Day 13 -
We've declared today "upside down day" That means we'll eat supper first and have our breakfast at the end of the day. That gives us a more substantial meal to begin the day and lets us have a quicker, lighter meal at the end of the day just before we go to bed. We've found that works quite well for us and there are usually a lot of "upside down" days on our trips.
After packing up, we meet the two paddlers from last night a little farther down stream. They are geologists from Yellowknife who are here to determine when the river was last subjected to glaciation.
Along the way, we see two lone musk ox bulls and numerous peregrines nesting along the cliffs. At the end of the canyon section, we paddle tight to the cliffs on river left. The final stretch along this section ends in some interesting structures carved out of the sandstone by the relentless currents. Odd pillars of rock compete for our attention with caves notched into the cliffs. To our surprise, we scare a wolf that crawled into one of the caves - no doubt seeking relief from heat and insects. The wolf scurries along the shore and scrambles up a notch in the cliff.
The river widens considerably after the canyon and becomes braided with channels and islands of gravel. We stop at one of the gravel islands where we camped last trip. The island was home to a colony of nesting arctic terns then and they occupy the island still. The terns take exception to our presence and start dive bombing in an effort to discourage us. We walk carefully on the shore as we're not sure if the chicks have hatched yet and tern eggs would be difficult to see among the rocks. Eventually, we spot some chicks and feel confident that we won't cause the birds any harm.
Once underway again, we see two more wolves running along the shore. That makes six we've seen so far. The water levels are higher here than our last trip and I take a channel on the right where I went left last time. This will take me away from a possible landing near "musk ox hill" which is the southern most pingo. We don't have a great interest in seeing this again, so I don't mind trying the other channel. We see some wildlife along this route, but I don't think I'd go this way again. The left channel is more appealing.
The low swampy terrain makes it hard to find good campsites. We eventually settle and an adequate gravel bar site near the end of the braided channels. There's been a light rain, barely enough to justify wearing rain gear. As we set up camp and cook supper, we're treated to yet another spectacular rainbow. It begins as a vivid, near vertical shaft of colour, but eventually it grows to a brilliant, complete double rainbow. I ask the kids if they notice any difference between the inner and outer rainbows. Brendan immediately observes that the colours of the outer rainbow are reversed compared to the inner one. Kyle has a harder time noticing that as he has some problems with colour vision.
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