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Daily Trip Log

By Peter Brewster

Taking the scenic route

Monday, July 30, 2001

PETER
BREWSTER

 STILL ON THE KOROK: Put the falls on the Korok River on your must-do vacation list.

 It's not Niagara -- but then there is none of the tourist clutter that goes with it.

 They are stunning. Seen on a clear blue day (our second in a row) the 50-foot initial drop, followed by two smaller ones, running between ice-smoothed rock in a complete wilderness setting, took our breath away.

 An intermittent rainbow, arching over the main fall, completed the picture.

 There are many larger falls on the wild waterways of the north, and I have had the joy of watching Bloody Falls on the Coppermine twice as it roars down in the river's final flourish, but the setting here is really special.

 We came to it before lunch on another hot day thick with blackflies and lacking the breeze to keep them at bay. The falls creates its own localized air movement, but generally our lives have been made miserable by the bugs in this heat.

 There is a portage of about a kilometre around the big drop. It's an overgrown little track, but it shows evidence of use, and is the first sign we have seen on the Korok of human presence.

 There are the remains of spruce log "bridges" across gaps in the rock, over which to drag a boat. A crushed V8 can ... a little bit of lashing rope ... an axe cut here and there.

 The river continues to gather size and pace, dropping steadily through challenging rapids and more than one big ledge that required cautious lining.

 Heading mostly west, the afternoon sun plays havoc with sight-lines on hazards, and all three canoes enjoyed the problem of seeing rocks late.

 But it was afternoon that provided our quotient of wildlife for the day. At about 3 p.m. we arrived at the confluence with the Grenier River, running in from the northeast, and pulled in to fish in an exquisite pool.

 A large black bear was about his business just below 'our' fishing spot, and he leisurely swam the river before standing and giving us a long, hard look.

 The pool was thick with brook trout, and with enough for a good supper the boats headed down river. Within ten minutes we saw another, smaller bear on the left bank, distinctively marked with a large white patch on his chest.

 This was not shaping up to be a good night to fry fish, but supper went off well without any unwanted guests.

 There are still tiny patches of snow, high up on hills that are more rounded than the Torngats. They're part of the formations we have seen towards the end of our two trips down the George River, just to the west.

 The Korok is a lovely river that ideally warrants more time than we have been able to give it. That's the trouble with being behind the clock.

 Having the satellite phone has enabled us to try to drum up a boat in George River than could meet us at the mouth of the Korok and save 30 miles of uncertain ocean paddling ... and enable the HACC to fill the plane seats out we have booked for Friday.

 Right now, things don't look good. But we are persevering.

 By getting up at 6 a.m. and putting in long days we are making headway, but Ungava Bay -- and its weather and big tides -- are the wild card.




360 pix

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