Our trip begins in Great Slave Lake, which has historically been a gateway to the arctic. We will leave the lake at the eastern end traveling up Pike’s Portage, a thirty km chain of small lakes and portages. Indigenous people have used this route for hundreds of years, as did Warburton Pike in the 1890s, and J.B. Tyrell, who mapped it in 1901. This will be a daunting start to our trip, as we will climb 665 feet in elevation before arriving at Artillery Lake. Artillery is a large lake, and could also prove difficult if we encounter wind or ice. It is here where we will cross from boreal forest into the arctic tundra. At the northern end of Artillery we will proceed up the Lockhart River and then cross to the down stream flowing Hanbury River via Hanbury Portage. The river is named after David Hanbury, who was the first white man to ascend the river in 1899. Moving down stream through a beautiful landscape including canyons and waterfalls we will enter the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary, created in 1927 after being recommended by John Hornby, another colorful character in the history of the region. Turning northwest when we reach the confluence with the Thelon River, we will travel through the heart of the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary where we hope to encounter muskoxen, caribou, wolves, arctic grizzly bears, and many other animals and birds. This river is also known for its white sand hills, eskers and oases of trees within the tundra. We will be leaving the Thelon near Beverly Lake traveling upstream again on a little known route to the headwaters of the Morse River. In 1985 Michael, Sean, and Geoffrey Peake canoed this route and named the river after Eric Morse, a legend in the canoeing world. The Morse will take us north to the Back River at Garry Lake. Our journey continues down the lower Back and concludes at Chantrey Inlet.
Works sited: The Hummingbird From Resolute: Memoirs of a Journey to the Polar Sea by David Whyte
Canoeing North Into the Unknown: A record of River Travel: 1874 to 1974 by Bruce Hodginss and Gwyneth Hoyle
Thelon: A River Sanctuary by David Pelly