Toura Lake to Artillery Lake 4km South of Timber Bay
Distance: 18km, 1.5 portages – [cumulative total 485km]
InReach: Day 28 Two tough portages Finally through to Artillery Lk at 15:00 Paddled about 15km on Artillery & camped gravel beach Black flies v friendly!
Camp: 62.905°N 108.304°W
The quote of the day from John “I came to Canada to paddle my canoe not carry it over fucking hills”. That about sums up our day. Up early and soon on Toura Lake with a tail wind. It turned out there was an unexpected, 500 metre portage at a narrowing about half way down the lake. It was over very rocky ground and would have been even more difficult if it weren’t for the rock cairns used to mark the trail. Even so it was confusing as there were a number of different trails marked and we both got sidetracked missing the trail several times. It was back in the water and onward to our final portage on the Pikes route. This final portage didn’t let Pike’s reputation for being a tough uphill track down. It started with a long very steep hill, the acute angle of which came directly from the water. Having scrambled to the top virtually on hands and knees dragging the canoe and various drums, bags etc it then plunged steeply into a deep creek before climbing to the highest point on the entire Pikes trail. Again we were reliant on rock cairns to pick our way across an extensive area of rocky terrain until after crossing yet another creek the trail wandered across a relatively dry but deeply hummocked muskeg. Then another short paddle across a pond and the final push down 300 metres to the shore of Artillery Lake. We were at the lake by 3pm glad to finally be through the entire Pikes portage/route. If nothing else we have learnt that constant uphill portaging in the heat over almost five days requires more stamina than these seventy year old bodies can muster. Despite our overall fitness, this type of canoeing is for younger folk. The irony is that whilst we were battling headwinds on Great Slave Lake it was bitterly cold and overcast the entire time whilst on the portage we have had clear blue skies and high temperatures, the last thing you want humping loads.
It was wonderful to be back on the water paddling, we did about twelve kilometres up Artillery to the sand spilt where we are now camped along with about a trillion black flies. We have observed that although the water levels generally have seemed high, here in Artillery they are apparently lower than usual. I have found the past few days on Pikes difficult in the extreme however John has had to do the greater share of the heavy hauling, carrying both the canoe and the heaviest loads. Whilst I steadied the canoe both getting in and out of the water he has hauled the bags, consequently his legs and arms are completely covered with huge dark bruises. Though John has always viewed the difficulties of these trips through rose coloured glasses but this time even he can see that this is probably going to be our last long distance wilderness canoe trip in Canada.