Tuesday, May 25, 2021


        I had many adventures  when I lived in the north. You had to be adventurous to see and learn about things. You had to take some precautions to be safe because there was some risk.

         However, there was one adventure that I took that was much  too risky. Looking back I see that it  was a high risk adventure and that at the time I didn't fully appreciate it. 

          My adventure was to go up the Mackenzie River...all 1010 miles of it.  Not only was it a long river but a large river. At Point separation it is 10 miles wide. As you move up the river there are some rapids and some fast water. So for most of the river there's little  danger.

         Many northern people would dream of boating up the Mackenzie but few ever do it. The micro Manager wanted this adventure and so did I so we made plans. We had a good boat and two motors. We had camping equipment and used the RCMP to keep track of us. Always the next detachment of police were watching for us and if we didn't appear they would have to search for us. 

      The upper Ramparts where the river narrows

There is a tremendous amount of barge traffic on the river as most northern freight comes in on the Mackenzie. So I managed to snag a navigational chart of the river. The policeman I got it from wanted it back and he wouldn't tell me how he got it.  So navigation worked this way .  You would line up between two very large diamond signs that you could see from 5 to 20 miles away. Stay between those signs and you were okay. They sounded and dredged the channel 

       Weather was another thing out of our control . The first five days were

warm calm and beautiful summer weather. One night we happened to be stopped in a settlement. That night a storm hit. Our canvas over the boat leaked like it wasn't there. The next morning someone found us and took us to an empty government house. It stormed for three days. The river rose and was swollen. We were in a hurry so we started out when the storm was over. We thought we would travel along the bank. Within 5 miles we hit a rock. Luckily the boat suffered no damage One of the props had minor damage so we escaped with little damage. We decided to go back to following markers but when we were out further in the river the current was so swift were were going to get swamped.  Luckily we found a small inlet on a sand bar that we entered before the boat swamped. 

     The San Sault is a famous set of rapids but we navigated them without problems. Just take your time. We had misjudged our gas supply but got very lucky when we found an oil exploratory camp. 

                      The Lower Ramparts

     After  those problems we had nice sailing for about 400 miles. We had to cross a corner of Great Slave lake for a bout 15 miles. We were in an open area the was exposed to 250 miles of water. We started out right after dawn to try and miss any rough water. The waves did roll in and we could not run into them but had the go slowly and take each wave one at a time. 

                     The end and we're still alive

       So we made it and my mother gave a great sigh of relief as I had promised to phone her when we were finished.

       It was an adventure and trip of a life time. 

      However , when I look back at it I realize how incredibly dangerous it was. A series of small errors could have led to catastrophic ending. 

                     Looking out over Great Slave Lake 

                     There was some great scenery as the Camsel Mountains. Most of it was through flat country.