Day 33

Lockhart River to Ptarmigan Lake

Distance: 30km, portages 2 and lining 4 – [cumulative total 598km]

InReach: Day 33 Paddling by 06:45 Two portage + much lining up rapids Reached Ptarmigan Lk 14:00, paddled until 18:30 Camped on small beach adj esker J&K

Camp: 63.681°N 107.330°W

On water by 7am, virtually no wind but some current. The current was strong but able to be paddled however before we reached the first portage we went through a very narrow area where it was so strong we had to line along an extremely bouldery shore line. Lining sounds simple and in some circumstances it can be but on the four occasions we lined on the Lockhart River it was against strong current over large slippery boulders so that one moment you were ankle deep in water and on the next step you were up to your thighs. It is both time consuming and tiring. The first portage on the left of the rapid was mercifully short, dry and flat. We lined three more times at narrow points before finding what we hoped was the take out for the portage into Ptarmigan Lake. The old portage track, again on the left of the rapid, looked like it hadn’t been used in years though we know of two other parties only days ahead of us, do they know of another way? The take out and put in were particularly difficult requiring carrying the canoe over a wide boulder garden and hacking through a tangle of alders. Though overgrown the body of the portage was flat and dry however because of its poor state took us much longer that anticipated. Once back on the water we proceeded up Ptarmigan Lake in excellent paddling conditions, cool and windless with clear skies. As seems to have been the pattern of this trip there was a lack of obvious camp sites as the shores were lined with a tumble of boulders. The map showed a short esker some 20 km up the lake so we decided to head for it. The esker is now our home for the night with a small sandy beach covered in recent footprints so those ahead of us apparently had the same issues with lack of suitable camp sites. A very tiring day.

Rapids on the Lockhart River. We are travelling upstream against the current, we attemped to line these but the current was just too strong and the shore too rough. Better to portage!

End of the portage. The canoe is heavy and awkward and difficult to put down gently so where it is rocky we dump it on to two gear bags

Camp, Day 33 beside tiny beach, complements of a small esker. Eskers are definitely the canoeist’s friend!