Pine and Peace Rivers

CanadaAlbertaPeace/Slave, Buffalo and Hay
Submitter & Author Information
Route submitted by: 
Allan Jacobs
Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
Distance: 
833 km
Duration: 
17 days
Loop Trip: 
No
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
0
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
0 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Intermediate
Lake Travel: 
Not applicable
Portaging: 
Not applicable
Remoteness: 
Intermediate
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Unknown
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Pine River near Chetwynd to Peace River and Fort Vermillion

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

Editor’s notes:
Ted Mellenthin is a highly experienced and capable white-water paddler; some of the rapids run on this trip should be scouted by most recreational paddlers.

Title: Canoeing the Peace River Country

Route: Pine River (near Chetwynd) to Fort Vermillion

Year travelled: 2001

Duration: 832 km, 17 1/2 days.

Author: Freda Mellenthin

On August 7 th we took our canoeing buddies Brigitte and Werner to the airport to go back to Germany. Poor Brigitte tried to stay on top of her back pain. She proved to be a very brave and patient person who mastered her disappointment of cancelling their trip extremely well. Too bad we had to miss the pleasure of doing a northern trip with two expert German kayakers and at the same time two kindred spirits.

After coming from the airport we did our final preparations to leave the next day. Then on Wednesday, August 8th we left our house at 7:00 a.m., travelling past Whistler, Pemberton, Lilloet, Clinton, Hundred Mile House, Williams Lake and Quesnel, to Prince George. There we had a pleasant evening in Olaf's and Andrea's house and continued the next day towards Chetwynd.

The northern landscape unfolded in front of us, and again we felt that its pristine, but subtle beauty gave us a sense of freedom, releasing all of the tensions accumulated in the southern civilization. At 2:00 p.m. we arrived in Chetwynd. At the tourist Information office we asked if they knew someone who could store our vehicle and drive it to Fort Vermillion three weeks later. Wendy, one of the employees phoned her friend Tracy, who was willing to come down to talk to us. She was a woman of about forty who manages an apartment and had room to store our car there.

While we were waiting in the tourist office, Ted took a glance at the big BC map there and discovered the Pine River which passes close to Chetwynd and flows into the Peace River. If we canoed the Pine River first, Tracy would not have to drive us to Hudson’s Hope. We went to the BC Government office and bought two maps of the Pine River. Then we went to the local pub for our last meal and last beer. Afterwards Tracy drove us to the Pine River. We unloaded all our gear and started paddling the river at 6:30 p.m. until we found a camp spot half an hour later.

The river seemed friendly. Several beaver swam past us, and our first campsite showed many animal tracks , deer, elk, beaver and bear. We enjoyed some wine, and I started to read the book: "SEX im Freien" which Werner had given us. The book was quite inspiring, and we had a super lovely evening.

Friday, August 10

The Pine River started as a wide, fast river without any hurdles. We saw a few deer, and around 10:00 a.m. the sun started warming us. We had got up at 6:00 a.m. and were on the water at 8:00 a.m. Towards noon, we came to a canyon. The river narrowed and started rapid-like sections. The shores had changed from grassy banks to high rock walls with layers of sandstone and the odd protruding granite wall. We did paddle through at least two rapids with fairly high waves and over a mild ledge, and I got wet from my waist down. Twice we saw a farm with pastures along the river. Close to the hamlet of East Pine we saw the first two humans on the shore. We passed a lot of high hills that showed signs of huge landslides. Some were old and overgrown, and others quite recent. At 6:00 p.m. we set camp after 57 km. While we had supper, a little beaver swam across the river, totally scared of us. It had been a sunny, beautiful day to which we drank the remainder of our red wine. 57 km

Saturday, August 11

We got up at 6:00 and left at 8:15. During our breakfast we heard some coyote pups crying behind us. The fog on the hills slowly lifted and gave way to the morning sun. The aspen we passed on the shore showed already a trace of yellow leaves, an early sign of fall in this northern country. The river had many curves and bends in which the current usually ran faster. The river was widening here and had many low gravel bars on both sides. One shore usually had a very steep bluff which showed ancient and recent landslides, while the other shore was low and level. Towards noon we spotted a canoe on the left shore, and shortly later saw a tent and two waving people. We stopped and found out that they were a German couple from Berlin who have been coming to the Pine River for the last 14 years to camp in the same spot. They even cooked with wood, no camp stove. We had tea with them and they gave us a German chocolate bar as a gift. Next year they want to buy a canoe from us. After an hour we continued into a beautiful sunny day. Later several jet boats came zooming up and down the river, spoiling the idyllic atmosphere. We saw many deer resting in the sun. At 5:00 p.m. we set up camp on a clean gravel bar. For supper we had our last fresh food from at home. Tomorrow our dry-food diet will start again. After supper the coyotes started howling across the valley with answers on the other side. 47 km today.

Sunday, August 12

This morning we were again on the water at 8:15. It was foggy until 9:00, and then the sun came out in all its glory. Later it became really hot. We saw several male deer and some beaver. At 9:30 a.m. we came to the end of the Pine River, hitting the waters of the Peace River. The Peace flows through a more civilized area, although there is plenty of wilderness left here too. The shores are not quite as steep and have lots of cracks and ravines in which aspen grow, protected from the rough elements. The river is wide, has lots of islands which create some confusing channels, and it flows fast. We took a side channel twice. While we were protected and surrounded by treed shores, we heard motorboats and loud music on the main channel. Three boats had come together from some distant hamlet to celebrate who knows what. Very close to this civilization noise, a moose cow and her calf grazed. Later we passed under a bridge where some years ago there had only been a ferry. We saw three more people enjoying the last hot days on the beach. It was so hot that we only paddled till 5:00. I did some laundry in the river and had a full bath. 60 km today.

Monday, August 13

We were on the water at 8:15. The fog on the top of the mountains lifted within an hour and the sun was out and warming us. During breakfast a little speckled frog came to visit us. Last night when we were ready to fall asleep, we heard barking very close to our tent behind us. A coyote was so upset with us intruding into his territory that he barked off and on part of the night. Today was another beautiful summer day. After some time we saw the word "camp" painted on a rock wall and stopped to investigate. Climbing up the steep embankment, we saw a nice campground with washrooms and showers. This was Camp Cottillion, made for the northerners to enjoy. But there were no people, but we found a water reservoir and a Bonanza natural resource plant. We refilled our water container from the creek. The water of the Peace River was brown and muddy and not suitable for drinking. On we went, passing several deer, one moose cow and her baby, and one beaver. After several hours we saw another sign of civilization in this otherwise wild landscape. It was a cabin on the high shore, hidden behind some trees. The cabin was surrounded with a lawn on which were some lawn chairs, a barbecue pit, a stove and fridge on the porch and a unlocked front door. We walked into a clean, modern cabin with several bunk beds, a book shelf, a table on which we saw a guest book. It said "welcome" and "help yourself to drinks". This was a trapper cabin, but open to the public. How nice to find such hospitality! According to the guest book, people had stayed here yesterday. We helped ourselves to a coke and then continued our trip because on such a nice day we would rather sleep in our tent. Ted, with his keen eye, spotted two more lonely cabins later on. In the evening we came to a set of islands which created narrow channels with very fast water. We camped on a gravel bar, went skinny-dipping and then had "happy hour" and supper. Another perfect day! Ted and I are enjoying this easy trip and each other. 60 km

Tuesday, August 14

At 8:00 it was cloudy, but soon the sun was out again with all its force. We saw an eagle who almost grabbed a duck. The victim complained a long time while it swam off. Ted spotted a log cabin high up in the bush. We climbed up and walked along a trail from the cabin, eating raspberries. Eventually we arrived at a public campsite, the Carter Camp. It even had a fenced playground, but nobody was there. Back on the water, the sun started beating us. We are tanning rapidly, and I have a hard time saving my skin. On the left shore we saw cows for the first time. The farmers up on top let them wander here all summer which is actually against the law because of pollution. Later we found another empty campsite with playground and water pump. We camped a quarter to five on a ledge close to the river with cows mooing not too far away. As soon as our tent was up, we went for a swim to cool off. Then we followed our normal routine, i.e. happy hour supper and bedtime. 50 km

Wednesday, August 15

Another sunny day as we paddled into a rapidly warming Ed. note: word missing.
Before lunch we came to a deserted homestead, a small house with one room downstairs and one upstairs. The old furniture and outdated farm equipment were still there. How modest people were in the old days, just covering their basic needs! They were certainly not as demanding as we are now. Today I did not prepare a pumpernickel sandwich for our lunch, because we knew that we would arrive at Fort Dunvegan at noon. When we arrived there, we first went to the conservation officer's desk to report the cows we had seen on the shore of the river. The museum shows old pictures of the fur trade and the native people. The fort closed in 1899, but you can still visit the restored mission church and the refectorium. Our lunch in the Teahouse Restaurant fell flat, because they have closed down. The only food available was ice cream at the mini-golf snack bar, sold by a Mennonite woman. We bought tomatoes and cucumbers at the small farmers’ market and went back to our canoe to have pumpernickel with fresh tomatoes.
The shores are not as steep and high any more and you can guess the farms up on top. One side of the river is usually steep and covered with bush all the way up, while the other side is flat with hills behind. We wanted to camp at five, but only found a suitable campsite an hour later. We unloaded, put up the tent and went for a swim. When I wanted to cook our daily soup, I found that the stove was not working any more because the hose was leaking and we have 80 km to the town of Peace River. Does that mean two days of cold drinks and raw food? We took a late night hike up the mountain through bush, ravines and high grass. Ted thinks that we are travelling too fast. 45 km

Thursday, August 16

We woke up from a loud and sharp cry of a coyote. It was time to get up into another beautiful day. We finally changed our watches to Alberta time, which we should have done three days ago. The first few hours we had quite a cool head wind. Around 11:00 we came upon a campground made of a strange stone structure. It was the Kieyho campsite, empty like all the others. Later we found and investigated a lodge belonging to Bob and Lois Allan. It contained several small cabins, horses, a cow and chicken. The owners were absent, and Ted snooped around and gave some food to the chicken in their pen. We also observed a black bear walking along the water and disappearing when we approached. Farther down the river we saw a moose cooling off in the water, but he took off when he saw the canoe. Not too far from him, we watched a baby moose who did not know how to behave when he saw us, so he called for his mommy. As we were getting closer to the town of Peace River, there were more buildings along the river, here a farm house, there a little weekend cabin. Then we came by an unpaved road and a ferry that goes back and forth on demand. It looked like a small barge that is pushed by a tugboat. The last two hours the wind quit and the sun beat on us again and made us very tired. We found a campsite around 6:00 p.m. and had a dip right away to revive our spirits a bit. 59 km

Friday, August 17

Today we only have 23 km to go to the town of Peace River. Ted wanted to stay close to the right side to see the mouth of the Smoky River. There were several islands in front of it, and the Smoky seems to split its waters between them. It flows out of the Rocky Mountains and is quite big. Ted wants to paddle it one of these days. Around 11:00 a.m. we arrived in Peace River. It was already very hot. We walked along the main street and then went for a beer - Ted had two - and a nice meal. We had to buy either a new campstove or a part for the hose of ours. There was no sporting goods store in town, only Canadian Tire across the bridge up the hill. We decided to walk the few kilometers, although the locals told us that it is impossible, too far. It was so terribly hot around five o'clock that the walking became a real torture. On top of it Canadian Tire did not have what we wanted. We hitched a ride back into town, gathered our dirty clothes from the canoe and walked to a laundromat. Back at the river, we set up the tent and had a cup of red wine with pumpernickel and brie cheese. The night was noisy from all the frolicking in town and the car noises from the bridge. In the morning hours some thunder and rain relieved everybody from the excessive heat wave. 23 km

Saturday, August 18

I finally fell asleep in the wee hours of the morning. Ted served me breakfast in bed. When I wanted to go for my morning routine, he said: "Watch out, two people are watching us from back there". Later they came down to ask for money. They wanted to hitchhike either north or south to find work.
It was already humid and hot. We bought some groceries and a clamp for the campstove hose. When we packed our gear, Ted accidentally damaged our water container. Luckily it happened now and not in the middle of nowhere. So we went back to the hardware store to buy the last one they had. A good water container was vital for us because the muddy water of the Peace River is too polluted by cattle and the one pulp mill on it.
We finally pulled out of town at noon. Half an hour later we were back in the wilderness, exactly after one day of civilization. After two hours we came to a brand-new bridge over a new highway, both built for the pulp mill which causes a lot of pollution on the Peace River. Later we stopped at the "eternal flame", a site where natural gas had been found and a flame ignited years ago. Nobody is able to extinguish it. Under the flame, water is pouring out and forming a creek which is covered with calcium deposit. This afternoon we saw another lonely campsite with a cooking shelter and two outhouses without doors. Who would want to climb up high over the shore and carry all camping gear up like that? At our campsite Ted fixed our camp stove which works well now. He is really a very creative fixer of things, a great talent that was never allowed to develop into a profession. 34 km

Sunday, August 19

Last night Ted caught his first fish of the year, a goldeye. While fishing, we watched two beaver, a mother and her baby, come to shore.
This morning we left with a head wind into a grey morning. We investigated a small cabin whose owner had left his radio and other valuable things; of course the door was unlocked. We saw a small bear scrambling up the embankment. Today the tourist boat from Island Tours passed us. We had already been looking for that island. Then Ted, who always sees things first, saw arrows pointing towards a trail. We landed and followed the trail to the island camp. There were cabins and a main building, a teepee and boardwalks. The camp cook, all alone, came out and invited us for coffee. We ate our lunch there. When we left, it had started raining, a gentle warm rain. We paddled a few hours until we saw three nice log cabins, new and modern on a big clearing. We landed and a young man, Bob, came to greet us on his all-terrain vehicle. We were invited to his cabin which was filled with Bob's relatives who seemed to have a party. We were served a whisky and later some fruit salad. Then we left into the rainy afternoon. Later a covered boat stopped and the couple, farmers, talked for a while with us until their boat almost grounded on the rocks. We set camp on a low gravel bar. I fried the fish from yesterday and we had a lively discussion on creation versus evolution and on religion. Such discussions can be stimulating to the mind as long as you respect the other's opinion without trying to change it. It was a great Sunday. 45 km

Monday, August 20

Because of a headwind we did not leave until 10:00 am. The sky was grey with some blue patches in the north. We investigated another lonely cabin. The door was open and there was a guest book on the table. A field of oats spread behind the cabin. A bit farther down the river we stopped at a modern weekend cabin with flowers, a sprinkler, toys, but nobody home. Then Ted spotted a bear down by the river. He must have heard us, because he soon hid behind some bushes. Around noon we came to the old house that Ted remembered as being deserted fourteen years ago. Now it had a new roof and a porch. We knocked on the door to find out its history. A young woman answered the door and invited us in after a while. She then prepared some lunch for us, fried potatoes and deer meat, tea and cookies. We stayed for three hours and were glad to be inside because a thunderstorm was raging outside. When we left, our host Jocelyn gave us some vegetables from her garden and some cookies. We continued down the river and stopped at a property where the only human traces in the bush were a sauna and a picnic table. It looked as if some wild parties are held here occasionally. It might sound as if lots of people live on the Peace River because of our visits to the cabins, but in reality we are mostly totally on our own. If anything happened to us, it would take hours to walk in order to find help. 47 km

Tuesday, August 21

Last night when we sat safely under our canope, we had a short heavy downpour. A beaver swam back and forth in front of our camp to check us out. Today it was raining lightly when we started paddling into a headwind. The weather improved later on. We saw a flat boat, almost a small barge, anchored to two pegs on the shore of a small island. Up on top was an old cabin. Although nobody was there, the owner welcomed his guests with the sign "please use the toilet". He must have had a problem with people using his bushes instead. Later we reached the border of Notikewin Provincial Park, a stretch of wilderness set aside by a former government. It was here that Ted had lost his canoe fourteen years ago and had walked 13 km to the nearest farm for help. Our plan today was to reenact that walk and visit that same farm owned by Ian Meier. But Ted could not find the road down to the river. Had a flood washed it away one of these years? We paddled three km down and then again back upstream to where we suspected a field behind a thick stand of aspen. It was a hard job to paddle upstream. Apparently some explorers such as Mackenzie had done it. Finally we had made it and found the old cabin where Ted and his wife had broken into spend the night after they had lost all their gear. Then we started to walk the thirteen km. We saw many moose tracks and bear droppings, about every hundred meters. After we had walked about seven km, a car came down the road. The driver was a German from Stuttgart who has settled close to Ian Meier. He had his car full of German visitors, but he offered to turn around and take us to Ian since walking was too dangerous here, he thought. Ian remembered and recognized Ted, but he did not realize that Ted was here with a different woman this time. He and his wife Candy invited us for supper and drove us back later. We arrived on the river just in time to put up our tent on a gravel island before it got completely dark. 30 km

Wednesday, August 22

We woke up to a windy and rainy day. The first hour of paddling was tough fighting against a north wind. The wind was with us till late afternoon, but the rain stopped at lunch time. We spent our lunchtime stop on the campground at the end of Notikewin Park. Landing and taking off is becoming very difficult at times because the shores are very muddy and you sink in as soon as you set foot on them. Around five o'clock we saw a good camping spot on a gravel island that stretches like a half moon into the river. The sun had finally come out and painted the whole river valley golden. It was a glorious evening. In the distance we could see a moose coming out to drink. Later a second one and her calf came to the river. We had a wonderful and restful evening. 35 km

Thursday, August 23

We left just when it started raining. It rained all day, sometimes heavily, until five o'clock. We had lunch in front of an old deserted cabin to which we had to climb up through thick brush. In the afternoon we paddled around many islands that had the same shape, a long flat gravel bar on one end, and a high muddy shore on the other. They all have a stand of high aspen in the middle, surrounded by dense shrubs. The shrubs on the slopes and along the river are starting to show some red and yellow fall colours. We saw an eagle attacking a swimming goose with his claws. The goose continued swimming. We chased her for a while, hoping to catch an easy prey for our supper. But it dived over and over again until we gave up. We witnessed another wilderness drama: First there was a wolf on the far shore, and a moment later a snorting moose jumped out of the bush and swam across the river, making snorting sounds the whole time. Around four pm, Ted spotted a green level patch high above the river. Coming closer, we saw cabins, picnic tables and a path down to the river with a hand railing all the way. We stopped and walked up to the camp. Nobody was there, but in the open kitchen shed some meat and potatoes were still on the barbecue. There were three outfitter tents with beds, a tool shed, a big roofed barbecue with benches around, a running water system from a creek, a tub full of beer and some other booze high on a shelf. While we were under the kitchen shelter, it started raining heavily and we were glad not to be on the river. Would the owner come back today because he had left all that meat on the barbecue? Ted decided nevertheless to stay in one of the cabins over night. I hesitated because I don't like to use other people's facilities in their absence. But the laws of the north are a bit more flexible, and besides, when Ted has made up his mind, nobody can deter him. So we put our sleeping bag on one of the beds and Ted made a fire in the little wood stove. In the dusk we saw a moose and her calf on the opposite shore. The calf romped with joy like youngsters of all breeds do. There was a beautiful sunset over the river. During the night it rained again heavily and we were glad to be warm and dry. 33 km

Friday, August 24

We left the hunting camp into a day of sunshine. However, the sun did not have the same warmth any more. It seemed that summer was over and fall had begun. After three hours we saw two cabins high up on the mountain. They were already part of the Metis settlement of Carcajou. Later we landed on the soft sandbanks of Carcajou. We walked up to the few houses in front of a big grass field. A group of men greeted us and we found out that one of them was the owner of the hunting camp. He was about to leave for that very camp to prepare it for the hunting season which starts on the first of September. We did not tell him that we slept in one of his cabins. Of course we had left it in immaculate shape. Then we continued our journey towards Old Carcajou. The sky looked forboding with showers in the distance. Now and then gusts of wind chased down the river. Once we stopped to let them pass. Stepping out of the canoe in Old Carcajou was very difficult, because of a soft, black mud bank. Ted criticized me for not jumping out of and into the canoe fast enough over the rocks. Well, Mr. Longlegs, that's easy for you to say! Old Carcajou is an old Mennonite settlement that got flooded and was abandoned. There were old log houses, sheds and stables, and one house was locked because a motorcycle was in it. An old Ford truck was parked, the key still in it, and Ted tried to start it. The mud on the shore prevented us from camping here. We paddled till 7:30 pm until we finally found a spot suitable for camping. Today we had our last "happy hour", tea with vodka. 60 km

Saturday, August 25

Last night at dusk the geese made a show for us. Flocks of geese came from all directions, circling in various formations, and honking while flying. This lasted for half an hour, until they all settled down on a large sand bar for a big goose pow-wow.
This morning we saw a bear standing at the water's edge, drinking. Then he disappeared into the curtain of green shrubs. But soon he came back to walk in the shallow water, until he caught a fish. Then he ran back into hiding to devour his prey in private.
It was sunny and windy. Around noon we arrived at the La Crete ferry which connects a road from High Level with the town of La Crete and also with Fort Vermillion. We had lunch at a campground close to the ferry. There we met a German couple who were travelling in a camper. They had been to Canada many times. We spent an hour with them. Later the sun was nice and hot, so that we could take off our shirts. Once we got stuck in the sand of the river. I got out and pulled Ted through the water. We camped on a high sand bar. It was hot enough for us to take a full bath. 45 km

Sunday, August 26

A nice cloudy morning with the sun peeking through here and there. We saw a wolf with light and dark brown stripes walking along the shore. Later we came to a road going to the river. Going up, we found an old crude log cabin in the bush. Half an hour later we came to a wider road down to the river. Since our legs needed some exercise, we walked for one km to the top of the hill through deep aspen forest. What a surprise above: Huge wheat fields and a farm house in the distance. We continued walking when two all terrain vehicles (ATV) were heading in our direction. They were driven by two teenagers, a boy and a girl. We talked a little bit and learned that all these fields belong to Mennonite farmers. The two invited us to visit their parents' house - they were brother and sister. We hopped on the back of their vehicles, and off we went through mud and rocks passing fields and farm houses, almost flying and feeling a bit uneasy about this mode of transportation. A bit shaken, we reached a nice yard with a white house and rose bushes in front of it. The mother came out, wearing the typical Mennonite headdress, a small black kerchief. She introduced us to five of her seven daughters, all in nice Sunday dresses. Her husband joined us for tea and cake. Then he offered to drive us through the fields of the Mennonite community and up to Buffalo Hill, the highest point of the landscape. From there we had a splendid view across the huge valley of ripe fields and green pastures dotted with farm houses. Our hosts, Mary and John Krahn, also manage a store along the road to La Crete. On the way back, they opened the store for us and offered us some presents from the souvenir corner: two baseball caps, a pocket mirror, a pen and a letter opener with the inscription "Buffalo Head Prairie". Back at the farmhouse, Mary gave us a package of frozen moose steaks and a bag of homemade buns. They drove us back to our canoe around 4:00 pm. We paddled till 8:45 pm and camped on a sand bar. Behind us was a swamp hidden by a hedge of willow bushes. The mosquitoes were very happy with our presence. 37 km

Monday, August 27

Today is our last day out in the wild before we come to Fort Vermillion tomorrow. We only left at 10:30 into a cloudy day. Here the river makes a huge loop in such a way that two stretches of river run almost parallel with only a mountain in between. The river slows down and paddling is more of an effort. We ate the buns Mary Krahn had given us. We also walked in the bush above the river. There were ATV trails, but no fields.
The sun came out later, but it was windy. We camped on the sandy shore of a long island. I fried part of the moose steak with onions from Mary's garden and mashed potatoes. It was so good, but cooking was difficult because the wind blew fine sand into everything. After supper, we tried to walk across the island. It had been flooded earlier in the season. The soil was hard and cracked, and the willow bushes were very dusty from the dried out mud that hung in the branches. It was easy to lose orientation under the man-high reeds and dense shrubbery. Ted found the way across the island, but the other side was so muddy that we sank in ankle-deep. There were many animal tracks here. Bears, deer, moose and wolves had crossed here to find food on the other side of the lake-like puddles. During the night we could hear a combine far in the distance, harvesting before the frost arrived. 42 km

Tuesday, August 28

We got up in the middle of the night to admire a spectacular northern light show. In the morning, I fried two steaks of the moose meat for our lunch sandwiches, the last lunch of this trip. We passed several islands on the thirty-km stretch we still had to paddle to reach Fort Vermillion. Our lunch spot was on the foot of steep stairs leading up the shore to a cabin in the bush. The shore was very untidy with various household articles lying around. Several unattended homemade fishing rods were propped up along the river and got tangled in our canoe. Then we were awarded the big excitement of the day: Ted had spotted a big black thing moving upstream. Through the binoculars we recognized a bear swimming across the river. We paddled as hard as we could to have a closer look. We managed to pass him close to the shore and watched as he quickly ran up to the bushes in fear. He briefly turned around to get a close look of his pursuers before he disappeared into the bush. As we paddled on, we heard some sandhill cranes calling in their silly manner. They reminded me of our Tundra trips where I had first heard them. Around the next river bend we saw the bridge that leads to Fort Vermillion. Only seven more km and we have completed our trip! Then finally at 2:00 pm we landed on the shore of Fort Vermillion, a north Alberta community of nine hundred souls. First we headed towards the only pub to enjoy a beer and a meal in a restaurant. Then we washed our laundry in the laundromat. Now it was time to phone Tracy, the woman we had hired in Chetwynd to store our camper-truck and to drive it the seven hundred km to Fort Vermillion to pick us up. Will she manage to arrive here safely tomorrow? We had sometimes worried about this during our trip. But yes, we reached her, and yes, she would be here tomorrow. Relieved, we found a good spot to camp on the river, hidden by a dense stand of trees and shrubs. We retired into the tent with a bottle of red wine to celebrate our safe and successful journey. The sky rewarded us with a glorious sunset, and the sandhill cranes were calling in the distance. 30 km

We had paddled 832 km in 17 1/2 days, grateful to be blessed with the strength and health to do such a trip at our age. This trip has been peaceful and relaxing and free of any hair-raising wild experiences, and Ted and I have had a wonderful time together.

Maps Required
Topo Maps (1:250,000): 
83M, 83N, 84C, 84D, 84F, 84K, 93P, 94A
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Special Comments: 

Editor’s Comments:
This trip was undertaken by Ted & Freda Mellenthin & the report, originally a personal account, was written & typed (by typewriter) by Freda Mellenthin & was not prepared specifically for posting at CCR; it was then scanned, digitized & submitted by Allan Jacobs in January 2008; as a result, some information is not easily available & some errors were introduced by the scanning process.

Many thanks to the Mellenthins & Allan Jacobs for their efforts!