Two Weeks Wilderness Camping in the NWT Mountains Pt2 – Hot Springs & Running Rapids

Still deep in the wilderness, we continue down the Mountain River, paddling whitewater and wild camping each night. We’re surrounded by the spectacular Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories and the scenery is simply amazing. We find hot springs and I share some tips on how to use an axe to split small pieces of wood. The current is very swift and we make great time while in the river. We continued on for several days and hit a heat wave. It was much hotter than what’s normal for the area, and unlike most years, the bugs were not bad once we came down in elevation. We even buried our dog Buck in cool sand which he loved! It was adorable. Soon, we saw the Mackenzie river and our trip down the Mountain came to an end. We paddled up the Mackenzie River to where we’d meet the float plane the following day and we all went swimming in the cool water. We also did laundry which we hung to dry in the wind. That evening, we cooked fry bread and I made a paddle out of a log by batoning it into a 2X6, and then used a special technique to shape the paddle. I took it for a spin in the canoe and it worked quite nicely. I think the skill to make a paddle is a good one to have on a canoe trip because paddles are the most likely thing to become lost in an upset. We had some reflections on the experience before we rendezvoused with the float plane for a short flight back to Norman Wells. This trip was a reward Ted and I promised we’d give ourselves while we were surviving on ‘Alone’ – if we win, we’re doing the Mountain we told ourselves. We’d all wanted to paddle the far-flung river for years and it was amazing that we finally realized that dream. It was made all the more memorable that Ted and Heather got engaged in the trip too. The Mountain definitely requires whitewater skill to paddle, particularly if starting from Blackfeather Creek like we did. But in all, it is not an overly physically demanding or challenging river and we only had one portage in about 300 kilometres of travel. We did the trip in two weeks and in hindsight, we could have spent more time higher up river where the mountains are more impressive. The river’s current is so fast that it is very easy to make good time. We saw no people out there and in all, it is likely the most spectacular river I’ve ever paddled scenery-wise and I’ve also been lucky enough to paddle the Nahanni.

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