Day 8, Monday, August 12, 1996
Today's installment of the travelogue is by Don Haines.
The day began with a gourmet meal of last night's leftovers and oatmeal. The tents came down and the gear started disappearing into the packs.
All the while caribou meandered past. With their smooth flowing gait they almost seem to float over the land. It is incredible how easy they climb up and down the hills. We were hoping to see a caribou on this trip. The first one was exciting, the second was too. After probably 50 or so caribou, its pretty much a relaxed reaction.
Action on the Soper River
After a few phone calls the gear went into the canoes and it was on the Soper River at last ... or was it! At this end of the Soper River the water level is low. We lined down the river for the first kilometer and somehow we ended up walking down the middle of the river with the canoes in the frigid waters. When the river narrowed and got deeper we began paddling. After a couple class 1 rapids, we came to a class 2 with a nice drop. The decision was made to portage. All the gear and one canoe was portaged across. Dan and max decided to run it. Halfway through the rapid, they hit the drop and stuck. At this point Dan decided to wash his clothes! Max stayed with the canoe and managed to keep the canoe in the water. With superhuman strength, Max lifted the canoe up over a nearby rock to drain the water and then ran the rest of the rapid. Then he carried the canoe to the top of the rapid and ran it solo, successfully!
We loaded up the canoes and continued down river. Where the Joy River met the Soper, there was a nice whirlpool and a fantastic view.
The afternoon was an endless string of easy class 1 and class 2 rapids with panoramic views.
At the end of one rapid we pulled the canoes onto the shore and climbed a large hill. At the top we could see a distant waterfall. After an hour or so of climbing and following what appeared to be caribou trails, we arrived at the base of Cascade Falls, a vertical sheet of water plummeting 100 feet into a pool and then an endless series of small drops until it joins the Soper River.
A waterfall out in the remote wilderness has a special feel to it. It makes you feel elated, kind of energized. If it is easily accessible, the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction is not the same.
Continuing on down the river we spotted one of the park emergency shelters and set up camp nearby. It was a safe choice as the cirrus clouds over head gave us an indication of rain.
The shelters are set up for emergency use. Hikers on the Itijjagiaq Trail in the Katannilik Park and and canoeists along the Soper River can stay in the shelter but they should pay a small fee to the park at the end of the trip.
After a nice meal (in the dark) of tortillas, mexican-style rice, refried beans, black beans, salsa, Monterrey Jack cheese, coffee, and coffee crisp prepared by Dan and Max, we declared Mexican night a success and then off to bed.
Then we were awaken to the call of northern lights! The northern lights
were on display sweeping across the chilly southern sky. The perfect end
to a long day!