Day 41

Caribou Rapids to Sand Flats East of Cruikshank Lake

Distance: 20.5 km, portage 1, Rapids 2, Lining 1 – [cumulative total 744 km]

InReach: Day 41 Got canoe thru to end Caribou Portage Remainder day paddling apart short portage at noon Saw muskox & caribou Trout for dinner All well

Camp: 63.589°N 105.315°W

Good day, slept in till 6.30am then after a quick breakfast we walked back to pick up the canoe. On the way we came across a herd of about sixteen musk ox grazing. The return journey became a bit of a saga as I was leading and lost my way, we walked way past our camp however realised our mistake backtracking and arriving about 9am. Whilst we were packing up a lone musk ox wandered close to the camp and seemed oblivious of us.

We largely ran the final section of Caribou rapids through a boulder garden however it did require a short stretch of lining. The next ten kilometres of river was narrow with great current assist and some sections of very fast water. We stopped mid morning and John caught a small trout. At mid day we portaged around a small rapid consisting of two consecutive cross river ledges making a drop of some two meters. The portage on the right was about 350 metres. We stopped for lunch at the end of the portage and John caught a second trout, a good size this time. The river was narrow and winding over following ten kilometres with three sections of fast water and one class 1 rapid.

We are now in an area of glacial out wash with extensive sandy banks and beaches, a real contrast to the glacial till with its many boulders and rocky shores that we have been travelling through. Today, in addition to the musk ox herd we saw a small group of caribou in the distance as we paddled by. We also saw at least three flocks of Canada geese, more than we have seen over the previous forty days. We have both enjoyed a day of blue skies and little wind on a narrow section of the river meaning we are getting great current assist. Our camp site looks like the Sahara desert with wide expanses of pale sand, little vegetation and a few scattered rocks, you almost expect a camel train to come plodding over the dune. We finished the day with a delicious meal of trout and herb potato, we will sleep content tonight.

Walking back to retrieve the canoe we passed a herd of muskox

With little wind, getting the canoe through to the bottom of the rapids was a breeze despite Kate’s little detour. We found out later Murray’s party had been chased by a grizzly bear near here but we were blissfully unaware

Rapids 8km below the Caribou Portage. We felt blessed that there are still places where you can just drink the water straight out of the river!

Sandy Day 41 camp just below Cruikshank Lake