Day 9 (July 14)

Cold night with arctic front and 7C temperatures…the lonesome caribou has browsed closer to camp and remains undisturbed by our movements. Continued gray overcast with feel of snow on the air. We depart, I’m wearing just about everything I can paddle in and then wear the life jacket for additional warmth. The bottom flies by (8 kph according to GPS), if we paddle closer to shore it seems that our speed increased! An illusion of course.

Braided river bed presents the occasional surprise...upon rounding a prominent headland (about km 427) I pick the inside corner – the appearance of a small rock ledge calls for fast action as we narrowly escape becoming hung up broadside in the fast current. High riverbanks undercut and over hanging with yellow potentilla make for an inviting lunch spot. An immature golden eagle swings by and starts a lesser yellow legs from nearby pond.

Great campsite on river left – high dry, easy staking, close to waters edge with views of facing slopes. We ham it up for the camera, feeling good about our progress. Hiking up to the flat tops reveals glittering crystalline rocks, lustrous velvet, delicate hues of brown, beige and tan. The Horton twists and winds some 400m below our feet.

Almost a balmy evening – at 10pm a half moon rises, hanging low in the sky over the rivers rim. Wee hours pink blush on river slopes is spectacular alpen glow. Perfect end to a perfect day.

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