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August 3, 1997
Peter Brewster writes:
ATOP YET ANOTHER ESKER (at the end of Lac Resolution): Here's the
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
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
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
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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