July 23 – day 15 – Finnie River paddle

Ron and Alfred get up at 3am to take photos of the sunrise…I’m too lazy to rise and simply stick my head out the tent door. Yawning, its pleasantly cool and I quickly fall back asleep until 7am, when sweating once again, as the sun shines strong and the winds are calm.

From the tent door at Lookout Point, looking upstream at the Thelon. Spires of pink fireweed contrast against spruce greens and tundra browns. Another group came in late last night and have set up down by the canoes. We don’t see anyone move there this morning. Quietly, we flip our boats and ferry across the Thelon to the entrance of the Finnie.

It’s easy paddling the Finnie upstream: except where the river is shallow and the paddle tip strikes the sandy bottom. But with no packs and three paddlers in the canoe (one boat left at camp), there is lots of muscle to power the canoe. The Finnie meanders, a lower volume river than the Thelon. We stop frequently, noting fresh moose, caribou, wolf and geese tracks in the sand.

Temperatures are have moderated as clouds provide occasional sun relief. The bugs have also taken a holiday, only annoying in wind sheltered corners. It’s wonderful to have the bug jacket hood down! A simple pleasure taken for granted – perfect visibility, unimpeded air flow circulates around the head, the ease to scratch an ear.

Eventually the river narrows and the water volume is too low for paddling. Canoe drawn up, we set out on foot. Ron discovers the fine powder sand which looks so benign has an adverse side. Numerous terns observe our progress (or lack of it), laughing as they circle overhead.

It’s a great place to explore with unexpected treasures to be found. A dead pike, abandoned on the sand, drying in the sun. A mottled brown egg, the size of a medium chicken egg, lies directly on the baking sand, apparently forgotten or rejected.

It’s a beautiful tributary on a more intimate scale than the Thelon. The combination of weather, lack of bugs, warm water for wading, the mix of vegetation and wildlife resulted in an enjoyable side trip. Estimated upstream exploration was 7km – then the call of empty stomachs heeded a return to camp.

Gone all day, the tents were like ovens inside. On the plus side, all the black flies trapped inside had died, fried by the heat. I contemplate dinner options with the explosion of food before me. A siksik suddenly sticks his head under the tent flap, startling me. I shriek, he exits instantly. On with dinner…the thought of fresh meat crosses my mind….