Un-named River to 12km Upstream of Beverly Lake
Distance: 78 km, Rapids 1 – [cumulative total 1124.5 km]
InReach: Day 54 Almost 12 hr paddling Now camped just upstream Beverly Lk, one of 3 we must transit Another record today: 78km All well J&K
Camp: 64.541°N 100.953°W
Up early, the plan is to get as much of the way to Beverly Lake as we can. The morning was cold but with blue skies and the first hour went well with a tail wind and excellent current assist. Once we turned north the quartering wind played havoc, corkscrewing the canoe. This canoe has much more ‘rocker’ than the Nova Craft we had used for previous trips, so though it is more responsive in white water it is a bugger in the wind. We continued to enjoy a swift current but because we were trying to shelter from the worst of the wind we couldn’t take real advantage.
Navigating by map was especially difficult today as there were practically no land features and there has been a change in the topography since out maps were drawn. Some of the islands on our maps have apparently either disappeared or are now connected to the shore by gravel or sand bars and a number of marked channels have now sanded up. The combination of wind and navigation problems meant we were not always able to tell just where we were though we were confident that we were in the main channel. When we checked with the GPS in the early afternoon we found we were one and a half map sheets further than we realised and even better we were about to turn east again so would have the wind behind us. Having been given this little boost we decided to make a ‘big’ day of it and try to make it all the way to Beverly Lake.
In addition to the usual water fowl we saw three caribou today, one a young male appeared to be playing as he ran in and out of the water but he may have just been trying to shake off the blackflies. Then just before the Kigarvi River entered the Thelon we saw a pair of caribou both with magnificent antlers resting on the beach. The geomorphology is changing yet again, we are leaving the sandstone behind and are back to treeless fields of boulders. As we paddle between the high banks on both sides of the river you can see the amazing destruction caused during the spring melt, the levels reach five to six meters above the present level and the sheer intensity and volume of water rips out bushes and rocks causing the upper banks to slump and leaving roots exposed so the cliff top is badly eroded.
The major feature /excitement of today was the Thelon Bluffs. These are very impressive high cliffs rising almost straight out of the water. We were expecting fast water as the river narrows and rounds the main bluff and I was going to take photos while John paddled however we unexpectedly ran head on into a class 3+ rapid so camera dropped in the bilge we paddled hard. This rapid did not have any major obstacles however the standing waves were coming from a number of directions and possibly the highest we have experienced. They swept over the bow and hit me in the chest, when we were at the bottom of the trough I could not see over the next wave. Needless to say I was thoroughly soaked and though we had the spray cover on the canoe had taken a great deal of water so we needed to pull in and bail it out.
After paddling for over eleven hours covering a record 78 kilometres, we camped only twelve kilometres from Beverly Lake, a most satisfying day. The camp was on a ‘goose green’, a moss like plant that grows in damp flat spots by the river, or sometimes on a dry terrace back from the river. The Canada geese seem to love it and so it is often covered in goose shit. It is quite comfortable to camp on but unfortunately very buggy.