Key Largo to Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Florida / February 16 - 26, 2015
February 27, 2015
Chokoloskee to Key Largo (Florida) / January 7 - 17, 2015
January 18, 2015
Key Largo à Elliott Key (Biscayne Bay), Floride / 16 - 26 février 2015
February 27, 2015
Buffalo Narrows (SK) to Fort Chipewyan (AB) / July 21 - August 17, 2016
August 19, 2016
Thursday, July 21 to Wednesday, August 17, 2016
On Tuesday, July 26th we left Buffalo Narrows. Pierre was able to complete the construction of two terraces with the help of DJ, at Krows Nest Inn, even though rain often slowed the work and limited working hours. Before we left Buffalo Narrows unfortunately we did not get a chance to say goodbye to Doug. He was not back from his unexpected trip to Saskatoon (due to a death in his family). Susan, Doug, Kim and DJ: You have made our stay in Buffalo Narrows great and comfortable. Thank you for everything!!! Doug, all our thoughts are directed to you, your daughter, her children and your family.
Under a mix of sun and cloud, we dipped our paddles into Peter Pond Lake. Peter Pond (1739 - 1807) was an explorer, mapmaker and fur trader. He was one of the founders of the North West Company and the Beaver Club. We had a rather difficult start with a strong cross wind and waves of about 6 feet coming from the port side. Fortunately, after we passed the immense white sandy beach, 10 km long, the waves calmed down. That night we slept on another beautiful sandy beach. In the evening we enjoyed, in the distance, storms that dumped a huge amount of rain.
The next day we finished our journey on Peter Pond Lake and entered into the mouth of the La Loche River (where we slept). Thursday, July 28 was one of the most physical day we have had since our departure. The La Loche River gave us many surprises! The river is very shallow. Over the first 10 km, there were lots of weeds that prevented us from making strong, efficient paddle strokes. The canoe was not making much progress and we were fighting against the current. We encountered countless small and medium size rapids. There were rocks everywhere! We crossed beaver dams and even had to dismantle one to succeed in hoisting the canoe across. We walked a lot in this river. After the rapids, beaver dams and piles of rocks, there was a long section of curves. We felt we were progressing very slowly. Sometimes we went north, then east, then south, east, north, west, south, west, north-east ...! In this part of the river, south of the bridge of road 956, we dodged thunderstorm cells. The thunder and lightning were all around us, until one of the depressions decided that we had been a little bit too lucky and it came to unload it's fury on us! We made an emergency stop on the edge of the water, but the soil would not support our weight. We had both feet in the water and we were trying to keep them on small clumps of grass. We took out our Hilleberg tarp and hid underneath it. The rain fell hard and it was hailing at one point. The storm lasted about 15 minutes. Then the calm returned. Around 8:00 p.m. we stopped on the other side of the 956 route bridge (where we had come with our friends, Jean-Robert and Odette, the previous week). We set up camp in the grass and it was not long before we were asleep.
On 29 July, after three more hours to get out the La Loche River we finally made our entrance into Lake La Loche. The end of the La Loche River was not easy. We had to walk often. We even had to move rocks and dismantle another beaver dam. We felt a great sense of accomplishment by the time we arrived on the calm waters of the lake. For us, it was another stepping stone successfully accomplished! We made a brief stop in La Loche, but then kept on paddling before stopping for the night.
Under a rainy July 30, we took off towards the famous Methye Portage. Oddly, before arriving at the entrance to the river leading to the portage, a perfume smell spread in the area. It was as if the voyageurs had prepared, put on their best clothes and sprayed perfume before going to the meeting point at Lake Rendezvous. It was likely a plant that spread this particular odour. We took a picture of the plaque explaining the origins of the portage. We progressed further into the river before making a portage to the trail of the Methye Portage (19 km in length). The path was flooded, so we walked in the water with the canoe, refilled again with equipment before returning to the mainland. Already it was getting late, so we set up our camp for the night. The next and last day of July, we left. We made only 4 km out of the 12 km to get to the Lake Rendezvous. Mud, beaver dams, trees lying in the path, rocks, black flies, mosquitoes ... This first section has been very hard, even brutal. We were wet, dirty, bitten and hungry in the late afternoon. At the place where we set up camp, we did enjoy nature's treats. There were blueberries everywhere! We ate tons of them! We had to remain another night at the same place because of the heavy rain and strong winds (it was dangerous due to dead, falling trees). This allowed us to get more berries and collect water. We also prepared another treat that was sent to us by our partners and friends Happy Yak. Freeze dried strawberry yogurt! A true succulent success !!! This is a must to have in all adventures!
On August 2, we walked the remaining 8 km separating us from Lake Rendezvous. In this section, we passed through a part of the forest that had burned 10 days before. A strong smell of burned wood and ash permeated the area. Every step stirred up ash. We were covered with soot from head to foot! The sound echoed far in this devastated forest. We were really on another planet! We were very happy to reach the lake, where we set up our camp near the sand dunes.
Lake Rendezvous is located 12 km north of Lac La Loche and 7 km south of the Clearwater River. It was the place where people from the north and the south met and conducted trades in goods during the fur trade. Northerners brought furs and those from the south, goods to trade. The canoes were not transported to the lake, only the material. In 1862, Father Emile Petitot stated that there were 400 people at the portage. There were people from French Canada, Scotland, Orkney, England, Norway and people of the First Nations: Cree (Woodland & Swampy), Chippewa, Chipewyan, and more. This passage was used by indigenous people long before it was presented to Peter Pond in 1778. In 1793, it was Sir Alexander Mackenzie who walked it during his expedition to the West, which led him to the Pacific Ocean. Methye Portage was used extensively until 1883. After the steamers were able to travel the Athabasca River to get to the train further south, the business activities on the Methye Portage ended. The Methye Portage and the Grand Portage, located at Grand Portage on the border of Minnesota and Ontario, are the two most important and most difficult portages that were used during the fur trade era.
On August 3, we began the last section of the portage. Walking was difficult in the sand located along the lake. Finally we were on higher ground and kept on going up. Our pulses ran high! The path was uneven and flooded in some places. Then Pierre came face to face with a bear! The bear was frightened and ran away quickly. I did not even have the chance to see it. Jasmine, meanwhile, had done her job and started to bark. After reaching a plateau, the highest point of the trail, we began to descend. The descent was long, rugged, steep and tiring. In addition, we had to make round trips to transport all of the equipment. The descent is about 590 feet.m Pierre had to cut several downed trees to clear the path. The soles of our feet hurt so much, because of the pressure of going downhill. Through the trees, we had our first glimpse of the Clearwater River valley. Once on flat ground, the vegetation changed drastically. We entered a majestic forest of aspens. Larger shrubs taller than us blocked the way. We had to move or cut more trees lying across the path. The flies were insane! Jasmine was going crazy! 100 feet from the Clearwater River, there was one last tree that gave us a hard time. 30 minutes later, the path was finally cleared. We were rewarded for our efforts when we saw the beauty of the river valley. Finally, mountains and hills, and the valley was green. We setup our camp. Happy!