Day 3 - Sunday, July 9th

First thing we do (after coffee) is go to the Parks office, signing in, getting last minute details. Send a few postcards, buy souvenir t-shirts at the visitor centre. We are flying with South Nahanni pilots at the docks, plan our strategy for stuffing in 3 boats and 6 persons. Gorgeous calm day, the MacKenzie river is mirror calm with puffy clouds floating overhead - nonetheless, I pop my gravel pill (for the comfort of my fellow passengers), expecting a turbulent flight into the mountains.

Flight is fantastic! For 90 minutes we are all pressed against the windows, somewhat awed by the MacKenzie mountains below. This is a ‘big river’ in deep wild country, and I am bit nervous thinking of what lies ahead. The pilot climbs to 7600' before dropping through light rain clouds in to the Nahanni valley - I cran to get a glimpse of Virginia Falls but can’t pick it out. Our destination is Rabbit Kettle lake, a turquoise jewel set among low forested hills with mountain peaks in the back ground. Its a picture perfect late afternoon, I can’t believe were are finally here!

As the float plane taxies over to the dock, park ranger Doug Tate greets us and directs us to the designed camp sites. He must be constantly amused by the wide eye looks of campers as they disembark, staring at the natural surrounding beauty. We soak up the view from our camp overlooking Rabbit Kettle, on a sandy slope, dotted with wild strawberries. A quiet calm - red neck grebes disturb the surface making concentric circles. Some take a short dip in the clear water, I opt for a paddle but really float around, soaking it up. The sun goes down and we watch, unpestered by mosquitos, relaxed on our lazy boy backrests.