ON THE KOROK: What a beautiful river!
Sweeping bends, long fast runs. Rocks galore, granted, but the blue-green water contrasts with the patchy snow on the surrounding hills and lush, low vegetation to make a scenic cocktail.
And it's hot, 22C under cloudless blue. Also very buggy - blackflies thick and active all day, mosquitoes lining up as the sun goes off our campsite.
Already, stunted trees have appeared, wizened spruces bravely clinging to the river banks. Looming over them, barren mountains still. No longer the Torngats, but good-sized chunks of rock that are somehow softer in profile. Sandy moraines dot the little side valleys.
We ran 20 miles today, dropping 260 feet from our camp last night near the height of land between Labrador and Quebec. We have 50 miles to go to tidewater.
After a slow start as the Korok ran shallow over sand, things picked up and most of the day was spent negotiating fast water. Colouration from the sand up near the Palmer valley tints the water, but it gets injections of clarity from the side streams and is now quite clear, although not as gin-like as the Palmer we worked so hard to climb.
Mostly the stream is shallow, two to six feet, even though it is obviously carrying about 10 inches of extra flow after recent rains. The rate of descent meant that it was a day when concentration could not lapse. It's easy how the rock got into Korok.
There are thousands of little brook trout, seen finning through eddies, leaping for flies, bumping against my ankles as we unloaded the lunch pack. But, so far, no sign of brookies of an eatable size.
News of an interesting nature came to us via e-mail today from Andrew Peake, the brother left behind in Toronto. It appears that the Dutch hiker/tourists who were weather-bound with us at the Hillbilly Ranch bar and grill in Happy Valley-Goose Bay had a run-in with a polar bear while camped on the Labrador coast in Mugford Bay, north of Nain.
Their guide shot the 800-pound animal - from five feet away - after it butted up against one of the tents early in the morning. According to Canadian Press, the bear pushed against the tent wall, a Dutch woman pushed back, thinking it might be a caribou, then yelled out when it became apparent this intruder did not have horns.
Then, we hear, two American kayakers on the coast had a large bear follow them for them some distance, also near Nain. They eventually shook it off but returned to town "quickly".
Readers will recall that we watched a huge male polar bear, and a female with two cubs, in a Nachvak Fjord two-step with a big herd of caribou. They all seemed to want to avoid each other.
It was a privilege to see the bears, but we're grateful that it was at 200 yards, and they were on land.
A polar bear at close range is an intimidating proposition. It's no time for indecision.
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