Friday, 31 August 2012

A final sign off from me also.....I largely reflect the comments of Gandalf below.
Fantastic experience and adventure, lots of memories to cherish. At present it is difficult to believe little over 3 weeks ago i was paddling along the coast of the Arctic Ocean.
Big thanks to all the residents of the NWT who helped along the way.

Team MacKenzie two days from completion

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

I am going to close my part of the blog.
I have returned to life at home and am gradually getting back into previous routines. I continue to struggle to get in touch with my thoughts and feelings around the whole Mackenzie experience. It seems distant, unreal somehow. I am writing an account and that is helping. Perhaps I will make that public, perhaps not. Its a slow process but rewarding and the trip deserves that finish I believe.
Some things are clear. I am appreciating our good old, for ever changing Scottish weather, rain, winds,sun and off course no bugs to talk of. I'm enjoying the dark nights and sleep has returned.
I continue to be touched by the amount of people who have supported and followed the journey. A final thanks guys.
Yes, it is good to be back.
Where now?

Saturday, 4 August 2012

We made it! Arrived in Tuktoyaktuk 1st August 2.30 p.m. Tired and relieved.
I will give an account of these last 5 days directly from my daily journal.

Hot weather again - 30 plus no clouds - No relief from the sun but made good miles with what breeze there is behind us.
28th July - camped Reindeer station (old hunting station now being rebuilt by Inuvick aboriginal community). Bugs are the worst we have known them. Could only clean our teeth under our nets and were soaked in sweat by time we had escaped into inner tents.
29th - Got out of that place asap and had breakfast after a few miles. another hot day and both of us drained physically. I am in contact with Inuvick Coastguard on the VHS radio which is reassuring as we are into the potentially most hazardous part of the trip.
Really tired and wishing for it to be over.
Camped at foot of Caribou hills. Had a seal visit the camp. I suppose lost, as it is 40 miles from the sea?
Oh, we saw moose and young moose swimming.
30th - no longer any trees. Tundra. River big and wide and very shallow. which is scary as sometimes we have to paddle over 1K to go round mud banks and we are very exposed to winds. But weather continues to be kind. Camped near Swimming Point (where caribou and moose swim across the river).
31st - Wind definitely from north west and increased as day went on. Next to no current so we are earning every penny. Wind increased as day went on and we have been forced to shore, prob about 30 K from our destination. Good campsite, good meal but spirits low. We/I are ready to finish but it seems a long way to cross the line. Are we in the Arctic ocean or the Mackenzie River? I think both. There is a definite big ocean swell coming in. Are we able to get round the "points" I can see in the distance? Not in this wind!
Lots of fears. Have we got the skills? Will the weather be ok?
!st August - The wind dropped during the night and although dull and threatening rain, we struck camp 6.30 a.m. and on the water by 7.20 a.m. The wind did not increase and the sea state was manageable and we made good time along the coast to Tuk.
2nd August - Michael swam in the Arctic Ocean (not for long as some mosys were hanging about) and we explored Tuktoyaktuk and bought some gifts. Spent a chunk of the day sorting out our stuff for shipping back to U.K. Managed to change our flights and flew out at 7.00 p.m.

The last leg of the journey was the most difficult. Physically and psychologically. We were both very tired, there was no current to help, and navigating the end of the Delta and the coastline was undoubtably the most challenging, from a paddling perspective.

Now that it is over and we are safely ensconsed in our hotel in Edmonton, I am struggling to express how I feel about the trip and Michael is the same. I need some time and space to process the experience, talk to someone else and when I have done that, I plan to finish this blog with some of those thoughts. Perhaps Michael will wish to do the same.

I know there have been many of you following this journey and would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your support and encouragement. It has meant a lot.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Friday 27th July, no Olympic fever here in Inuvik.
We arrived last night in 'The Land of the Midnight Sun', shower, laundry and eating out was on the agenda, happy again after 3 hard days.
We left Tsiigehtchic on Tuesday, 15k after Tsiigehtchic we entered the MacKenzie delta where basically the Mosquito's are worse, current near non existant, the banks are steep and muddy and apparently grizzly bears are more common.  It was a tough three days, not helped by a poor start - after about an hour on the water from Tsiigehtchic we were forced to the banks of the river for a few hours as a big storm came in, we past the time with fire and shelter building, one of these activities was more successful than the other, Tipi's appeared so easy to build?
Thankfully the weather has been ok since, overcast but not too much rain or wind.  Some very nice views also and generally we have done some good paddling.  There are around 126 different species of birds living in the Mackenzie Delta - we counted at least a dozen bald eagles on Thursday alone.

We are back on the water tomorrow for the last leg, the last leg will undoubtedly be the toughest. With the Arctic Ocean/Beaufort sea awaiting us the weather will definitely dictate our progress more than ever. Sourcing drinking water will also become an issue as we enter the latter stages as I am not too fond of salt.  We will have to take our chances to get water when they come and load the boat encase we are storm bound for an extended period....fingers crossed.

Some facts on Inuvik i read last night....
56 days of 24 hours of daylight (late June, July and early August)
Mean Annual Temp -9.7 degrees Celsius
Extreme Max +32.8 degrees Celsius
Extreme Min - 56.7 degrees Celsius
Population 3,400

Campsite at 'Point Seperation' we left the main river and turned left up the East Channel towards Inuvik, in doing so we entered the MacKenzie Delta (Canada's largest and the worlds 12th largest Delta (full of facts today))

Inuvik 'Igloo Church' - the only building in any of the the settlements worth a photograph, the architecture along the Mackenzie is understandable built for functionality rather than aesthetics.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Sun set from camp spot at Fort Good Hope
Much needed nap time - Rae acting as mosquito food

Locked and loaded, shamelessly wearing our Palm gear for their facebook page - we chose a different picture (Palm kindly gave us gear at cost when Dad wrote to tell them about the trip)

Evening view from the tent, sunset at this point was around 2am ish, the sun doesnt truly go down now and is unlikely too before the end of the trip.


High fives, reached the Arctic Circle!

Filtering water, no decent creeks so the water is pretty muddy, although likely ok to drink it is a little crunchy! The millbank bag filters the water so it looks and tastes ok - no bits.

Pre-paddle pose

Campsite across the Arctic River from Tsigehtchic
Ok. First, boring old weather report! But so important for us as our day is defined by sun, rain, wind, things which at home we can escape from. I say "they" but really it is our attitude to the elements that define our day.
Less hot the last few days and changeable. More winds, which can be scary when on the water as white horses develop literally in a few minutes. And the river is bigger and slower as we move down.
We arrived in Arctic Red River last evening, so 2 more legs of our journey to go. Our last stage was 8 days paddling and we are tired and welcoming the break today.
Mixed feelings about reaching a settlement (this one is small - 200 pop. ). Good to hopefully get a shower and goodies from the store, speak to loved ones, catch up on e'mails, etc. but the freedom that comes with living on the banks of the river vanish and we have to now cope with beholding to others for our basic needs, which although is usually given freely, can be awkward, bounderies can be blurred, unclear. Also camping near, or in the community means noise, which goes on late, dogs barking - people really are the problem in this world ! Or is it me? Whatever its good to be back on the river and tomorrow we head for Inivuk where there is an arts festival in progress, so that I'm sure will be interesting.
A word about personal hygiene. Michael has just read Ranulph Fines biography and apparantly he did not wash for 7 months on some Arctic expedition. My concern is that M. sees him as a good example and a reason to continue not to change his socks! No wonder the moose are staying clear of our campsites.
Possible hard 2 legs of the trip coming up and there is part of me wanting it to be over. The challenge for me, us, is to prepare well, and live in the days left, and not wish the trip finished. Continue to enjoy this amazing experience. When the going gets tough its so easy to tap into that illusionary, materialistic type of protected living, which I often seek, but really does not fill my soul!
Michael and I are working well as a team, up until now! We are different and similar, in many ways but are communicating pretty good and something is working.
First shower for 8 days coming up today - YES!! and fresh fish for tea tomorrow, so things are ok. Weather settled at the moment and our physical health holding up. Love to all.

 

Saturday, 14 July 2012

We arrived in Fort Good Hope on Friday afternoon, the paddle from Norman Wells was tough, the current was very slow and we had some UK weather to contend with, high winds and rain meaning we spent a lot of time on the river banks waiting for the river to calm down. The day we left we also had to endure two portages, fairly short but we have a lot of gear, thankfully it is highly unlikely we will be faced with another.

Norman Wells was fantastic, met some really good people, accommodation was great and i got to experience a NWT bar on a Saturday night at 2am - not much different to what i imagine Alness would be like on a Saturday night.  We also got to watch the entire tennis, shed a tear for Murray.

The two recognized rapids on the Mackenzie lay between Norman Wells and Fort Good Hope, it was good to finally get these out of the way and in the end they weren't too bad, skipper Rae steered us pretty much clear of them.  The scenery has been pretty stunning at times, the 'Ramparts' particularly - the Ramparts is flanked by high cliffs and is relatively narrow (prob just under a k).

Today we have went to the Northern Store in Fort Good Hope where the manager offered us the use of her shower later this evening (she said it without a wink), we got picked up by a guy in town who gave us a ride with our groceries back to our tents in the back of his truck. We are currently at the house of a lady who works in the community hall who we met yesterday, we are using her washing machine and internet at present, we also showered here yesterday, she just let us in to use her house and went away again, and finally tronight we are going fishing with a local guy who we met on the river - standard stuff really, the warmth of the people continues to be quite humbling.

The next stage of the journey is 220 miles, 10-12 days, we have replenished our food barell and are ready to leave tomorrow morning. This will be the biggest stretch of the journey, looking forward to it as it is always cooler on the water, despite the few days of wind and rain it is back to 30 + degrees with no shade from sun rise to sun set (about 20 hours).

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.  The dragon flies are amazing, they take out dozens of mosquitoes from the air, so quick, amazing creatures.
Slavering on the keyboard- BBQ at Tulita (check out fish in background)

Some way up Bear Rock, yes this is a pose, deep in thought about my next meal.
Tulita from the MacKenzie as we leave for Norman Wells


Soaking up the culture in the Norman Wells museum


The Ravens are huge, noisy, not very fond of them! I can see where Hitchcock got his inspiration from though.




Saturday, 7 July 2012

6th July
My turn to write.
Yesterday we left Tulita, and I know both of us were glad to be back on the water. We made a conscious decision to slow down and to split the 50 miles to Norman Wells into 2 days. We have accepted that there are no "campsites" as we have always known them (green soft grass beside a clear flowing mountain stream) and that we have to make do with the banks of the mighty Mackenzie which have been ripped apart by the winter break-up and really are just different degrees of hard packed mud. Thank goodness for our snow pegs! So we are less choosy about where we are going to spend the night and this has relieved some pressure. The illusion that round the next point will be Utopia has been shattered.
A strange day yesterday. I found it difficult to get myself "up" for the next leg and doubted why I was here in the first place, putting myself through all the discomfort, heat, bugs, mud (and heavy thunderstorm). Much of the trip so far has consisted of huge swings in moods (Michael is going thorough similar) and a bunch of different feelings, and yesterday was no exception. At the end of the day, I looked out of my tent and saw a caribou drinking from the banks of the river with the setting sun in the back ground. I was back to living in the "now" and once again feeling grateful for this amazing experience.
Norman Wells. We had read there was camping available at a local adventure centre (Canoe North Adventures) and on asking directions, 2 guys, who worked in the local authorities office, took us and all our gear to the place. On arrival we were told that we could stay in the cabin besides the lake where the business was. And, no charge. Once again we have been blown away by the friendliness and the willingness of the northern Canadian to go that extra yard to make us welcome.
We have accepted their kindness with good grace and plan to stay here for 2 nights. A time to meet people and learn more about their way of life.



Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Arrived in Tulita, it is 254km from Wrigley where i last updated the blog, we have again made some good progress and also enjoyed a thunderstorm induced day off. 

It is Canada day on the 1st of July, as this was a Sunday the public holiday is today (Monday), the bad news is everything is shut and we are very low on supplies, the great news however is that there is a big bbq in the middle of the commuity.  A fantastic BBQ too, no salad to be seen, just lots of meat and bread, a baked potato if you are watching your weight.

After my sunny weather prediciton on the last blog post we had heavy rain three days running, we pretty much slept through the first lot, only getting out our tents mid afternoon for food, it was much needed and we appreciated no sun for a few days.  The wind hasnt been too strong so paddling has been ok in the thunder storms, the current has continued to be ok which has greatly assisted our progress.
We are well ahead of schedule at the moment so will likely take a few more days off in the coming weeks, we are both pretty tired with lack of sleep and distance covered.

After seeing out first bear on the day of the last post we spotted a further two during the next day (photos to come), thankfully we were at distance on the river so no threat.

We are getting into the swing of things now, wild camping every day is tough but you do kind of get used to it, that said i am looking forward to a bed or at least 2 or 3 nights in one location - packing up camp and setting camp can be hard work at the best of times, on occasion we have to haul our stuff quite far from the river.  Finding good campsites is tough too as there is very little to choose from.

The scenery has continued to be beautiful, we have passed a few mountain ranges in the past week or two, the landscape has gradually changed, we are appreciating the variations.

I (we perhaps) plan to climb Bear rock tomorrow which is very close to Tulita, its only 1,500 feet so will only take a few hours, the views should prove to be fantastic. 

There is also rumour (TBC) of a community pool in Tulita, a shower and a swim in water which is not freezing and without swarms of mosquitos is something to behold.

Edit - Since writing the above we have booked in to 'The two rivers Hotel' (the only hotel in Tulita which at this time of year can only be accessed by boat or air) the suggested camp spot was too far away (trying to justify it to myself) and to be honest i think we will hugely benefit from the rest, 17 nights in a tent is not always the most enjoyable coupled with the sun sleep has been thin on the ground. 
Another huge benefit of the hotel is they have laundry facilities, I have washed my clothes in the river up until now but it wasnt quite doing the trick, when i am smelling myself during a windy paddle it really is getting bad. As i write this i am showered and wearing shorts for the first time on the trip, i can now distinguish between what is tan and what was just dirt. Sweet.
Camp site on 'Rocky Island' we slept through the first of the rain storms here, good camp spot!

Evening view from Rocky Island, beautiful evening.

Black Bear #1, we watched this from across the water, exciting to see our first Bear, thankful also it was on the other side of the water.

Bear #2, we paddled alongside this bear, the bear didnt seem bothered by us one bit.

My malet bought in Yellowknife has died, going to struggle to buy another out here.

The storm brewing in the background, it was a beauty.  The storm lasted for quite a while, not a huge wind so it wasnt too bad.  Unfortunately the storms have caused the phone lines down in Tulita, they are flying in an engineer apparently.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Chef at work

Fantastic camp spot, small fishing community totalling four houses.  There was no-one at home unfortunately but we were advised it was ok to camp there. Enjoyed the morning views with breakfast. 

Beaver in the water in front of us just before midnight, the beaver came very close to the canoe and stayed with us for a while.

Lunch

'Misplaced' the fuel  for the stove so cooked of the fire for a few nights.
Arrived in Wrigley, small settlement with a population of around 200 people.  We have stocked up on some supplies from the local store, minimilastic to say the least but it had some pasta and dried fruit which will do the job.  We have covered good mileage since Fort Simpson, averaging around 35 miles per day, part of the reason for this is the difficulty in finding good camp spots, we have travelled further than planned looking for a good pitch.  The river has been flowing at a steady rate and the weather has been good, we were without cloud for 3 straight days.
The non stop sunshine has brought its challenges though, the sun doesnt set till after midnight and rises around 3am, our tents are like sauna's, there is no hiding from it, difficult for two pasty Scotsmen.  Its not often i would say this but hoping for lots of clouds and wind in the next few days although forecast is much the same, 28 degrees and sunny (dry your eyes i hear you say).
We spotted our first bear today, it was just a cub at the side of the river, we were quite a distance away but still great to see one.  We had a beaver swimming close to our canoe 2 nights ago, it was with us for quite while, slapping its tail of the water and diving before resurfacing close by - amazing.  6-8 days till the next civilisation, will update more then.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Dad and I about to set off at Dory Point, fresh faced (open to opinion) and excited!
Beautiful eagle spotted before we set out on the river.
Canoe packed, ready for the off, everything fits!


Sitting it out, waiting for the wind to die down before going underneath the Deh Cho bridge
Midnight sunset - this was towards the tail end of a mammoth 15 hour paddling day, not planned but this view was worth it
Mid day power nap (maxed out at about 3 minutes), we took turns whilst the other steered, not easy to sleep on the canoe but there was few Mosquitoes and a small breeze so we took our chance!
Jean Marie River, population of around 70, fascinating settlement , the locals couldn't have been friendlier.  First shower in a week - the reason i look so happy

Toilet break

Aboriginal Day celebrations (excuse the post), they are doing the 'reel of 4' dance, this derived from the 8 some reel, the dances were brought over by Scots fur traders who charmed the locals with their moves.

Doing a little bit flying.

Little Doctor Lake taken in as part of the Air Tour, done a little fishing and chilled out in the beautiful surroundings.

Virginia Falls - Looking pretty cool this guy





Friday, 22 June 2012

22nd June
We arrived in Fort Simpson day before yesterday and are staying in the local campsite. Coincidentally, yesterday was Aboriginal Day, a day of celebration, with singing and dancing going on into the night. The "D.J." commented on the link between Canada and Scotland, pointing out that the fiddle music being played had been introduced by Scottish trader/pioneers a few hundred years ago. Michael and i didnt stay too long as we are catching up on much needed rest. Between the bugs and the heat, sleep is at a premium.
The river changed after Jean Marie, speeded up considerably in places (18K/hr) so we made good progress. There had been concern that the water at  Fort Simpson would be blocked by logs as the River Liard coming into the Mackenzie had been slow in thawing and the water levels were high. Fortunately we paddled into the town (1200 pop) with ease. A lady from a nearby house loaded our gear into the back of her truck and taxied us up to the campsite.
Ok, the trip so far! Difficult. I am so out my comfort zone and although I intellectually knew it would not be a picnic, I was not prepared for this, and I don't mean equipment/food wise but experience wise. This is true wilderness country, huge, beautiful but wilderness and I/we are learning that it must be taken seriously, that small things must be heeded to, if we are to reach our destinations, our goals, whatever they may be. We are working well as a team, not easy at times as family dynamics and character defects (I am talking about my own here) come into play.
Michael has gone on a air trip to Virginia falls today which I'm sure he will report on.
Tomorrow we are back on the river and our next stage is lengthy so maybe no blog for a couple of weeks? Missing you all.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

We were dropped off by Canoe outfitters at around mid day on Friday 15th June, all the planning and preparation had come down to this point.  Our first days target was to reach Fort Providence, a modest target for the first day which would help us find our rhythm, learn which way the canoe faces etc.  The first hour was eventful, a large herd of Buffalo greeted us from the shore as we made our maiden crossing of the MacKenzie, we then paddled under the Deh Cho bridge (A kilometer long bridge under construction for the last 4 years) and also spotted a couple of Bald Eagle - a good start to the trip.
We camped in Fort Providence on our first night, it was here where we were formally introduced to some of the NWT mosquitoes, i also learned a valuable lesson that Merino wool doesn't provide a barrier against the little fu..lyers, i would  pay for this naivety for the next few days as I itched myself to sleep.  We went into 'town' to investigate after having dinner by the tent, we ended up in the Snow Shoe Inn after being beckoned in by a couple of the locals, the 'snow shoe idol' was taking place - a karaoke competition based on pop idol. Dad couldn't be persuaded to sing and i would have felt bad taking the prize from one of the locals, we therefore didn't stay long and made a swift exit.  A surreal experience.
Day two and three the going were relatively slow going, the sheer size of the Mackenzie was now appreciated, no loch or lake in the UK would compare, the river was several kilometers wide and the current was therefore minimal, we earned every meter gained. We also had to negotiate the south side of Mills Lake, a 20km expanse of water which threw up some tasty waves, a reminder that the river could present some serious challenges if not respected.  We made good progress however and the views at times were great, we were on the whole blessed with decent weather. 
On the second night we circled a few islands looking for a windy camp spot, wind will be a close ally on this trip as it keeps the mosquitoes down to a minimum.  Thankfully we were pretty successful in achieving this on the second and third nights, so much so we could even have a very brief wash in the Mackenzie, i say very brief as the water is freezing, the river was frozen this time a month ago and at times lumps of ice can be seen on the shores.  The amount of drift wood makes making fires very easy which is great, it goes without saying therefore we have had big bonfires each night.
No sign of any bears yet, although there have been a couple of noises in the night which have put us on edge, not helped by one of the local woman in Fort Providence commenting in passing that 'the bears are coming', a helpful statement I'm sure however it doesn't assist with sleeping!  I have the bear spray and bangers, Dad has the gun, cant say its fair but i do get bigger helpings at dinner, compromise. 
Below is a link to the progress we have made days 1 - 6, i will post some photographs shortly, Dad will update blog shortly.
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=61.3604,-117.6709&ll=61.3604,-117.6709&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=61.45474,-118.04967&ll=61.45474,-118.04967&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=61.30629,-118.60597&ll=61.30629,-118.60597&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=61.31064,-119.83801&ll=61.31064,-119.83801&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=61.5317,-120.63184&ll=61.5317,-120.63184&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 
 

Friday, 15 June 2012

14th June and our last day in Hay river. All being well we will be on the river tomorrow. Our equipment was held up in Edmonton awaiting custom clearance. But the extra day here was needed. Michael had a tummy bug, requiring recovery time and there is blockage on the river near Fort Simpson (about 200K) due to unusually high floods so getting there too soon would not be a good idea. The weather is cooler than usual for this time of June but temps likely to increase very soon. There is still ice on the Great Slave Lake and winds coming off there are fresh.
We spent most of today sorting out our gear, which finally arrived yesterday afternoon. Thankfully Canoe North are looking after us and gave us the use of their warehouse to pack the barrels etc. We have already met so many people and have been made so welcome. I asked the local supermarket manager if i could borrow a trolley to transport some stuff - "sure, no problem, just bring it back".
We will be glad to get going tomorrow. It seems a long time ago since the planning began and finally the journey is about to begin!   

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Leaving on a jet plane.....


Saturday 9th June – Packing finished, carbohydrate loading completed satisfactorily and lift to the airport agreed.

We have less than 5 days now until we start on the river.  The first challenge will be successfully getting through the airport with a 12 gauge shot gun complete with a summers worth of ammunition.  Dad insists he has spoken to the police and the airline and that there will be no issues, however to be sure I will be keeping my distance from the gun toting highlander until the gun is safely checked in.  The concern is Edinburgh’s answer to John Smeaton will not like the look of him and take it upon himself to tackle Dad to the floor.  Hopefully there will be some decent films on the flight, I am concerned if there isn’t, conversations between Dad and I may be exhausted before we arrive in Canada.

We spend two nights in Edmonton, the reason being, there is a requirement for us to personally collect and sign for our air freight and then organise the onward transportation to Hay River.  The freight is carried by truck from Edmonton to Hay River.  We leave Edmonton on Tuesday morning arriving in Hay River via a 6 hour stopover in Yellowknife on Tuesday evening. 

Hay River will be a busy day and a half, the to do list includes – collect our freight which is being delivered to the canoe outfitters, collect our canoe (quite important), buy food, buy fishing gear and enjoy the last night in a bed before ten weeks of camping.

My emotions are currently excitement coupled with apprehension, I’m sure the apprehension will subside however once I am satisfied all our equipment has safely arrived.

Next update will be from the North West Territories where the weather forecast is currently good!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Let The Adventure Begin
The planning of this trip started 1 year ago, and I know that Michael and I have shared and individual reasons why we decided to embark on this journey. We both had felt an urge to do something "different", test ourselves on a journey of exploration. The idea of paddling the length of the Mackenzie river in North West Territories in Canada met this need for adventure.
The Mackenzie river, the Deh Cho, (big river), flows north from the Great Slave Lake to the Arctic Ocean. It stretches 1120 miles. The starting point of our trip is Hay River on the Great Slave Lake and our destination is Tuktoyaktuk, a small community on the Beaufort Sea. There are 9 settlements along the way and depending on weather conditions and the condition of father, the time in between settlements may be one to two weeks. Therefore blog entries may be irregular - but stay with us.
The physical challenge of the journey lies not so much in the technical difficulty of the river (mostly grade 1 rapids, 2 x grade 2) but in the size of the water and it's remoteness. The average width of the river is 1.5 to 2 miles and strong winds must be treated with respect.
We are excited and nervous about the journey ahead, meeting the challenge of existing in a harsh and unforgiving environment where bears and mosquitos belong and man is a visitor. We also welcome the opportunity to observe the culture of the Dene people and perhaps experience some of their unique traditional aboriginal activity.
I want to say that planning and preparing for this trip and getting to this point has only been possible with the support and help of many. Thanks to you all.