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August 7, 1997
Peter Brewster writes:
LAC HUTTE SAUVAGE: This demon of a lake, which caused us so much trouble 14 years ago on our first George River trip, has done it again.
Tonight, cold, wet and hungry, we are camped on a high point with a spectacular view after butting heads with a north-west wind all afternoon.
Indian House Lake is a 100km. long widening of the river. It lies north-south and seems to catch just about every weather system imaginable.
However, wind is its forte, and wind is what is happening right now. This particular breeze is of the kind that puts four-foot waves on the lake and shakes the tent like a terrier with a rag. And after a long day of paddling it feels as though it is coming straight out of the Arctic. Which, of course, it is.
We fetched up on a rocky, wave-lashed beach late in the day after a futile search for an abandoned fishing camp we believed was in a bay on the east side. There was an immediate scramble for dry footwear, pile pants, sweaters, and toques, and the rocky ground was soon strewn with discarded wet windwear and boots.
Rain streamers are flowing back and forth across the lake like translucent shower curtains, painting the hills a pale grey.
It is a night for hot food, a fire if we can garner enough dry, gnarly willow, and maybe a shot of scotch, for medicinal purposes of course.
Oh, the day had started well enough. We left camp on a high esker with a serious tailwind - unusually, a southwester - that made the first few kilometres scoot by. A major rapid, 800 metres and a class 3 whitewater run, got us into a mood to boogie along as we headed for the lake.
Somewhere around the point at which the De Pas River flows into the George, the wind started shifting to the north, and by the time we had a quick lunch on a sandy island there a full-fledged gale blowing and a falling temperature.
Sneaking along the lee (west) shore, we slogged for a few kilometres. It was arm-breaking work, and when the abandoned camp failed to show it was tough to get the muscles going again to round yet another point and look for a campsite.
The lake has some great spots to pitch a tent, but most of the shoreline is thick with willow right down to the water. You pass a good one by late in the day at your own risk.
Other than warming up, our biggest problem is the cold. The wind chill is about the freezing mark, maybe less, and this plays havoc with our batteries. The available window for writing or for Mike to file the digital photos is short.
So that's all for now, surfers.
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