My trip this summer (that almost wasn't, because of the backcountry travel ban) was without a doubt the best solo trip I have done so far. The weather was perfect, the bugs were non-existent, and the wildlife was incredible.
I had intended to go down the Pigeon River, but I made the mistake of phoning home from Sasaginnigak Lodge, and my girls were having trouble with their home renovations, so I was out for 2 1/2 weeks instead of 3 1/2. I think I got 3 mosquito bites and 2 fly bites for the whole trip.
I started at Wallace Lake, and went through Siderock, Obukowin, Carroll, and Aikins Lakes to put me on the Gammon, Bloodvein, and Sasaginnigak rivers.The water was low, but not low enough to cause any problems. Paddling down the Gammon River, I was singing a song (I do that when no one is around) and on river left, 4 little black wolf cubs sat in a row, watching me as I paddled past. Momma was behind them ignoring me, until I got to the yodeling part of the song (Wilf Carters Lullaby Yodel). I must have been either really good or really bad, because her head swung around, and she stared at me. I got around the bend, and was unloading for the portage, when they all started up, to show me how it was supposed to be sung. They carried on for about a half a minute, and then went on their way.
On the Bloodvein River last year when I went through, I stopped at a trapper's cabin called the Stagger Inn. He has a log book that has been there since 2000, and paddlers passing through are invited to write their comments. This year, I photographed all the pages, and am going to print them up to keep with my canoeing journals.
At Sasaginnigak Lake (one of the prettiest lakes you'd ever want to see) I was paddling up the arm on the east side, and stopped to make my supper. The water was on the boil, and I heard a commotion from across the bay. Something was swimming towards me, but it was too noisy to be a moose or a bear. It was snorting and gasping, and gurgling (it sounded like my dad when he goes swimming.) It was a caribou. I have been canoeing in that area off and on since 1972, and it has always been my dream to see an atikaki. This guy was coming for dinner. I was standing in my canoe, and took a picture as it swam up.but I was shaking so bad,the picture came out all blurry. He came up on shore, but there was a bush between us, so I couldn't get another shot. I went back to the stew pot as he crashed through the bush away from me. Suddenly he stopped, turned around and came back toward me. I took a picture of him standing broadside to me, and then he melted into the landscape. It took me a long time to get to sleep that night.
I returned to Wallace Lake via the Aikins Lake portage, and as I was cooking lunch at the start of the portage, I heard a crashing and banging coming down the trail. It was a guy carrying a canoe and some packs, and a girl following him carrying a large pack. I asked where they were headed, and she said Pigeon River. I said "that's where I was headed for, but didn't make it."
I had a funny feeling about it, so I asked if she had been talking about it on the internet recently. She asked me my name, and when I told her, it turned out she was pippen from the pigeon river thread. It was kind of neat to meet them.
On the Wanipigow River, I passed a cow and bull moose, and they barely even glanced at me. Further along, I poled my way through the rice, and came to a portage. As I was unloading, I glanced back at the way I had come and there was a cow moose looking at me as if to say "where the hell did you come from". I must have passed right under her nose, and neither of us noticed till I got out of the canoe. She stared at me for awhile, and then went back to eating .
There were lots of otters and eagles and I haven't seen that many mallards since the 60's.
All in all it was a most enjoyable trip.