Day 15 - Friday July 21
Our initial plan is to hitch hike the 191 km into Fort Simpson but then we get word that some one is driving in and will take 2 of us for $100. Alex and I volunteer to go and pick up our vehicles left there - on the ride, the driver, his wife and little kid entertain us with stories about hitting roadside buffalo with 1 ton pick up trucks. What ever. I also learn about ‘off hours liquor sales’. We safely make it Ft Simpson at 2pm, pick up the vehicles and head back to Blackstone, delaying long enough to help two hitch hiking tourists get to the local airport. On the way back, we stop at “Checkpoint” restaurant, located at the intersection of the Liard and MacKenzie Highways - the best little greasy spoon, full of northern character. Great ham and cheese!
Finally, we reach Blackstone by 5pm...gear/canoes are loaded, drivers and passengers pile in for the long drive back to Yellowknife. Driving and roads are pretty good until Fort Providence when the sky gets dark and a few buffalo appear along the side of the road. Drivers and passengers are all on high alert for collision danger. A cop goes by in the opposite direction, flashing his lights at us....later we notice the limit is 90km and we slow down from 120 km. Hong falls asleep in the back seat, Desi drives and I stay up, listening to Alex’s tapes. Our speed diminishes downward from 100 to 80 to 60 with pouring rain, gravel roads, mud and dark. We roll into Yellowknife at 2am, looking for the first open hotel....again, we splurge, going to the “Prospector” and ask for one room with beds for all...(too bad no hourly rate!) ...the night staff take one look at us and bring extra shampoo and a huge load of towels. Too tired for the shower, we all just collapse.
Day 16 - Saturday July 22
Its the first day of civilization....after a shower and breakfast, we take the rental boats back. Alex checks in at work, Desi and Wayne go over to the B & B where they are staying tonight. Ron packs for his upcoming 3 week trip which departs tomorrow, Hong and I go shopping and touring Yellowknife: art galleries, shops and the Prince of Wales Centre don’t escape us. Great 43' moose skin canoe on display which was paddled down the Keele River to Fort Neilson. A celebration dinner then final good nights.
Day 17 - Sunday July 23
Say ‘bye’ to Ron as I head south and he heads north to paddle the Back River. Uneventful flight back to Toronto. Sleep as much as possible.