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  • August 6, 1997

    Peter Brewster writes:

BREWSTER  ON THE GEORGE RIVER (north of the Dumans River confluence): A full, strenuous day of river work - and not one sign of Michael Flatley!
     Today we had it all, and are now camped on another esker high above the river, as rainclouds and sunshine splash across a very big norhern sky.
     Total distance travelled was only about 23 km., but we had a canoeist's smorgasbord from put in to arrival at this camp.
     Morning was a fascinating technical exercise, weaving north on the George as it braided its way through islands and channels. Between the lining and dragging were some first class rapids, and with Dave's cornbread laying a good breakfast base we went at the job in hand.
     The high water level is a help and a hindrance, making channels that normally would be rock gardens into passable routes ... and turning the larger rapids into monsters.
     Thus the day brought two portages, one expected (neither Mike nor I recall it in 1983 but Geoff can), and one which we made after much debate to get around a superb chute that 14 years ago we ran.
     Today's water level was the deciding factor, with the power of the George all going through a 30-metre narrows and large standing waves. Were we braver in 1983, or simply not as smart? Certainly then there was not the electronic gear to consider in the event of a dump. And if there was a flip you'd be in the river for a long way before you could get to shore. But our Old Town Trippers would outperform the aluminum Grummans we had then.
     Maybe it's maturity? Scary thought.
     The portage Geoff remembered was a bit of a grunt over a high ridge, cutting the corner on a tremendous bend of white water. It had been a relatively warm morning, but as we completed the carry the temperature dropped about 5 or 6 degrees, down came one of the those famous Ungava showers and we all stood beside the water, just letting the rain cool things down.
     The downside was a sudden and vicious burst of blackflies and mosquitoes which tormented us downriver for 3 km until we reached camp.
     This country always makes you pay for your play, but the view from atop this sandy mound of glacial leftovers is worth the price of admission.
     All in all a satisfying day, even though no caribou were seen and we may not see more until we are north of Indian House Lake, perhaps four days from now. For me, seeing the wildlife is a prime reason for making the journey, and with luck we'll run into a black bear or two.
     High on the Ungava Peninsular, on the Payne River in 1990, Mike, Peter and I saw one of the rare Quebec muskox and a polar bear in one morning. THAT turns my crank, but for now the big waves on the George will do just nicely thank you.

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