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Guide's Report

By Geoffrey Peake

The Labrador heat wave

Monday, July 30, 2001

PETER
BREWSTER


Campsite: Korok River 58º 36.05'N, 64º 52.72'W
Distance Today: 30 km
Total: 284 km

For the second day in a row, we were driven from our tents by stifling heat. We are in the midst of the summer here-hot, windless and buggy. Not surprisingly, we were eager to get on the water and moving as soon as possible. We could hear the sound of the rapids drifting up toward camp in the night. Once on the water, we were able to shake the bugs and concentrate on the main task for the day -- running rapids.

  The Korok has grown. The multitude of side creeks that pour in from the surrounding hills have swollen the volume of the river dramatically. In the first set below camp, we all followed the center route down the deepest channel, but large standing waves nearly filled our boat, and we were obliged to stop and bail before foundering. The river continues to drop at a rapid pace, culminating in Koroluktok Falls, plunging 20 metres over one sharp lip. The pool below was a boiling seething cauldron of white water, and required a portage of nearly one kilometre (a mere formality after all the carrying we've done).

  Below the falls, there were several sharp drops that required lining the boats down where we feared to paddle. The scenery today was truly incredible -- the broad valley of the Korok looks lush and green in comparison to the hills of Labrador, and we have started to see a lot more signs of wildlife, including geese, eagles, fish (to Brewster's great joy) and bears. It's strange being in the trees again -- we had become accustomed to the barren and windswept landscapes that the profusion of growth here seems almost excessive.

  We had a long flat section of calm water and were able to take a break. I lay back in the canoe and watched the gravel bottom moving past, realizing that even without paddling we were making good progress. We finally stopped for a long overdue fishing break, with Brewster and Andrew breaking out the rods and having a good cast at the Grenier River. Lots of fish here -- Brook Trout, Char. Also a large black bear who watched us from below before he slowly moved off, crossing the river to find some other less crowded fishing hole.

  The last few rapids were run directly into the blazing sun again, which guaranteed most of us would hit more than a few rocks as we banged our way down the shallow rapids. The last big drop was a big ledge that flowed through steep rock walls and provided a last bit of whitewater thrill before we headed for camp.

  We were a little worried about bears tonight -- saw another just before camping. We tossed the guts from the fish into the river and did our best to keep our camp clean, but it's hard to totally hide the smell of fish. While our time on the water today was very pleasant, the moment we hit camp we were assailed by the blackflies and mosquitoes again, and this has effectively ruined any chance of enjoying evening camp life. We ate in the tent tonight, and the heat from the day has tired us all out so much we have trouble just getting the camp cleaned up for the night -- no one feels like standing around in the bugs. We are now about 40 miles or so to tidewater. The Korok dropped 260 feet today, with only another 190 to go. There are some more big rapids tomorrow, but no big portages.

  Now -- for the big almost-end of trip contest. A free LABRADOR ODYSSEY 2001 T-shirt (and home game) to the first person who is able to get through to the people who control our weather and have them lower the ambient air temperature to about 4º C tomorrow!





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