Three Seasons in the Wind: 950 Km by Canoe Down Northern Canadas Thelon River

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9781552122297: Three Seasons in the Wind: 950 Km by Canoe Down Northern Canadas Thelon River
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Personal account of a 37-day, 950 km canoe trip down the Thelon River, across the Barren Grounds of Northern Canada.

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About the Author:

Kathleen and Michael first hiked together in the mountains of southern British Columbia in 1977. Since taking up canoeing in 1987, they have devoted most of their free time to gaining paddling experience in southern British Columbia on a wide variety of rivers, including the Capilano, Cheakamus, Chilliwack, Coldwater; Cowichan, Nicola, Seymour, Squamish, Similkameen and Tulameen. Their first wilderness adventure in the Northwest Territories occurred in 1990, when they paddled three weeks and 565 km down the Nahanni River from the Moose Ponds to Blackstone Landing on the Liard River. After their Thelon River trip in 1993, Kathleen and Michael returned to the north in 1995 to spend 4 weeks travelling 650 km down the Coppermine River from the site of historic Fort Enterprise to the Inuit community of Kugluktuk (formerly Coppermine) on the Arctic Coast. For their most recent wilderness adventure in 1997, Kathleen and Michael selected the Seal River in Northern Manitoba, where they spent 3 weeks paddling 300 km from Shethanei Lake to the western shore of Hudson Bay. In her non-paddling life, Kathleen is responsible for Document Strategies in Information Technology Services at the University of British Columbia. Michael is also employed at UBC, as Associate Professor of Grassland Ecology in the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences. Kathleen and Michael are both certified by the Recreational Canoeing Association of British Columbia as flat-water canoeing instructors, and regularly present slide shows on wilderness canoeing to many groups throughout the Vancouver Area.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Preface: As we write this introduction, Kathleen and I speculate what has prompted you, the potential reader, to pick up our book, and leaf through its pages. Are you seeking solace in the aisles of the nation's paddling stores, trying to escape vicariously from the grey, frozen months of winter? Are you planning and dreaming of your own wilderness canoe trip down one of Canada's unlimited, pristine waterways? Are you fascinated by the history, lore and lure of Canada's tundra landscape? Are you wondering what kinds of physical and canoeing skills are required to travel freely and alone, for nearly six weeks, surrounded only by wind, water, and wildlife?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we invite you to pour a cup of tea or glass of brandy, curl up in your favorite chair, and share our experiences on one of Canada's most magnificent wilderness rivers. The Thelon River, part of the Canadian Heritage Rivers System, flows 950 km across Northern Canada's Barren Grounds, between Great Slave Lake and Baker Lake, at the head of Chesterfield Inlet on Hudson Bay. In the summer of 1993, Kathleen and I lived like nomads, while we paddled with whim and purpose down the Thelon River. Our chartered Cessna 185 landed on Lynx Lake, near the river's outlet, on June 28. Ice still choked most of the lake's surface. Red-pink mats of alpine azaleas revealed the buds of a new Arctic spring. From the moment we paddled through the outlet, wind became our constant companion and adversary throughout our journey.

Thirty-seven days later, on a cobble beach below Aleksektok Rapids, we lingered silently over our last breakfast on the river. We harvested blueberries, loaded the canoe, and paddled the final 80 km to Baker Lake beneath rainy, somber, fall-like skies. Three Seasons in the Wind presents our thoughts and feelings during those brief, memorable weeks on the Barren Grounds. We chose to paddle alone, to truly experience the isolation of Canada's uninhabited, seemingly endless, tundra landscape. Our story is based on personal diaries, in which we confided privately, while resting in the evening tent, pitched on riverside beach, terrace boulder field, or esker ridge. We kept our diaries secret from each other until returning to Vancouver. Reading to each other at home, our diaries confirmed that Kathleen and I recorded our daily experiences differently, because of our distinct personal history and perspectives. By merging both diaries, Three Seasons in the Wind presents a complementary account of our summer on the Thelon River.

I present my view from the stern in Roman type, while Kathleen's observations from the bow are displayed in italics. Although our summer canoeing holiday seems rather humble to Michael and me, our families and many of our friends consider the trip adventurous enough to have suggested that we write this book. We appreciate their support and encouragement. We particularly hope that our accounts convince them, and you, that canoeing across the Barren Grounds represents a modern-day, mini-adventure attainable by virtually everyone. Michael and I are neither athletic nor superbly conditioned. At the time of our trip in 1993, we were both in our forties, and well past our collective physical prime. We first began canoeing in 1987, primarily because backpacking was becoming increasingly more difficult.

I remember one particularly arduous backpacking trip into the southern Yukon's Tombstone Range in the summer of 1986. After struggling through 2 km of dense willows and bog birch, we reached the last ridge before our intended evening camp. Through eyes of fatigue, we gazed down a broad valley, bisected by a wide river flowing easily toward the northern Yukon horizon. Suddenly the light of logic and reason shone upon us! Certainly, floating through the wilderness would be infinitely easier than labouring uphill beneath heavy loads that granted only 7-10 days escape from urban noise and concrete. Michael and I regularly give slide shows on wilderness canoeing to clubs and groups throughout Vancouver. At a presentation last spring, we were particularly gratified when an audience member confided that one of our previous slide shows had motivated her to canoe the Bowron Lakes.

She once again sat in our audience, hoping that her friends would be similarly inspired to join her in paddling the Nahanni River. Kathleen and I entertain similar ambitions for this book. We invite you to paddle the Thelon River with us, and to share our evening campsites. Only occasionally do we interject our opinions and philosophy of wilderness canoeing, which we hope are relevant to your personal canoeing aspirations. Most of all, though, we hope to inspire readers to cast your visions northward, to seek your own pleasures and rewards in Canada's vast Arctic landscapes.

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