Parker Lake to Rankin Inlet 2018 trip report

CanadaNunavutHudson
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Brian Johnston
Trip Date : 
July 2018
Route Author: 
Brian Johnston
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
350 km
Duration: 
22 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
44
Total Portage Distance: 
8000 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Advanced
Lake Travel: 
Advanced
Portaging: 
Difficult
Remoteness: 
Advanced
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Access to Put-In Information: 

Commerical flights Winnipeg to Baker Lake. Air charter to Parker Lake. 

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Myccr 2018 Parker Lake to Rankin Inlet trip report

Trip preamble

Why this trip? I had never ended a trip in Rankin Inlet but I had finished in the other Hudson Bay communities—Churchill, Arviat, Whale Cove, Chesterfield Inlet and Baker Lake. There is a direct jet flight out of Rankin to Winnipeg. It was a new route, so unique but also it was not a major waterway and I would be following smaller river systems and lakes, which I find more intimate. 

From the hamlet of Baker Lake to Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. We began our paddling trip on Parker Lake, very close to the Kazan River and only 80 km from the community of Baker Lake. We connected an eastward ranging route of larger named lakes with unnamed rivers and portages over 3 heights of land, to end in the community of Rankin Inlet. The route was reminiscent of sections of the Kazan River, with abundant old Inuit camps and inuksuit. We found inuksuit marking the way over the heights of land and a few winter cabins as we traveled. Otherwise, we had the route to ourselves.  We aren't aware of other paddlers going this way previously.  The road network around Rankin Inlet is expanding. This allowed us to get picked up at a river access a few miles out of town and avoid paddling Hudson Bay.

Photo route and watersheds image 

The route did include downstream and upstream river travel as well as crossing over a couple heights of land. There was this email message from my canoe tripping partner:  Subject: The bad news: portages

Brian,

I guess we haven't taken a closer look at the details of the hard work along our travel route this summer.  So, I spent some time identifying stuff I can see on Google Earth, marking, and measuring crossings and obstacles in the river. 

I counted 44 real or potential portages.  

Photo more rock than water image

 

Trip Report

Friday 6 July 2018

I arrived home from our family canoe trip. 

Saturday 7 July

I squared away a few things at home including packing away family canoe trip stuff and finishing off the packing of my Far North canoe trip food. 

Sunday 8 July

Up for a half marathon in the rain run before breakfast. 

We spent four hours packing six packs—5 at 50 pounds and 1 at 70 pounds (the Pakcanoe). Two food packs, a kitchen pack, the shared big green tent pack, the shared annex pack and the Pakcanoe. The shotgun is in a gun case inside the annex pack. 

Photo six packs image

After supper we drove to the city to overnight close to the airport. 

Monday 9 July 

Up at five and at the airport at six am. Checked in six bags. Paid overweight for the Pakcanoe as well as for total weight for each of us. My food pack was fifty pounds without the one litre of rum. We packed instant coffee saving two and half pounds. Our other food pack was also fifty pounds sans liquor. Twenty something pounds for the shotgun, cases (locked hard and padded floating) and ammunition. Another x pounds for the electric fence, stakes, wire and power unit. 

One empty seat, 77 passengers plus cargo. A hot or cold breakfast choice was available. There was a short stop in Churchill. Onward to Rankin Inlet, with a one hour layover, to switch planes to Baker Lake via Chesterfield Inlet. It was a half full flight meaning us and one or two other passengers. 

Warm and sunny in Baker Lake with plentiful mosquitoes. Helen of Baker Lake Lodge and Ookpik Aviation met us with two cans of stove fuel and borrowed bear spray and shuttled us to the lodge to await our air charter. 

White ice on Baker Lake. Warm forecast of mid twenties temperatures in degrees centigrade. 

Photo lake ice image

Lee’s group of Chris, Jenny, Mike, Kate and Kurt are camping. 

Sounds like we’ll be moving shortly after six pm with Boris and pilot Tim. 

It was a short flight in a mostly empty plane. Three of our packs occupied seats—belted in like passengers. After a touch and go test landing we were on a beach on the North end of Parker Lake, as planned. 

Photo Ookpik Aviation turbo single otter

We put up the Mantis shelter. I put up the tent. Shortly after ten pm tent bound. Still. Warm. Mosquitos. 

Photo arrived, camped on the land image

Tuesday 10 July 

Warm overnight. Simple granola breakfast. Pack up, found and gather musk ox hair-quivit, and erect the Pakcanoe. Portage past ice into a bay where we also had lunch.  Strong winds all day. A hot day. Forecast was 28 degrees Celsius. Camped past the widest section of Parker Lake. There is still ice on the other side to the East. Tundra swans, terns, loons. Sour cranberries. Hot and buggy tonight after gnocchi for supper. Sweating while sitting so no hiking. 

Wednesday 11 July 

Tundra swans, golden eagle, more tundra swans. 

Hot, windy, hot, windy. A couple of light afternoon rain drops. Great stone tent ring before lunch. Picked and ate Cranberries—vitamin C. 

Photo tent ring image

Two fuel drums near the narrows. 

Camped on the island and walked to the point where there is a cabin. Excellent floatplane beach. Several tent rings on the islands as well as a kayak stand. 

Photo kayak stand image

Saw empty casing (three different caliber) and an ulu sans handle. Caribou hair marked the high water line. 

Photo caribou hair image

We both bathed again and it was buggy in the Mantis shelter similar to yesterday. 

Thursday 12 July 

I read after napping in the tent and therefore read Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake novel until past ten pm. 

Although it was clear, sunny and already hot we opted for cooked oatmeal over using up our granola. Unfortunately the Mantis was already hot as well as buggy with mosquitos so breakfast was much less pleasant. Post taking down the tent and eating I did my daily Seven app exercises, trying to utilize a rock top for its elevated wind position. 

We had a morning ridge hike plan and off we went across the channel to investigate Inuit stone structures. On the way up we collected a bundle of quivit. So far this trip has impressive signs of past Inuit life. Broken stone points. 

Photo quivit image

There was a slight swift in the wind once back on the water that helped propel us towards our left turn and onward. We pulled hard all morning for two hours into small waves and wind making our first rapid portage just past several cabins and after lunch with too many mosquitoes. 

Photo portaging canoe image

We took a break from portaging to catch and release six lake trout. The annex is our heaviest pack due to the shotgun, case and ammunition. The webbing portage yoke worked okay. 

Photo webbing yoke image

With a tail wind we enjoyed the rest of the days paddle. I spotted a dozen musk oxen so we pulled over. More signs of Inuit. 

Surprisingly there were four rapids at the narrows. We portage’s the first two rapids and waded the canoe upstream past the second two rapids. 

It was time to camp, river right. Four musk oxen grazed and rested at the next point. We bathed and ate in the open air. There was discussion about moving on because our Inreach weather is forecasting strong NW winds. But in the end we stayed put. I hiked the ridge to see the Inuksuit we passed. Impressive stacked stones as well as turned up stone. Big stone kayak stands. More quivit to collect. Many caribou trails. 

As the wind lessened in velocity the mosquitoes and now black flies once again became pesky. 

Photo inukshuk camp image

Friday 13 July 

Cooler night. I should have zipped my sleeping bag. And sleepless. Too much wind on my mind. 

Donned a lightweight fleece whilst frying pancakes. Four musk oxen still rooming northward. Overcast and windy, North at 16 mph. 

We decided to go for it, to attempt slow progress, get physical exercise, to paddle into the wind. Rain pants for splash and breaking waves protection. Three miles. Two hours. Ten am to noon or so. Lunch over looking Blakely Lake—wind swept ice off in the distance. 

Photo incidentally Blakely Lake has different elevations on the map image

By two pm our books were open within the shelter of our red tunnel tent staked down with twenty-two pegs and naps were surely to follow. 

Up to exercise before supper. A couple mosquitoes appeared and we packed up to paddle two hours, landing at eleven pm. Gorgeous site. In bed half eleven. 

Saturday 14 July 

Awake to a warmth feeling as the sun heated our tent and the sound of the wind. Open-air oatmeal breakfast. 

An off shore stiff wind meant we closely followed the shoreline. Nevertheless we struggled to navigate. There was current before the water route to P3 so we continue eastward to P2, where we portaged and ate lunch. It’s cool enough for a fleece today, which means outstanding portage conditions—no bugs. P3 was uneventful but work. Two hours. Good camping. We continued to P4, wet and epic bugs along a small flowing creek. Goose style landing and bigger rock put-in. It was a soggy carry upwards alongside a tiny creek. Dwarf birch, big humps of terrain to walk around and over. Not the nice open hard tundra we like to walk on. Wolf tracks as well as caribou. Three bald eagles. Nesting gulls on rocks. 

It was time to quit for the day—settle for a poor campsite. Tent, Mantis, bath, drinks and snack with mosquitoes in our kitchen shelter. Also tons of midges. 

Photo bugs red tent image

We can hear cranes off in the distance. We commented on the difference between last night’s five star and tonight’s zero star but from within the Mantis there is no real difference—pre dinner drinks, salty snacks, salad, potato and veggie supper all tasted superior. We both agreed the sauerkraut was excellent. Milk, the not so secret ingredient in mash potatoes but also on oatmeal, granola and muesli, in pancakes, bannock and pasta sauces, as well as added to coffee.

Photo Naked & Wild Oatmeal and Medallion Whole Milk Powder image

Reading in the tent, and no difference. A loon calls out its north cry—the call of the North. 

Sunday 15 July 

We are having a slow cook eggs and potato breakfast at our height of land crossing campsite. 

If there is such a thing as perfect portaging weather we had it—windy, cool with sun. P 5 was split into two portages connected via a puddle of a lake. Then we carried into Macquid Lake, pausing for lunch halfway there. Two pm—checking the weather forecast before we camp or paddle onward. Three sandhill cranes where just here. We also collected more quivit. 

Back on the water before three pm without a weather forecast because the Inreach failed to achieve adequate satellite coverage. We canoed until after five camping on an exquisite island point. Bathed. I think we’ve bathed each and every day so far. Washed clothes. Cocktails until after seven. Wind is lessening—bugs becoming bothersome in the Mantis. Mac tuna peas onions and sauce, which was pre cooked and then dried, was fantastic—easy to rehydrate—no draining required, no second pot required. Loving the no cook suppers—rehydrating is the way to go!

Sandhill cranes can be heard in the distance. In fact, we can hear sandhill cranes, their rattling call, from a kilometre away. 

We are tired campers—portage and paddled out. Nine pm—reading in our tent, warmed by the evening sun, serenade by waves lapping and loons calling. 

Monday 16 July 

It’s been a full week already. I can feel the effect of yesterday’s work. Sore shoulders, arms and legs. Portaging packs and dragging the canoe. It was too windy for a solo yoke carry. It’s five pm, drinks and snacks served. Time to reflect on the day. We left our sand-tundra peninsula after a sound rest albeit buggy Mantis. Small fox sighting shortly after leaving camp. We canoed into favourable light headwinds all morning and left Macquid Lake. Run the river, oh so little current, to the next unnamed lake. Head nets required when going with the wind. Eight musk oxen close up. We guided to shore watching them. Collecting a bit of quivit—we are in to a second quart Ziploc bag of wool. Rapid running was successful but required one footing it and wading and walking due to the shallows.  

I was warm all day after being chilled most of yesterday. Poor camping potential but we picked the second spot we checked. Lots of black flies and mosquitoes as well as some left over midgets. After a fine evening in the Mantis shelter the bugs were getting tiresome so we retreated to our tent at eight to read. With little wind the tent was warm but bug free. 

Tuesday 17 July 

The warmth of the tent woke us. Time to unzip our sleeping bags. While waking we heard the stillness of the tent—no wind, no constant flap of the tent material and no pole rattle only the hum of mosquitoes. Our tent entrances were a live. Gone were the black flies but everything was covered with movement. Breakfast inside the Mantis was extremely buggy. It was almost better outside the shelter. After being up for ninety minutes a light wind could be felt and looking into it relieved a few mosquitoes. We refuelled our two stove fuel bottles for the first time. 

We pushed off with head nets and ran shallow rapids as the black fly hatch released. 

Photo bugs on the water image

Going without a head net improved visibility but required one to spit out the odd black fly. Slowly the water volume increased and rapid depth improved. All pool and drop style river and rapids with no current between rapids. 

Photo scouting ww image

Excellent lunch site, higher riverside bank, sitting on a large rock overlooking the river and tundra view. I did my daily Seven app exercises into the wind. Soon after we saw a big seal, probably a ringed seal. Surprise to see it over a hundred miles upriver. Also saw geese with goslings. Lined parts of two rapids. Made our ten miles before five pm although the later afternoon was challenging and tiring paddling into strong headwinds. Interested camp, river left, between two Google earth visible granite rapids. Open-air overproof rum with salty snacks before putting up our tent. Then a coleslaw and noodles supper, followed by a short walk to a large rock. Nine pm in the tent. Strong winds blowing. Overcast skies. Poor solar charging conditions. I should have charged this morning and at lunch when it was sunny. 

Wednesday 18 July 

The winds brought darker clouds and rain. First light rain. Then heavy splattering thugs of water droplets. And darkness. More dark than past nights. 

Around seven am we rose and setup the Mantis getting wet more so because of the wind driven rain than the rain itself. Perfect pancakes slid out of the frying pan. Two rounds of hot tea, a first for this trip. Back into the shelter of our tent before ten. Promising skies off in the distance. 

Photo pancakes image

We rolled out of warm sleeping bags and crawled out of our tent to face the day for lunch. It was after two pm. Into the Mantis shelter where we cooked Italian split green pea pasta soup. Then it was time to move on and by half four we lined the rapids immediately downstream of our camp and were on our way. It was a great short half day. Cooler temperatures but warm enough. Mostly overcast skies provided respite from sun burnt lips. Even the wind was less than earlier so progress was good. We ran and lined rapids, no portaging required. 

Photo lining rapids image

Saw several geese with goslings and a few sik siks. Camped after a rapid RR at seven pm. We were quick about things. I changed into dry socks and boots because earlier I slipped off a rock into the water. Wet thigh deep. With salad and rice and lentils reconstituting we warmed our daily rum and enjoyed salty snacks until supper was ready. The mosquitoes became bothersome so we exited the Mantis to eat facing into the wind. By nine pm my socks were almost dry, solar charging was happening albeit slowly due to cloud and the lateness hour, and we were writing in our journals.  

Thursday 19 July 

It was a usual morning. Up to oatmeal. Pack up camp. I did my Seven app exercises. Of note, we cast into the river as well as the pool below the rapids without landing the big one. A few bites and followers. 

The river was excellent. A nice mix of flats and rapids. Even current as we neared the unnamed lake. I ran one rapid solo and we lined a couple. Some were straightforward, others a mess of rocks and shallows. 

Photo shallow solo rapids image

The wind was too light so we had bugs all day on the water. My trip mate mostly wears his head net whereas I went for visibility over bug free environment. Saw one musk ox. 

Lunch was at the river mouth on the lake and most likely our buggiest. I started solar charging. Although we generally switch bow and stern paddling positions daily my canoe tripping partner asked that I stern each river day. Thus, as the stern paddler I navigated us due east across the lake, through the middle islands where we heard sandhill cranes, to the far shore. One ringed seal startled with its big splash. A couple of jaegers flew by. It was calm, hot and buggy. With miles behind us we camped after three pm RR at the river exit. We put mileage in the bank and are in a great position. At first we didn’t notice but then we saw a tent ring right were daypacks were resting. We pulled the gun from the Annex pack. Shotgun now at the ready. Despite the clouds of mosquitoes we both bathed and washed clothes before happy hour. By six when we started supper the mosquitoes were ubiquitous in and outside of the Mantis. There was no escaping. By seven something I was tent bound, hiding out from the bugs. It was bug free but warm. I read for hours. 

Friday 20 July 

My last day for my food pack—it marks the halfway point of our trip. We cooked up eggs and hash brown potatoes and bacon. 

It was a full on but easy pace river day. We ran and lined rapids, found an open granite rock for lunch with wind and few bugs. We watched a pair of arctic loons. The black flies continued to form clouds at the rapids to which we paddled through. It is mating season for them. 

Photo black fly covered rock image 

Saw two musk oxen and our first two caribou—two singletons, a male then a female. 

Photo caribou image

Collected quivit. Stopped to hike a granite ridge. Checked out a couple tipped up rocks. Found a tent ring, food cache, hunting blind. In general, it was a little cooler than yesterday as well as windier, both which helped make the easier for travel. Camped at three pm RR near the river mouth before Gibson Lake. Happy hour. We finished the salty snacks from food pack number one. Fished with limited success. I hiked, also with limited success. Rocky dwarf birch, willows and as of today alder bushes. No hills or ridges. Supper wrapped up by eight pm. 

Sandhill cranes off in the distance. 

Saturday 21 July 

Up to warm weather, light breeze, bugs. We ate breakfast out of the Mantis facing the wind. Granola with cashews and raisins. 

Easy lake paddling. Slight tailwind. Some bugs. Ten am island esker hike. Found salt-water seashell. 

Photo seashell image

Pre noon mainland esker hike before lunch at the same site. Cabin visit. Name signed on the wall. It was an impressive steel 20 by 12 foot repurposed building. Mostly used in May. Hunting musk oxen and caribou. 

Photo cabin steel building image

Stone dwelling. Unique. Tent rings. Good caches. Kayak stand. Bushes growing thick within some of the stone structures. It was uncomfortably hot paddling in the afternoon. Camped at half two pm. Hiking. Old cabin site. Found glass medical bottle. Fish. We landed a perfect sized trout to add to Indian curry and rice supper with dried vegetables. We are now into his food pack.

Full immersion bath. Hot buggy supper. Nine pm and it’s still too hot. In the tent journaling, wearing only boxer shorts. No wind. Beautiful evening. Tundra looks amazing. You need to get past the heat and bugs. 

Sunday 22 July 

Just enough wind to keep the bugs out of our faces and hair. Ran the river section, dropping fast. Lined a couple of times and portaged once over shield rock. Lunch on the lake, mostly in the Mantis because of a few raindrops and dark clouds. 

Saw musk oxen, a couple of individuals as well as one herd, a couple of singleton caribou, seal. Heard sandhill cranes. 

Portaged over land to avoid island channels choked full of rapids although the rapids turned out to be much smaller in nature than the map indicates. Camp at four pm shortly thereafter because there was poor camping at the portage. 

Big supper production—beans and rice, with green chilies and salsa. Topped with cheese and all rolled in a flour wrap. 

Overall a cooler overcast less buggy day. 

After supper we first hiked to and along the esker. Once back we pulled out the electric fence for the first time. Upper and middle hot wire. Lower ground. Poured water around the grounding rod or spike. 

Photo bear fence image

The black flies were horrendous. We think the females have bred and want to fertilize or feed their eggs with blood. Considering the wind and cooler temperatures as well as the lack of bugs earlier today we brought the most bugs so far this trip into the tent tonight. My white wind shirt was peppered with black flies, inside and out!

Monday 23 July 

My tent mate was fast asleep so I unzipped my sleeping bag and lay on top until he woke. Simple granola (white fudge) breakfast with raisins and cashews. It was cool. Light north winds. Enough to keep the bugs mostly at bay. Ten to half eleven was lake paddling. We reached a choke point with rapids—upstream travel for us. Once we took a moment to figure out our exact position we took the easiest option of portaging into a back bay, have our morning snack, a protein bar, and continuing up current to the lake proper.  We saw one caribou and calf close as well as musk oxen off in the distance. Loons, geese, tundra swans and even sandhill cranes. Lunch on the most exposed rock island still yielded a few too many bugs. Not our buggiest stop but a little most consistent wind would have helped. In good time we camped RR near the creek we plan to portage tomorrow. It took us an hour to walk to and from the next lake, approximately 1.6 kilometres each way. Then it’s three more shorter portages to the next real lake, Machum Lake, where we will be tomorrow night if all goes well. Buggy bath and sock and underwear wash. Pesto pasta with olives, pine nuts and shaker cheese. Dried ginger and tea finished the Mantis evening. Teeth flossing and brushing. Drying clothes gathered. Electric fence done. Lots of bugs when transitioning to the tent. Last night was black flies, tonight it’s mosquitoes. Both nights—mega buggy. 

Photo map portages image

Tuesday 24 July 

Buggy in the Mantis so we both ate our Bob’s Red Mill muesli outside facing windward. At half nine we started our portaging task. First up, 1600 metres skirting the side of a creek. A light crosswind helped both ways. Still needed head nets the whole time. Wore our dry shoes—i.e. boots. Three hours later we were resting on granite for lunch looking at the next two carries. 

Photo portage connecting waterways image

Onward. It was to a four-portage day but after the third hump into a lake, rocks and current blocked two choke points. We tracked or waded up past the flow and rocks. At the end of the Lake we again found a rock filled drainage. Unbeknown to us, we realized Machum Lake drains towards us. Another portage into a pool between yet another rocky drainage, which again we had to portage. 

Photo portage scouting image

Four pm—Machum Lake! Many caribou trails. Caribou hair on rocks. Although we would consider camping the land was very bumpy, peaty, moss and lichen coverage so we paddled. After checking possible sites we camped on an island. Full immersion swim for me. Mantis. Happy hour. Chilli, bannock, coleslaw, tea. Tent. Electric fence. Half nine. Journaling. It was our toughest day so far of our trip. 

Wednesday 25 July

This time next week I’ll be home. We were slow to rise—going nowhere far. Our daily mileage is six and a half miles or approximately ten kilometres. That’s only a couple of hours of hard paddling. 

The heat of the tent had us exiting. A slow cook breakfast of eggs and hash brown potatoes with bacon had us out of camp at ten am. Strong northerly winds and waves carried us on our course. Machum Lake continues to offer poor camping— not the tundra we are accustomed to and favour. It’s rock moss lichen. We wish for tundra-covered sand. Hill hike to figure out where we ate. My canoeing partner had turned but the map was not matching the land. Then we stopped the check out three cabins, which included a hand made fishing lure of musk oxen antler and a metal hook. Lunch. By half one pm were we looking for a camping spot—only a short distance of lake remaining before our portage route into the Meliadine system. Last night we confirmed our overland route, my more direct connection rather than a swing over towards Peter Lake. 

Photo map route change image

Saw a couple of sik siks. In camp, I bathed and washed clothes. Putting up the tent—it will be a hot box. I’m in the Mantis, which is warm enough. I read in the Mantis as well as outside in its shade. By five pm my trip mate was about and I was having tea. Happy hour, coleslaw, tortellini with mushrooms and red sauce. Melted and cracked Cadbury Carmel chocolate bar. I’ve been reading Oryx and Crake: a novel by Margaret Atwood. She is an amazing writer. I finished it tonight. The sun is noticeable closer to setting when I exit the tent for a pee. Tonight the noon is rising one hundred and eight degrees from the sun. 

Thursday 26 July 

One forty am, killing mosquitoes after closing the vestibule doors due to rain and going for a pee. Dark so we used my iPhone flashlight. 

It was a straightforward day albeit a slightly slower start, getting on the water at half nine after Bob’s Red Mill muesli. Four portages awaited us. Straightforward because all the portages were to and from lakes across the watershed boundary—no following a drainage route with known unknowns. We began our day with just enough wind but the velocity fluctuated allowing bugs to bite. The first portage had camping possibilities. By the second portage it was head nets for walking and paddling. Lunch was just okay without our head nets. A lone caribou almost trotted up to us. Two more straightforward portages jumping from lake to lake brought us to Meliadine Lake, our last watershed. Off in the distance is the steady reminder of our reentry to civilization—the Mine site building is visible. Tired but not exhausted we camped only a short paddle from the end of the last portage. Wind had shifted around a bit all day as well ebbed and flowed. By now it was strong and cool. Bathed. I enjoyed tea in the bug free Mantis. By six pm happy hour was on and maps were out—what’s left of our trip? Italian soup with the remaining tortellini that we didn’t cook the other night. Plus sweet potato bannock. Nine pm into the tent. 

Friday 27 July 

With low daily mileage and high head winds we opted for a slow cook breakfast of eggs, hash browns and bacon topped off with a double round of coffee and tea. No bugs added to our comfort. By ten it was warm and the odd mosquito was out so we packed up and paddled onward. Loons, sandhill cranes, tundra swan, single caribou. A helicopter passed. By noon the lake scenery was improving with old esker like ridges on the islands. Saw several cabins in the distance as well as the Mine site. It was stiflingly hot. 

Photo camping mine site image

Nothing of great interest for exploring or camping so we continued to pass our daily mileage and camped within sight and earshot of the first Meliadine River rapid. It's appropriate to name our camping site as Trodden Caribou. There was a building thunderstorm so we made camp before bathing and washing clothes. I did the full immersion dip in shallow water and had to brush off the goose poop that got stirred up. Cut my fingernails. After a slow happy hour and a bit of sewing of a pant seam for my travelling partner we had coleslaw and cooked spaghetti with a mushroom and olive red sauce. Rum ration is right on, twelve ounces remaining—four days to go at three ounces per day. Few bugs in the Mantis despite the wind velocity drop. Similar to much of the day it was uncomfortably hot in the Mantis. Nine pm tent bound. 

Saturday 28 July 

Since finishing Atwood’s book I’ve been reading Michael Lewis Flash Boys A Wall Street Revolt. Longer chapters. More intense non fiction topic. 

Slight rain overnight. Winds continue although they lessened during the night. Few bugs, surprisingly. Overcast morning skies meant the tent stayed cool and we rested, exiting the tent without packing up our sleeping gear. Breakfast of cooked muesli complete with an extra cup of tea. Mantis is noisy, flapping in the wind. 

Seven app exercises, finished reading a chapter in my book, had a nap and then up at one pm for leek soup. A couple light rain showers passed us. A helicopter is hovering between the mine site and us. I did an hour walk about down river to explore the rapid and land. Several caribou kills. ATV trail from the rapid towards the hamlet of Rankin Inlet. Not great camping tundra. A pair of sandhill cranes. Cool in the wind. Once I returned I washed my anorak. Good results. The sky cleared so my anorak dried quickly and I solar charged my iPhone. Made tea. Happy hour followed by Italian soup (some sort of lentil base with added veggies and pasta shells) and sweet potato bannock. Still cooling off. In the tent before nine pm. The Inreach weather report said it’s in the fifties Fahrenheit. 

Sunday 29 July 

Strong winds almost all night as well as rain fell twice. Awoke at eight to a cold overcast day with strong winds out of the North. Granola. I supplied a brick of cheese for today’s lunch as well as pulled out an oatmeal breakfast for tomorrow morning. Into cold strong winds. We did all right. We portaged the first rapids after running the top section. Mile twenty-two was a portage because there was not enough water on either side of the island. Then we opted to cross the river and portage instead of paddle into the wind and deal with the narrow river section, bypassing mile twenty-one. Once on land with a height advantage we confirmed our plan was beneficial. In the lee we enjoyed an hour lunch break. Pushed and swept along by the wind and waves we took on water. We portaged mile 18.5, emptied water from our canoe and camped at the Meliadine River blue line on the map. Four pm. Mile 16.3. 

Photo Meliadine River image

One new bottom hole in the canoe to add to the other sidewall holes from previous days. A few showers in camp. Saw one caribou today, heard sandhill cranes. Warm 151 rum with pink grapefruit crystal light and the last of the lime juice. Broccoli coleslaw, chilli and bannock with Bengal spice tea. Bug free supper. 

No cellular coverage in camp. Hit and miss one bar cellular service at the top of a hill where the wind is powerful and cold. We are within range of the Rankin Inlet. 

Monday 30 July 

Another chilly windy day. Only the odd raindrops a few times today but we wore our rain jackets for warmth from the wind. 

Started canoeing about ten, later than usual because we had to finish portaging our gear from camp to below the rapids as well as patch yesterday’s hole in the Pakcanoe hull. 

Photo Pakcanoe hole patch repair image

Lucky for us that we’ve been able to move each of the past few days since our layover camp at the river exit from Meliadine Lake given the NW winds we could have easily been stationary. 

Today was tougher because the portages were longer. Run about one rapid and portaged something like four times. Sandhill cranes and loons helped keep our spirits alive. Basically no cellular service. 

Camped RR on the esker peninsula after five pm. The site is obviously used by the local residents of hamlet of Rankin Inlet. 

Our last tundra supper of warm 151 rum with pink lemonade (no lime juice—it ran out last night). Salty almonds and pistachio nuts. Then pesto pasta with two kinds of olives, topped with pine nuts and shaker cheese. Sea salt chocolate for dessert with tea. By half eight pm we were both wrapped in our sleeping bags journaling—a first time this trip. Shaun did a fly over in his Cessna 185 and waved his wings. Feels like cold night. 

Tuesday 31 July 

Windy but not a cold night. After granola we left in good time, with a strong following wind and waves. Saw a group of sandhill cranes.

We pulled off the river at where we thought the locals get water, as we had marked on the map. Hiking up to the esker and chatting with four people who were painting the Nunavut Park elder cabin revealed that we were in fact two kilometres short of the water gathering site. We had a great visit, gifting us with park ball caps, mugs, etc. Harry Niskrok Sr. and Annette Boucher both worked for the park. The other two guys worked for corrections. 

Photo Park outhouse image

Back to river to continue downstream. More shallow rapids and channels but no portaging all day. Some wading and one footing through shallow rocky rapids. Two kilometres turned into five and we arrived at the water site before our noon pickup. Where the locals get water, where we finished our trip and got picked up, is the Nunavut Park, Qamaviniqtalik site, where the interpretative trail, over a 100 tent rings and other structures built by the late Thule and early Caribou Inuit. Lower Meliadine River is a floodplain and hence often too low for canoeing 

We dried out the Pakcanoe and packed it up as our ride arrived. 

Photo dismantling Pakcanoe image

En route we toured a bit, fresh water lake, unused garbage dump, etc. Nanuq Lodge was excellent. Page Burt met us and gave us a suite so that we could cook our leftover trip food. 

Photo Nanuq Lodge image

We returned bear spray to the conservation officer, bought eggs for breakfast, unpacked, cleaned up, had our last happy hour, cooked supper, caught up on email etc. 

Wednesday 1 August 

Breakfast of fresh eggs and hash brown potatoes. We repackaged our gear into five packs. Only the canoe was a bit overweight, the other four bags were under fifty pounds. 

We visited Randy Miller past Canadian North station head, for lunch at his place. Talkative guy. He kayaked with friends from Baker to Rankin. Then we stopped by to see Shawn Maley, Cession 185 on floats, CEO of a public employee benefits and pension for not for profits. We talked at length. He knows all the pilots and out camps and fishing lodges etc. We were told there are polar bears at Corbett Inlet, south of Rankin Inlet, as well as south near Arviat. 

Photo CBC News polar bear attack near Arviat image

Then we met with the Rebecca Pearson the park official in charge of Canadian Heritage Rivers, Soper, Kazan, Thelon and Coppermine Rivers. Next stop, the Matchbox gallery for ceramic art, super interesting. 

Photo Matchbox Gallery image

Then back to make a bit of travel food and off to the airport. It was most helpful having Page’s outfit pick us up from the river and drop us off for our flight. 

Check in was good. No extra fees for the canoe. No security. Almost a full flight. There was inflight service, an egg roll and water en route to Churchill. Salty snacks and drinks on the to Winnipeg section. The morning flight is direct to Winnipeg. It will be late by the time we arrive Winnipeg. 

Churchill. Trees! Albeit small and short. 

Same time zone all trip.

In Winnipeg we had ice cream with rhubarb and strawberries and a beer. We dumped the one joint pack and each retrieve our respective gear before saying our goodbye and off we go our separate ways. 

A trip stat, the average day time temperature was almost 20°C. 

Then End.