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

Day 19

Weather: South swell, southwest wind, cloudy, then gale force northerly wind in the afternoon with thunderstorms and heavy rain
Distance: 30 km
Location: Latitude:64.60681, Longitude:-98.49957 at 07/31/2014 17:43:03 PDT
Map link: Click here

We started late this morning, around 10.45 am, because we were waiting for the surf to subside. We had 2+ feet of swell and wind waves out of the south. Launching through dumping surf is a bit tricky in a canoe. Its definitely not the optimal craft for these conditions. With wind and waves from the side, paddling on course required a lot of correction from the stern. The PakCanoe has a strong tendency to weathercock, which is generally a good characteristic for a rough water boat, but it requires continuous management by the stern paddler. Fortunately, the canoe is very stable and reassuring in bigger seas. We stopped a couple of times for a rest, but each stop required a surf landing and subsequent launch. These are complicated by the fact that the loaded PakCanoe can not be slid up or down the shore like a hardshell, so doing a tandem launch in dumping surf was hard.

By about 4pm the wind seemed to be calming down, but within 15 minutes an intense north wind started to blast across the lake. It was gusting 35 to 40 mph within minutes. Fortunately (and not be chance) we were close to shore and were able to land. If we had not been close to shore we would certainly have been blown off shore. As it was, even the last 50 m to shore was a hard battle. This was scary.

Once we landed we quickly searched for a sheltered spot to camp. As usual for the tundra, there weren't any real sheltered spots, but we found somewhere acceptable. We left some bags in the canoe and piles rocks into it too to prevent it from blowing away. This was in addition to tying off the bow and stern. Next we searched for two dozen large rocks to pile on top of our tent stakes. We also built a barrier of bags and rocks on the upwind side of our tent. Even though it was only a foot or so high, it helped deflect the blasts.

Once we had secured everything we retreated into the tent and snuggled down just as the thunder and lightning started and the rain began to thrash the tent.

Our 30 km today were hard earned. We have only 5 km left before the end of the exposed section of Aberdeen Lake, but it was not possible to make it given the conditions. It is interesting to note that just like the day before the last storm, the bugs were particularly insane yesterday. After its precipitous drop, the barometer has started to rise slightly.