Day 40

Distance: 2 km, portage 1 – [cumulative total 723.5 km]

InReach: Day 40 Caribou Rapids too dangerous to run so portaged ~1.5km Couldn’t carry canoe on shoulders due high wind Finish tomorrow First blueberries!

Camp: 63.542°N 105.655°W

Woke to a very cold misty morning with a freezing wind – this seems to have been the pattern of this trip. John set off to scout the river as we hoped to run the top half before the real rapids started. There were possibly some runnable sections but also a number of nasty ledges where you only got one chance to get through and considering the influence the very strong wind was likely to have on steering the canoe we decided it was prudent to portage the entire rapid. We paddled about half a kilometre to a reasonable take-out on the left side of the river and where it was apparent that the group ahead of us had also taken out.

We set off across the tundra on what appeared to be a path. After about half a kilometre the path became sketchy, it was difficult to distinguish the real track from the numerous animal trails. The canoe was acting as a sail in the strong wind making it almost impossible to carry. With no real certainty of the route we elected to make our way through a valley with deep but fairly dry muskeg humps and thick patches of alders. The plan was to camp at a suitable put-in for the boulder garden beyond the main sets of rapids. Once we reached the hill on the far side of the valley we could look back on the main set of Caribou Rapids, a very spectacular display of white water with about ten deep ledges stretching across the river like a series of giant steps.

This plan meant a further kilometre of portaging so we left the canoe tied up to some bushes at the first staging point and will return for it early tomorrow when the forecast predicts the wind will have abated. What with the need to scout for reasonable walking it took us until almost 3pm to reach a suitable put-in on an eddy of the swiftly flowing river. After setting up camp we both took a quick dip and had a good wash, washing certainly does wonders for the body and the mind. A real compensation for our overland trek today was all the yummy, ripe low bush blueberries, we both stopped many times for a feed oh and the wind meant no bugs a relief after the past two days. Tomorrow we should get some paddling though it is only about ten kilometres till the next portage.

Multiple ledges visible in this section of Caribou Rapids