The Buggiest of Them All: Three Weeks on the Thelon River, Nunavut

The snow was flying outside the window - it was early January and I starting to consider possible summer paddling destinations. Constraints included the group size (three) (one of which whom had very basic canoe skills), a three week time budget, the desire for little or no white water, a reasonable flyin /out charter costs and of course, it had to be above the tree line. Bonus points were given to rivers with a human history element (just about all waterways anyhow) and wildlife. We really wanted to see muskox. The list of potential rivers narrowed quickly to the Thelon River in the North West Territories of arctic Canada.

Other factors attracted us to doing a Thelon trip. With a leisurely trip pace, there would be ample time to explore off river (on foot or upstream by canoe) or just hang out and relax, reading in the arctic night. There is an immense body of  published material (print and online) about the Thelon. In particular, I enjoyed David Pelly’s  ‘Thelon: A River Sanctuary’ as well as ‘Discovering Eden’ by Alex Hall. Other animal/plant/bird guide books rounded out our library. Finally, pens and a blank notebook for sketches, thoughts, reminders round out our library.  

17 paper maps, our route highlighted in yellow

The plan was straight forward: fly from Toronto to Yellowknife, pick up two canoes from the outfitter, get dropped off at the junction of Hanbury and Thelon River and 21 days later, get picked up at Hoare Point, just before entrance of Beverly Lake, some 250 km down stream.