Linking the flat stretches of river were frozen rapids. Before I arrived at the park, I was trying to imagine what frozen rapids and waterfalls would look like – in Southern Ontario, most rivers with any serious gradient change, would not be frozen. To climb these things without ice traction aids would be impossible, the weight of the sled just pulling you down. The sand (above photo) is only a thin layer and not enough to give purchase (but enough to get in your teeth, tent zippers and grind away at the bottom of the plastic toboggan).
I loved these blind corners, pulling up and around, hauling hard against the sand. The flats were nice but after awhile, kind of boring. Traveling deep below, on the frozen river, my mind drifted along a different paths than when traveling above on the banks where visibility was unlimited for kilometers. Embedded in ice, blasted by winter gales and punished by summers’ silt laden waters, these huge boulders were constantly being challenged, eroding away, grain by grain and nothing they could do about it. The great randomness of the universe, affects all, rock or human.
Tiny dots in the distance get larger…it’s two guys from Norway, coming to the end of a two week expedition. Their route started 97 km north: tracing the Owl River up to Akshayuk Pass then dropping down to the Weasel River, exiting at Overlord. Our route started and ended in the south, at Overlord, about 66 km return. They spoke English, we stopped to compare notes. I looked at their gear as they probably looked at ours: the different sleds, the ‘real’ ice crampons, they had skies, the gaitors…with a big smiles and a wave, we part company, moving in opposite directions.
We were advised to avoid camping around the Windy Lake area, as winds could reach 175kph. My tent was good but I didn’t relish testing it at those speeds! Besides, we were cooking outside (ie not under the tent fly) and any breeze would sap stove efficiency as well as chill bare fingers. This site nestled between two boulders, was ideal, sheltering us from both northerly and southerly winds. Thor looms across the river, we stare at the sheer walls. Patrick, his grey coat barely visible, is huddled against the boulder to the bottom left.