Trip Journal

June 30th
We decided to follow Michael Peake’s ’71 journal and portaged on the left to a pothole, then down to a stream flowing back into the river. The portage was tough, but we were on the river by just a bit after 8:00. The wind began to blow, but we had good current, and we were moving fast, but each lake expansion became more difficult to paddle than the last. We portaged a marked rapid and had lunch at a huge blown out esker. The wind was creating little sand storms all around us, but it never hit us too hard. I decided to put on the spray deck on our boat to see if it would reduce wind resistance. It took a while to put on, and it is a bit tricky to get in and out of the stern position in the 18’boat. I think it did help in the wind, which continued to gain intensity in the afternoon. At a portage around a rapid, I found portaging with the spray deck very difficult, and the wind pin-wheeled the boat, and I had to sidestep the portage. We crossed the lake below the rapid in huge waves. I was glad to have the spay deck on then. We decided to camp early in the small lake before Hoare Lake. We got the campsite set up in record time, and though the site wasn’t the best, it was wonderful when we had it set up. We enjoyed the afternoon thoroughly, and had plenty of wood for cooking.

July 1st
We got a bit of a late start, but we were feeling good. The rapids into Hoare Lake were washed out – just a couple of exposed rocks at the end. Hoare had candle ice blocking our way, but we found our way around and through. The ride down the Hanbury out of Hoare Lake was wonderful. We slipped down hill with no obstacles, and the current remained strong all morning. We had lunch before the sand dune esker expansion. We saw a white wolf on the left shore after lunch. The sand formations were spectacular, the wind began to howl again, so we decided to camp just before some drops above Macdonald Falls. We all had baths in the pond above our campsite and we mentally prepared for the portaging we would face the next day.

July 2nd
We portaged Macdonald Falls on the left, and it wasn’t bad. We started the Dickinson Canyon portage on the left at 8:00. We carried loads about half way and then returned for the rest of the gear. The terrain was varied and even included sections with snow and sections with trees. The river was impressive in the canyon. The Hanbury River is truly beautiful, but the price is hard work. Alex and I stuck together during the whole portage, and we switched off with canoe and Duluth pack. We finished the portage at 11:30. We decided to eat some soy nuts and go for the Ford Falls portage before lunch. Peake had this listed as ½ mile, but I think it was closer to a mile. My feet were in severe pain because my boots were putting pressure on my Achilles tendons. All the ice walking started the problem, and it flared up on every portage. I went back for the wanigan and took it half way before Sledzik bailed me out and took it to the end. We had lunch at the end of the portage and I soaked my feet in the ice cold water. After lunch we had a great ride down to Hellen Falls. We were cautious approaching, as there is a rapids just upstream of the falls. Sledzik and I climbed the bluff on river left and walked all the way down to the falls. The rapids looked like no problem from up there. We would shoot on the right and then cross to the left and take out on the shelf above the falls. The water was much bigger than it looked from above, but we managed to get through and across with some nervous maneuvering. We pitched the tents right on the shelf. It was sublimely beautiful. The wind picked up a little after 5:00 and we had to scramble to secure the tents with bigger rocks. After dinner we checked out Morse’s cairn, read some of the entries in the box, and Sledzik added a note for our trip.

July 3rd
Since we were camped on river left, we took the portage on that side, which included the next unnamed falls. The portage was about ¾ of a mile. The trail was good. We started a nice ride down the last section of the Hanbury. It was overcast, cold, and the wind was picking up. By the time we reached the Thelon River it was really blowing hard. We had to creep along the left shore. Sam and Woodhull were in the lead at 11:30 and they blew right by Wardens Grove. We were now overlapping ground I covered the year before with Alex Hall, but we hadn’t stopped at the cabin. We soon found out why. When Sam and Woodhull eventually stopped we hiked back to the cabin with lunch in hand. The walk was long and wet, and the cabin was a dump, though the restored cabin (in a different place), and some tools were interesting. The afternoon brightened and we started looking for campsites. We found a sweet one on the left at the end of the Gap. There was sand below, but above it was as flat and smooth as a putting green. I saw some faked tools in a blow-out, and then walked to the top of the hill behind the campsite. Talked to Brenda and Emma on the sat phone.