Day 35

Hanbury Portage to Esker in Sifton Lake

Distance: 45.5 km, rapids 2 – [cumulative total 660.5 km]

InReach: Day 35 Woke to rain & paddled in rain & it’s still raining! Camped in beautiful gravel terrace, part of spectacular complex esker system 46km JK

Camp: 63.731°N 106.438°W

Woke to steady rain, ate breakfast and packed up as much as possible in the tent while musing about waiting for a break. Away by 9am into a cross wind, the wind remained a moderate cross or head wind all day finally moderating in the evening. We set out for our first rapid of the trip, just before reaching it we saw a strange creature swimming about 100 meters offshore. It would dive then resurface about 20 – 30 meters away, it had a small dark head and a body covered in grey fur possibly with dark markings. What we could see of the body was about the size of a large goose, what intrigued us was its very small head.

The first rapid at the outlet of Deville Lake was a class 1 and even at our relatively high water level the upper part was really too shallow so we did a bump and grind for about 200 meters, the final 30 meters was more boulders than water so John lined the canoe through these with some difficulty, falling into the freezing water much to his chagrin. Not to be out done in the klutz stakes I managed to loose my paddle near the top but we retrieved it from where it was caught up in rocks further down. A further class 1 rapid was unmarked, though shown on the map as a very narrow channel into Sifton Lake. Again despite the high water levels it was a 200 meter bump and grind during which we hit numerous rocks even getting pinned and swung around once. Sifton Lake is a series of small lakes and narrow channels and the wind today made paddling hard especially for John who had to battle to straighten the canoe which was constantly cork screwing into the quartering wind. It was a long hard day in the cold rain with continuous wind battles but the reward was amazing skies, awesome cloud formations constantly changing as the storms swept over us and now we are camped in a stunningly beautiful spot on a complex esker formation. Fingers crossed we get some sun tomorrow to photograph its beauty. It remains cold and wet as we go to bed. John is at the lowest ebb I have ever seen him, he is physically and emotionally drained, an accumulation of hard days, bitterly cold wet weather, reduced food intake, a degree of disappointment at our change of route and slow progress. He is so hard on himself and does not cope when things are beyond his control.

The sun appeared for about a minute low in the sky about 9pm, just long enough to capture a rainbow over our camp on Sifton Lake. The esker we camped on continues across the lake and runs for miles