The North Nahanni River for 14 daysJuly 1 Friday Fort Simpson:
Up early as always. I got the new phone paired with the In Reach. Added Rod to the contacts list so I could communicate with him once he leaves me at the cabin. There are still some things I need to get resolved with Garmin but there was over a 1 hour wait for tech support and didn’t have the time nor the patience. I am ready to go, even taking my keyboard to practice the piano and the 5 songs I have begun to learn. I don’t have a lot of clothes but can wash them and put them out to dry about halfway thru being there.
I have brought some of the food, energy bars and of course Stormy’s food, pills and snacks. Her leg/limping has improved greatly. We got loaded up, I took the van back to Simpson Air to park it, Rod picked me up there and off we were to the boat landing. We left just about 1:00 just like he planned. He had a couple of friends and their wives from Hay River with jet boats, that were going to go up past his cabin and camp out.
Rod’s Jet boat cruises at about 50 MPH
We traversed the same 90 miles I had paddled that he had taken me back to retrieve the kayak and gear. So that means when we come back and I paddle it again when I put back on the water, I will have traveled those 90 miles 5 times plus the flight in the float plane. That is about half the distance I have left to paddle to get to Inuvik.
Once we got into the North Tahanni River his cabin is about 30 miles up the river and is the only cabin. He has been in here now for well over 25 years.
Mouth of the North Tahanni River
Rod and I, for meeting the way we did, act like we have known each other all our lives. He is about 10 years younger than I am. He must be one of the greatest guys I have ever met or known. Very experienced in the bush living and literally knows everyone and everyone knows him. He is married to a native lady, and they have no kids. He had 2 labs but hasn’t had a dog for awhile but after spending time with Stormy, he tells me he is going to have to get another dog. What is sad, he is so busy that he hasn’t been into the cabin since last October.
No issues on the way down the Mackenzie and none to the cabin. Rod is an expert at running this jetboat and he takes no chances and is very confident and thorough on how he approaches things.
Water is high and an unbelievable number of trees in the river
Rod is focused 100% on making sure he is taking the right channel
Getting into the mountains
It is hazy from some forest fires
There is the cabin the only one in the entire area
Once to the cabin, we took some “bear boards” off, he got one of the 4 wheelers out of his log shop building, hooked the little trailer up to it and it took two loads to get everything up to the cabin. Beautiful 2 story log cabin, sitting up on a bluff overlooking the river and huge rock cliffs in the back of the cabin. The area around the cabin is cleared and it is beyond “Heaven” and of course I feel right at home, immediately. We had a simple dinner, in fact all I had was one of my Kachava drinks. Rod has Type 1 Diabetes, so his daily routines are somewhat centered around the challenges.
July 2nd Saturday Day 2 at the cabin:
As it is constant, I get up early. Rod goes to bed very late and doesn’t get up until well after 9/10:00. I spent some time sweeping, cleaning up inside, washing things. A ton of things to do inside and out to help him and this is what I do well, is tidy up and clean and organize things. It also is apparent he is going to leave me alone and let me do what I do. Once Rod got up, he said we need to go get water down to a creek where the water runs cold and clear and is good for drinking. He has a great indoor water tank and system. Everything is propane, the hot water heater, the stove, and the refrigerator. He has a big Honda Generator for power and plenty of it.
What a beautiful setting and a great two-story log cabin
We put the water tank in the little trailer, the hose, intake hose and a little Honda gas water pump, one I had never seen before. He never leaves the cabin without a weapon. As we headed down the river on the 4-wheeler the bank of the river had caved in, and it was impossible to get to the stream. We unhooked the trailer, pushed it out of the way, backed the 4-wheeler up and went back to the cabin/shop to get a bush whacker, machete and a chain saw. Now this is nothing, but thick trees and brush and the trees are not that big, but thick and full of mosquitos and small black flies. Fortunately, the flies don’t bite the mosquitos do and there are millions of them.
All you have to do is look at the before and the after pictures, we worked out butts off all day long.
July 3rd Sunday Day 3 at the cabin:
I was back down on the trail at 6:00, walked down with Stormy. I bought some dog bug repellent and rubbed it all over her, being careful to make sure I didn’t get it in her eyes. I took a bag with some water, energy bars and bug spray.
Rod came down about 10 I think it was and I almost got us to the point where we could almost tie back into the trail. We went a long way, and it was work and there was nothing easy about it. But for me I have done so much of this kind of thing it was fun and we did a good job, and it came out perfect to make it easy to go get water.
The stream where he gets the water
I will work on the rest of the trail, it needs to be trimmed up, widened out and will do that early in the mornings. It gets so hot after 1:00 it is tough on me to work out in the sun, but plenty to do in the shade and inside the cabin.
Once we got that done, we went back down the trail, hooked the trailer up and went and got the 1st load of water. Throughout the day I think Rod went and got 3 more loads. With the water in the tank in the cabin, now we had hot water to shower, wash dishes and flush the toilet. Made me wonder why I have been so hardheaded in reference to water at the cabin up at the lake. That will change now that we dug the well and I have no idea if Randy has finished up with the water and if it is working or not.
Lots to do. The roof on the woodshed had caved in, I demoed it. Rod got on the riding lawn mower and mowed the lawn. I worked the weed trimmer and trimmed up some limbs.
Didn’t look like this before we started
His friends from Hay River stopped by on their way back down the river and were going to get back to their rigs at the Ferry crossing to Wrigley and then do a 7-hour drive back to Hay River.
For dinner Rod barbequed some ribs, we had steak the night before, with corn on the cob. Rice last night with the ribs.
July 4th Monday Day 4 at the cabin:
We ended up getting another load of water and filled up 4 more 5-gallon water jugs, makes 7. We trimmed some more limbs on the trees, weed trimmed lots of brush around the perimeter of the lawn. We piled up the limbs and raked up. I had gotten up early and cleaned up things around his shop and going to make some racks on the wall of the shop to put what lumber there is. There is some metal roofing left over from the roof on the cabin, I am going to make a post and beam in the front of the woodshed, there are some 2 x 8’s here, enough for the rafters and I think enough 1 x 4 for the metal roofing and try to get that done before he comes back in to get me.
What a beautiful place. No body in the entire country. No body. There are moose, caribou, lots of wolves, lots of grizzly bear, a few black bears, some deer and some elk. Very few birds, haven’t seen one squirrel, he has killed them all out because they get into things and destroy everything. No waterfowl nor have we seen any wildlife. We did see one of largest bull moose tracks I have ever seen; he tells me there are bigger.
A grizzly bear clawed at the log building where the generator and fuel are stored, and Rod says he must be a very big bear to be able to make those kind of claw marks. They like to roll in the fuel.
Notice the size of the claw marks this is a very big grizzly
Once again, Stormy is such a joy. She is so respectful, does absolutely everything I ask of her, doesn’t wander and is glued to me constantly. I am eating good, and my pooping seems to have settled down. Who knows what that statement means? I still get tired about 4. Real tired. That seems right now to be the biggest challenge I have. But, go figure, I am up early, working hard doing a variety of things and of course not as young as I used to be, so that probably factors in.
The view of the cliffs behind the cabin
My strength has Improved significantly. I am looking forward to getting back on the river. Rod calls his wife every night at 10 on a Sat Phone, and she tells him the river is dropping a lot every day, so my challenges should decrease when it comes to the camping, and I am going to know where every single cabin is on the river between the villages.
July 5th Tuesday Day 5 at the cabin:
Stormy and I walked down to start clearing out the existing trail to the water, widen it and clean it up. I started where he pulls in to dock and unload the boat. Once I got that done, I started working on a new set of stairs to make it easier and safer to get stuff out and in the boat.
Trying to do it in such a way they last a while
Rod left as we planned about 12:00 and should have gotten back to the boat landing at about 3:00. Rod went out to turn the generator off last night at about 12:30AM and there was a big black bear about 40 feet from the generator building. It didn’t see Rod and just kept on going. I always keep the rifle with me.
Back to Fort Simpson took him about 3 hours
I continued to work on the stairs. I also put some posts underneath the deck on the back of the cabin to tighten it up, you step on to it or walk on it, it shook and rattled. Also washed all the clothes for the last 5 days.
It is as hot or hotter today than it has been, and I mean hot. It really wears me out. I came in the cabin about 3 and had a bite to eat, laid down a bit. Then practiced the keyboard for a couple of hours.
I am waiting for Rod to send me a message on the IN Reach. We have decided he is going to come back probably on the 12th, we will go back out on the 14th. He is going to drive me in my van with the kayak and the gear to the Ferry Crossing to Wrigley, which is the next village, it will save me a day and ½ on the paddling.
Should be back on the water on the 16th. Probably get to the ferry landing, set camp up and get an early start on the 17th. It is just way too hot to be on the water in the afternoons.
July 6th Wednesday Day 6 at the cabin:
Down finishing the stairs by 7 after a quick breakfast of the Kachava and a toasted bagel.
Hopefully they will last
Once I was done with that, I brushed the trail up to the cabin from where the stairs are. Then I started to go thru is workshop and getting things organized. It is hot again today and looking at the weather on the IN Reach looks like it is that way until Friday then drops down to 69, let’s hope so. I didn’t get a message from Rod when he got back, I think the IN Reach is working. So rather than send a SMS this time, I sent him a message via email, and he responded, and we corresponded several times. He left at 12:00 and was back at 2:30, that is a quick trip back for that distance.
I expect to see him back in here Sunday or Monday which means we will probably go out on Tuesday. I won’t have everything done for him I would like to, but I will have gotten a lot done. I would like to be back about 3 on Tuesday, I will go out and stay at the Bannockland B&B again, they have good Wi-Fi and washer and dryer to use. I will also get up early as usual and tidy my gear up. As mentioned before Rod is going to drive me down to the Ferry crossing to Wrigley which saves me a good day and a half paddling. I would like to plan on getting to the Ferry about 2 or 3 and I will just set camp up there and leave early. Rod would be back by 5. It will be a 2 ½ day paddle to Wrigley. Right now, I am estimating 22 days to finish. Hoping the weather maintains, no wind and no big storms.
When we got here last Friday this entire area was flowing with water
July 7th Thursday Day 7 at the cabin:
Up before the sun is coming over the hills, which was about 5. Had a quick omelet and bagel with strawberry jam. I drink a lot of orange and grape tang. There is a little countertop ice maker which is great. Down cleaning up what I knocked down yesterday morning, then brushed another 80 yards or so. A lot of work and a long way. Not sure I will get it all done for him before we leave on Tuesday at noon. If it wasn’t so hot, close to 90 I could work longer hours. But what has been done won’t have to be done for a long time. Then I finished cleaning out and organizing his workshop and is he going to be amazed. Also cleaned up in the front of the shop, made some wood racks for the back of the cabin, raked up and hauled the piles to the burn pile.
Didn’t look like this when I started
Then I cut a tree down and cut it into 2 94-inch-long logs. Peeled them and they are ready for the log across the top that the rafters will sit on for the woodshed roof. The sun doesn’t go down behind the mountain in back until about 8. Fortunately, it has clouded up, wish it would rain. I hear thunder up and over the mountain in the back, but I don’t think it is going to happen here. No birds, no waterfowl, I heard one squirrel this morning, no owls, no eagles, have not seen any animals, no wolves howling and no humans. I do hear a couple of morning birds singing just before the sun comes over the hill. A beaver hit his tail on the water yesterday morning and Stormy loves to bark at them. Rod says it is in the fall when they are breeding and moving getting ready for winter is when you see a lot of animals in the riverbed.
This is big, big, big country so even though there is a lot of animals, they are hard to see in the bush. You could and do go right by them in the boat/kayak and they can be 50 feet away and you won’t see them. I am anxious to get back on the river. I have my maps all marked up, the water has dropped and will drop more by the time I leave and every day thereafter. I have names/phone numbers of a friend of Rod’s in each village. I also can go the RCMP detachment office and get advice on where the cabins are and the next segment of the river to the next village. If there is a Legion building in the village I will go there and seek out some more advice and help in placing the cabins on my maps. We know the IN Reach works and Rod and I have been communicating at least once a day.
July 8th Friday Day 8 at the cabin:
I finally spotted a moose cow with her calf last night just before going to bed. At 8:30 I heard boats coming and 5 Jet boats were going up the river. Down working on the trail by 5:30 hoping to beat the heat, it gets hot, never expected it. Did as much as I could do, just hotter than wanted to be and the mosquitoes seemed to be more aggressive than usual. Had French toast for breakfast. Stormy always waits to eat her food until I eat. Then out working on the roof for the woodshed.
Don’t think I will get the metal on by the time we leave
The longer I am here the more I realize just how beautiful it is here
July 9th Saturday Day 9 at the cabin:
Things are getting to routine for me here. I am anxious to be one the move again. I just about have everything done I wanted to do for him when we first got here and saw what could be done and what would help him out. I have two more mornings to get the trail to the creek brushed, cleaned up and it won’t have to be done for quite some time. I have built the stairs down to where he parks the boat, cleaned out his work shop, weeded and raked up all around the cabin and the two small log buildings, one his work shop, tidied up the cabin and brushed, cleared close to a 1/3 of a mile of trail and that was a job and demoed the caved in roof on his wood shed and cut some trees, peeled them and framed in a roof, ready for the metal. Someone else will have to put the metal one.
If it weren’t for the two days more on the trail, I would ask him to come in tomorrow, Sunday and we leave as early as we can on Monday, but one more day isn’t going to make any difference. I am ready to get back on the Mackenzie and finish this trip.
I am going to approach the time on the water somewhat different than I have on any trip before this. Since it never really gets dark, I will get on the water early like I do, 5 AM and paddle until about noon, plus or minus. Then take a break for 2 or 3 hours and get back on the water for another 4 or 5 hours. That way we aren’t in the kayak for longer than we can take, and we aren’t sitting on the bank for that time we should and could be paddling. I don’t really have to work that hard because there is such good current in the river, I just need to make sure I don’t get to close to the bank where there is slack water. The weather obviously will dictate how this plan will materialize, but so far, it has been good weather. Mush hotter than I ever expected and July is supposed to be the driest month. I have seen no wind at all.
All I will need when I take the break is a spot to put the tent up, so we can get in and away from the mosquitos. They are relentless. There are no horse fly’s here at the cabin, but it is the first place I have been where there aren’t any.
One of the reasons I am doing this is the river narrows considerably in several spots for quite a distance and the current will pick up and we will be making 5 to 8 miles per hour. That is huge and I am going to take an advantage of it.
July 10th Sunday Day 10 at the cabin:
One last section of the trail to the creek and I will have it all done. It is brushed and only needs to be picked up and cleaned up. I normally wait until the early morning to do that, but it is drizzling a little bit and it is not hot for the 1st day for a long time, so might do it this afternoon for something to do.
I messaged Rod asking him if one day earlier would make a difference, no big deal if we don’t get out of here until Tues. But, the way I am, if I tell you 9 it is normally 7, if I tell you Wens it is probably going to be Tues, or even Mon. I love to be ahead of the world at least a day if not two.
He gets up late as mentioned before, 10/11 is not uncommon.
I am fighting some pain in my right lower groin. Thinking it is a lodged small kidney stone, if not have no idea what it could be. Going to just work thru it and hope it passes or goes away.
Rod has done a great job with the cabin for the location
Everything you would need, bath/hot water
Great loft with 2 bedrooms upstairs
July 11th Monday Day 11 at the cabin:
I got all the brushing and clean up done to the creek where Rod gets his water. Cleaned up the cabin, put everything away. I was hoping he would come in early and we could go back today, but I understand it is a long ways in and a long ways out. He will get here about 2/3 and we will spend the night and go out about 10 tomorrow.
Beautiful clear morning
July 12th Tuesday Day 12 at the cabin:
And that is exactly what took place. We got back to the boat put in about 1:00, he does unbelievable on running this jetboat in some challenging situations. My plan is to spend the rest of the day getting squared away. Wednesday continuing to get things in perspective. I am going to pick Rod up at 7 AM on Thursday and he is going to drive down as we planned to the Wrigley Ferry crossing which saves me that day and a half I have already paddled.
Looking back at the cliffs above the cabin
This is what I have been waiting for the water has dropped about 7 feet