Saturday, September 11, 2010

Photos from our Thelon River canoe trip

As promised in my previous post, here are the photos of our 11 day canoe trip down the Upper Thelon River in the Northwest Territories. Ten of us, including me and my husband, Jim, and our guide Alex Hall of Canoe Arctic, took off from Fort Smith in 3 float planes and flew north-east for a little over two hours to a small lake north of the tree line, where we spent our first night in The Barrens.

The Barrens is a vast, empty land of arctic tundra, mostly flat with water making up at least 50% of an area that covers thousands of square miles stretching eastward from Great Slave Lake to Hudson’s Bay and northward to the Arctic Ocean. We were easily two hundred and fifty miles from the nearest habitation and wouldn’t see another human being for the entire trip or even a suggestion that someone else was sharing the river with us.

For the next ten days, we paddled along the mostly smooth, sometimes windy and occasionally turbulent waters of this great northern river as it passed through large expansive lakes or narrowed between banks of sand, stone and tundra. We portaged five times, averaging a kilometre in length, around rapids and one dramatic falls. We camped out on the open tundra in the full glare of the northern sun.  Several nights we camped amongst the stunted trees of eskers, the sandy remnants of glacial riverbeds from the last Ice Age.  In total we paddled a little less than a hundred miles.

While we saw only a few animals; one caribou, some fox kits and a cow moose and calf, we saw lots of birds, including arctic terns, wimbrels, parasitic jaegers, bald eagles, Bonaparte’s gulls, Canada geese, common loons, red throated loons, a yellow billed loon, willow ptarmigan, Harris sparrows and Lapland longspurs to name a few.

I must not forget to mention the weather, after all I’m Canadian. It was fabulously hot and sunny for all but one day of rain and another windy, cold day that reminded us that we were indeed North of 60.

By the way, I must've killed a million black flies.

And if you think this canoe trip won't provide fodder for another Meg Harris murder mystery, think again... I am, after all, a crime writer. :)

You can see the photos here. And if you want to learn more about our trip, please read the previous post. 

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