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.,-117.6709&ll=61.3604,-117.6709&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1,-118.04967&ll=61.45474,-118.04967&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1,-118.60597&ll=61.30629,-118.60597&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1,-119.83801&ll=61.31064,-119.83801&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1,-120.63184&ll=61.5317,-120.63184&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1 

1 comment:

  1. Hi michael & David dad, you don't know me but I used to work with David. When I saw your blog I had to follow - very jealous - I have driven across the Yukon after spending time in Alaska & it was awesome. Not sure you do get used to the bears but amazing creatures. Wish you a very successful trip. From Julie