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Fall Reading Recommendations

 

Sources of the River, Tracking David Thompson Across Western
North America

By Jack Nisbet

Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 1994

 

Epic Wanderer.  David Thompson and the Mapping of the
Canadian West

By D’arcy Jenish

Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House, 2003

 

Club members with an interest in history will love these two
tales of adventure about one of the most determined explorers.  From 1784
to 1812, he explored and mapped a vast portion of Western North America, by
foot, by snowshoe and canoe.  David Thompson was an English—Canadian fur
trader, surveyor, and map-maker, known to some native peoples as
"Koo-Koo-Sint" or "the Stargazer".  Over his career he
mapped over 1.2 million miles of uncharted North America and for this has been
described as the greatest land geographer who ever lived.  He created a
map, ten feet by 7, with astonishing accuracy.  His map played a pivotal
role in deciding the future of Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the
US. David Thompson was the first European to paddle and map the entire Columbia
River. In 1811, he claimed the  upper river for Great Britain.  He worked
for the Hudson Bay Company and later defected to the North West Company. 
After the NW company heard of Lewis and Clark’s plans to head West (1804—06),
Thompson organized an expedition to follow the Columbia River to the
Pacific.  He cross the Rocky Mountains in 1807 and spend several seasons
surveying the Columbia River basin.  He mapped and established trading
posts in what is now Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta
for the North West Company, extending their fur trading reach in these
areas.  His maps of the Columbia River basin east of the Cascades have
such quality and detail that they are considered accurate today.  His
drawings of the upper Missouri river were incorporated into a map for the Lewis
and Clark expedition that followed seven years later.  Thompson worked in
obscurity and died penniless in 1857.  “His estate left behind a few
personal possessions, more than eighty journals, a few unpublished maps and a
handwritten manuscript of some seven hundred pages,” (Epic Wanderer, p. 283).
 Thompson’s amazing accomplishments were brought to light by Joseph Burr
Tyrell, another accomplished Canadian explorer, who published Thompson’s
manuscript in 1916.

 

If I were to read only one book about David Thompson, Epic
Wanderer would be the one.   Drawing from Thompson’s personal
journals, illustrated with his detailed sketches and the map he is most famous
for, this book charts the life of the man who risked everything in the name of
scientific advancement and exploration.   But Sources of the River is
also a compelling story.  About 200 years after Thompson first mapped the
area, author Jack Nisbet follows Thompson across the continent, observing and
reflecting his observations with excerpts from Thompson’s journals.  Thompson
was an extraordinary traveler who made incredible contributions to the
knowledge of the West.

 

 

 

David
Thompson navigated the entire length of Columbia River in 1811. Map of Columbia
and its tributaries showing modern political boundaries

 

 

Pike’s Portage, Stories of a Distinguished Place

Edited by Morten Asfeldt and Bob Henderson

Natural Heritage Books, Toronto, 2010

 

On the Northeastern corner of Great Slave, an ancient
pathway leads to the so called barrenlands, following an age old route used by
Native people for centuries  to the herds of caribou that sustained
them.  It is the most practical route, geographically, to rise from the
Great Slave Lake which flows West and down the Mackenzie River, up and over the
height of land to Artillery Lake, which flows East and North across the
tundra.  This book is the story of those travelers who portaged their way
North in search of adventure, from George Back, John Anderson, Warburton Pike
and Ernest Thompson Seton, Buffalo Jomes, surveyors Guy Blanchet and the
Tyrrell brothers.  John Hornby came up Pike’s Portage on the way to the
end of his adventures on the Thelon River.  More recently, wolf trappers
and modern homesteaders have made their living in the area of Pike’s Portage.
Before bush planes opened up the region, Pike’s Portage was the principle way
to head inside and explore the Far North. This book collects the stories of
those early explorers, the Europeans and also what little is known of the First
Nations people who have inhabited this region and played an integral role in
making exploration possible.  It is a good book,  although I found it
tedious in a few places, suffering from so many different authors
perspectives.  On the other hand, the authors did a nice job recounting
stories many will find familiar (Back, Seton, Pike, Tyrell) and also some new
material that even those who have paddled Great Slave and the rivers of the
central arctic will find refreshing and new.

 

 

Posted in Books | Leave a comment

Fall Reading Recommendations

 

Sources of the River, Tracking David Thompson Across Western
North America

By Jack Nisbet

Sasquatch Books, Seattle, 1994

 

Epic Wanderer.  David Thompson and the Mapping of the
Canadian West

By D’arcy Jenish

Doubleday Canada, a division of Random House, 2003

 

Club members with an interest in history will love these two
tales of adventure about one of the most determined explorers.  From 1784
to 1812, he explored and mapped a vast portion of Western North America, by
foot, by snowshoe and canoe.  David Thompson was an English—Canadian fur
trader, surveyor, and map-maker, known to some native peoples as
"Koo-Koo-Sint" or "the Stargazer".  Over his career he
mapped over 1.2 million miles of uncharted North America and for this has been
described as the greatest land geographer who ever lived.  He created a
map, ten feet by 7, with astonishing accuracy.  His map played a pivotal
role in deciding the future of Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the
US. David Thompson was the first European to paddle and map the entire Columbia
River. In 1811, he claimed the  upper river for Great Britain.  He worked
for the Hudson Bay Company and later defected to the North West Company. 
After the NW company heard of Lewis and Clark’s plans to head West (1804—06),
Thompson organized an expedition to follow the Columbia River to the
Pacific.  He cross the Rocky Mountains in 1807 and spend several seasons
surveying the Columbia River basin.  He mapped and established trading
posts in what is now Montana, Idaho, Washington, British Columbia and Alberta
for the North West Company, extending their fur trading reach in these
areas.  His maps of the Columbia River basin east of the Cascades have
such quality and detail that they are considered accurate today.  His
drawings of the upper Missouri river were incorporated into a map for the Lewis
and Clark expedition that followed seven years later.  Thompson worked in
obscurity and died penniless in 1857.  “His estate left behind a few
personal possessions, more than eighty journals, a few unpublished maps and a
handwritten manuscript of some seven hundred pages,” (Epic Wanderer, p. 283).
 Thompson’s amazing accomplishments were brought to light by Joseph Burr
Tyrell, another accomplished Canadian explorer, who published Thompson’s
manuscript in 1916.

 

If I were to read only one book about David Thompson, Epic
Wanderer would be the one.   Drawing from Thompson’s personal
journals, illustrated with his detailed sketches and the map he is most famous
for, this book charts the life of the man who risked everything in the name of
scientific advancement and exploration.   But Sources of the River is
also a compelling story.  About 200 years after Thompson first mapped the
area, author Jack Nisbet follows Thompson across the continent, observing and
reflecting his observations with excerpts from Thompson’s journals.  Thompson
was an extraordinary traveler who made incredible contributions to the
knowledge of the West.

 

 

 

David
Thompson navigated the entire length of Columbia River in 1811. Map of Columbia
and its tributaries showing modern political boundaries

 

 

Pike’s Portage, Stories of a Distinguished Place

Edited by Morten Asfeldt and Bob Henderson

Natural Heritage Books, Toronto, 2010

 

On the Northeastern corner of Great Slave, an ancient
pathway leads to the so called barrenlands, following an age old route used by
Native people for centuries  to the herds of caribou that sustained
them.  It is the most practical route, geographically, to rise from the
Great Slave Lake which flows West and down the Mackenzie River, up and over the
height of land to Artillery Lake, which flows East and North across the
tundra.  This book is the story of those travelers who portaged their way
North in search of adventure, from George Back, John Anderson, Warburton Pike
and Ernest Thompson Seton, Buffalo Jomes, surveyors Guy Blanchet and the
Tyrrell brothers.  John Hornby came up Pike’s Portage on the way to the
end of his adventures on the Thelon River.  More recently, wolf trappers
and modern homesteaders have made their living in the area of Pike’s Portage.
Before bush planes opened up the region, Pike’s Portage was the principle way
to head inside and explore the Far North. This book collects the stories of
those early explorers, the Europeans and also what little is known of the First
Nations people who have inhabited this region and played an integral role in
making exploration possible.  It is a good book,  although I found it
tedious in a few places, suffering from so many different authors
perspectives.  On the other hand, the authors did a nice job recounting
stories many will find familiar (Back, Seton, Pike, Tyrell) and also some new
material that even those who have paddled Great Slave and the rivers of the
central arctic will find refreshing and new.

 

 

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Brian’s Hood River 2010 selected photos

 

Quote


I’d like to share my Snapfish photos with you. Once you have checked out my photos you can order prints and upload your own photos to share.
Click here to view photos

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Ready to go!

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Summer 2010

Plans for the big long trip this summer didn’t come together in time.  We did work out a route, but for a variety of reasons we are pushing our plans for a longer expedition to 2011.   For that trip, we are looking at starting on the upper Thelon, just East of Great Slave Lake, and working our way east, then across some lakes and tundra to the Dubawnt, then east to the Kazan, and then following the Kazan to Baker Lake.  I had been looking for an easy route to Hudson Bay, but it didn’t materialize yet.  As a back up plan, we may re-consider paddling the entire Back River again, but some of my paddling partners are intrigued by the multi-watershed route.
More on this in the Fall after we consider our plans a bit more carefully.  I would like to have a crew of 6 for that trip, and may end up with some folks that can only go for 3 weeks and some that can do the full trip.   We may also need some sort of re-supply since there are some portages and I don’t like to carry more than 25 days of food at a time.
 
For this summer, 2010, 4 of us are planning to paddle the Hood River from Lake 414 to Arctic Sound.  For the first time since I started paddling in the North (1991), I am doing a repeat river.  I paddled the Hood River in 2008.  It is spectacular.  I was game to do something else, like the Horton or the Hayes, but all my canoes and gear was left in Yellowknife last summer after the Mara–Burnside.  So we narrowed it down to the Hood or the Coppermine, and I just like the Hood better.  It has great scenery and great fishing at the numerous waterfalls. 
 
It will be a first time on the Hood for Jim, Brian and Gerry, but they are all excited about it…..as I am.
 
We are also going in later this year, July 18 for a 20 day trip.  The last few years we have encountered lots of ice the first week of July.  And not bugs.  But lots of wildflowers.  Let’s hope this year has no ice, no bugs, and great wildlife!
 
Lee
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Seeking ideas: Trans-Arctic Canadian Canoe Expedition 2010

Ok, so the title sounds ambitous.  The truth is, we havent finalized our route yet.  We are taking suggestions.  It appears that we may start in Yellowknife and paddle to Gjoa Haven.  We may paddle Great Slave Lake, up and over the height of land by Artillary and down the Hanbury to the Thelon, or perhaps another route to the Upper Thelon.  Then work our way to the Back River and down North to the Arctic ocean at Chantry Inlet, then 70 miles up the coast and across the straights to Gjoa Haven. 
 
We have about 8 weeks for the trip, and plan to do this starting in July just after ice out. Three canoes, 6 people, all our food and gear.  So far there are three of us.  We paddled the Mara–Burnside this summer.  I am thinking that we will find another person with the time and  gumption to paddle the whole route, and probably find a 4-6 others who are up for paddling one portion or the other of the trip.  This would enable people with only 3 weeks of vacation to join us for a portion of the trip and to share in the charter costs.  We don’t really want to carry more than ~25 days worth of food at a time. 
 
Most of our gear is in Yellowknife. We have all the tents, tarps, stoves, pots and pans, first aid, repair gear, lining ropes, etc. We will probably buy new canoes and covers this winter.  The canoes we have in Yellowknife are mighty heavy and it appears we will be doing a fair amount of overland work, which means portaging. That would be more comfortable with lighter boats. 
 
We have already paddled dozens of tundra rivers and we love the wide open spaces, the challenges of fast water and big lakes, the solitude of tundra ponds and the magic of clouds dancing across the arctic sky.  We are fired up by catching fish, running rapids, hiking up the ridge, taking photos of flowers and exploring the vastness of Canada’s North.  We are moved by caribou, wolves, muskox and all the creatures of the North.  And we can get by with a bit of goretex, polartech, and a bit of rum in the evening to take the edge off the day.
 
We have paddled the Thelon and The Back, but these are the primary arteries and worth doing again in full or in part.  
So, we are planning to start in Yellowknife, end at the Arctic coast, and we want to have lots of fun.  Ideas welcome!
 
 
Lee (and Jim and Brian)
 
 
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Mara–Burnside

 

For this summer’s adventure, we are paddling the Mara and Burnside Rivers in Nunavut Territory from the headwaters at Nose Lake to Bathurst Inlet on the Arctic Ocean. This trip completes a series of trips I began in 2000 on the Coppermine and last summer on the Hood River. Sir John Franklin explored the area in 1821 and 1822 on his tragic first Royal Navy expedition down the Coppermine and back up the Hood River and over land and across the Burnside River.  We are bringing plenty of food and gear for the 20 day trip.  We should see caribou, wolves, muskox as well as hawks, falcons and eagles. Getting there is half the fun. I fly Air Canada from Portland to Calgary and then to Yellowknife to connect with my fellow paddlers and complete our food and equipment packing. From Yellowknife, we are chartering a Cessna Caravan on floats and flying North about 300 miles to the headwaters.  This is a late year for ice-out.  Weather forecast for July 3 is 37 degrees with sleet.  We hope to find an ice-free landing spot at the headwaters.

 

July 3               Fly to Yellowknife, Diamond Capital of America              http://www.yellowknife.ca/Visitors/About_Yellowknife.html

July 5               Charter to Nose Lake                                                    http://www.airtindi.com./airtindimain.html

July 6-23          Paddle to Bathurst Inlet                                                 http://www.bathurstinletlodge.com

July 24             Charter back to Yellowknife from Arctic Sound

July 26             Return to Portland

 

More links:

Weather at Bathurst Inlet, (pop. ~18)                             http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/5day_f.shtml?world=7414

Visit a past trip blog:                                                     http://spaces.msn.com/members/arcticdreamchaser/

Spot Tracker Link: (my location during trip)                   http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0a2UZu6kJrW8KupqlbahN8dtI9gqFlZSI

 

 

August is laughing across the sky

Laughing while paddle, canoe and I,

Drift, drift,

Where the hills uplift

On either side of the current swift.

 

Be strong, O paddle!

Be brave, canoe!

The reckless waves

you must plunge into.

Reel, reel.

On your trembling keel,

But never a fear my craft will feel.

Song: My Paddle Sings, E. Pauline Johnson

 

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Hood River, Nunavut Territory ….slide show June 13

At the next LCCC potluck dinner meeting, June 13, ’09, Lee Sessions will share a digital slide show of his trip last summer on the Hood River, Nunavut Territory, Canada.

 

The Hood River is one of the Canadian Arctic’s premiere scenic rivers with plenty of challenging whitewater paddling and excellent wildlife viewing. We arrived in early July, and worked our way around ice covered lakes for the first few days.   Fishing was fantastic, and wonderful wildflowers dotted the tundra with abundant color. The main draw is Wilberforce Falls, the tallest falls in the circumpolar Arctic.  These drop twice the height of Niagara Falls, where the river churns through a deep gorge before placidly flowing to Arctic Sound on the Northern coast of Bathurst Inlet. In addition, there are a number of other big drops, each spectacular in its own right and ample whitewater. It is no wonder this was legendary paddler and filmmaker Bill Mason’s favorite river.  Due to its remoteness, it is difficult and expensive to get in and out by charter aircraft.  It has become increasingly popular with outfitters accommodating the demand. We were on the river with three different groups last summer, but still enjoyed the remoteness of a wilderness untrammeled by the masses. The river also has some interesting history being the site of one of Sir John Franklin’s many disastrous expeditions to find the Northwest Passage. The river is named after one of Franklin’s men, Lt. Robert Hood who was murdered there in 1821.

 

Lee is preparing for a trip this July on the Mara River, flowing into the Burnside River just South of the Hood River.

 

HOOD RIVER, NUNAVUT

July 5-26, 2008

 

The Hood River is one of the Canadian .Arctic’s premiere scenic rivers with plenty of challenging whitewater paddling and good wildlife viewing.  The main draw is Wilberforce Falls which are the tallest falls in the Arctic, dropping twice the height of Niagara Falls. Due to its remoteness, it is difficult and expensive to get into by plane.  It has become increasingly popular with outfitters accommodating the demand. We were on the river with 3 different groups last summer.  The river also has some interesting history being the site of one of Sir John Franklin’s many disastrous expeditions to find the Northwest Passage.  The river is named after one of Franklin’s men, Lt. Robert Hood who was murdered there in 1821.

 

Crew Members: Lee Sessions, Bob O’Hara, Conrad and Alex Schiebel, Credence Wood, Brian Arquila

 

Start: Lake 373 (Cave Lake)  End: Arctic Sound   Distance: 155 miles (217 km)

Note: Usual start point is Lake Tahikafaaluk (414) at the186 mile (300 km) mark but this is determined by lake ice cover and weather.

 

Elevation drop:  1,214 feet (370 meters) to sea level

 

Access:  Flew by Twin Otter (Air Tindi) from Yellowknife, NWT with 2+ hour fly time to touch down after searching for ice free landing spot.  Pick-up was 2 miles (3 km) upstream from river delta on mud flat on river R.  Return flight time 2½ hours.

 

Egress Options: If you do not plan to paddle to the river mouth, there are two options to end at Wilberforce Falls. Option 1 is to be picked up on an esker

 0.6 miles (1km) west of the top of the falls. Option 2 is to head east overland for 6.6 miles (11 km) to Portage Bay and then paddle to Bathurst Inlet Lodge which receives regular plane traffic.

 

Maps:  Dept. Energy, Mines & Resources 1979 (1:50,000)

In sequence downstream: 86 I/9, 76L/12, 76L/11, 76L14 -16, 76K13-15,

76N/2 (Wilberforce Falls), 76N/6 (Baillie Bay)

 

Trip Goals:  slow descent of river to take advantage of excellent hiking, sightseeing, and fishing opportunities.

 

River Characteristics:  Trip begins on large open tundra lakes above tree line. As it above the Arctic Circle, late ice breakup calls for flexibility in start dates and drop off sites.  Once through the lake system, the river begins its drop to the Arctic Ocean. Expect constant stops to survey rapids. We opted to line most class 2+,3 rapids or found sneak routes along the shore for safety reasons added to the fact that heavily laden boats handle poorly in whitewater.  The river winds through wide valleys with numerous shallow, braided areas and boulder gardens dispersed amongst gentle flowing stretches. At several points along the route, bedrock seams straddle the river forming magnificent drops and scenic gorges  which are mandatory portages. As the river nears the ocean, it takes on a different character with high eroded silt banks that could be easily mistaken for a prairie river. Up to this point the water quality has been clear but here the water starts to get silty.  Fill water jugs before Ragged Rock Falls as you will likely have to take advantage of occasional melt water streams spilling off the tundra after this point.  There is no shortage of hiking and exploring options along the way as the topography is generally hilly and transected by numerous eskers providing great vantage points.

 

Main Swift Water Features: Kapolak Rapid) – 2 sections (Class 2),

Skull Rapid – Class 5 (portage R),    Black Rock Rapid (Class 3),

Mason Rapid –Class 5 (portage L),     Kingaumiut Chutes – Class 3 (portage as poorly suited to rescue),   Kingaumiut Falls(25m) Portage R – O.6 miles (1 km),    

Richardson Rapid – Class 2,    Boulder Rapid – Class 3,                             Caribou Rapid – Class 3-5 (portage L), Wilberforce Falls – 184 feet(56 meter) drop over two separate vertical drops (portage L- 5 miles (8km)), Ragged Rock Falls 30 feet (9 meter) high ledge – Portage R, Hepburn Rapid – Class 2-3 (Standing wave on ledge).  Note: Many of these names are unofficial

 

Wildlife encountered: Stragglers of the Bathhurst caribou herd, unexpectedly few muskoxen, wolves, grizzly bear, red fox, seal, Richardson ground squirrel(SikSik), False-Palmated plover, ptarmigan, Golden eagles, Peregrine falcons, Bald eagles.

 

Fishing: Large Lake Trout numerous along the entire route, Arctic Grayling caught but not common, Arctic Char and Flounder caught off sand bars in salt water in river delta.

 

Highlights: Icebreaking on the lakes, watching a wolf chase two caribou past camp several times while we were having breakfast, the caribou salute really works, vistas on hikes, watching a Grizzly hunting SikSiks , wolves going about their business, red fox kit antics, finally getting a musk ox herd sighting, magnificent Wilberforce Falls, side canyon swimming hole, camp sites that went off the 10 scale, cold beer on day 7, unbelievable big fish that unspool your reel in seconds, thrilling whitewater moments and living to tell about them.

 

“Mandatory” Disclaimer: this is a difficult river to travel requiring whitewater paddling experience, excellent outdoor skills and good equipment.  Given the rivers remoteness, the group must be able to handle all emergencies efficiently and have communication capabilities to affect a rescue.  Also, river conditions and features are continually changing so instructions for river running and portaging included here and in other travelers notes may be incorrect. There is no substitute for good scouting and cautious risk assessment.

 

 

 

 

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LCCC “Classic Canoe Class”

Great weekend with some enthusiastic new paddlers.  The Lower Columbia Canoe Club organized a 2-day clinic to provide instruction for new tandem canoeists.  Dave Graf pulled it all together, and we had a great selection of instructors, with Murray Johnson, Patty Brooks, Peter and Veda Keefe, and many many assistants who helped with the clinic, including Nina and Laurant, Bill Jordens, Lora Graf, Ellen and Erin and me.
 
I took a few photos Saturday at Lackamas lake where we met on Saturday for the first part of the course.  We practiced basic strokes: forward, draw, cross-bow-draw, push-away, pry, and learned to steer the canoe and do a canoe over canoe rescue.
 
We spent most of Sunday on the banks of the Sandy, and got some practices with ferries, eddy turns and peel-outs, using throw ropes, and the basics of reading the river and paddling in moving water.
 
It was a fun weekend.  We had nice weather, not too cold and not too hot, and the students enthusiasm, eagerness to learn,  and ability to practice and apply new skills was great.  All of the instructors and assistants did a great job.  We have a new crop of paddlers to enjoy great Oregon/Washington rivers with!
Lee
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