Day 8 (July 13)

Howling wind storm last night – got up to check the boats, still there. Fine dust coats everything inside the tundra tunnel, 1 peg got blown out of the ground, glad we rock the sod cloth nightly.  Thrilling start to the day: a white wolf lopes up to our kitchen tent while we are breakfasting inside – more curious than scared, black almond eyes alert open, he peers at us thru the tent screen – we freeze, hoping he’ll linger - a long pause, he turns and disappears. Wow! Fantastic…

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Km 460, the river narrows almost to the point of vanish – it’s flowing between around under rounded gravel rubble – I marvel there are no ripples, white water just silent subterranean diving. Cobble flats dominate until about km 442 when the river opens up into a broad valley. The view is great with hoodoos and crenellated castle tops in the distant east. Check out several possible camp locations but reject them all – too many willows, too lumpy, too hummocky, too much gravel. Two caribou browse the flats, raising their heads but continuing to feed as we debate and drift downstream.

Feeling desperate, we stop at a tiny mud peninsula – it’s level, close to the water and I’m bagged. Low gray clouds gather in intensity, the wind starts to gust, it feels like late November. Quickly camp is set up, dinner by 8pm. Our evening stroll is preempted by weather and the thick willows which discourage easy roaming. 33 km today, our longest day yet. Good night.

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