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

Day 15

Weather: Sunny, hot, light wind.
Distance: 85 km
Location: Latitude:64.52709, Longitude:-101.25607 at 07/27/2014 20:55:09 PDT
Map link: Click here

Once again it was a hot, sunny day. We were on the water before 6 am. There was good current for the first few km and we ate breakfast while floating effortlessly down stream. The river bed looked beautiful speeding by below us through crystal clear water. We had decent current for most of the day, but not always. There were also some still pools that lasted several km at a time.

Finally, we saw a caribou. It was just a lone animal, but it would have been embarrassing to paddle almost 1000 km through one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in the world without seeing a single caribou. We were relieved. It looked pretty miserable though, being plagued by millions of black flies. We knew how it felt.

Early in the afternoon we saw our first people of the trip: a group of four canoeists, in two canoes, from Fort Smith, NWT - Adam, Hillary, Elena and Jonah. We stopped to chat and share their enormous bug shelter for a few minutes. They had come down the Elk River before joining the Thelon and were also planning on paddling all the way to Baker Lake. After our stop with them we paddled another 4 hours around Ursus Island and finally stopped around 7pm.

Ursus Island was spectacularly flat and low-lying, especially at its downstream end. The massive sand spits and huge expanses of shallow water merged into one with the sky and it was dizzying trying to focus on anything. It became impossible to judge distance or even see the boundaries between water, land and sky. It was quite disconcerting, but beautiful in an other-worldly kind of way.

We are camping near Thelon Bluffs. The black flies are horrendous, swarming and crawling on everything. Despite our best efforts, thousands have found their way into our bug shelter and we are having to spend most of an hour hunting them down and killing them before we can relax. Kirti has vowed to NEVER come here again!