Artillery Lake to Esker in Lockhart River
Distance: 38km Lining 2.0 – [cumulative total 568km]
InReach: Day 30 Paddling by 06:15 to beat forcast headwind but still windbound part day Made it into Lockhart River where we are now camped Cheers J&K
Camp: 63.457°N 107.555°W
Up early to try and make distance before the expected wind. We were on the water by 6am with little wind but a significant swell, several hours later we had a strong quartering crosswind and combined with the swell we had to work very hard. After three hours of constant hard paddling we stopped off at a beach for a snack and a much needed break. By the time we were back on the water the wind was gathering strength with a half metre swell, it was getting dangerous to be on the lake so although we were only four kilometres from leaving the lake via the mouth of the Lockhart River we backtracked to a bay where we could shelter. Whilst sitting in the canoe waiting for a break in the wind I noticed a number of small pale rounded shapes in the mud that gave the appearance of erupting clouds of whitish mud into the water, almost like mini underwater volcanoes. John thinks they may be a type of pingo. These are formed in a permafrost areas when the pressure of freezing groundwater pushes up a layer of frozen ground, very odd looking indeed. As we sat in the canoe waiting on the wind John suddenly noticed that one of his sports shoes which had been on the deck was missing, looking around we saw that it was sailing away with some wind assist and was about twenty metres away and travelling fast there was a scramble to catch it as it ‘made a run for it’.
Having waited for almost two hours and eaten out lunch we decided the wind had moderated sufficiently to make a run parallel to the shoreline to reach the entrance to the Lockhart River. What a paddle, big waves, some white caps and a strong quartering cross wind which meant John had a constant battle to try and keep the canoe straight, an exhausting process. Though it was only four kilometres it seemed to go on forever, we were sure each headland we rounded would be the river only to be disappointed but after an exhausting battle we were off Artillery Lake and in the Lockhart River. Despite being off the lake there was no let up, we were paddling into a strong current which would have been a test on its own but in combination with the wind and an exhausted John it was unbelievably tough going. To reach the esker, where we are now camped, we lined the canoe for about a kilometre over the shallow sandy bottom rather than battle against the combined wind and current. I don’t think I have ever seen John so completely drained of energy, the phrase running on fumes sums it up, before we started walking in the water pulling the canoe we had stopped to take a break and he fell fast asleep in the canoe for 45 minutes. We are now set well back from the river on a wide beach, part of a large esker system. The weather report looks bleak for the next few days, wind, wind and more wind.