that we had such a long paddle for so little gain however the conditions had been excellent and we found a great sandy beach with good areas for the tent and setting up the kitchen. A cool evening, threatening rain.