Trip Journal

July 16th
We were off before 7:00 on a clear and windy day. At the end of the lake the headwaters of the Morse were shallow and rocky. We had to get out of the boats in a few places, and we portaged right to left over an island to avoid shallow water. After that we could pick our way through stepping out occasionally. Eventually, the clear water deepened and the current picked up speed, and we had that exhilarating feeling once more of slipping down stream. The river continued to gain volume and depth as we went. As we came swiftly around one corner, Alex spotted a musk ox on the left. Our approach startled him and by the time we came to shore and went to the top of the first hill, he was far away. We stopped for lunch before a lake expansion, and we took our time, as we had already gone 12 miles. The area was very pretty, and had changed back to sand hills and eskers. We went through a couple of gorgeous lakes and camped on lake 159. I took a long hike up on top of an esker and could see for miles. After dinner we discovered one of the margarine containers had ruptured, so we had a project salvaging it and cleaning up.

July 17th
The wind had blown all night and it was still going strong in the morning, but we were able to move against it pretty well. We saw another musk ox in the distance, but he was too far to photograph or stalk. The landscape began to flatten a bit, but the sand persisted. In fact the river itself became more and more sandy, and it became difficult to stay off of sand bars. While the river was wide, we were forced to zig-zag through to stay in the deep channel. The current in this section was light.. I was completely exhausted by the time we camped.

July 18th
We continued to zig-zag through the deep channel in the river, which began to get frustrating, but we were never stopped by the sand. The wind blew up hard against us when we got to a larger lake, but we managed to get across. At the end of the lake we had to swing way around a sand bar and were forced out into the wind taking us to the right of an island we had intended to stay left of. There was not enough water on the right side so we had to make a short portage. We had a little more river paddling with some small rapids before we stopped for lunch just into Garry Lake. We worried about the wind as we ate, but during our first push into Garry, the wind miraculously stopped blowing. We paddled till about 4:15 and made about 20 miles. We did a full inventory of the food before dinner.

July 19th
When we got up we could hardly believe there was a light wind coming out of the southwest. It had been blowing against us for days, and now when we really needed a break, we got one. On our way north to the next opening we got ourselves a little too far west in the area of Buliardís island. I regret now that we did not stop there. We noticed our error and found our way through the channel. The wind completely died, and the water was as smooth as glass. Trout were rising for caddis flies, lazily finning and tailing on the surface. I wished I had time to set up the fly rod, but we wanted to take advantage of the calm water and get across the lake. After the channel we headed southwest, but this time we went too far south! The wind began to pick up and we were headed into it. After lunch we had to go north northeast so we tried sailing, and it worked for a while. The wind brought in smoke from forest fires in the south. The already low profile of the landscape became shrouded in haze. The wind died completely again and the water flattened out. Now it was really difficult to distinguish islands, and the horizon disappeared. We decided to stick close together and concentrate on staying on our compass barring. We made it to the next narrow section around 4:45 and we fished as we went to shore to find a campsite. We had enough for dinner in five minutes. We talked to Brenda on the sat phone who told us Gjoa Haven is still in ice, so our boat pick-up plan may not work. She is looking for other methods of getting out.