Day 47

Ford Falls to North End Helen & Fischer Falls Portage

Distance: 10 km, portage 1, – [cumulative total 819.5 km]

InReach: Day 47 Did Ford Falls portage then paddled the 8km to start of Helen & Fischer Falls portage, where we are camped It’s ~2km so will be all day

Camp: 63.661°N 104.725°W

A very cold night, 3 or 4 degrees. Were portaging by 8 am, it was very cold so no blackflies and we were through to the put-in by mid day. Despite the heavy rain during the night we managed to pack up a dry tent and the swampy area through the thicket was no worse than yesterday. After lunch we paddled down river towards Helen Falls. It is only a short paddle perhaps 9 or 10 kilometres with swift current and several sections of fast water. The banks and bottom were sandy and there was a surprising amount of spruce trees on the banks. Helen and possibly Fischer Falls are set in a canyon so it is our understanding that the portage is approximately two kilometres and bypasses both. Helen has a drop of eighteen metres and Fischer a further three metres. Again there is a significant change in the geology with the canyon being formed by sandstone in horizontal beds, this means the rapids are formed of ledges and distinct vertical waterfalls.

We commenced our search for the portage at least a kilometre back from Helen Falls but with no luck. Not wanting to get ourselves into trouble with the very swift current and high sided banks that made landing difficult we left the canoe pulled up on rocks and climbed up the embankment to search for any sign of a trail. We had been searching two hours when John found a likely path along the edge of the cliff, he followed it back and found the take-out much closer to the falls than we had anticipated, it was only a hundred metres back from a very nasty ledge. We returned to the canoe and cautiously paddled down the left bank to the put-in. John had marked it with a purple map folder because though there is a stone cairn it is well above the water line, difficult to spot from the water unless you are aware of the location. We camped on top of the cliff immediately above the take out. After setting up we walked about half a kilometre to check out the trail and photograph the very impressive waterfall. The trail is relatively flat and dry with reasonable footing and clearly visible at least in the section we have walked. Tomorrow will be our last portage for the trip, what joy.

Camp Day 47 on the canyon rim at the start of the Helen – Fischer Falls portage, our last before Baker Lake – still about 640 km away