Day 20 (July 25)

It’s almost unnaturally quiet – no mosquitoes pinging off the tent, no rain, no birds whistling, no flapping tent fly. 3am dark clouds cover sky but no rain. A large bull caribou almost steps on me as I’m taking down the tent – how could we not see each other? Lenticular but erratic shaped clouds as we depart. Weather could go either way – I’m not ready for more rain…yesterday’s too short afternoon of glorious life giving warmth was not enough!

After 37 km paddle yesterday, my triceps are sore. Alfred feels it in his traps, rhomboids. River bends are big sweeping curves often folding back upon themselves. At riverside lunch stop, caribou fur mingles with river pebbles evidence of earlier migration. A definite haze in the air – evaporating moisture from days of rain? Bugs come out , first time in days.

A group of 20 to 30 caribou crosses the river in front of us. The calves swim close to mom’s flank, who grunts encouragement across the river. Water droplets fly as they shake upon immediately leaving the water, hesitate then dash into the cover of willows.

It’s a lazy day on the river…we camp at 4:30 pm, enjoy the sun’s efforts. Wolf tracks on the beach speak to the caribou’s nervousness. Hiking thru the forest to the tundra above, the view on top is not inspiring in any direction. The tundra is flat with no distinguishing features. The river is largely screened by trees and large shrubs. Uninspiring. Hot and sweating from the climb, we return to sip on the last of our red wine.