The Journal of Canadian

Wilderness Canoeing

  SPRING 2002

PAGE 8

OUTFIT 108
 

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In this issue

Front Page

Expeditions

Environment

Spring Packet

Canoesworthy

From the Editor

Canoelit

Excerpt

 

 

 

   Expeditions

Part  1  2 (map)  3

Progress slowed when we encountered the one section of heavy water on the Horton: two days of canyon country where 100-foot walls hemmed some challenging rapids. At least six drops of Class 3-4 whitewater had to be scouted, sometimes while inching along the craggy cliffside. Most were run on the less turbulent inside bend, but one heavy stretch forced us to carry around its climax for our only portage of the trip. When we paddled, peregrine falcons and bald eagles screeched at the intrusion from nests high above. At the inflow of a clear water tributary below the canyons, Anders caught a 23-inch northern pike that tried to grab one meal too many. The greedy thing already had two undigested fish in its stomach and was looking for its third when it hit his lure.

The Horton carried us forward much as we had anticipated: lots of riffles and Class 1-2 rapids as the river cut a path between hills rising almost 800 feet. The inflow from Horton Lake produced a jet of clear, cold water, but things soon changed. On most outer bends, massive clods of humus were being clawed away, often dropping before our eyes. The champagne-clear waters of the upper river turned an opaque brown that was less than helpful through which to view rocks, mediocre for fishing, though not harmful to ingest.

We caught a break from the heavy prevailing headwinds so could clock 30 miles daily with time off for stunningly beautiful afternoon hikes out of the valley. Up on high ground, we could see how the river was often exactly on the tree line with timber on the west bank and tundra on the east.

We passed three other parties on the river, the most notable of which was the one man expedition of Brian Dodds. He and Anders were pleasantly surprised when it turned out they were both from Calgary and had paddled the Thelon on separate trips a few years ago. Brianís gear was a model for the solo wilderness paddler with everything for a month, even down to orange tabs on gear so stuff would not be lost, packed neatly in his Mad River canoe. We shared one campsite, and possibly should have kept him company a bit longer.  A few days after we parted, Brian hosted some unwanted midnight visitors. A grizzly mother, followed by two cubs, somehow became attracted to his camp (Brianís a handsome fellow), pushed at his tent wall, and sat on him! In less time than it takes to tell the tale, Brian shoved her aside, bolted from his bedroll and out of the tent, then let go a blast of bear spray when the possibly frustrated female charged. According to his Christmas letter, which makes exciting reading, she did a double somersault backwards then bailed out with cubs in tow. Future Horton travelers take note.

Progress slowed when we encountered the one section of heavy water on the Horton: two days of canyon country where 100-foot walls hemmed some challenging rapids. At least six drops of Class 3-4 whitewater had to be scouted, sometimes while inching along the craggy cliffside. Most were run on the less turbulent inside bend, but one heavy stretch forced us to carry around its climax for our only portage of the trip. When we paddled, peregrine falcons and bald eagles screeched at the intrusion from nests high above. At the inflow of a clear water tributary below the canyons, Anders caught a 23-inch northern pike that tried to grab one meal too many. The greedy thing already had two undigested fish in its stomach and was looking for its third when it hit his lure.

Cont'd

 

 

 

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