Day 89

August 5th, 2019

Up at 5:45 AM – granola for breakfast for the first time in a while. We battled strong headwinds up Lower Carp reaching the first set of rapids around 8:30 AM. We portaged 100 yards over boulders and spongy moss to the top of the set and quickly paddled up to the next one, which we portaged around. The second portage was roughly ½ mile and put us into Upper Carp Lake. The wind was ripping out of the northwest generating two-foot wind waves. We watched the water while we ate our nuts and plotted our next moves. Unfortunately, there was little in the way of camping at the end of the portage. Quinn spotted a promising open patch of land on a peninsula 1/3 of a mile from the put-in, so we paddled across the lake and scouted the area – nada. The wind had only gathered strength and was getting up to 30 mph by James’s count. We decided to climb up the shoreline and look for a campsite to wait out the winds. Upper Carp Lake seems to be guarded by expansive boulder fields, which make for pretty visuals but poor campsites. We pulled over to the most hospitable plot of land on the eastern shore and made pancakes for lunch – this is a ritual we do on windy days to cast a spell on the weather and shift it in our favor. We foraged the woods with cups and collected blueberries for the pancakes. Bram and Axel collected heaping 3/4cups of berries in 15 minutes, but I only turned out ¼ cup – fast pickers I guess. Quinn made the pancakes, a skill he has mastered. He flipped a golden flappy for me and lathered some butter on the top. Totally delicious. We brewed coffee and watched on as the winds blew on. After a time, we were convinced that we’d be waiting a while, so we set up the wind shelter and gathered inside. Most of us read books or napped. By dinner, we were still stuck so Bram hopped into the kitchen and chef’d up some Thai noodles – perfect soup to noodle ratio. He asked us what ethnic food we craved most. The answers varied from Asian – Korean Bbq or Chinese, to Paul’s classic Tex-Mex. We voted to camp at this spot and hit the lake early tomorrow. The sky was overcast all day and we had scattered rainstorms lasting no more than 20 minutes each downfall. I enjoyed the respite from the last days of work. It’s the first time we’ve slowed down all week and provided me with some much-needed time to reflect. I love my team.


Blueberry Pancakes

P.S. James devastated himself at dinner. He put his foot on a stick as he was setting his bowl down, the stick popped up and knocked the bowl out of his hands – his noodles went everywhere. He picked up what he could, including noodles and goodies and moss. He said it didn’t taste any different.

Day 88

August 4th, 2019

Awoke at 4:30 AM, the usual Guy breakfast is ready from Paul – fascinating oatmeal. We got on the water around 6:00 AM and headed to our 7th portage of the nine lakes. There was a decent trail that went up a ridge and down to a swampy pothole then toward the lake. We then had a short 150-meter portage into our last lake. We paddled over to find the portage and had nuts. The trail sucked. It was marshy and mossy which made it extremely hard to walk. It was 6 miles. We got back up on the river and headed up to a marked bar and did a short portage. We then went up to the first Carp portage and ate lunch and I walked the trail. The trail seemed wonderful and fine so I went back to the beginning. We ate PB&J and SB&J and started the portage. The trail started out great but was terrible by the end; you would go up a ridge and have to make your own way down to a boulder field to our put in. This drained us all!! Luckily there was a western wind so we sailed some of lower Carp Lake to our campsite. We made camp at 4:45 PM and I made spaghetti for dinner. Space camp was also held which I was a big fan of. This trip and section are flying by which is bittersweet but sort of getting sweeter since this section has been incredibly tough; but not so tough you would get sore.

Your Average Yellowknife Portage



Day 87

August 3rd, 2019

Today we woke up at 5:00 am. We had decided the day before that we should utilize the abundance of light that lasts long into the evening; also more importantly, the boys were very tired. Todays was going to be a hard day. We had 9 lakes to get through, connected by a series of portages.

Everyone was in good spirits at breakfast. Paul made oatmeal and coffee, per usual, the mood was goofy, the sun was shining and laughter filled the air. In times of suffering and hardship or when anticipating a challenge, humor is the most powerful remedy known to man.

We set out around 6:30am, paddling for five or ten minutes up to the start of Icy Portage. We had scouted it the day before ad wasted no time upon arrival. Packs we loaded and the boats thrown up quickly, all of us eager to get the first and longest portage out of the way. We started along the edge of the ice and boulder field, stomping our way in, just below a ridge, then went back for the second load of gear. The bugs were plentiful, yet so were the blueberries. Some opted to take the more direct route over the boulder field on their second trip. Upon regrouping we all loaded up again and went over the ridge on a route Paul and Zach discovered the day before, ending in a long open swamp. Here we stopped again, roughly halfway through the portage. Zach pressed on with a pack to solidify the route while the rest of us went back for our second loads. From there things turned into somewhat of a shit-show. Boats were paddled through a small stretch of foot deep water in the swamp. Bram and I struggled to pick up the trail we had just made. Zach found fresh bear scat, which spooked him a little being by himself. The trail around the swamp was uneven but open. Dudes were kind of all over the place. Once out of the open swamp we re-calibrated on some bedrock; there Zach took a few of us through the thicker swampy bog to the pothole at the end. Gear was all over the place because not everyone took the same route. Tempers started to flare a bit, boys were dehydrated, stuff was scattered, but the blueberries were quite delicious. We eventually made it to the end with all of our gear nonetheless. It was the hardest portage of the trip aside from the Methye.

Icy Portage face

During that whole episode the sun disappeared behind some clouds and the wind picked up. We stopped for nuts/pemmican, all of us laughing about what had just transpired. All of us quite relieved as well.

The rest of the day we paddled through small unnamed lakes and crushed portages. Some wee short, some were long, somer were uphill, some were flat, some had boulder fields, some had spongey moss. The efficiency with which we moved would likely impress any military commander. We are a well-oiled machine. Everyone helps, no one complains. The mission is simple and each man knows what must be done. I am tremendously proud to be a part of such a great group of people. We have come so far together, spent so much time together, and been through so much together. There was a moment when I nearly cried just thinking about how well we were doing and all that we had already accomplished and where we were going. It was a profound feeling of joy, gratitude, love, determination, praise, and pride. I will never travel with a greater group or a greater purpose as long as I live. There is not a shred of doubt in my mind about that.

Around 3:30pm the winds picked up and storm clouds appeared on the horizon. We had two portages left, but most people were pretty pooped, and we felt good about where we stood. As far as this leg goes we are moving much faster than anticipated and for the trip as a whole we are way ahead of schedule. Utilizing daylight doesn’t mean a thing when the boys are tired. We been putting in work. Tomorrow is another day and we all look forward to crushing it just like the last one, and the one before that.

Found an amazing campsite on a beautiful unnamed lake in the middle of nowhere. Absolutely gorgeous. Ax made his specialty dinner of chili mac with hard salami… it was delectable. Everyone did some much needed bathing, then we hit the bag. It was a great night for the bag at the tail end of an excellent day.

I am beginning to encounter daily feelings of anxiety and fear regarding the end of the trip. I am excited yet also sad. I miss my girlfriend more than anything and want to see here, however, if not for her I would not at all wish to return home. It is hard to break a habit, and we are most certainly stuck in a way. I know I’ll be alright and the trip must end. Winter is coming, the real world is waiting, yet I cannot not quell these feelings of remorse. Out here, right now, I am living. I do not ever want to stop living like this… it is pure, free, and true.


Day 86

August 2, 2019

Another early and rainy morning paddle brought us to the beginning of Sandy Portage. As one might guess, it began at a beach. Like the ones before it, there was little indication of a trail. Bram, Ax, and Quinn went to scout the portage into Mossy Lake, while Zach while Zach went to look at the river. The group came back in about an hour and decided that, due to the “trails” length, we were better off pulling up the river. So we did. It took us almost all the morning to do three shorter portages into the river section to the right of Mossy Lake. It is quite apparent that this river’s reputation is well earned; quite a tough piece of topography to traverse. My exhaustion is compounded everyday. We managed to get to Icy Portage by mid-afternoon and found the beginning of the trail at a large floe of ice up an old, but very wide stream bed into the first unnamed pothole. Although it was a “little” longer, it would probably save us some time. We decided to camp a few minutes behind the portage, where it rained during mexican night. Everyone is in super good spirits, but the exhaustion is clear on everyone’s face.

Icy Portage

Day 85

August 1, 2019

Yellowknife River

We broke camp at 5:45. Bugs were not bad. Morning was cool & pleasant. We paddled to the end of Rocky Lake and were met by a long steep waterfall and rapid. We portaged .3 miles on the river left side until reaching a calmer section of the set that we could put in at. We pulled up roughly a mile. It was slow-going, but not too bad. We reached another set, lining up the river right side, then ferrying across to the portage over a rocky boulder field. A bit sketchy as the rocks were treacherously loose. Quinn fell with the wannigan at one point. We pushed further ahead, lining or paddling when we could, until reaching a waterfall. We ate lunch and portaged over it. After another hour of paddling and lining, we reached the waterfall belowFishing lake at 2:30 pm.

Bram and I wanted to camp at the falls, as fishing had been what we considered a goal for the day. We got there much faster that anyone could have anticipated , and it seems everyone was still in “go mode”, as they pushed off into the lake before we had a chance to talk about it. We ate some nuts and pressed on for 45 min. until deciding we should cook dinner and then look for a campsite. This frustrated me, as I either wanted to camp and the waterfall or continue paddling for at least a couple hours longer. I voiced my frustrations, but definitely did it in a way that felt unfriendly, or perhaps hostile. Other group interactions devolved from there, but we got it worked out before cleaning our bowls.

We are absolutely crushing this section of the trip, as we have been this entire time. It really hit me today though that our time out here is coming to an end. It will be hard to slow down on the Coppermine. We have only so many more waterfalls left to camp beside, so few nights by the fire. It is amazing and saddening. My god, how fast it has gone!

I will cherish this trip forever. I hold all these men in the highest regard. I have loved everything about this enterprise. We have come so far. We have almost reached the Land of the Midnight Sun.


P.S. For how tough this trip is, we have had so few negative interactions with another. Others might not be able to get away from someone fast enough after 85 days, but for us it will be harder to separate.

Day 84

July 31, 2019

Misty Morning on the Yellowknife

Rocky Lake

The day broke with an immense mist enveloping our entire panorama view of the lake. We paddled through the disorienting mist to the end of Sito Lake until reaching the ever-steep Yellowknife River inlet. We decided to begin pulling up the river instead of searching for a possible portage on a winter road in the big bay east of the river inlet. We pulled up the river until it became impassible, so we began the search for some semblance of a trail. We found the beginnings a trail on river right, but it quickly petered out. We spent the next 2+ hours cutting and stamping out a trail that brought us into Clan Lake. We paddled through Clan and Moberly Lakes without a stop until the next brief portage.

Lunch was hit bologna sandwiches with cheddar cheese on a tortilla. Post lunch was a slog. We paddled, pulled up and portaged many drops, ledges, and waterfalls before finally making it to Rocky Lake after 12 hours of paddling. We are beat.


Day 83

Woke up at 3:30- heavy bugs in the morning encouraged us to eat quickly and get on the water fast. We paddled up Prosperous Lake under a leaden gray sky and and reached the dam after a solid stretch. The portage was a mile long and the group agreed that it was the most mosquitos we had ever encountered before. My hands became windshield wipers to clean the buggers from my face. At the end James and I dumped out our dry sacks and grabbed our bugshirts. Sweet relief! Heavy rain in the afternoon- a few rapids to line up and portage around. The first portage was extremely thick, and was closer to bushwhacking than portaging. The second portage was equally unkempt and lightly travelled, but less thick, though it was more windy. We ate dinner at the bottom of Sito Lake and paddled 400 yards to the opposite shore to camp.


Day 82

Woke up around 7am and had a nice slow morning in the B&B. We checked out around 11am after watching Nelk boys on T.V while eating our breakfast. We went to the Wildcat café for lunch, which was amazing. We headed to the Jackpine Paddle outpost to pack the food we bought, and pack away our dry sacks. We had a nice conversation with Matt and David and a few other locals about our trip, and pushed off around 3pm. We paddled all the way to the first set of rapids and camped around 6:20. We logged 10 miles, and had chili mac for dinner with hot dogs. Well, sort of chili mac, as Axel forgot to add chili powder . So, it was “add it if you want it”. It’s great to be this far into the trip. We can smell the Coppermine. #Letsgetterdone.

Jackpine Paddle