Day 48

Helen and Fischer Falls Portage

Distance: 2 km, portage 1, – [cumulative total 821.5 km]

InReach: Day 48 Completed Helen & Fischer portage & are camped on flat sandstone outcrop below Fischer Our last portage, so celebrated w/ trout & couscous

Camp: 63.648°N 104.716°W

The morning was cold with a heavy dew and no wind so the blackflies and mosquitoes were going crazy. The fact that for the first time ever John wore his bug jacket on the first two stages of the carry is an indication of their intensity. We completed the portage in three stages. It started out in a spruce forest and was roughly two kilometres. The footing was dry and firm as it ran along the top of the canyon. Following the forest there were occasionally bushy [those pesky alders] sections and towards the end it was a sea of boulders. The whole walk was scenic with great views of both Helen and Fischer Falls.

The river is incised into sandstone and reminded both of us of the Fond du Lac. The whole day had a Saskatchewan feel. It was sunny but not hot great portaging weather. By days end we were camped on a large flat sandstone ledge just below Fischer Falls, apparently a popular camp site as it marks the end of the incessant portaging along the Hanbury River. Tomorrow we enter the Thelon. The sandstone ledge makes for a beautiful camp site as it is flat, clean and just above the water. We celebrated with a dip and wash plus a delicious trout meal accompanied by a toast with some of Klaus’ “spirit” [peach schnapps]. This has been an excellent portage but the Hanbury did not let us off without a sting in the tail. The portage ends with a steep climb down a twenty metre sandy cliff then a scramble across a field of large boulders to reach the flat ledge, always lugging out gear. It was treacherous with the canoe and John slipped at one stage ending up lying under the canoe. It took an amazing effort and fortitude to stand up with the canoe on his shoulders and continue down the steep path. The Hanbury has been a very different experience for us. It is a narrow fast flowing river making it fun to canoe down. It is often very scenic and runs through ever changing terrain and environments but it also has many, many long portages and sometimes left you wondering whether you were on a canoe or a hiking trip. It has been a challenge for us, one that in retrospect we are so glad we had the opportunity to do.

Carrying just above Helen Falls

Helen Falls, one of the most spectacular sights on the Hanbury

Fischer Falls and our Day 48 camp on a sandstone ledge. The confluence with the Thelon lies just 10km downstream

Trout caught on our doorstep

Celebrating our last portage with the last of Klaus’s schnapps