Day 11, Thursday, August 15, 1996
Last night I slept in a park shelter near a section of a river known as "Big Bend". This portion of the river is larger and more meandering than the upper sections of the Soper. There is less drop in the land, so rapids are fewer and shorter in length (to my disapointment). The mountains are smaller in size, but also there are outcroppings of different rock formations, which provides the background for todays adventure. Today is the day for the "Quest for the Lapis". Lapis is a semi precious stone used in jewelry, because of its attractive blueish white appearance. Lapis and Mica have been mined in very small quantities back in the early 1900's by Scottish settlers in the Soper River valley. Based on Max's memory from a previous trip we set out to to find these mines.
Meeting up with Robert (GNWT) and Peter (Katannalik Park Ranger)
As I stepped out of the shelter I noticed Wade standing on the plateau
river.He looked like a man in deep contemplation of the beauty of the
surroundings, but then I realized today was the day for the interview with
Sheila Rogers of the CBC radio program "Morningside". He was anxiously
for a phone call via a satellite from Toronto. Shortly after the interview
a large male caribou came trotting up the beach on the opposite side of
river. The 4 of us immediately put our arms up into the air (pretend
and started to make our interpretation of what caribou sound like.
Max had told us that is how biologist approach these animals. It has yet
for us, maybe Baffin Island caribou are smarter than other caribou located
other regions of the country?
Lapis Lazuli pit
After we broke camp and started on our way we came to a region similar in
memory to a region Max had visited 3 years previous to look for the mines.
The region appeared to have a much different outcropping which was some
of calcite rock. We decided to stop paddling have lunch and head into the
Max and Dan with found land claim
After about 25 minutes of walking we came across the first sign that we were in the right area; a miners staked claim. Obviously we got excited and decided to split up. After a further 20 minutes of looking, Wade spotted a small pit that was litterly glowing in the sun.
The 4 of us sprinted off like Donavan Bailey and
came across one of the original Mica pits. The pieces of Mica were strewn
around the hole giving it that glowing appearance. As soon as we had got
fill we went on the search for the Lapis. As it turned out the Lapis pit
about 300 m from the Mica pits, but we walked the perimeter of the claim
opposite way and spent another hour until we found the Lapis. I find it
amazing that this far north and that number of years ago people were
trying to mine minerals and make a living so far from the markets of the
and Europe. It must have been a really exciting time for geologists and
people with the desire to explore.
We ended up camping up on a plateau of very soft moss on the foot of Mt. Flemming which we will hike in the morning. Until tommorrow........
Don and Max
Today's installment of the travelogue is provided by Dan Mallett.