Hanbury River – R4 Rapids to Grove Rapids
Distance: 21km, Portage 1, Lining 1, Rapids 2 – [cumulative total 716.5 km]
InReach: Day 38 Did two sets rapids, ran one Second needed lining & short portage Paddled Lac du Bois & camped top Grove Rapids Long portage tomorrow J&K
Camp: 63.588°N 105.734°W
Set out later than usual however by 9.30 am we had run the first rapid. Originally we had thought it would be a portage but after running the preliminary fast water and scouting from the left bank John decided it was runnable. It was about 500 meters long and mainly class 2. We ran the upper section left of centre missing a small ledge then tight left around a bend to avoid a significant ledge on our right side with class 3 standing waves. The lower run was an exercise in boulder dodging as it fanned back into the river. On the shore in the quite water below this rapid John saw a large ground dwelling bird possibly a grouse or a pheasant. It had brown/grey feathers with lighter under parts and red wattles or feathers around its eyes.
About ten kilometres on at a narrowing where the river becomes Lac Du Bois we encountered our second rapid for the day. It was about 800 meters, the upper section is class 2 with a lot of protruding and sub surface boulders, below this is a 4.5 meter ledge forming a small but impressive waterfall. We ran the upper section on the right, about 200 meters above the waterfall John lined for a further 75 metres and we used an established portage to travel the last 125 meters to a flat granite shelf directly below the waterfall. This provided a good put in but the last section was boulder strewn with an ill defined channel, we ended up broad-side to several protruding rocks, a strong wind making manoeuvring difficult.
Lac Du Bois is a small lake surrounded by relatively flat tundra. It seemed to have a less bouldery shore but this may have just been the generally higher water level. We had one last rapid in a narrow channel by a large island. It was a mixture of very fast water and class 1 white water. Our camp for the night is on top of a large, esker near the start of Grove Falls. We don’t think it is the usual take out point as there is no path as such, and it involves a very steep climb to get to what appears to be a route along the esker. Grove Falls are a complex set of at least five rapids and we estimate the portage to be about two kilometres. We plan to walk along the top of the esker for much of the way as this will provide us with good footing and should be dry. It has been warm and sunny all day and possibly the buggiest day so far this trip even the wind does not deter them.