• Happy Discovery of the Rosetta Stone (1799)! 𓋹𓂀𓀮𓀛𓀾𓁀 𝞹βδΔ

South Nahanni River, Northwest Territories

Thanks for the invitation, Mem. That would be great. But Kathleen and I are already committed to paddling the Yukon River this summer, from Whitehorse to Dawson City. I have never paddled in Ontario before. Does this Blackfly song represent reality for Northern Ontario?


That just Made my Morning !

I even forgot about the Snow, the Plow just filled my cleaned driveway with !

Thanks !

Now to go out and clean my driveway, again ! I'll at least have a Smile on my face thinking about Black Flies !

I've played the Blackfly song, on a banjo of all things, for a singer at a music festival once. The Log Drivers Waltz used to play frequently on CBC television, so that tune is fairly well ingrained in me as well. I suspect this year will be a very bad black fly year due to the mountains os snow we have. However, by early July most of them should be gone. I'm guessing bugs were not a problem on the Nahanni?
You're going to have to take some new trips soon to keep your loyal fan base happy. Y.

I do have a couple more reports with slides already scanned, Mem. A 37-day trip across the Barren Grounds on the Thelon River, east to Baker Lake on Chesterfield Inlet of Hudson Bayu. Also a trip where we started at Lynx Lake, the same place where we started our Thelon Trip, but went west, over the height of land, and then down the Snowdrift River to pithing 50 km (30 miles) of Great Slave Lake. Kathleen and I were alone on both of these trips. Seems to be easier.

Should also be able to get a TR together for our Yukon River trip. I'll try to take good notes!
Thanks for the great trip report. Looks so beautiful. "John" is the reason I solo. ;)
Just a brief, but significant addendum to my South Nahanni Trip Report. I remembered talking to some of our Beaver Canoe Club members who had paddled the South Nahanni in 2008. When I asked them how they dealt with heck's Gate, also known as Figure 8 Rapids, they said that the rapids were no longer there. At the time, I was silently sceptical. How could that be? After all, these rapids were infamous. They were considered the most formidable rapids on the entire river.


So a few days ago, I did some searches on the internet for other trip reports. One of them, in 2014, said that Figure 8 rapids no longer existed. So, maybe they are gone. And then, a trip report in 2006 posted by a guide who had paddled the South Nahanni more than 30 times was approaching Figure 8 rapids when everything looked completely different. She hustled her group off the river, and was stunned to note that this fairly large island at the top of the rapid had completely washed way in the spring flood.


This island had forced much off the water toward the left bank, where it it was deflected straight back across the river to deflect off the right bank, creating whirlpools on both sides.

Our group in 1990 ran by crossing the wave train on river left as high as possible to get into the eddy behind the point.

But now, with the entry island gone, the entire flow just simply makes the bend to the right, as rivers usually do. According to my friend James, who I emailed yesterday, "We cruised along river right and it was very comfortable. Dan and Paul paddled river left in an inflatable to crash over some waves but that was optional."

Amazing to think that the most challenging rapid was now completely gone. This reaffirms my general admonition to all river paddlers that "you should run all rivers as though you are making a first descent, no matter what the guidebook might say."

After all, once-formidable rapids can disappear, and un-runnable rapids can appear where none existed before.

Just thought you would find this interesting.
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I have definitely paddled with "John" or his brother. While it may not ruin a great canoe trip, paddling with a "problem" can leave a bad taste in your mouth. I'm pretty easy going- I'll paddle anywhere with anyone except...There are 2 paddlers I have determined to NEVER paddle with again. One, a great guy off the water, was an absolute arse on both trips I paddled with him. The other guy doesn't get a passing grade on dry land...

I’ve met a couple “Johns”, and one “Jane”.

“John” would carry little or no common gear, secretly hoard his own food, not bring enough tobacco but always need to “borrow” some, talk endlessly in the canoe or land, constantly bust or lose things, always be the last one packed, not understand the meaning of the word “No” and, most delightful, consistently race ahead to a site to nab the best tent site each night for himself.

Fortunately that is an aggregate “John” description, were that all rolled up in one companion I’d have bludgeoned him on day three.

“Jane” appointed herself “Camp Director”. Or more specifically, Director of where each night’s tent, tarp and kitchen site went. Two week trip with 5 people and 4 tents.

“Ok, you put your tent there, you go over there, the tarp goes here”. Whoever pissed her off the most that day got the worst tent site.

That came to a head one evening when she told me “The tarp goes here” (I brought the group tarp) and I looked at the clouds and sky and told her “I don’t think so”.

It poured buckets a couple hours later, and the tarp was not positioned over an ankle deep puddle depression. She was dry, but still peeved.

I paid for that in the next night’s tent site, but it was far, far away from her.
Pitt, you hit another one out of the park. Great trip report with an unambiguous commentary on the benefits of small groups (soloing in the extreme).
Thanks for posting about heck's Gate being gone. Amazing because I have read so much about it, it seems real to me. I agree that rapids need to be scouted. I have come across non-existent rapids and others not marked, including one four foot ledge. Not on the map.

In regards to the "Johns and Janes" of the world. I really like the Complete Wilderness Paddler guide in which all the participants agreed in advance about the rules.
Thanks for another good Michael.

I had one bad experience with a partner that ended our friendship. He was a graduate of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) whose focus must have been on ultralight backpacking. He didn't even want to bring a tarp saying that we weren't car camping. After about 4 or 5 days he said."How come everything you say is right and everything I have read is wrong?" I asked him if he read any Bill Mason, Cliff Jacobson or any other canoeing specific literature. When he didn't respond I said" well maybe you 're reading the wrong stuff".

It was no great loss as it was always a one sided relationship anyway.
I really like the Complete Wilderness Paddler guide in which all the participants agreed in advance about the rules.

Thanks Erica, I just pulled that off the shelves for a re-read. For a handbook and trip tale written 45 years ago is holds up well.
That was a great trip report. I enjoy the story and the input from the readers too, always interesting. Just one question, that guy you and Carey shared Krus Hot Springs with, he didn't say he was from Northern Ontario did he? Something about him looks familiar.:eek:
Thanks, Mr. Pitt, for another fine narrative, and particularly for the referral to Dangerous River. I immediately ordered it via interlibrary loan, and I'm close to the end, ready to start again. It's the kind of book that fed many adventure dreams when I was a teenager, a great read. Now it's firing things up again..I'll dig up Erica's suggestion next.
I see this trip has made it into some "major media outlets!"]

How’d you happen to come across this recped? You must have some fair amount of free time.

When we were still working, Kathleen and I were registered with the University of British Colimbia’s Speakers’ Bureau. We probably presented our Nahanni Slide Show 40 times or more, mostly to Hospitals and Longterm Care Homes. Sometimes also to canoeing and outdoor clubs. Haven’t given it for probably more than 20 years. We are looking forward to it. Most of the audience will be our friends or acquaintances. Preeceville has a population of only 1,200 people.

i have to check with our booking agent, but I believe our next gig is Toronto, and then on to New York.
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