Thelon: A River Sanctuary
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Hundreds of rivers and hundreds of thousands of lakes are still unnamed. Almost dead center in the Barrenlands lies the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary and its oasis, which makes this location the most remote place on the North American continent, and as remote as any location on the high arctic islands of Canada.
The nearest communities to our canoe route are also hundreds of miles away in every direction. There are also many archaeological sites on the Clarke and Thelon rivers where ancient hunters waited for the Beverly caribou herd to cross these rivers on their summer migration. It is illegal to remove any of this material so we will take only photos and leave them as they lay. We'll also visit late in our trip John Hornby's cabin, and graves. Hornby, his year-old nephew, and another young man died of starvation here in the winter of The three graves, marked by crosses, are beside the cabin.
You will have a lead guide and an assistant guide on this trip. Guides are trained in wilderness first aid, sea kayaking skills and have extensive experience paddling in the Northwest Territories. Our friendly guides are there to keep you safe, and have a fun and exciting trip! All guides are local and live in the Northwest Territories. The Clarke is a swift-flowing and evenly-graded river that is braided and shallow in many places.
There are also three or four more difficult rapids that we'll line or wade our canoes short distances. So whitewater experience is certainly as an asset but not a prerequisite.
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However, participants should be good flat-water canoeists, particularly when in the stern. Fort Smith is accessible by air from Edmonton, Alberta. The sun will be in the sky for some 20 hours a day during our trip. Water temperatures will be ice-cold at the beginning of our trip, and warm up as we proceed down-river. We'll start this canoe trip on the Clarke River, where we will land in our float plane on Day 1.
We will not likely travel far, if at all, on the first day of this trip. We'll set up camp and begin to take in our beautiful wilderness surroundings. During this evening and others on this trip, participants will have plenty of time to pursue their interests whether they be photography, fishing, hiking, birding, swimming or just taking a nap. As we descend the Clarke River, we notice it's more like a mountain river than a barrenlands river.
There are many Class I-II rapids that are fun to run. The Clarke River flows through rugged, scenic country that just begs you to go exploring. The hi The hiking is wonderful with panoramic vistas everywhere you look. For the most part, the Clarke winds through a narrow, steep-sided valley with scattered clumps of spruce. Beyond the lip of the Clarke valley the tundra rolls on, seemingly forever. Approaching the Clarke's junction with the Thelon, stands of spruce trees become larger and more frequent.
This sanctuary is the most remote location on the North American continent
The Thelon is a big, shallow, clear-water river with a strong current but very few rapids. It's the largest river on the tundra, by far the easiest to canoe, and easily the most magnificent. The country along the Thelon differs markedly from the Clar The country along the Thelon differs markedly from the Clarke. It's a much larger river in a much broader valley. The scale of the country is huge! You feel very small and insignificant in this big landscape that keeps changing every day.
The Thelon Oasis is legendary as a wildlife paradise, long known to Chipewyan Dene as "God's country" as "the birthplace of animals" and when the world as created as "the place where God began". For Alex Hall, he considers it Eden. Our float plane arrives around noon to take us back to Fort Smith. We say goodbye to this highly unique place of rich wildlife. Back in Fort Smith, we meet up for a farewell dinner and cold beers after hot showers! While on the canoe trip accommodations are in tent camps along the lake.
Hotel accommodations in Fort Smith are an additional cost. What will the food be like? Really good. Our flexible menu can accommod Our flexible menu can accommodate vegetarian and gluten-free preferences, and will be tailored in advance for participants on each trip. Guests are always welcome to join guides in cooking and learn to cook our authentic, backcountry recipes. An ISSN consists of eight digits in two groups of four, separated by a hyphen.
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The classification numbers applied to books and other materials are used to arrange items on shelves and to support browsing, filtering and retrieval of bibliographic information in online systems. The Classify prototype is designed to help users apply classification numbers. Classify provides a user interface and a machine service for assigning classification numbers and subject headings. We have canoed long trips together several times and have hiked throughout the North East as well as Baffin Island. Roman's second oldest daughter, Sarah aged 21, joined us and was a great addition to the team.
My oldest brother, Wolodymyr Lewyckyj joined me for the first time. I think that he enjoyed himself thoroughly and that the Barren Grounds have worked their way into his blood and psyche. Wolodymyr fitted perfectly with the team and with the north. The middle to far north is a very harsh mistress. Our canoe trek took us well north of the tree line, through the heart of the Thelon Game Sanctuary and we finished off about This is true tundra and permafrost, and the wildlife, both fauna and flora, is very different.
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Some people call this a waste land but I tend to disagree. Life is more precarious and precious here, and the density is much lower than points south except for insects! This page chronicles our journey, primarily through pictures and some video with some captions thrown in. Wolodymyr and I cooled our heels in the Maple Leaf Lounge.
He had travelled from Toronto and we met up in Calgary. An amazing red sunset from our balcony in Yellowknife due to forest fires in the area. Walking around Yellowknife on a Saturday morning. We still had some supplies to pick up and make sure we were all set with Air Tindi, the charter airline we were using, plus I had to get my hair cut really short, the way I like it, when I go into The Barrens.
Long hair can be problematic when you can't wash often and the bugs are really bad. I love the freedom of a brush cut! The architecture is already different in Yellowknife. Everything new is built with the long and cold winter in mind. Wolodymyr in our room on that Saturday afternoon. We were waiting for Roman and his daughter Sarah to fly in from Ottawa that night. Floating houses in the harbour by the island on the distance. Yellowknife is a really cool town, at least to visit. This was my first time in that model of plane and the first time I had ever used Air Tindi.
They were great and I highly recommend them. They were highly professional and very polite.
Thelon River Trek Through the Thelon Game Sanctuary
The Cessna Baby Caravan is a great plane. It has almost as much range and carrying capacity as the Twin Otter. Plus it has this amazing wrap around windshield that gives the front seats phenomenal visibility. The floats were loaded with all of our small stuff in order to save space in the cabin. Our pilot for the flight, Caleb, was making sure that everything was just right. We thought that we had a fair bit of gear, but we were told we had a lot of weight left to spare. We were able to find exactly where we wanted to drop down on the Clarke River, but we were having our doubts about water levels.
The Clarke does not have a lot of flow in the best of times, and summer had been very dry. We were trying to develop alternate plans which included simply landing at Warden's Grove on the Thelon.
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Caleb proved to be a very interesting, pleasant, and capable bush pilot who loved his craft. It was fun to fly with him. A local forest fire burning. Most are started by lightning strikes and will often burn all summer. I had the opportunity to sit up front. After discussing it at length with the pilot, Caleb, we decided to not even give the Clarke River a fly over.
But Caleb had a great suggestion. Why not put in on the Hanbury, maybe 8 kilometres up from the Thelon? This shot is of the final approach after three go-arounds to see how deep the water was and if there were any roacks that would pose a problem. We landed on the patch of water straight ahead and pulled up to shore in the right hand turn with the sand beyond. It was a perfect landing! It was bot ha good spot to land and an easy spot to unload the plane, all without getting our feet wet!
Making sure that the canoes are secured tightly is the most important part of the loading. The take off that left us alone for probably over kilometres. When the plane flies away and you are left with the silence and the solitude of The Barrens, it is a thing of pure beauty for me.
It scares some people when they realize how alone they are, but for me, it jump starts my survival mode and makes me feel extremely alive. Our first camp site on the Hanbury River. It was a nice spot, where we landed, the weather was fine.
Diary of a northern explorer
We decided to stay put and explore the area. Not only is there tons of sand along the rivers in the Barren Grounds, some of it takes strange shape and form, molded by the permafrost underneath. This almost looked like a burial mound. Roman preparing a good bed of coals.
We bought 4 huge steaks in Yellowknife that we roasted over the coals. I am amazed that none of us got a picture of them on the grill! A sandstone cliff and outcropping on the Hanbury River.
Note the hundreds of old swallow nests and some new ones. They have most probably been nesting here for thousands of years. We still looked very fresh that first day of paddling, on our way down to meet the Thelon River. Slightly left of center in the photograph, you can make out the old warden's cabin in Warden's Grove, on the left side of the Thelon a couple of kilometers below the Hanbury.
Its strange. I have been in this spot twice before and never saw the cabin from the river. This time around, it literally jumped out at me. Perhaps I had studied the maps closer this time and knew more precisely where to look. Anyway, it was kind of weird but nice to be able to spot it and visit it. I had expected the cabin to be just rubble, but it is still mainly standing, with part of its roof collapsed. Old saws and shovels were left behind.
It looks like the Warden's Grove stand of trees yield large enough logs for such construction. Walking back to the river we found lots of very fresh birch Boletes mushrooms that Wolodymyr is seen carrying in his right hand. Very edible and tasty. We fried them to accompany several of our meals.
Our second night out on the Barrens was on this very fine beach. We had a wicked tail wind from the south all day. That gives you good speed but it is hard to control the canoe. The lake trout was not very big but just perfect for us. We fried it with fresh ginger. Interesting weather was all around us, nice but somewhat unsettled.
I scampered up looking for a possible camp site. Nothing is set here. Every camp site is something you spot, you find, you figure out. At some places you can tell that others had the same idea. But sometimes it is not obvious and not easy to find a decent spot and you have to settle. Fortunately, in August, you have many more options as the water levels are so much lower.