Trip Journal

July 4th
We got a late start (7:45). Woodhull flew his American flag handkerchief on a willow branch from the stern of his canoe. The river opened up and became sandy. Alex and I ran a-ground a couple of times. He was a sport and hopped out to free us. The character of the river had changed a lot since the year before. The sand must shift quite a bit year to year here. I could barely recognize the area. The wind was blowing in the morning, but we also had some current. We paddled to the place where I knew there were native stone tools. We saw footprints of Alex Hall and his group who we found out later was about three days ahead of us. Leaving the archeological site, the wind was howling, and we battled to the left shore. After lunch we reached a campsite I had stayed at with Alex Hall where the river narrows. Again, we could see the footprints of his ’07 group. The tent sites are up on a bluff. Here I can see the water level is a bit higher than last year. We had time to fish and enjoy the afternoon.

July 5th
We didn’t get on the water till 7:50. We had some good current, but the wind in our faces gradually picked up. Still, it was not a big problem, and it kept the bugs at bay. As we were approaching Hornby Point Woodhull and Sam saw a caribou. Alex and I must have gone right past it. To find the cabin I entered the woods and walked down stream until I saw chopped tree stumps. The sight of the graves was chilling and it got us talking about the legend of the windigo. We had lunch around the bend and while everyone was napping I walked up the bank and spotted a moose upstream. We had seen several in this area the year before. After lunch the current picked up and the wind slowed down. During a rest we linked up and drifted as Sledzik fished without catching anything. We had trouble finding a campsite so we kept going, and finally we found something that worked. I caught a grayling and two northerns I released the northerns (actually, one took off when I touched it and the fastener on the leader opened and I lost Sledzik’s lure). We fried the grayling for an appetizer.

July 6th
It was a beautiful morning, and finally the wind was down. The mosquitoes were pretty bad at breakfast, but we weren’t bothered. The river was moving well and it picked up more speed after the first break. The landscape changed as the river cut through deep mud and rock ledges, and later steep rocky banks. We had a floating lunch during which we drifted about five miles. We took it easy in the afternoon, but by the time we camped we had gone 30 miles. I noticed grayling rises along the shore so I put the fly-rod together and caught several on caddis and stone flies. Sledzik caught a couple of lakers and a northern. During the day and on previous days we saw plenty of raptors. We haven’t seen any peregrine falcons, but plenty of rough legs and eagles. One smaller bird is dark with patches and a pinfeather in the center of the tail.

July 7th
The current petered out and the river weaved through islands. The landscape became flatter. The weather was overcast and cold. It rained off and on, but not hard. When we rounded a bend we saw three tents on the right side of the river. I politely asked if I could approach their tens. They were nice and on the 7th day of a trip from Hanbury junction to Baker Lake. They were taking a layover day. We did our usual Thelon lazy paddle after lunch while we waited for a campsite to present itself. Though it was cool, the current had picked up again, and the drifting was satisfying as we talked and relaxed with no need to worry about falling behind schedule. We camped on Lookout Point, which was magnificent. The river bends 90 degrees around it, and you can see for miles in every direction. Scanning the landscape with binoculars I didn’t see any wildlife. The sky was beautiful though it was mostly overcast. The sun shone through spots in the dark clouds, and we could see rain showers in several places. The hilltop is covered with Labrador tea blossoms. We had also seen many other beautiful flowers on the Thelon; Arctic Lupine being especially beautiful. The hilltop also had square tent “rings” in several places.