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August 2, 1997
Geoffrey Peake, Chief Guide of the Hide Away Canoe Club (HACC) writes:
From the air, this country takes on a whole new perspective. From ground level, the lakes and trees seem to be a hopeless jumble. From 4000 feet, however, these pieces come together much like a jigsaw puzzle. Patterns in the rock and water emerge, clearly tracing the cracks and gouges made by mile-thick glaciers thousands of years ago. Caribou trails cross and braid across the landscape like unwoven threads. And in all directions this checkerboard of rock and water stretches to the horizon
The trip began for me, in earnest, at 1:45 p.m. today. That was the time our Air Saguenay De Havilland Otter broke free of the choppy waters of Squaw Lake, banked to the east and headed at last for the George River. You have no idea how much planning is required to get a trip to this stage. There is a mountain of logistical problems and decisions to be made, to say nothing of the formidable task of finding sponsors to make this whole endeavour possible. I must confess I had very little to do with that part of the trip. Michael has worked many months on these details to bring us to this stage, and this trip is in a large part his creation. At last, though, those worries are now history. Once that plane touches down it will be by our own efforts alone that we will reach Ungava.
Tom, David and I finally board the plane, following the other three to the George. On board are 1000 pounds of gear that will sustain us (I know that because they weighed all of our 12 packs) including 350 pounds of food--a shocking amount really, but we have relatively few portages on this trip. Besides, we have never been known for travelling light.
Our destination is a broad and sandy ridge that has served as a campsite for many, most notably Mina Hubbard. On August 12, 1905, Their party camped here for three nights, pinned by windy and wet weather. This ridge is the remnant of the great glacial rivers that flowed here as the continental glaciers melted nearly 10,000 years ago, depositing sand and gravel in long snake-like mounds that wind their way across the land. Called eskers, they are easily recognizable from the air as lightly covered lines against the dark green background of bog and black spruce that comprise the vegetation in these parts. Lightly covered because caribou moss, a light camel colour, thrives on the well drained sandy soil which comprises eskers. These make natural highways for caribou, and, not surprisingly we were rewarded with the sight of half a dozen caribou, three sporting magnificent racks, doggedly trotting past on the well worn trail by our camp before dinner.
This evening during dinner the brisk rain squalls that blew through camp produced a double rainbow that framed our camp. At last we are on the river...and ready to head north to Ungava.
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