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Guide's Report

By Geoffrey Peake

Saturday, July 28, 2001


Campsite: Korok River 58º 43.89'N, 64º 06.87'W.
Distance Today: 6 km
Total: 221 km

A little after 5 pm (ADT) we crossed the height of land into Quebec. You can imagine our sense of excitement and relief -- after carrying literally hundreds of pounds of gear through such difficult and rough terrain -- to finally reach a place where the water was flowing in our direction. We had a little ceremony at this spot (toasted with the last remains of the bottle of Remy Martin VSOP) to remember Angus Scott.

Photo of Angus Scott taken in 1979 on the Churchill River, Sask. Photo by Geoffrey Peake

Twenty years ago, when the original four (Mike, Sean, Peter Scott, and myself) started doing these trips, we were inspired by the likes of Eric Morse, Sig Olson -- and Angus Scott. When some of the original 9 Voyageurs became too old to continue doing the far northern trips, Eric recruited a new and younger generation of paddlers to travel with, and in doing this passed the traditions on. Angus Scott was one of this new generation (Pierre Trudeau was another) who joined Eric on his travels in the north.

In 1979, I had the good fortune to be one of a group of four students from Trinity College School to accompany Angus (and Brian Hedney) down the Churchill River in Saskatchewan. Mr. Scott was the headmaster of TCS, and had wanted to recreate the same trip that Sig Olson had written about in The Lonely Land, so he had selected a crew of interested students -- including son Peter -- to travel along with him on this trip. That journey served as a blueprint as such for us to continue that style of tripping in the north, and led eventually to our '81 trip down the Missinaibi River to James Bay and the formation of the HACC. Twenty years later, we are still at it, with no (apparent) sign that this is just a passing fad.

In the past, Angus was always interested in our trips, and (once we started doing online trips) would follow our adventures along the way. He definitely would have appreciated the feelings today as we gazed to the south and could see the Korok River, the end of our uphill journey. So we raised a toast to him today at the height of land -- and to Peter as well, who should have been on this trip and is sorely missed. So, Peter, if your reading this, we are thinking of you often and (if this makes you feel any better) the weather as I am writing this is hot, windless, and VERY buggy -- the kind of conditions that the both of us feel are as close to hell as is possible to get out here.

We finally set our boats in the water a little after 6 p.m., and drifted a short ways downstream. This is the point at which most people usually would start a trip -- the downhill run. But I think of all the things we would have missed, and how our appreciation of moving water has been so greatly enhanced by our experience of the last few days. We will never take it for granted again!

One interesting thing we learned checking the email this evening was that the group of Dutch hikers whom we met at the beginning of the trip in Happy Valley was attacked by a polar bear last week -- apparently the bear tore open the side of a tent and one of the guides ended up shooting it. I certainly feel somewhat relieved that we are now out of polar bear country...

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