We arose around 7:30 AM to the same cold, windy, and rainy conditions as yesterday. Some of the group members, Paul and Axel, wanted to layover since conditions seemed worse but we voted to continue. We got on the water around 9:00 AM after granola and coffee. We did an 11-mile stretch in ripping current/headwind to a nut break around 11:00 AM. Right before the break we saw roughly 8 to 10 muskox bedded down along the river. They made some weird noises as they ran away. We enjoyed our nuts as we discussed what we would do in the northeast section of the river because the wind was coming straight off the ocean and gusts were well over 30 mph. We did another long stretch and saw a lone muskox that didn’t seem to mind us. We also saw an abandoned cabin that we decided to do lunch at to get out of the wind. We had PB&J and decided to camp because of the weather and because the NE stretch didn’t seem doable. We made a batch of coffee and played cards while we dried all of our wet things out. I am currently making chili-mac “ferda boys.”
This is probably my last time writing in the journal and I cannot say how proud of us I truly am. We have come so far and have become closer than ever. Thank you to everyone who helped make my dreams of paddling to the Arctic Ocean possible.
Awoke at 5:00 AM and on the water at 6:30 AM. The winds were out of the NW as we made a crossing to a big island we went south of. We had nuts after a couple of stretches and I could feel my body start to freeze because I didn’t move the whole break. Axel and Paul put on the paddling jackets for the first time since Winnipeg. So yeah, it is cold as hell. We did another stretch to a cairn filled island. Then, another small stretch to lunch where the boys saw Point Lake Lodge off in the distance. We went to it and met Amanda, who I had met in Yellowknife, George, John and Bernie. We shared some stories over coffee, cookies, cheese and crackers. They invited us to stay at their cabin at the beginning of Redrock, and are having chicken dump for dinner (made by Bram and it is amazing.)
Awake at 6:00 AM and on the water by 7:30 AM. We had granola and coffee for breakfast. We did 4 medium sized portages into the tundra with the last one having a terrible ending. It was thick shrubbery. We did nuts then did a short portage into a pothole and did lunch. We entered a stream which we thought wouldn’t have any portages. We were wrong! There were 4 portages all not too long, but made the day extra hard. The stream was about 6 miles long and led to Winter Lake. We did a stretch across Winter to a nice island. We gathered enough wood for a fire and Axel made chili-mac. Delicious! It started to rain as we went to our tents which makes for great sleeping weather.
It was a quick morning for the Source Runs North boys this morning, possibly due to bugs. We arose at 3:30 AM and got on the water at 4:25 AM. We had oatmeal and coffee for breakfast then did a beautiful stretch straight into a Lion King type sunrise. The haze does wonders to the sun every morning. We did several stretches to Grant Point with the first couple stretches with some light wind. We stopped for lunch around 11:45 AM and discussed doing the 10K crossing to The Terrible Islands. We first voted not to do it in case the winds picked up. We got back in our boats to go look for a campsite but the lake and winds were calm. Axel wanted to revote since we both saw it as a window and might regret not taking it in the future. We all decided to do the crossing and made it in about an hour and a half. It set us up to hopefully crush the lake in 4 days. We did another couple stretches through some awesome rock islands to a campsite with some not so good tent sites but stopped to camp anyway. We had chili-mac for dinner.
We logged 32 miles today. It feels great to be in the position we are in and to get the biggest crossing on the lake out of the way.
We woke up at 3:30 AM and got immediately on the water. AT 4:15 AM, we had a floating breakfast of oatmeal and coffee. We thought today was going to be long. We started paddling around 5:45 AM after a quick stop to answer nature’s call. We did a couple stretches to nuts. After nut break, the current really started to pick up. We were moving at a similar pace to the Athabasca River. We made it past Hay Camp for lunch where we had salami and cheese and floated roughly 5K. We ended lunch around 1:30 PM and did 2 one-hour stretches all the way to Fitzgerald, where Leif picked us up and drove us to his house in Fort Smith. When loading up gear in his car, we found a butter explosion in the breakfast pack. Another disaster, but we will manage – we are used to these kinds of things. We are having spag. for dinner. Axel and Zach went out to the rapids with Natalie to have a few beers and watch the sunset. We paddled 58.5 miles today and are ready for the rapids in the morning.
Woke up at 7:00 AM to a wonderful breakfast (2 eggs, sausage, hash browns, fruit and yogurt.) We had a lot of things to do, so we divided and conquered the tasks so we could have a chill afternoon. We finished all the gear repairs and headed to a sandwich shop called Mitchel’s around 2:00 PM. After that, we all did various errands. We went back to the room, where I thought we would nap and lay low for the night since we would be leaving in the morning. The opposite happened. After a few beers, we were all shirtless flexing our muscles and sending pics/videos to the Kooch family. We then went to a bar to play some pool until about 12:30 AM. Quinn, Bram and I went to a 7-11 for food that was amazing. We all then went back to the hotel to sleep for a few hours.
After getting to the cabins at the beginning of the La Loche River at 1:00 AM we decided to get up at 5:00 AM so we could complete the river during the daylight. We had a quick coffee and granola and got on the water by 7:00 AM. After just one stretch, I knew the river was going to be tough. It included paddling through thick reeds that slowed us down. Then we spent a couple of hours pulling up rapids that eventually led to a marshy section. We did a quick PB&J and hoped to be done pulling up rapids for a while. We did some long stretches in the heat and stopped at a bridge for dinner around 6:45 PM where we had Thai noodles. We were all exhausted. I thought I was going to fall asleep on the side of the road. We got back on the water around 8:15 and did a small stretch to the last set of rapids. It was the last thing we wanted to see. Nothing like going to bed with wet clothes. We did our last stretch to the lake where we arrived at 10 PM. We paddled along the shore to a sandy/marshy campsite. Overall it was a great day, we paddled 33 miles, spent over 14 hours on the water and only had 4 hours of sleep.
Woke up at 3:30 AM after only getting 4 hours of sleep. We had a quick coffee and oatmeal and got on the water in an hour and 15 minutes so that we could attempt to make it to Buffalo Narrows today. It looked like we had a chance since the winds were out of the southeast. We paddled south to finish Ile La Crosse and headed up the arm in which we would hope to sail to Buffalo Narrows. The wind died then shifted out of the north so we were unable to. We did a couple of stretches up the arm then we had to stop because of lightening. We had a quick PB&J and got back on the water. We paddled up to Macbeth Channel hoping to camp by a dirt road since there weren’t many campsites. We got there and there wasn’t a road so we paddled for another hour and decided to look farther up for a campsite. There was not much since it was all cliff and shrubs along the shore. We eventually got to a cabin which had a nice field and we decided to camp around 5:30 PM. Bram made Thai noodles and got quickly to bed as rain settled in. We paddled 42 miles but felt like more maybe because I’m exhausted.
Up at 4 AM and had oatmeal and coffee and on the water by 5:40 AM. We did some stretches across Sandfly in a big side-wind. We made it to Cowpack Island and had nuts. Paul and I tightened our nuts on the boat because it is squeaky. We did a couple more stretches across Sandfly still with a side-wind and made lunch in McDonald Bay. We headed south toward the river that had a ripping current. There were two marked bars but felt like five. We couldn’t find a portage for them so we pulled up them and it was way harder than the Sturgeon-Weir. We got almost to the top of the second one and Axel found a trail that led to a road and we had to bushwhack over the other side to a put in. He met a fisherman and once again he asked to shake his hand. It must be a Canadian thing. We pushed off and did nuts around 4:30 PM and camped soon after. We paddled 29 miles today, which was nice to do since we haven’t been doing that much over the past couple of days.
Woke up at 3:30 AM and had oatmeal and got on the water by 5 AM. We did a short stretch across Keg Lake and portaged a set of rapids into Drinking. We did a stretch across Drinking to the next rapids and portaged. We stopped for nuts/pemmican afterwards. We continued across another lake and got turned around for a second. We saw our first paddlers of the trip and some members wanted to paddle over and say hello. I did not! We continued to Drope Lake and ran into Stanley Rapids which had a boat ramp you could drag your boat over.
We did PB&J there and talked about slowing down or continuing at our own pace. We chose to slow down…for now. We did a stretch to a cool church in Stanley Mission in hopes they had a LCBO – they did not. Sad. We did another stretch up a lake and camped at 4:00 PM. We had our Mac for dinner. Quinn and Ax had to repack the lunch after a massive PB explosion. Paul then checked his and he, as well, found one. It took us about an hour to repack it. We did a small map session to reconsider going slower or making a decision tomorrow. We hit the tents around 9 PM.