Trip Journal
7/20/07-7/23/07

July 20th
There was a light wind from the southeast when we woke up. We stayed together through the narrows into lower Garry Lake. The wind died again and we made good time, but 2/3rds of the way across the first section of Lower Garry, a headwind picked up. We had our eye on the esker at the next narrows, but it seemed to take forever to get there. Still, we made it by 11:45. The wind did not improve by the time we were finished with lunch, and the sky looked like rain, and since we had already made 18 miles we decided to stay put. According to Allan Jacobsí notes, George Back camped here on exactly the same day, July 20. He encountered ice on Garry. There were some tent rings in the area. It rained just as we got the tents up so we rested inside. After dinner Sledzik and I walked to the top of the esker. The sky was amazingly beautiful with dramatic swirling clouds, and one of the pictures I took that night is my favorite of the whole trip.

July 21st
Amazingly, the wind was almost gone again in the morning, and what wind did exist was following. We paddled together across the last section of Garry Lake talking and singing songs. We almost blew right by the opening to Bulliard Lake. The rapid was docile, and we had an easy paddle to the next esker. The cloudy overcast morning was beginning to clear and the sun was shining. I explored the esker for a while and took some pictures. Back may have camped here too after toiling with ice in Lower Garry. Looking down into the water I could see trout, some rising for flies. We headed for the rapids leading out of Bulliard. We ran a couple of sets before lunch. The water was big, but not difficult. In the section near the second bar on the map we all took in a bit of water. We spooked a huge lake trout while bailing. We decided to camp early to celebrate getting through Garry so easily. Sledzik caught a huge laker here, and Alex and I also caught a few. The sky was amazing and rain could be seen in the distance. Sam walked up stream with me and we found the ptarmigan with chicks I had seen earlier. I was able to get close enough for a picture. It began to rain as we went to bed.

July 22nd
The wind was blowing when we got up, but we didnít consider being windbound until we were about to take down the tents. The wind had really picked up since we woke, and when we took a closer look, it seemed paddling would be dangerous, so we decided to re-assess at lunch. It was cold and we all huddled in the tents until lunch. There was no change in the weather so we decided to stay put. I went back to my tent and was reading when Chase spotted eight musk oxen approaching our campsite. We were camped between the river and a small lake, and the animals were trying to get through. They came fairly close to our campsite, but retreated when they saw us gawking at them. Everyone returned to their tents, but I slipped away from the tents and hid among a field of boulders. I intended to pursue the beasts, but once in the rocks I noticed that they had doubled back further from the tents, and heading straight for my hiding place. I was down wind and there was no way they could hear me over the din of the howling wind. They walked right to me slowly. One came within 15 feet of me, and made eye contact, but I stayed still and he did not become alarmed. Their fur was blowing in the wind. Several passed me to the right and the rest passed me to the left. They re-grouped once they were beyond me. Later that afternoon the sky began to clear and I hiked down stream. There was a lot of caribou hair washing up on shore. The landscape took on its high contrast character, and was beautiful and always in flux. I flushed four ptarmigan, and got one photograph.

July 23rd
Chase lead us through the next rapids set and then we stopped before the last one at the last island is. Chase had scouted it the day before. We shot right center and punched the V to stay left of the wave train. We all made it through fine, and stayed pretty dry. Though the river became wide, the current remained strong. The wind was somewhat of a problem for steering, but didnít slow us down much. The sky was absolutely beautiful again Ė partly cloudy giving the landscape that high contrast dramatic look. Rain showers could be seen in every direction. We saw two baby caribou stranded on two different islands. When we got to upper McDougal, the wind was at our back, so we rigged our colorful sail again. We did about four or five miles, but couldnít set our course far enough north to make it to the point at the end of the lake. We finally dropped sail when the rain finally caught up with us. We went to shore, set up a tarp and ate lunch. There was a lone Caribou on shore with new antlers, but I was too cold now to shoot pictures before it wandered off. I began to wonder if we had missed the main part of the migration. When we reached the channel leading to lower McDougal it looked like rain again, so we set up camp. The rain hit hard after we got the tents up. Sledzik, Chase and Sam fixed dinner in the rain, which stopped as soon as it was ready.