Jonathan and Kirti Walpole's 950 km canoe journey across Northwest Territories and Nunavut in July and August of 2014

Day 1

Weather: sunny, high 70s
Distance: 25 km
Location: Latitude:63.27299, Longitude:-106.88620 at 07/13/2014 10:22:40 PDT
Map link: click here

We met Dave Oleson at the float plane dock in Yellowknife at 8am. Chuck Tolley dropped us off, which made the logistics much more manageable. We loaded and fueled the plane, then took off around 9am. High winds, from the south, gusting 25 to 30 knots out on the lake, made the take off a little challenging, but we had some sheltered water in the bay. Dave said if the wind and waves got up much more then small planes like his would not be able to take off. Luckily we got away early enough and it was going to be calmer where we were heading. Dave was really well organized, safety concious and professional (just as we had heard). We were really happy to be flying with him. The flight was excellent. It was really smooth and neither of us had any hint of travel sickness, which we had been worried about beforehand.

Our flight path took us over the north shore and east arm of the Great Slave Lake. It looked beautiful, and would make an excellent canoe or sea kayak trip in its own right. We also saw a lot of forest fires, including the one that took Dave's home and guest cabin just a few days before. The smoke was blowing north, towards the tundra. We were worried that our trip might be affected by this.

We arrived at Campbell Lake around 11am. Dave found a suitable place to land beside a beautiful esker, and taxied the plane to a rocky shore where he could run the floats right up to the shore, enabling us to disembark without even getting our feet wet! Perfect service!

We unloaded the luggage and then watched as he taxied away , took off and disappeared into a clear blue sky. Once he had gone there was total silence. The lake was mirror calm and the lovely aroma of the tundra's aromatic plants filled our nostrils.

We spent an hour or so organizing our stuff, building the canoe, loading the bags, and fitting the spray deck. Once we were ready to leave it was time to make sure we knew precisely where we were. We didn't want to start out lost! As expected, we were close to the western end of Campbell Lake, right where we asked Dave to drop us, right here.

We paddled just over 25 km in about 4 hours, all on Campbell Lake. The weather was warm and sunny, and a light wind picked up to about 10 mph, creating side and quartering seas, just big enough to allow us a bit of assistance if the stern paddler kept the canoe aligned well enough for some diagonal runs. We are now camped about 1 km from the start of the Hanbury River and are eager to find out if it has enough water in it! Afterall, this is an exceptionally dry year. We are on a small headland with nice views all around. Our position does not offer much, if any, shelter, but the weather looks excellent and we hope to leave early in the morning.

The bugs have not been bad today. There have been a few, but they are easy to deal with. By 9pm the mosquitos are out, but we were already cozy in our tent and are now watching a nice sunset. The ground under the tent is dry but spongey, creating a plush 6" thick matress under our thermarests. The smell of the tundra plants is wonderful!

Today's wildlife consisted of many flightless geese and arctic terns.