July 24 – day 16 –  hot uneventful day

This weather must be a record breaking heat wave: more blazing sun at 7am on a windless morning. It’s a good thing, as we are on coffee rations, only one cup a day each.

That same cheeky siksik was back again. Crawling under the sod flap of the tundra tunnel, he chewed the handle of my hair brush and stole a complete mosquito coil! The hair brush handle must have tasted good with all that salty sweat, but a pic coil? Guess the bugs were bad even for him. That siksik was well acquainted with the habits of humans and I bet he had been fed before. As the Parks Canada say in Banff: ‘a fed bear is a dead bear’. For sure the pic coil is toxic to the siksik and I speculate what other animals have learned to identify humans with food.

View from Lookout Point campsite, two dots at the beach are canoe packs beside canoes. On the water by 9am and let the current have her way with us. A kind of lethargy has crept in the last few days, no one wants to paddle once in the canoes. This is supposed to be a canoe trip but there is a lot of drifting going on.

With no obstacles to avoid (rocks, washed out trees) and a straight course of river, being the captain mostly involves keeping the crew awake. The occasional lily dip paddling passes as ‘awake’ in this circumstance.

One day is starting to blend into the next as the heat mushes brain cells. With no threat or challenge, or stimulation of something moving, the minutes start to drag. To rekindle some life, we stop and climb out of the river trough for a look. 

Wolf tracks weave through the san blowouts. At the base of a willow clump, a big hole, maybe a den, empty for how long, I can’t say. The area seems to have been favoured by humans as red chert chip flakes lie scattered in the sand. A tiny stream wiggles between the tree, watering them, before emptying on the sandy banks. This would be a pleasant place to camp. However, after an hour of looking around, we feel refreshed and return to the canoes.

For the last few hours, the low rumble of thunder can be heard – clouds are gradually building, thick curtains of rain streamers hang to the south. Even a flash of lightening within a huge towering cloud. With the calm air and sun shining on me, I feel untouchable by the storm. We continue to drift leisurely, unconcerned by the changing weather scape.

A nearby clap of thunder jolts us from dreamtime. Its 3pm, time to camp. Hurrying to the shore, there is level site on top. The tent is pitched as the wind wrestles with us for control of the nylon. Once the rear guy lines are secured and sod cloth rocked, I leave the guys to finish the tent while I start lugging barrels up from the canoe. In no time, we are inside, windows unzipped and tea water boiling. Home for the night!