View topic - Journal of Moffatt-party participant Lanouette. Post 5

It is currently October 22nd, 2019, 4:06 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours





Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 
Author Message
PostPosted: March 23rd, 2018, 8:23 am 
Offline

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4035
Location: Toronto
Journal of Moffatt-party participant Lanouette.
Post 5. 8 August to 20 August.

Notice.
Copyright to all the following belongs to the Lanouette family.

Monday, August 8. Camp #27. North end of Carey Lake (east coast), at the head of large rapids.

Both Art and I were awakened at 6 A.M. by the howling of a pair of white wolves about a mile from camp and on the opposite shore near one of the hills on which we had been the previous evening. Skip was up, cooking breakfast, when they appeared and says he saw them quite clearly—Art leaped out of his sleeping bag, dressed, and was in time to get a few feet of film on them before they disappeared for good—I remained in the sack awhile longer and missed seeing them. All I can say, is, that on a still morning they can sure make a din!
I was up and dressed a few minutes before breakfast—it was sunny out, although a front was approaching from the southwest.
After breakfast, as we were striking the tents, Art and I had another squabble. Normally, I put up our tent in the evening, because Art has to get dinner on the fire, and we both usually take it down together in the morning—however, lately, I have been taking the thing down alone and Art has been spending more time diddling around with his personal pack (it takes him about 3 times as longs as the rest of us to shape up our packs in the morning before shoving off). I was in a bad mood from lack of sleep to begin with, and this morning when Art announced that the tent was empty, I got quite pissed off. I took down the tent while Art screwed around, and I finished packing it away just as he appeared on the scene—I very sarcastically congratulated him on his timing in arranging his pack just in time to be able to get out of taking the tent down, and he returned my needle by asking if taking down the tent was too big a chore for me; to which I replied that if he spent a few minutes with the tent we could get it down a lot faster and waste less time. We said a few more things and then complete silence reigned between us until noon. After that we were rather coldly cordial. The effects and strains of living at close quarters over a long period are beginning to tell. Little, insignificant things like taking down the tent and having an extra spoonful of glop can become issues which burn for a long time, until another little incident “breaks the camel’s back.”
The rest of the guys and I are all getting along very well together. Skip will usually stand up for Art, although he will not do so when he feels Art is in the wrong. Whenever anyone opposes Art, it is usually either George or myself—Bruce usually backs us up and Pete goes off on his own tangent. Pete and I get along a lot better than we did on Selwyn.
After about a couple of hours of paddling, we made out J.B. Tyrrell’s Cairn Point. He describes having built a cairn on the highest part of this point and enclosing a note in a bottle placed inside the cairn. The point was on the east shore and we had to paddle across the mouth of a wide bay to get to it.
Once there we climbed to the summit and found the remains of a cairn on top of a large and prominent boulder. Art took movies. Inside the cairn was a bottle alright, but it was a modern pickle bottle. Inside the container we found a note left there by a party who called themselves Operation Thelon. They said that this is where Tyrrell’s original cairn had been and identified themselves as working for Topographic Survey of Canada. They had left the message in May of this year. We also found an empty can of Donald Duck grapefruit juice nearby, as well as the label from the pickle jar. They had signed their names and given the date. The message was written on what looked like graph paper.
Art wrote a message in pencil on the back of their message, and everyone but Pete, who was not around, signed his name. We put the bottle back where we had found it and went back down to the rocky shore to eat lunch.
The sun had disappeared behind the clouds soon after we left camp, but at around two o’clock, the clouds had drifted off and the sun beat down on us.
We took off our shirts and paddled leisurely along over the quiet surface of the lake. Suddenly, as we were passing by an extremely rocky and absolutely barren little island, we heard weird screams. Art grabbed his glasses and his face brightened. A whole flock of very rare Long-Tail Jeagers were sunning themselves on some of the rocks offshore. These are a species of sea-bird and are quite rarely seen in the U.S., much less photographed. Art told me not to twitch a muscle and he paddled us silently and slowly over the glassy water.
We managed to get as close as about 20 feet from one of the birds, and Art got some good pictures of it. This made him quite happy.
Shortly after, a wind began quartering off our port bow. It increased rapidly until paddling became quite difficult and unpleasant. By about 5:30, however, we were in the shelter of a neck of land and some islands near the end of the lake and the going was a bit easier. We entered a swiftly flowing narrows and came out onto a large bay. As we paddled wearily up the west coast of the bay, Art spotted a caribou (one of the very few we had seen that day) along the shore. We paddled slowly up to within a few feet of him—he paid little or no attention to us and it was obvious that flies were giving him a bad time, as he was twitching and acting very strangely. Finally, he bounded off into the muskeg.
By about 7:30, we came to the end of the bay and heard the loud roar of a huge rapids as it went around quite a large, flat island and down into the channel.
We stopped the canoes on the island and Pete and Art got out to go and look over the rapids. I fell asleep. When I awoke it was past eight o’clock and I was dazed and cramped as we paddled around the right side of this island. Finally the current grabbed us and we had to paddle like hell to make the east shore of the channel. Once there we pulled into a shallow, rocky bay. It was 8:30 and we were all bushed so it was decided to camp for the night. However, because of the nature of the small bay we had to wade our canoes the last twenty feet onto shore. This was a son of a bitch of a job, especially because the water between rocks was knee deep in places. Pete, George, Art and I cooperated and unloaded the canoes one at a time.
Finding firewood was another problem. We were near a grove of 8 or 9 foot spruce, but could find no dead trees among them and had to scrounge for dried and twisted roots. We had another meal of steak and potatoes, and I was so hungry that I barely thought about maggots and cysts in the meat.
I was the last one up and went to bed at around midnight, after washing my soaked socks.
Note: Caribou meat is quite tender and very good. It is supposed to be the best tasting meat that can be had—it is, in fact, so. When the meat is fresh, however, it tastes bloody and smells of blood and dung. But if left to cure overnight all trace of gaminess disappears and it is juicy and as good as the best of steaks. The only reason I have any qualms about eating it is that it draws flies and, when left hanging, is soon covered with them. They crawl into the veins and into the folds of the meat to deposit their maggots. For this reason I have been cutting away a lot of the meat from outside my steaks and cooking the crud out of what is left. When overcooked, the meat loses some of its tender juiciness, but, as far as I am concerned, it is a lot more appetizing. When stripped of its tough outer sheath of tissue and stripped of tendons, even the poorer cuts are surprisingly tasty and tender.
George and Skip are fond of the heart, liver, and tongue. They boil the heart and tongue and eat it that way—somehow these parts fail to make my mouth water. I won’t be after any of the liver either, because, besides never having been a big liver lover, there is some danger in eating liver flukes, a parasite that also thrives in human livers. The others are nowhere near as fussy about meat and would just as soon chew on a few maggots now and then.

Tuesday, August 9. Camp #28: at the foot of the first of 3 rapids, a mile or so north of Camp 27.

Another six a.m. special—staggered through breakfast. It was decided that this rapids should be portaged, and soon after eating, Art helped me take down the tent (I deliberately spent such a long time untying a single knot that Art got quite frantic and together we had it stacked away in three minutes).
The portage was 39 chains long according to Bruce’s measurement. The rapids was broken into 3 falls, each being over a mile in length. Tyrrell had portaged the whole shooting match, but we decided to look over the other two steps when we came to them. The portage was over open ground, although about halfway down there were some birch bushes along a rocky stream that had to be crossed. The portage ended in another shallow bay about a quarter of a mile above the second rapids. Skip and Pete had looked over this rapids on their first trip and they thought it would be possible for us to run it.
I made 4 trips and got my share of our gear over. The first time over I flushed out two ptarmigan, the first we have seen. Pete, who had been the first one over the portage, says he saw three ptarmigan and 2 or 3 caribou. On my way back for another load, I found a very crude quartzite projectile point. I think it was just an odd point, as I saw no other chippings or evidence of old campsites. I have stashed the point away in an empty tobacco can in my personal pack.
It was almost noon by the time Art brought the last load over, and although the day was only partly cloudy, a wind of almost gale strength was blowing from the north. We were slightly protected in the bay, but loading was a total nightmare. I had sneakers on and had to wade about 10 feet out over extremely slimy half-submerged rocks to the canoe. Art himself was standing in the canoe keeping it from blowing onto sharp rocks with a pole. I slipped and fell once, nearly dropping the heavy yellow camera box into the drink. Luckily, it landed on a rock and only got slightly splashed.
Bruce had an even tougher job of loading, as he had a much farther walk. It took him nearly an hour to load.
Art didn’t trust me with his camera box, so I held the canoe while he went and got it. I felt much better when I saw him slip with it—it fell into shallow water and I finally wound up helping him lug it to the canoe. Now he may not be so impatient when I take my time in groping around in the rocks.
We finally made it out into the bay between the two rapids, and would have shot the rapids right then, except that the wind hid all rocks and made such an attempt rather dangerous. Instead, we pulled across the small pond amidst high waves and a strong current. Once on the west shore, we pulled up behind a high rocky point, in a small bay and had lunch up near its crest.
We were hungry as hell after lunch, and while Art, Skip, and Pete walked over to take a look at the rapid from this shore, George, Bruce and I took turns sending one another into shivers of delightful expectation by talking about some of the dishes we have savored. George got the most drool when he mentioned a Hungarian dish called BACKLAVA, which is made up of layers of paper-thin crust, honey, whipped cream, and nuts (slightly toasted and served on a big round dish—the restaurant serving this is called the Golden Horn and is located on 51st, between 5th and 6th in N.Y.).
He and I planned our first meal when we get to Baker Lake: sauerkraut and sausages or beans and sausage, much thick, creamy Klim, and johnny cake with a honey frosting or a coating of jam. For lunch, we will eat hardtack piled high with peanut butter and jam, and one with melted cheese and bacon on it. Breakfast: flapjacks with honey or syrup, milk, orange juice, bacon, and eggs.
We talked along this vein for a couple of hours until the others came back and announced that we would have to stay put because a couple of thunderstorms were drifting in from the northwest.
We unloaded the canoes one at a time, forming a sort of “bucket brigade” to pass the packs to the top of the steep, low hill. Soon after we pitched the tents we got a few drops, but that was all. However, the cold wind did not let up and a loss of sun soon had us all pretty chilled.
Our wood had to be scrounged from a grove about half a mile away. Skip went for a walk and to pick some blueberries for himself. The rest of us sacked, wrote, or read.
The bully beef glop was very tasty and a welcome change from meat and potatoes.
We all went to sleep fairly early this evening, after having another juicy discussion about food—we had come about a mile or so from last night’s camp—the roaring rapids sounded exactly like the din of a big city, but without horns.

Wednesday, August 10. Camp #29. Dubawnt River, 4-5 miles upstream from Markham Lake.
Up at six again, damn it all to hell! Things have reached the point at which everyone is so ravenous at breakfast that the last man out of the sack does not get a brimming second bowlful of oatmeal mush. Consequently, the cry is to be mighty fast on your feet as soon as Skip hollers that breakfast is ready. Some guys are now sleeping with socks and shirts on to save time. Bruce, because he is so hard to awaken, is at a distinct disadvantage—he has been last man up for the last couple of days and, buddy, in this business, a sleepy head means an emptier stomach. As they say in the army, “tough ****’ break, Jock.” My first bowl is so full I can’t add milk or sugar until I have taken a couple of bites—we are becoming human stomachs, or stomachs with ears, or something. Art was caught by Bruce filling his special bowl even fuller than his fair share. Bruce said nothing at the time, but told George and me about it later in the morning. Art was also caught by Bruce taking 7 serving spoons of glop to our 5 ½ and, that from now on, we are going to watch him with eagle eyes. Art has a special aluminum pannikin which holds a lot more than our bowls. Up to now we have been trusting him to take no more than his share. One of these days he may find the pannikin with a hole in it so he’ll have to use the same bowls we do. Skip is also annoyed at Art’s cutting corners and undermining the sugar ration plan. The other morning, after he ran out of sugar, Art, without asking, reached into the sugar bag and took an advance on next week’s ration—George asked him sarcastically if he intended paying us back our share at Baker Lake, and I added icily that we might just as well all dive in on the sugar; we could hold, for, we could all pay one another back at Baker. The remainder of that breakfast (yesterday’s) was eaten in silent anger by all.
This morning was a fine, clear one and number 2 rapid, when taken on the left shore, offered no real problems. This rapid was a mile-and-a half or two long, and, at its end, there was another mile or so of swift current before the 3rd rapid.
It was while the sternmen were looking this rapid over that Bruce told us about Art’s food consumption.
George, who has been trying to cure his caribou hide, lugged it up on the rise and continued scraping it. Some of the hide is emitted powerful odors and Bruce and I urged George to dry it out with all possible haste.
The last in this series of 3 rapids was another long one, and like the second, was not too tough to run. We took in a few splashes, but that was all.
From the top of the first rapid to Markham Lake is approximately 15 miles—after the 3rd one the river, although swift, was pretty smooth and very pleasant to travel.
By lunch time the river widened out into a pond and we spotted a small cabin on top of a hill on the right. A couple of caribou were wandering about grazing near the cabin, so we figured that it must be deserted like the previous ones we had seen. Deciding to take movies and eat lunch at the cabin we pulled ashore and walked up to the building. It was a one-man affair and had only a boarded up window and a door lined with caribou pelt to help keep drafts out.
The construction of the cabin was crude but strong: Outside: made of heavy and thick hand-squared logs, dove-tailed at both ends for fitting. A porch roof extended over the front of the shack – chinks between logs were stuffed with sphagnum and other mosses. At the rear of the cabin was a rack holding an almost worthless freighter canoe. The roof was covered with huge slabs of moss held down by rocks and wooden beams.
Interior: 9’ x 9’ – rough, unfinished – lumber ceiling – stove made out of large gasoline can, set on large logs and rock with stovepipe. One handmade wooden bunk, planed wooden lumber floor, 2 shelves and a ceiling rack made out of hand-carved paddles.
Inside the cabin we found fish nets hanging from the walls, and several small empty drums of gas and oil on the bunk. We found a pocket-book love story, a candle, a crude birch-twig broomlet, and radio station call numbers penciled over the door. Because of this and the fact that we found the book, we think that the cabin may be one of Fred Riddle’s outposts (Riddle is a white trapper who hasn’t been seen for two summers. His main cabin is supposed to be somewhere on Nicholson Lake, right above Markham Lake, and we are hoping to run into him in a couple of days).
The cabin is very small, cramped, and dark, and needs a bit of chinking—it was very substantially built, and it has an inverted V-shaped roof and ceiling.
We ate lunch outdoors and, while sitting around, found several 30/30 shells lying around. Art took movies, and, as we were preparing to leave, a thunderstorm rolled in from the south, so we unloaded canoes and crowded around inside the cabin. We took the lunch-pack into the cabin, brewed tea on the little stove, and ate a hardtack and jam. The rain came and the cabin proved to be surprisingly waterproof. By about 4:30 the sky cleared and we once again shoved on.
The rest of the trip down the river to our present campsite was quite inspiring, as we are running into more and more bedrock. Some parts of the channel went through rugged and vertical cliffs and narrow gorges.
We shot one more rapids and Art got pictures. The other two canoes went on ahead of us to find a campsite while Art photographed an Arctic ground squirrel and I dried my socks, soaked when I fell off a slimy rock into the water.
After Art and I shot the rapids we came to a high, dark cliff on the west bank—a falcon screamed at us from the cliffs, and Art would have taken pictures, except that the sun was too low. Instead, he plans to come back tomorrow morning when the sun is right and roll out the film.
The river and country through which it flows from the cabin to our present site on the east shore of a lake, 5 miles or so above Markham, is beautiful and rugged—exactly like Nevada. The trees, mostly spruce, are still around, but, they are only about 6 feet high and the groves are farther and farther apart. We are now camped at a beautiful spot, overlooking a cliff across the small lake and within earshot of the last stretch of rapids into Markham.
Before dinner, Art thought he had misplaced his binoculars back at one of the hills we visited and was planning to hike back, when they turned up, lying beside his camera case.
Tomorrow will be busy for some of the guys. Bruce, Art, Skip, and Pete are getting up at 4:30 for breakfast. Then, if the weather is good, Art is going to the cliffs again and Bruce is going hunting. We have not seen many caribou around here and Bruce may have quite a hike. George and Pete will butcher, in all probability, and Skip will go with Art.

Thursday, August 11. Camp #29 (same).

By 5:15 we were all up, huddled around the campfire, having breakfast. Most of us had on our ponchos, as a great big greasy-looking, greyish-brown fog bank had settled in and the mist was quite heavy.
After breakfast, we sat around until about 8:30. It was too foggy for pictures and even for hunting. George, Pete, and I went back to bed and caught up on some lost sleep.
When I woke up again it was quarter of eleven. The sun was out and the guys had just left to pursue their projects. George, Pete, and I loafed all the rest of the morning.
At about 1:30, Skip came paddling back alone in the gray canoe, and we ate lunch. He made up something for Art and, by about 2:30, or so, he went back to the cliffs.
After Skip left, Bruce came back with the news that he had found and killed a young doe just slightly larger than our first spikehorn. He ate his lunch, and told us how he had to track the animal for quite a distance before felling her with a long shot. Then he, Pete and George headed out for the carcass, about a mile to the southeast. I stayed in camp writing and washing a few grubby items.
When I had finished, I went for a short hike south along the shore and then back inland. I got back into camp just as the guys had come in from their butchering job. As usual, George was well soaked with dried blood and had quite a job removing it from his hands and arms.
We decided to let the meat cure for a full day to get rid of the taste of blood, and were just about to put the glop makings on the fire, when Art and Skip showed up.
Although the sky was quite cloudy, it was clear in spots and those of us who stayed up late enough saw a faint and generally unimpressive display of the aurora borealis.

Friday, August 12. Camp #29 (same).

Another foggy and even wetter morning when we got up for seven o’clock breakfast.
It was not until afternoon that the weather finally broke. Had a few rain showers which dampened us. The sun finally came out at around three and Art began whipping up a johnny-cake. Some of us gathered wood and the rest collected a couple of quarts of blueberries to throw into the cake.
Dinner was quite sumptuous—all the steaks and roast we could eat, plus dehydrated potatoes, and, to top it off—johnny-cake, heavy with berries and damned delicious.
Note: when the wind is right, we can hear the last rapids on the way to Markham Lake. It is three or four miles away and sounds quite impressive.

Saturday, August 13. Camp #30. Markham Lake, middle of the west shore.

More fog when we arose this morning, but it soon blew off and we decided it would be best to head on and try to finish off Markham Lake, which is only about 20 miles long.
A fresh, fairly strong breeze from the west made paddling across the small lake, above the rapids, quite a chore. By about noon, we reached the rapids and decided to eat lunch before shooting it. We gathered scraps of dried wood so Art could brew up some soup he had made for us out of the caribou. Many flies in the soup, but by now I have become somewhat hardened to them—after all, I keep telling myself, they do contain proteins. Anyway, after getting rid of the flies, the soup tasted pretty good and we all managed to fill ourselves up pretty well with this supplement to our biscuits.
After lunch, Art and the other sternmen found the rapids to be not much more than a riffle. Art spotted some caribou on a nearby ridge and, while he galloped off to take movies of them, the rest of us stretched out on the rocks and caught forty or so winks.
I was awakened abruptly by the sound of screaming sea gulls. A half dozen or so were circling above us and, as I looked about at the rest of the crew, draped like bodies all over the rocks, I soon understood the gull’s interest in us.
When Art finally came back, we went back to the canoes and, a few minutes later, we had negotiated the rapids and were on Markham.
The west wind had shifted somewhat to the northwest and had really picked up, so that paddling was very difficult. As we altered course and came around a sheltering point, we caught the full force of the wind and waves and soon could no longer safely go on. Art decided to head back a short way to a cove we had passed and camp there for the night—we had made about 8 miles and so, actually, although it was only about 4 o’clock, we were not too badly off, mileage-wise.
We were well protected in the rocky cove, and soon a dinner of steak was being prepared.
Quite a few luscious blueberries were growing nearby and, after dinner, I stayed out picking some for breakfast until the light grew too bad. As I sacked out, around 11:30, some ominous looking black clouds began piling up overhead. Luckily, nothing came of them.
Bruce found a caribou carcass in a spruce grove as he was wandering about, and also scared up some ptarmigan. Across the cove, we could see a young fawn—they grunt almost like pigs.

Sunday, August 14. Camp #31. Dubawnt River, downstream from Markham Lake.

We got up at six, as usual, and had breakfast under skies intermittently splashed with sunlight and foggy, low hanging, clouds. We were ready to leave quite early, but Art wandered off into the hills to take pictures, and he didn’t show up until around nine thirty. By the time he got back and we cast off, the fog clouds had dissipated and the sun soon had us all warmed up. A broadside wind from the east made steering a bit tough for a few miles, but it soon veered to give a slight tail wind quartering off the starboard stern. Paddling along, we suddenly saw 2 doe with their fawns swimming in the lake. We headed them off and Art took movies of them as they clambered ashore over the rocks.
We stopped for lunch at one of the few islands on the lake and there George and I began our first experiments with creating culinary delights—I grilled my cheese and hardtack, and, sprinkled as it was with ashes from our small fire, it tasted quite different and damn good. George put pieces of his chocolate bar on a peanut butter biscuit, and this too was pronounced a success. He is now stewing apricots or blueberries and boiled hardtack and sugar. After lunch we made fair time to the northeast corner of the lake where we again came to a very short 2 mile stretch of river leading into Nicholson. We drifted most of its length while smoking cigarettes and relaxing.
When coming into Nicholson, we chose the most direct route, but, as it turned out, this way proved too shallow for the canoes and we had to go around to the left of the island blocking the entrance to the lake.
Once on the lake and, after paddling about 4 miles, we came to a large island—it had a hill on it with a very prominent wave-carved slope and looked somewhat like a volcano. It was about 4 miles long and, from what we could see of it, it was completely without trees, though shrubs and bushes grew on it, as did lichens and mosses.
While still south of the island, we got into an argument about whether to camp at the last grove of spruce we could see or to paddle on 12 miles to the end of the lake and hope we could find wood. But we did have a tail wind and plenty of sun, so it was finally decided to pause for hardtack and cheese and shove on—many ruffled tempers.
By 8:30 we reached the north end of Nicholson and were in the river. Although we scanned the shores for Fred Riddle’s cabin, we found no trace of it and decided his cabin must be tucked away out of sight in some grove or hollow. By now we were famished and the evening curried glop was wolfed down by all.
We are now camped on the low, damp shores of the river, near a very small grove of spruce. We can hear the noise of a rapids somewhere in the distance around a bend in the broad river. --We have paddled a good 25 miles today, despite the late start, long lunch hour, and rest stops. We now have about 30 miles of river ahead of us, with at least six rapids, and then we will come out onto the elusive Dubawnt Lake. The big question: will there be ice on the lake?
Note: - Tyrrell mentions seeing patches of snow along the hills bordering Markham Lake-he also ran into his first blizzard (which lasted for 3 days) on August 10 – so far, though, we have experienced nothing of the kind, and, as far as we are concerned, we’d just as soon bask in sunny, cloudless warmth.
We have been a bit puzzled by the fog banks rolling in from the north—could they be caused by ice floes on Dubawnt? The air and water temperatures around here have not been at a great enough variance to produce the cloud masses we have seen lately.

Monday, August 15. Camp #32. <em>(Dubawnt River approximately 3 miles south of camp #31)</em>.

Jacobs comment. I don’t understand the location as given above.

Up at six – the foot of my sleeping bag was wet on the outside; the result of a downpour right after I fell asleep.
After breakfast Art heard some Canada geese across the river and, while he and Skip took the gray canoe out, the rest of us sat around—after a while I walked into the barrens for a mile or two and collected blueberries. I scared up a bevy of ten or so ptarmigans and saw a young caribou. When I got back to camp, around noon, the others were all assembled ready to go and we were soon on the way. A couple of miles of paddling saw us at the head of the first of a 2-step rapid.
We stopped for lunch, and while the sternmen scouted, I scared up more berries.
Bruce and Skip shot the rapids and got by through, by the skin of their teeth, in a canoe a quarter filled with water. Seeing this, the rest of us ran half the rapid and portaged the rest.
The afternoon was quite warm in the sun—for the first time this month the temperature must have climbed out of the fifties.
After a 23-chain portage over a neck of land, we loaded and made another mile or so before coming to the head of another rapids. The river at this point narrows down and becomes really swift as it cuts through hills that form sheer cliffs on either side.
As we pulled out of the main current into a small bay, we suddenly slammed onto the shore by the speed of the river. Luckily, all we suffered was a jolt. Nothing broken, nothing wet.
Camp is pitched among some medium and small boulders. Across the river rises a cliff about 20 feet high, and, as the river cuts around a bend, another cliff looms a couple of hundred feet high.
Art saw some hawks while looking over the rapids and Skip is broiling caribou steaks tonight while Art is scrambling about on the cliffs.
At dusk, we noticed a half dozen minks running around on the rocks next to camp.
The remains of our second caribou are pretty well shot through with maggots and eggs—we seared two rib cages over the fire for lunch tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 16. Camp #32 (same).

Last night we decided to get up at seven rather than six, to allow us an extra hour’s sleep, while Art made movies before breakfast. This morning we got a little extra sack time even though the sun was covered by clouds and Art could not shoot film.
After breakfast Skip and Pete went out to look over the rapids while the rest of us sat around writing, dozing, or reading, Art had checked out this rapids earlier in the morning, so he too remained in camp. Skip and Pete returned around noon and we decided to eat lunch before shoving off. We plan to portage the middle part of the rapids, if we can find a safe landing on the opposite shore, and shoot the upper and lower portions. This is a particularly hairy rapids, with huge waves and a swift and deep current that can suck a canoe right into them. Finding spots to unload for the portage is also a problem because of sheer cliffs on either side. What makes this rapids such a problem is that it can almost be run—a tough decision to make: to portage, or risk 3 canoes and shoot!
Just as we were preparing to eat lunch, a storm front from the south swept up over us. I had hardly taken a bite of my sandwich when we were deluged. Dropping the hardtack, I ran back to our tent site and began reassembling the tent. But just as I raised the front half, my foot slipped and came down on one of the upright poles, breaking it. I then had to find another pole from one of Skip’s pack sacks, losing time and getting soaked and cold in the process.
Finally Art came up from stashing our stuff under the canoe and together we got the tent up. I then went back over the greasy rocks to the canoe and, finished my soggy lunch. This included ribs that tasted really lousy, covered with fried up maggot eggs that had to be scraped away. After lunch everyone but Art and I went into their tents—Art decided to put up a tarpaulin shelter so we could dry off with a fire. While he put it up, I thrashed among the soggy and dripping willow patches along the shore, looking for bits of burnable wood. Finally after getting a fire going, Art and I huddled near the flames; trying to dry ourselves. By late afternoon we were glad to see the sun come out; earlier we had feared we were in for another 5-day storm.
Bruce and Pete caught some trout for tomorrow’s breakfast, and Art made a curried caribou glop, which was pretty wretched because of an almost total lack of seasoning, plus the meat was in an advanced state putrescence. Most of us were very unsatisfied with the meal, and because I was in a foul mood, I decided to go out and pick some berries for breakfast.
On the way back to camp, long after sunset, I spotted some of the same species of mushrooms Skip had risked (without ill effect) the night before. I picked three of the best and roasted them over the coals—tasteless, but they took away that empty feeling before I retired to the tent. Note: I have by now almost finished my second and last tin of “roll-your-own” tobacco—luckily, though I worked a deal with Bruce back at our camp on Markham; he’s giving me an almost full tin of Player’s Navy-cut for a fifth of either gin or bourbon when we get back to Hanover. Meanwhile I am working on my American cigarettes, of which I have 15 or 16 packs, and will leave some of the “roll-your-own” last, in case Bruce runs out.
Item: we are rapidly running out of powdered milk, salt, pepper, and other condiments. After a somewhat bitter argument, it was decided to water the milk even more and to restrict its use with blueberries except at breakfast. Condiments are no longer available for personal use and are to be used only in cooking—which displeases those of us who eat the stuff up. Coffee, to, is rationed to breakfast—only every other day. Pudding for dessert is also an every-other-day treat.
As for the rest of our food, we have enough to last, with a moderate amount of stretching, until the 15th of next month. But we still have more than 350 miles to go to reach Baker, and we will need quite a bit of good weather and few portages to make this deadline. If we are not at our destination on the fifteenth, which is only 28 days away, Art left word with the mounty at Stony Rapids to alert the post at Baker Lake, and Baker Lake will start a search for us. From where I’m sitting now, a trip to Baker Lake in a mere 28 days is damn near impossible, especially with the prospect of adverse winds, freezing weather, and a 2 ½ mile portage out of Dubawnt Lake. Bruce and George have been talking about spending part of the winter at Baker Lake and sledging down to Churchill after freeze-up. Who knows, we may all be doing just that.

Wednesday, August 17. Camp #32 (same).

It showered several times early in the morning and, when I got up for breakfast, the outside of my sleeping bag was wet.
Breakfast was a starving man’s delight: 5 stewed prunes, 2 bowls of oatmeal, a full bowl of blueberries (for me) with milk and sugar, almost a whole fish filleted and fried with cornmeal, and a large slab of slightly fried bacon. For once I felt happy about having a good, filling breakfast. However, it was raining out and the six of us, huddled under the overhead tarp, had quite a job to move around for second helpings.
After eating, Bruce donned his waterproof pants and went over to a small grove about half a mile away to get wood. It was raining quite hard while he was gone and I did not look forward to getting cold and wet, so I decided to wait until he came back to borrow his duck-hunter’s leggings. By the time I hit the trail to the spruce grove it had stopped raining and, while I was chopping wood, the sun began to look as though it might come through.
I tumped in a good load of dead wood. When I got back Art was painting a watercolor portrait of Skip that was quite good. After he finished he made up a thick chowder from 5 fish that Bruce caught last night, and rice. It was very tasty, even without much salt, and the tack and jam after was quite adequate.
After lunch we decided to try and see how much we could scrounge off the land for dinner. Bruce was to fish, Pete went out with the .22 for ptarmigan, and Skip and I gathered mushrooms of the same kind we now knew by experience to be safe and edible. I took my blueberry tin along, as well as a bucket for the mushrooms, and headed east. I found the best places for both types of flora to be near tundra bogs surrounded by hills. Near the edges of the hills grew extensive groves of huge blueberries, so thick I hardly knew which bush to start on. I picked my tinful and also picked about 30 mushrooms in my wanderings. I walked about 2 miles back, behind a range of gentle hills east of camp. I saw about 10 caribou and some great scenery.
On my way back to camp I met Pete and carried back 3 ptarmigan he had bagged. When I arrived, I learned that Bruce, too, had been successful and that we had enough fish both for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast. Thus we proved the feasibility of living off the land—at least during the summer; although to do so, one must spend much of his waking hours scrounging for the next meal. All we used that had not been gleaned from the country was some salt and a bit of grease for frying the fish. In addition, we had tea. At any rate, this will be a very handy way to stretch our food supplies should we be holed up for several days by the weather. We have been trying out various types of berries for awhile but none seem satisfactory. The blueberries are sometimes quite tart, but as they ripen they become slightly sweeter, so they are all we now pick.
There is a species of berry up here that looks somewhat like a raspberry with large lobes—whitish orange when ripe and growing almost on the ground. It, too, appears edible but is far from being anything to rave about.
After sunset, it became quite dark—a cold, damp fog settled over the river and, as I sacked out, Bruce’s thermometer registered 50 degrees F, although we would all have sworn it was just barely above freezing.
Black, watery looking clouds are now building up and I expect to be flushed out of the tent before dawn, damn it! Wind and clouds are coming from the south and southwest.

Thursday, August 18. Camp #32 (same).

We had some rain during the night, but by breakfast the weather was clear, if somewhat breezy—good, substantial breakfast of oats, fish, and berries—we were all ready to face the world anew, and in dry clothes to boot.
Before breaking camp, Art and Skip thought they’d take an empty canoe over to the opposite shore to see if a landing there would be possible. They had a devil of a job getting across because of the current and an ever increasing south wind that shoved them downstream. They nearly didn’t make it at all. By paddling for all they were worth upstream, they just broke even with wind and water and made it over to the rock wall on the other side.
The rest of us sat around in the shelter of the tarpaulin and drank tea while waiting for the wanderers. At one time, a herd of 12 or so caribou came up over the ridge top, at the base of which Art had landed, and gazed curiously down at our camp.
Art and Skip came back to camp quite late in the morning and announced glumly that getting over to the other side to make the short portage around the middle rapids was nearly impossible, especially with a fully loaded canoe. At this news our spirits plummeted and the 70-foot falls began to assume proportions of an insurmountable barrier.
The problem: We were camped on the east bank—if we portaged from camp, we would have to portage the full length of the rapids and our route would be well over a mile long. A portage along our side of the rapids would also be worsened by the following: 1. Lousy walking conditions along the shore because of thickets of scrub willow, and rocks and boulders half hidden by their roots. 2. Wet bogs and two streams with accompanying boggy ground along their shores, plus willows, of course. 3. A steep hill over 200 feet high to the north (one side of this hill, along the river formed a sheer cliff wall). 4. Lack of large enough boulders for those who carried the canoes to be able to rest them on. 5. An ever-increasing wind that made it impossible for one man to carry a canoe without being weathervaned or blown off his feet.
Although the other side of the river would mean a much shorter and easier portage, that too presented problems: 1. Difficulty of getting to the other bank because of swift currents and a very strong, unfavorable wind. 2. Lack of safe landings because the well-defined channel ran swiftly along the base of sheer rock walls. If we missed whatever landings there were, we would be swept downriver and sucked into large waves or ground to pieces along boulders. Our chances of missing these landings were extremely good.
On the other hand, there remained the possibility of running the canoes, fully loaded, through the rapids. However, the wind was most unfavorable and, in several spots, the sternman had only a couple of yards leeway between the rocks on the left and the waves to the right. A slip-up here would mean an overturned canoe and wet food packs, at least. Yet, by running the canoes down, a lot of time and energy could be saved, provided nothing got wet or broken up.
Finally, after sitting around for an hour or so in the flapping tarp-tent, a solution I had proposed on the very first day was again mulled over and reconsidered. It was finally decided that Art and Skip should run partially laden canoes the full length of the rapids while the rest of us portaged the perishable goods over the hill from camp.
We then ate lunch and removed our most valuable goods from our personal packs, to be walked across. I took out all my ammunition, my rifle, most of my cigarettes, matches, my writing paper supply, and my film and camera.
Art and Skip, being by far the most experienced, would run our gray canoe down first. From the other supplies on board, Art and I set aside a case of bully beef, Art’s camera box, with all his camera equipment, the lunch-pack, containing hardtack, peanut butter, cheese, and jam; and our heavy food pack.
In this way, we hoped our canoe would be light enough to ride most of the moderate waves and, if it did swamp, whatever got wet could be dried out with little or no damage. Also, a partially loaded canoe would be more stable and less likely to be swept off course by the quartering tail wind.
That left one load apiece for the remaining 4 guys to portage. As Bruce, George, and I left on our “hike,” the tarp finally collapsed and ominous, misty, wind-blown clouds appeared from the southwest (note: Pete started before the rest of us; he wanted to watch Art and Skip as they shot the rapids).
We left camp, heading directly east to get out of the belt of willows growing along the shore. Then, once we reached the bogs, we headed north—wet feet.
The three of us took it easy, stopping every 10 minutes or so to switch loads and have a butt (Art’s camera box was the heaviest of the loads; the bulkiest to carry because of its sharp edges and its shape).
Several showers of mist caught us as we hiked along and, once we came to the top of the unprotected hill, the cold wind and occasional raindrops made the portage rather unpleasant, even though we had a magnificent view of the vast country on all sides. We could see black clouds scudding low toward us, so we decided to finish off the portage before we got too wet, if at all possible.
Coming down the hill at the north end of the portage was no easy matter—the exposed rocks had been greased by the rain and, between the outcrops, we had to walk in damp, spongy tundra.
Finally, as we threaded our way off the steep hillside, we found a deep crack in the rocks and decided this would be a good sheltered spot for the packs, as well as a place to wait out the impending showers. The crevice was about 12 feet deep and was not much more than a hole in the ground with steep rock walls on 3 sides and a narrow outlet at the bottom. Spongy moss grew all around and, although the crevice was a cold and damp, at least it was somewhat protected from the wind and rain. We huddled under one of the overhanging walls for about a half hour while the rain poured down all around us.
Finally, Bruce and George decided to leave, but I was damned if I was going to get sopping wet, so I sat around with numbed hands, smoking cigarettes, and staring at lichens on the opposite wall for another half hour or so. Finally the shower blew past—the sun came out—and I walked back to camp along the shore to avoid brushing against the dripping shrubs.
As I did so, another shower suddenly blew in and I really hustled over the rocks until I found refuge behind a huge square boulder right on the beach. After this shower, I again shoved off, stepping gingerly from rock to slippery rock. Finally, I rounded the riverbend and found myself at the foot of the cliff with no shore to walk along. Above me loomed the cold, barren, unfriendly face of the cliff. I began climbing almost straight up. Luckily, there were abundant foot and hand-holds and, other than getting damp from pressing against the rocks and shrubs, I suffered no other discomfort. Directly below me I could see the churning water and the huge, high waves. The wind flattened their crests and the roar of the water and wind along the cliff was enough to make me wish I was back in my tent.
While still about 200 yards from camp another shower forced me to shelter a few minutes behind a dense growth of willows. It, too, finally passed and the skies soon opened into a much welcomed sunny and almost cloudless aspect.
Back at the cook-fire (it was almost dinnertime) I found that Art and Skip had put up the tarp again in a small and more protected clearing—Skip had also moved his tent in closer, and I did the same with Art’s and mine. Lacking caribou meat, we had glop with fried spork, and hot chocolate for dessert. After that everyone but Bruce and I went off to pick berries for breakfast (I had picked enough a day earlier to last me 2 breakfasts). We sat by the fire, drying our socks until after the sun went down.
I sacked early—the sky was almost completely clear and the wind had slacked off. Tomorrow, we’ll get up an hour early to be out of this joint by noon, if possible.

Friday, August 19. Camp #33 (South end small, unnamed lake on Dubawnt River – approximately 16 miles south of Dubawnt Lake.)

Skip slept later than intended, so we did not get off to our expected early beginning. The morning was warm and sunny—a very moderate breeze blew in from the southwest and a good breakfast, which again included fish (caught by Bruce last evening) greatly cheered us. After eating, Skip and Art again began reviewing their run-to-come, and by 10:15 the gray canoe was loaded and they were on their way, after being wished bon voyage.
Again Pete had left early, carrying a pack, so he could watch the canoe as it shot the channel. Bruce and George left soon after the canoe packs were tied securely in place and, because it was my turn at the dishes, I was left to take care of them and take down the tarpaulin shelter. George and Bruce, each with a pack of perishables from the remaining two canoes, were to meet Art and Skip at the low end of the rapids and show them where we had cached yesterday’s supplies. This would let Art retrieve his camera and take pictures of the other canoes if the run proved doable.
I had just finished taking down the tarp, and had started writing up the log, when Pete and Skip returned with the news that the rapids had not been too tough for the lightened canoe; Art and Skip had taken in only an inch or two of water on a few of the waves. I was to portage one of Pete’s food packs while he and Skip ran the green canoe down the rapids.
I was on the hill near the cliffs when Skip and Pete came splashing and bobbing along like a cork in a tub of boiling water. I watched them until they went out of sight around the point. I then finished the portage and met Bruce, Art, Skip, and Pete at their landing at the foot of the hill. Skip and I retrieved the packs on the hillside while Art went up the cliff to take pictures and Pete and Bruce headed back to get the red canoe (George, too, left for camp to get one last pack.)
Skip and I rounded up the supplies, (except for the pack Pete had brought down yesterday, which we couldn’t find.) Then we waited for the others so we could have lunch. We saw several caribou grazing on the opposite shore and, once, we saw a rough-leg hawk, gliding effortlessly through the air.
By about 1:15 the red canoe came sweeping around the point, and Art and George soon showed up. Some clouds had come up and, as it turned out, Art had not been able to get many pictures after all. At 1:30 we had lunch and were feeling pretty good now that the obstacle weighing us down the past few days had been surpassed.
By 2:30 our canoes were loaded and ready to shove off into the swift current. Ahead lay another rapids, described by J.B. Tyrrell as a “heavy rapids.” We hoped this wouldn’t mean another portage. His maps also showed six other rapids, which he did not mention at all, so we figured they might not be too bad. Shortly after, the river narrowed and ran swiftly along between steep hills on both banks. Occasionally, we moved past gray, rocky cliffs, and more than once, we passed water-worn gravel banks on the left shore. We also saw several groves of white spruce that Tyrrell mentions. Generally speaking, the countryside was inspiringly beautiful. Each bend in the river revealed new and different vistas, so we were never bored with paddling, as we often are on the large lakes.
After about an hour’s going, we came to a sharp left bend in the river caused by a steep, green “S” shaped hill. We were at the “heavy rapids,” and, with the swift current, had made a good eight miles.
Art, Skip, and Pete got out to reconnoiter and, after a few minutes, were back. This was quite a long rapids, but it proved to be rather easy and hardly worth the trouble to look it over. A few dodged rocks and waves later, the river widened and we came out onto a lake, and continued onward.
Finally we came to another lake formed by a “U”-shaped bend in the river. For awhile, we could not find our way out, as, with every other lake, we expected a northern outlet. We eventually did find the outlet—to the right of where we had entered—and stopped for a cigarette. Suddenly, a black thunderhead bore down on us from the west, pouring out what looked like a single column of water. We lost little time in paddling on toward the north.
At around 5:30, we came into another unnamed river-lake and found large groves of spruce (black) on the east shore—this is probably one of the last groves we will see, as Tyrrell mentions, along this stretch of river.
We are now camped on the SE shore of the lake. After a glop dinner, I went out along the shore of our “island” (a 2-foot wide stream separates us from the mainland) and picked blueberries. Tomorrow, if the weather holds, we should be on Dubawnt Lake—we have a 16 mile stretch left and, if the rest of the river has as good a current as the last 15 miles, we should be there in 3 or 4 hours.

Saturday, August 20. Camp #33 (same)

We got up this morning hoping for an early start in order to reach Dubawnt Lake before noon. But during the night the wind shifted again to the northwest and was now blowing a small scale gale. Nor had we expected the accompanying abrupt drop in temperature, down to 44 degrees F. The piercing cold wind numbed us as we shoveled down the oats and gulped large quantities of steaming tea. The sun was out, but its pallid rays offered little in the way of warmth.
In the distance we could see whitecaps dotting the lake, so we decided to stay in camp for the day. Bruce was to bring down another caribou and Art planned to follow him and get pictures of the hunt. (Note: This area is supposed to be one of the main caribou crossings along the Dubawnt River. Art says that on one of his hikes he noticed about 50 different caribou trails converging on one spot along the shore—we have been seeing quite a few caribou lately, but most of them are on the west shore). After breakfast I went back to the tent to partially escape the bitter cold. I spent most of the morning napping or bringing the log up to date. Skip and George hung around the fire washing and repairing their clothing. Around 10:30, Art and Bruce set off across the lake in the gray canoe.
Shortly after I went to the tent, the sky turned solidly and dismally overcast, and the wind picked up even more.
For lunch, those of us who stayed in camp had soup and hardtack and jam. Bruce and Art took 3 biscuits and a ¼ lb of cheese apiece when they left. Soon after lunch we heard two faint shots and figured that Bruce had made his kill.
In the afternoon, we had several projects in mind: I was to go over to the grove, bring back wood, and gather mushrooms and blueberries. Pete took the .22 out on a ptarmigan foray, and Skip went for a hike. It was still bitterly cold, so I unearthed my long red-johns and heavy B-9 parka resting at the very bottom of my pack.
After dressing, I felt more prepared to face an afternoon in the open. For added protection I also put on mittens and a scarf made out of one of my towels.
I spent quite a while in the grove cutting and trimming firewood and, by the time I came back to camp, barely able to stagger beneath a load of lumber, Bruce and Art had returned with the meat, and George had almost finished hanging up the butchered caribou to cure.
While they were finishing up this job, I went out and picked a tobacco tin of berries and about 10 mushrooms. When added to our bully-beef glop that evening, they proved extremely tasty. After a very satisfying dinner, I went out to pick more berries and mushrooms to snack on before bedtime.
It was dark out when I got back; Bruce’s thermometer registered 38 degrees F, and the wind had died away, so it felt warmer than it actually was. The sky had cleared during dinner and a few stars sparkled in the sky.
Notes: Lately, those of us, namely Bruce, who have been staying up late enough have reported vivid displays of northern lights almost every night since our Markham Lake camp.
Other interesting sidelight: We are now in eskimo country—From our campsite we can see an eskimo stone “man” on the ridge to the east—Art tells me he has seen several of these artifacts for quite a way now, but this is my first. These stone “men” are small cairns made by piling one rock on another, seldom more than 2 rocks high. The eskimo use these “men” as dummies by building them in two long converging lines, forming a large “V.” They then run caribou into the upper end of the “V.” The caribou mistake the cairns for men and keep inside as they trot on. Meanwhile, a single eskimo, hidden where the two lines converge, can pick out his target and spear it at close range. With these dummies, a few eskimo can successfully hunt and kill their caribou. There are also lone stone “men.” Some anthropologists believe these solitary “men” serve as guide posts and perhaps keep wandering eskimo from feeling lonely when away from friends and family.

Directory for the items of Lanouette’s journal.
The limit of 60,000 characters required eight posts.
Post 1 of 8. 16 June to 1 July.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46535
Post 2 of 8. 2 July to 16 July.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46555
Post 3 of 8. 17 July to 28 July.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46557
Post 4 of 8. 29 July to 7 August.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46561
Post 5 of 8. 8 August to 20 August.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46610
Post 6 of 8. 21 August to 2 September.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46696
Post 7 of 8. 3 September to 10 September.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46737
Post 8 of 8. 11 September to 16 September.
http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 81&t=46738

_________________

A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)



Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 1 post ] 

All times are UTC - 5 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group