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  • August 3, 1997

    Peter Brewster writes:

BREWSTER  ATOP YET ANOTHER ESKER (at the end of Lac Resolution): Here's the problem:
     Every time you come anywhere near Ungava, you promise yourself that the weather will not dominate things. That this time, the major memories will be of wildlife, of rapids run and campsites relished.
     Then Ungava turns quick as a fox, and you're left wondering what happened.
     It's not new, of course. In 1905, Mina Hubbard herself was windbound for three days at the esker camp we occupied yesterday after flying in from Schefferville.
     Last night, as we settled down, the temperature was a mere 3C. The mosquitoes, held down to a dull roar only by the wind, were active even at that temperature. It was a clear, cool night, and we rose to a brisk day with a strong northwest wind and everybody wearing pile and a windsuit. Toques and gloves were not really optional.
     On the water, it was a hard slog for a first day's paddling, into the wind and with a sloppy chop that proved once again that spray covers are great for more than running white water.
     Lunch brought ice pellets, lancing down out of a leaden sky, but one certainty about the weather here is that it WILL change quickly. After the hail came stunning blue breaks and monster white clouds. then the cycle began again.
     The esker we've camped on is spectacular, and like most others of its kind is the caribou highway of choice. In fact I'm sitting astride the trail to write, and it's crossed my mind that the noise in the night might just be a herd of 'bou and not, for once, Mike's snoring..
     We have water on three sides, the esker itself being a long, narrow spit just 30 metres wide in places and rising 15 metres above the river. Sunset promises to be memorable.
     It was a relatively early end to the day, as according to the maps our next decent campsite might be as much as 15 river miles ahead. The George has very, very high water.
     We had been warned of this in Schefferville, and of the abnormally cold water, but while the water level has changed the character of the lakes, making the willows into water bushes more like mangroves it remains to be seen how the main river has fared.
     Almost certainly the typically rocky rapids will be easier, but such is the power of this river that the big chutes and bends are going to be even more powerful.
     The caribou are on the move, and we have seen several small groups crossing at narrows and between points on Lac Resolution. The herding has started, as the gather for fall migrations and the rut.
     They, too, are pawns of the weather.

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