Day 18 -
Debra is woken in the morning by a low rumbling sound coming from somewhere outside the tent - we can rule out one of the kids snoring. We're pretty sure we know what the sound is and peeking out the tent confirms it - there's a herd of about 30 musk ox grazing across the river. We scramble out of tents and grab our camera gear, then walk down the shore of our island until the herd is right across from us. After an hour or so watching and filming the herd, I notice some movement on the riverbank a little upstream from our island campsite. There's a large herd of caribou just starting to cross the river. We leave the musk ox and scamper to the edge of the beach by our tents. Eventually, the herd spans the entire river a dozen or more deep and still spills over the banks of both shores. The herd comes to the river at a run and disappears over the far bank at the same pace they began at. The herd continues to stream across the rivers for at least 15 min. There must be several thousand animals, a very impressive sight.
After the main herd has past, we begin to head back to the musk ox, but notice that some smaller herds of caribou are still coming down the same path. These animals choose not to cross the river and turn downstream instead. While we watch, several of the herds trot downstream right past the grazing musk ox. The sound of the herd is like thunder, but the musk ox seem not to pay any attention. Once the herds have past, we wrap up the photography and go back to our campsite to pack up. Our intention is to have breakfast, then paddle across to film the musk ox.
As we get in the loaded canoes, we see some more canoes on the distant horizon. We land near the musk ox and set up the cameras. After we've been there a while, the canoes from upstream approach and land near our canoes. Three canoes with six paddlers hail from the Minnesota area. They take some photos of their own, but the gathering crowd of humans causes the musk ox to move a little away. The Minnesotans get back in their canoes and paddle across to the downstream beach of the island we camped on to get their lunch. We stay with the musk ox who eventually accept our presence again letting us get some nice close ups.
we paddle downstream, we stop to check out some
sites that were probably used by aboriginal
travelers. There's signs of chipping stations, but
not as many as we'd expected. Another herd of about
40 musk ox appears on the top of the riverbank. We
hike up and see a lot of very young calves, but the
herd is very spread out. Walking on the top is
becoming a chore, the temperature has climbed to
the high 20s and its uncomfortable.
As we paddle downstream, we stop to check out some sites that were probably used by aboriginal travelers. There's signs of chipping stations, but not as many as we'd expected. Another herd of about 40 musk ox appears on the top of the riverbank. We hike up and see a lot of very young calves, but the herd is very spread out. Walking on the top is becoming a chore, the temperature has climbed to the high 20s and its uncomfortable.
The river is wide and even though the banks are quite sandy, they still rise as cliffs. We stop a few times near the prominent bend in the river upstream from the Nunavit border. The kids do some fishing and we gather a nice catch of grayling. We search for a nice campsite, but find none to our liking. After rounding the bend, we decide it would be best to fry our fish for supper which will make our campsite selection easier. We pull up on river left and haul out the stove and fry pan. Since we have a lot of oil with us and we're not near a campsite, Deb decides to freshen up the oil and dumps what's in the pan on some nearby rocks after the first batch of fish has been cooked. As we eat the grayling and cook the next batch, a red fox comes ambling down the shore towards us. The fox shows absolutely no fear and comes right up to us. We watch in amazement as he heads right for the fry pan with every sign of intending to scoop our supper. Deb shoos him away, but he still circles nearby. Giving up on the idea of stealing our fish supper, he moves to the rocks and laps up the stale oil. Satisfied that he's got all he can get from us, the fox continues on his path downstream.
After supper, we continue downstream in search of a campsite. The spot we might have chosen is occupied by the six paddlers from Minnesota. Its getting late enough that we decide not to press on and stop before we reach them. Our site isn't the greatest, but it'll do. There's some very nice light at sundown as we snuggle into the tents for the night.
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