July 10  - Day 2 - South Shore Ridge Walk, Overlooking Thelon River Proper

There is always a period of adjustment when starting any trip – the first night out is always a restless one for me. Dozing fitfully, I listen to the ebb and flow of mosquito drone. About 3am, day breaks – a beautiful pink glow lights the underside of soft clouds.

By 8am, it’s raining heavily. No one is motivated to leave the kitchen tent so breakfast stretches into an all morning affair. We decide to double camp here tonight. Ya!

By 1pm, a north wind has picked up and dried out the worst of the soggy feeling. The south side of the river beckons: we recross the river, pulling canoe high up on rocky shore. Bare of vegetation, a sandy esker provides a great view and also the path of least resistance. It’s the local highway. Tracks of caribou, bear and wolf are mixed together.

Drifting along, focused on nothing, my eye suddenly kicks my brain awake. A red arrow, on top of the sand, lays like it was dropped yesterday. Excitedly I call the others to come over and inspect this wonder. 

Gingerly, I pick it up, stone chipped edges still razor sharp. The heft and weight and warmth of makers hand still lingers in this tool. Returning it to the sand, it waits for a hunter to return purpose to its path.

Close by, a circle of stones and silver weathered wood stakes lie as they have been left, years ago. Tent pegs? Or used to hold down animal skins? It’s a thrill to see these artifacts, in situ. A curl of bark ancient fire starter, lies caught amongst the berry bushes. Moose droppings, the size of large black olives, have collected in small depressions.

The esker wiggles beside the river, we walk its back. A few kilometers south, a large island sits in the middle of the river, marking the end of the Thelon canyon. Ice pans are shoved high up again the steep cliff walls and huge boulders line the top of the bank. I’m disgusted to see the wads of white toilet paper left under the bushes. Freshly arranged, a circle of stones nearby point the damning evidence towards recent campers. Shame!

It’s been four hours and 8 km of leisurely walking – the weak sun shines, polished by an increasing wind. Bugs are happily scarce and the bug jackets, head nets and gloves are stowed for future use. We return to canoes and paddling across the river, returning to camp. Why are the bugs so bad here when less than 500m away, they are non existant?  Chalking it up to some unseen micro factor, we dive into the tundra tunnel and start dinner.