George River 2

CanadaQuebec10 Ungava Bay
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Trip Date : 
Additional Route Information
550 km
17 days
Loop Trip: 
Portage Information
No. of portages: 
Total Portage Distance: 
0 m
Longest Portage: 
2500 m
Difficulty Ratings
River Travel: 
Lake Travel: 
Background Trip Info
Water Levels: 
Route Description
Technical Guide: 

Hubbard Lake to Cabot Lake(1 day) - small streams and moderate sized lakes.

Upper George - Cabot Lake to Lac Resolution(4 days)- Good sized river stretches with rapids between lakes.

Lac Resolution to Indian House Lake(3 days) - Good sized river with a few portages. Fast current and rapids. Lining and portages are to be expected here.

Indian House Lake(3 days) - Long narrow lake running for 50 miles. Ground is barren by northern end.

Lower George River(5 days with weather delay) - Big fast river with lots of water and a ripping current. Easy to make thirty mile days. Few portages.

Trip Journal/Log/Report/Diary: 

This is my journal from the Hubbard Memorial Expedition. I have only included the section on the George River for the purposes of this route description. Italicised text is taken from the journal of Mina Hubbard kept during her 1905 expedition.

Up at seven thirty five and cooking pasta breakfast in bug tent shortly afterwards. Patchy clouds with faint sunshine greet us. Morning may be a little more efficient since our conversation on Smallwood. There is still a south wind which is remarkable.
One mile up Adelaide Lake and a wind driven mist starts to fall. I suppose it is fitting that we leave Labrador in the rain. Gusts of wind speed us across the lake yet again. A low strip on the northern end of Adelaide Lake indicates where the last pond before the height of land is located. A thirty yard drag up this stream takes us to the last pond in Labrador. Low wetland spruce with tamarack are the vegetation. The immediate landscape is very flat, but hills rise up to the southeast. The paddle to the height of land separating waters draining to the Atlantic from the Arctic takes a brief five minutes. The height of land is an unspectacular hundred meters of flat string bog covered with grasses and low alders. Crossing this is the easiest portage of the whole trip. A steady soaking mist greets us as we arrive in Quebec.
Here is Mina Hubbard’s journal entry for the day she crossed this same divide in 1905.
That afternoon our journey carried us northwest through beautiful Lake Adelaide, where long wooded points and islands cutting off the view ahead, kept me in a constant state of suspense as to what was to come next. About 4 P.M. we reached the northern extremity of the lake, where the way seemed closed; but a little searching discovered a tiny stream coming in from the north and west of this the well marked Indian trail. What a glad and reassuring discovery it was, for it meant that we were on the Indian highway from Lake Michikamau to George River. Perhaps our task would not be so difficult after all.
The portage led north one hundred yards to a little lake one mile long and less than one quarter wide, and here we found ourselves at the very head of the Nascaupee River. There was no inlet to the lake, and north of it lay a bog two hundred yards wide which I knew must be the Height of Land, for beyond it stretched a body of water which had none of the appearance of a still water lake, and I felt sure we should find its waters flowing north.
It was just 5 P.M. when, three hundred miles of my journey into the great, silent wilderness passed, I stepped out of the canoe to stand at last on the summit of the Divide—the first of the white race to trace the Nascaupee River to its source.
I had a strange feeling of being at the summit of the world. The country was flat and very sparsely wooded, but I could not see far. It seemed to fall away on every hand, but especially to north and south. The line of the horizon was unnaturally near, and there was more than the usual realising sense of the great space between the earth and the sky. This was enhanced by the lifting of a far distant hill-top above the line as if in an attempt to look across the Divide.
In a wonderfully short time the outfit had been portaged across, and we were again in the canoes, the quest now being, not for the inlet but for the outlet of the lake, a much less difficult task. Less than an hour's paddling carried us to the point where the George River, as a tiny stream, steals away from its source in Lake Hubbard, as if trying to hide in its rocky bed among the willows, to grow in force and volume in its three hundred mile journey to Ungava, till at its discharge there it is a great river three miles in width.

Now on Hubbard Lake. The rain picks up to a steady wind driven downpour as we paddle the three miles to the outlet of Hubbard Lake. A flock of ten Geese is chased but they are too quick and smart to shoot. Their flight feathers are returning and they can skim themselves across the water very quickly. Some even dive and hide underwater. These are smart birds, owing in part to the fact that they have been hunted for a long time.
Alder cones are coming out now as are Cloudberries. The outlet of Hubbard Lake is unfortunately shallow and twenty yards wide. The canoes are dragged and floated again, this time heading downstream. A small lake is reached and paddled across before coming to another river stretch that is runnable. Quickwater and class I rapids bring us to Elson Lake. This four mile body of water is paddled in a crosswind with good sized swells. Once clear of the lake a wide shallow class I is paddled into Cabot Lake.
Cabot Lake is the traditional starting point for a trip down the George River. It feels tremendous to have reached this point in such good time. The weather is to thank for our rapid progress. In fact, the weather began to clear as we crossed Elson Lake. Sucker holes gave way to bands of darker clouds and blue. The steady wind from the southeast dried us out and blew us four kilometers across Cabot Lake to a point of land.

Signs of the Indians became more numerous, and on a point near the head of Cabot Lake we found a camp but lately deserted, and left, evidently, with the idea of return in the near future. The Indians had been there all through the spring, and we found a strongly built cache which the men thought probably contained furs, but which we did not, of course, disturb. It was about ten feet long and six feet wide at the base, and built in the form of an A, with the trunks of trees from five to six inches in diameter set up close together and chinked with moss and boughs.

This point was used as a resting spot. It was five o’clock and well past the time for a snack. Found a caribou skull with both antlers still attached in the water here. After resting the rest of Cabot Lake was paddled in a crossing tailwind. The George River exits Cabot Lake in two channels at its north western end. We followed the more northerly of the two channels which is two hundred meters wide. Three quarters of a mile of swift water rushes us along. So great to be on the George. No more upstream work! An eagle’s nest was passed around seven and the adults circled and cried out to protect their baby. The nest was an enormous pile of sticks situated at the top of a spruce tree about twenty feet off of the ground.
Just beyond here we landed the canoes at a firm sand beach and found campsites on a small strip of high ground with a game trail running along it. A swamp lay behind the site, but there was plenty of space for tents and our bug tent. Millions of mosquitoes swarmed and a few rumbles of thunder were heard. Bands of dark clouds were seen in the distance, but no storm appeared to be anywhere close to us.
Dinner was potatoes and gravy with no dessert. No forecast for tomorrow. Anyone’s guess. Poor fishing today in the headwater lakes. Good to be going downstream at last. Two hundred and fifty to three hundred miles remain to the end of the trip. It is five after eleven now. I called home to check in today.

A little lazy this morning getting going. I’m not worried now though. Pace is irrelevant. We will make it and I am happy to go slowly. Clouds are patchy but plentiful. There was a brief rain shower around six this morning before I got out of my tent. Had a pasta breakfast. Before moving downstream we paddled a hundred meters to the Eagle’s nest. I managed to walk to within ten yards of the tree that the nest was in. A huge baby eagle stood there for photographs.
After the Eagle encounter we paddled away and entered swift water. The current was running fast and strong downpours alternated with nicer weather for most of the day. This kept us changing clothes frequently, but at least the day was not a complete washout. Several easy class I and II rapids were run. Although these were easy it is obvious that this is still a large river that needs to be treated with respect. Below the first rapid I caught a six or seven pound pike that was at least twenty seven inches long. The fish put up a good fight and forced us to paddle to shore to land it. At least it was hooked in the lip and easy to release.
The next rapid began as an easy class II but built and became deceptively steep at the end. Heavy three foot waves swamped our canoe and almost sent Troy and myself into the water. My canoe is a very wet ride for a tandem crew with as much gear as we were paddling with. After much bailing a second, more difficult rapid is encountered. This is a straightforward class II – III, but the water is too heavy for our open canoes. I ferried to river right and ran our canoe down a sneak channel before lining the last drop. I fished the eddy at the bottom of the rapid with a five of diamonds lure. This fishing break produced a fifteen inch and a nine inch brook trout. In addition to this, I hooked monster of a fish that got away.
The next rapid was a long and runnable class II that was dealt with on river left. Alternating sections of lake and quick water followed and the going was very easy. By two or three this afternoon the weather improved and the warm sun was shining. The only downfall was that the flies came out in renewed hordes. For an hour or so we watched a string of storms building to our south and east. As they crept north towards us a large thunderstorm beyond the hills to our east became a concern. Rumbles of thunder were heard and the black cloud towering above us occasionally lit up with lightning. Still, things did not seem severe over us so we stayed on the water and followed the shore closely. After a nervous hour of sprinting across open water and trying to stick to shore the storm finally blew past us and out of mind.
The wind shifted to blow from the north and we fought our way through a headwind to a high esker that ran perpendicular to the river. Once landed our group climbed the steep sided seventy foot esker and enjoyed the extensive view it provided. This was a caribou highway with a wide path worn into the ground. Semi ripe blueberries, old bones, wolf tracks, and stones littered the top of the esker. I plan on hiking the esker and a ridge it connects to in the morning if the weather holds.
Tonight’s camp is made on an island just north of the esker. By the esker I caught and released a small Pike. The island is a great spot. A huge Caribou antler was lying on the ground here. It must have weighed over twenty pounds and been four and a half feet tall. The animal this fell from must have been enormous. I had a good tent site out of the wind, but the soil was thin and I had to use rocks to help stake and secure the tent with guy lines.
Dinner was rice and beans with the fish from earlier in the day. After dinner I caught a thin twenty five inch Pike which was released without harm. Great day. Good to see some rapids at last. Looks like it will be back to lake paddling tomorrow. Ten forty eight now. A gusty north wind may make paddling difficult if it continues to blow.

Ninth day out from our resupply. A gusty northeast wind has forced us to stay in camp today. If the blow eases up we will move later in the day. The conditions would allow paddling, but it would be such slow going that the amount of energy expended would not be worth while. A rest day is sort of nice anyways.
I was up at six this morning and it is nine forty five now. Troy and I went for a hike this morning. We left so early because we thought we would be paddling later in the day. The hike brought us along the top of the esker and up a two hundred and fifty foot hill on the east side of the river. Barren tundra covered the hill tops. Yesterdays route could be seen stretching away to the south and about eight miles of the waterway we would be traveling could be seen ahead. Narrow lake paddling lies ahead and it should be good going. So much empty land can be seen from our position atop this hill. Barren landscape rolls away to the north with trees spanning out in what appear to be random directions from the river. The wind is tearing across the hilltops with increased speed. It feels great to be walking around for a change.
After the hike I make oatmeal for breakfast and fish for a little while without luck. The wind is showing no signs of letting up. May get to paddle in the evening when this new weather system moves in and establishes itself. A float plane was seen in the distance today. This has been the first reminder of the outside world for some time now. At least the wind keeps the bugs away and allows us to sit outside while stuck in camp. A nice set of wolf tracks were found up on the esker this morning that I just remembered.
It is eleven in the morning now. Just woke up again from a nice nap. The wind is still blowing pretty hard. Since there is little else to do now I’ll take a few minutes to talk about what the camp routine is like on a trip of this nature. The first thing is to find a suitable campsite. This can be difficult because often times the tangled shoreline alders and willows are too thick to walk through. The site also has to be open enough and free from fallen trees so tents can be set up. Once a suitable location is selected individual tent sites have to be found. Tents are set up and all of the gear is unloaded from the boats. The bug tent is set up using two paddles and guy lines. Cooking gear is unpacked from its numerous containers and a water bag is filled at the river to reduce the number of trips that have to be made between the bug tent and the water. The stoves are unpacked, set up and turned on. Water is boiled and dinner prepared. After eating pots must be cleaned at the river. The kitchen is packed up and food bags put away so bears are not attracted to camp. Then its into the tent for the night. All of the flies and mosquitoes that made their way into your tent have to be killed. Then its time to undress and dry off wet things if it is possible. Contact lenses come out, teeth are brushed, write in journal, pack it all up again, make a pillow out of clothes in a stuff sack, and go to sleep.
I have tallied our fishing totals for the trip by looking at old journal entries. One hundred and ten brook trout have been caught, with the largest being twenty four inches. Four lake trout, and three pike. I’d call those pretty good numbers.
It is two in the afternoon now and windier than ever. Bread was made out of flour and water for lunch and a good bit of it was ate with syrup. Lounged around some more and made better guy lines for my tent because the wind has actually increased. This wind is a show stopper for sure. It is probably blowing at a sustained twenty miles an hour. I am happy that my tent is pitched in a slightly sheltered spot in the lee of a small hill and behind a few small trees. It is so nice to rest. Still hopeful that a few miles may be paddled tonight. Fixed the stern seat in my canoe with duct tape and an NRS strap because the cane has blown out. I had a pike follow my lure to shore but it did not strike hard enough to set the hook. Whitecaps are kicked up on the open water just below camp. It makes no sense to move now. Napping again for the time being.
Five thirty now and blowing harder than ever and I am making a more concerted effort to catch a pike for dinner. We could theoretically be stuck for some time, in which case food conservation would be a good idea.
Ten thirty. We were wind bound all day long. I actually enjoyed the rest very much. Caught a nice twenty some inch pike for dinner. I scaled and filleted the fish as best as possible with the knives we had. The Pike was cooked with Cajun spices in addition to pasta and Oreo cheesecake.
The wind has finally settled down some now. I have agreed to wake up at five thirty the following morning to check on conditions. Hopefully it will be possible to move again. There are between fifteen and twenty miles of lake paddling before the upper George river is reached. Saw a muskrat swimming by the campsite tonight. It is very encouraging that the wind has stopped. Waves can be heard lapping against the shore now instead of the wind raging. I spent a little more time fishing for the finicky Pike. These fish would follow the lure to shore but it was hard to get them to strike. When one followed it to shore I played the lure back and forth a little and watched the Pike play with it. The fish was still there and interested so I recasted and the Pike hit the lure when I started the slow retrieve. I landed the Pike quickly and released it as quickly as possible.
It is chilly tonight and the wind has picked up again a little. There are approximately three hundred miles left to Kangiqsuallujjuaq. We need to average about twenty two miles per day to reach our destination in fourteen days. This is certainly possible if the weather conditions cooperate.

I managed to wake up at five thirty as planned. The morning is cold and clear with a steady but manageable north breeze. Good to see that paddling is possible in these conditions. For breakfast I have a little cereal and a power bar plus my two lunch bars. Everyone is eager to go and the first few miles of lake paddling are quickly covered despite a steady head wind. In less than an hour a narrow river like section leading onto Lac Lacasse is reached. As we round a left turn above some quickwater and class I rapids Jim yells ahead to us that there are caribou.
Troy and I look up at a barren hill about twenty feet above the river and see the deer. A mass of moving antlers and gray brown animals are walking towards the river. We get out of the canoe and walked through some alders to get a better look. Some of the caribou returned to the bush when they saw us standing so we returned to the canoes and paddled around the corner. There are Caribou everywhere now. I pull over our canoe at the bottom of the rapid and watch. The animals are very persistent about crossing the river at this narrow spot. Females and babies start to swim the river. A few are swept downstream towards us during their ferry. A handful even walk right between our canoes. Once the deer hit the shoreline they disappear in a matter of seconds. Another small herd of thirty or so crosses and then another. After these main groups smaller pods of animals continue to cross. In all about a hundred have been seen, and the shorelines look like many more animals have crossed not so long ago. Fresh trails and tracks are everywhere and fur lines the shore. I am so glad to have had the chance to see the caribou. It would be amazing to come across a bigger herd. Pretty awesome day.
The river widened here, and on the left bank, at short intervals broad trails with fresh cut tracks led down to its edge, and along the shore a wide band of white caribou hair clung to the bank four feet above the river, where it had been left by the receding water. So we knew that the caribou had been in possession of the region since shedding their winter coats.
The day gets even better just ahead. A merganser is sitting on a rock about forty yards away. Troy and I paddle closer and the bird remains still. At twenty five yards a shot is taken with the .410 and incredibly the duck takes off. Troy quickly switches to the twenty two hornet and manages to shoot the duck down with the rifle from thirty five yards. This amazingly lucky shot will provide us with a tasty addition to dinner.
After shooting the duck we make our way across Lac Lacasse in a moderate but manageable headwind. Several rest stops are taken and the duck is cleaned at one of them. A short section of narrow riffles is passed through before reaching Lac Resolution. Two more caribou are seen crossing the river here and I fish briefly with no luck. Hard paddling is needed to move the canoes across five or six miles of lake into an increasingly strong headwind. Slow, slow going at times. The lake is very shallow and there are many rocks just below the surface. By seven pm an esker running west to east is reached.
The top of the esker is open ground with low evergreen bushes growing and a ground cover of berries. Great tent sites with commanding views are protected from the north wind by a band of small spruce that act as a wind block while the open areas are exposed to the breeze enough to keep insects away. This is the only likely campsite in the area and there were a few signs that it had been used before.
It was a glorious day, the kind which almost all the eventful days of our journey had been. I wanted to compel it to yield me something of value and interest, and it did; for after we had passed down the stretch of river below Long Lake and out into the larger one which I afterwards named Resolution, we came upon the first camp of the Indians.
When we entered the lake we were surrounded by numbers of islands in its upper extremity, but beyond it was clear and stretched away northward calm and beautiful after the storm. Its shores were low for the most part, but four miles down the lake a high, sandy point reached far out from the east shore, and it was there we found the Indians.

By the time camp was up clouds could be seen moving in from the north. Rain would not be out of the question. A rice and bean dinner with picante sauce is prepared while the duck is marinated in Teryaki sauce and cooked in the frying pan. For dessert I had some of the MnM’s mom packed for me in the resupply package.
It was so great to see the caribou today. This was one of the things I really wanted to see on the trip. Took fifteen minutes to kill all of the flies and mosquitoes in the tent tonight. Awful buzz of mosquitoes under the rainfly now. Saw two otters today and two bald eagles. Should certainly get off of the lakes tomorrow. Probable portage lies ahead. Excited for a few days of river travel. Before dinner heard a yipping and whining noise. Maybe a wolf? 10:46 now. Looking for a 6:30 wakeup.

Thirty seventh day out from Goose Bay. What a world away. Hoping to reach George River Post in twelve more days. This morning was cool and clear with a north / northwest headwind blowing at a steady, but very manageable clip. Pasta breakfast. I was out of the tent at seven this morning but we didn’t get on the water until just before ten.
Leaving our esker campsite we paddled for a mile through shallow channels and islands with a good current. Through Lac Advance a steady headwind was battled along with a monotonously flat and swampy landscape. Tiring of lake paddling. After lunch river paddling is had again. A good current leads into a ledge section before a series of unmarked rapids are encountered. The first rapid is in a sweeping right hand turn. I steered us just left of a curler before driving right to avoid big waves in the center of the river. This ended up being a dry line between two large wave trains. The large volume of the river makes even small rapids like this have big waves, especially when the geology is ledgy.
The next rapid is in another right turn. There is pretty heavy water in the center so I run a sneak line on river left with Troy in the bow. This is a technical route and involves backferries and maneuvering. The line is fun and safe. The last rapid in this set comes after a left turn by some islands. A huge five foot deep hole and a couple of monster waves lie in the center of the George. However, the rapid is run tight to the left shore and is nothing harder than class II.
The directions we had received enabled us to find the river without difficulty, and passing down through a succession of small expansions with low, swampy shores where the wood growth was almost altogether tamarack, we camped in the evening ten miles below Resolution Lake, at the point where the river drops down through three rocky gorges to flow with strong, swift current in a distinct valley.

After this whitewater a small section of flatwater is crossed to a place where the George River divides into three parallel channels and drops at least thirty feet. Our maps indicate that the shortest portage route involves following the channel that is farthest to the right. A quick scout show fast class II leading to a must make eddy above an awesome looking gorge. We all get to this eddy without incident. It is pretty exciting. From the head of the gorge the river is seen dropping between gray and reddish canyon walls that range between ten and thirty feet high. Boiling water slams out of sight around a right hand bend. The vegetation around here is stunted spruce or balsam fir growing on a carpet of minty green and white caribou moss. I climb a low hill to observe the dramatic beauty of the scene. The George drops ten feet into a mega hole before flowing around and over house sized boulders. A few slight bends later and huge class IV - V whitewater leads to flatwater spotted about five hundred meters downstream. Very impressive canyon. Most dramatic riverscape of the trip so far. Very glad and excited to see it.
The portage around this gorge is super easy. A side channel allows us to paddle and line the canoes fully loaded for a third of the distance around the canyon. It is then easy portaging across open hills scattered with spruce. Caribou trails and past canoe parties have created an easy route leading to a gentle downhill that stops at the shore of the river at a pool below the rapids. The entire portage is completed in around thirty minutes which is remarkable.
I am in favor of camping here since the spot is spectacular, but Jim sees the need for haste and we agree to paddle the next three miles down to a swift marked on the map. An easy class II rapid is run after the confluence of a side channel and major tributary entering from the east. The others try to explore a closed up hunting camp while I remain in the boat and fish an eddy. A huge Pike is hooked that I play to shore. The thirty plus inch fish is powerful and shakes when I grab the steel leader. The wire digs into my hand and cuts it. I loose grip of the fish just as it falls off of the lure and escapes. The Pike must have weighed over twenty pounds. Pretty disappointing to have lost this fish. We saw another eagle earlier today.
From here down the George is a ramp of fast current and small waves running in a rocky banked mini valley. The speed of the current is amazing and the three miles to the marked swifts is covered in twenty minutes with no paddling. In twenty minutes we covered more ground than it took us full twelve hour days to covered back on Susan Brook. It feels so good to be on a real river at last. The next rapid is run far left. The waves are just large enough to force Troy and myself into back paddling to keep the canoe dry. This technique is key in a boat as small and as low as ours.
The lakes of the upper country were here left behind, and when we resumed our journey the following morning it was to be carried miles on a current in which the paddles were needed only for steering. Stretches of quiet water were succeeded by boisterous rapids, and sometimes I walked to lighten the canoe where the rapid was shallow. Tributaries entered on either hand, the river increased in force and volume, and when we halted for lunch some ten miles below Canyon Camp, the George had come to be a really great river.

Every one starts looking for campsites below here, but the banks are a mess of alders. A scout is made on river right were lower bushes lead down to the waters edge. Very fresh caribou sign litter the area. Trails mashed into mud, fresh scent, and tufts of fur everywhere suggests that maybe the caribou even bedded down here last night. It is a good spot and some higher ground is bush free where the tents can be set. Mac n Cheese dinner is made and I am in my tent by 9:45pm. Clouds to the west on the warmish evening. Moderate blackflies but no mosquitoes because it is still too warm for them. It is nice to hear rapids from our campsite again. Hope to run some interesting rapids tomorrow and make twenty miles. 10:36pm. Up at 8:30 if possible tomorrow morning. Chocolate pudding for dessert.

One of the trip’s best days. Our goal of twenty miles was made in good fashion. Up at 6:30 and on the river by 9:30 or so. It was a hazy and warm morning. By the time we were on the river it was down right hot. The bugs were moderate and it was nice to load the canoes without being completely swarmed.
The first two miles on the river are quickwater and we are able to cruise. This brought us to a class II rapid that grew larger and continued out of sight downstream. Heavy water in the middle of the river forced us to hug the left shore. This fun ramp of whitewater extended for about two miles. The rapid was exciting and manageable until a slight horizon was reached. Troy and I focused on running dry lines since our canoe was still overloaded and running low to the water. This required a great deal of back paddling and back ferrying at angles along the shore. This was most effective and carried us to a river left eddy above the aforementioned horizon. Here the George runs over a ledge and into a wave train that is too big for our boats. This ledge can be easily lined on river left but a sweeping left turn hides the bottom of the rapids. I scout ahead from shore and from the top of a hill covered in low spruce can see almost a kilometer downstream to the bottom of the swift water. Everything looks fine except for one more piece of heavy water that looks like it can be lined as well.
The canoes are lined around the first ledge and we paddle down to the last bit of heavy water I spotted on the scout. Troy and I backferry into shore above the drop and scramble onto the ledge before lowering the boat through with our ropes. This is a tough move and we walk back upstream to catch and hold Jim and Caroline’s boat as they approach. After this big fun class II water leads to the lake expansion below. By eleven thirty everyone is landed at a sandy beach by a fishing and hunting camp.
The main building begs to be explored so we walk over and have ourselves a look around. The place is nice, but there is a dead duck in a room off of the kitchen. This is odd, and suggests that someone must have been here not long ago. It is very hot in the building so I head back outside as quickly as possible.
The day is hot and humid. I wash up in the river after following a set of wolf tracks back to our canoes. After washing up, lunch is had on the beach in blazing hot sun. This rest stop turns into an event and a good bit of time is wasted away by lounging and napping. By the time we are leaving around one or one thirty thunder clouds are seen building to the west and moving in quickly.
Leaving the lake the river narrows and current accelerates. Another class II rapid is entered. The water speeds up and waves grow larger and larger, forcing us to run a line tight to the left shore. The center becomes big class III, but our route remains boat scoutable. While the sneak route along shore is not very tough the huge volume and speed of the Upper George demands respect. Any swim would be long and problematic in the event of a mishap.
After this rapid the river incised itself into a mini canyon. Red and gray rock walls line the river with stunted trees clinging to the banks in places. Beyond the river corridor very lightly wooded hills are predominant. The land is becoming much more barren now. Not far below the base of the long class II rapid the first storm of the day is on us. Thunder is getting louder and the clouds are particularly black and ominous so we eddy out on river left and scramble to shore to take cover. Just as I manage to get my rain jacket on the skies open up and a downpour falls. I manage to keep my legs dry by squatting and pulling the long plastic jacket down and huddling under some willow and alder bushes. The dark cloud passes directly over us and a few lightning bolts seem to hit nearby, but in ten or fifteen minutes the storm is seen blowing away diagonally to the easy and north. It is agreed that traveling close to shore is probably safe now.
Back on the river things happen fast again. The current is ripping and distance is covered as if we were flying. Lightning can be seen away to the north east and scattered storms are all around us, but we seem to be traveling in a small pocket of fair weather for the time being. Long and easy class I rapids continue to a horizon line which is scouted from river right. A falls leads into a mini canyon with very heavy rapids that force a portage. It is insanely hot and humid again, feeling more like southern Florida than northern Canada. I grab a heavy load and blast through the high wall of tangled alders and willows that line the river. Once up above the water a trail is found running through open woods to the bottom of the gorge. The total portage takes only forty five minutes which really isn’t that bad. It is so hot though. I am sweating bullets and by the end of the carry my clothes are saturated. The insects are down enough so I can open my head net enough to get a clear look of the area and allow some fresh air to cool my head.
Our group is dodging storms again. At the bottom of the portage a storm looks imminent, but it missed to the west, moving more north than east. We paddle the run out rapids from the gorge to flater water below. A flock of baby sea gulls is passed before canoeing by an old esker. More fun fast water and runnable rapids lead to a stretch of river that becomes divided by a mess of islands. A quick glance at the maps causes us to decide to stay left since it looks like a shorter and more runnable route.
The first rapid is a long class II leading to a heavier section that culminates in a ledge lined by Troy and myself. A tight chute is run that Jim paddles based on my hand signals. It is good to see that he trusts us in this respect. It is so much fun to be in rapids again. Great sneak routes allow most of this section to be paddled. This left channel is farther subdivided, giving the river the feel of a small ledge run like Ontario’s Lawagamau River. Some class II is run to a horizon hiding a big class III+ which we line on river right. Troy and I fish the eddy and up to three trout follow my lure in to shore on the first cast. In less than ten minutes I land three while Troy pulls out two fish. All of these trout are in the ten to fifteen inch range. There literally must be hundreds of trout in this section.
Some more rapids are run, and one more is quickly lined. The channel we are following continues to branch and subdivide until I lead down a small creek like section with some very narrow ledge drops that deposit us back in the main George River. Once on the main river we ferry to the right and run a long class II –III section by means of tight and technical shoreline sneaks that are just loads of fun. An awesome lone rugged bare peak rises up in front of us and dominates the view. The land on river right is all open and ledgy, vegetated only with widely scattered spruce and tamarack. The barrens are not far to the north now. The scene is remarkable arctic and the barren lands are foreboding, especially with a massive dark thunderhead rumbling angrily and drawing closer by the minute.

A short distance below, the river drops rapidly round many little islands of pink and white rock by a succession of picturesque falls and rapids and chutes extending for more than a mile and here a number of short portages were made. We reached the last of the islands shortly before eleven o'clock and then landed to climb a hill to the east. It rose six hundred and thirty feet above the river, but the view from the top afforded us little satisfaction so far as the route was concerned. The river could be seen for only a few miles ahead, flowing away to the northwest towards higher hills, where we could see patches of snow lying.

A unanimous decision is made to set up camp before the storm reaches us. It looks like things could get nasty. The pressure drop is palpable, the air grows thick and quite and odd breezes start to swirl. The storm seems unavoidable. Tents are set up on an open knoll, not a great spot in a lightning storm, but the only sites to be had. The boats are dragged up, tied off, and filled with rocks to keep them down if the wind became bad. Lightning can be seen flashing and bolts spray out from the big black clouds. Sheets of rain can be seen falling as the storm approaches. I sit staring at the cloud and bands of rain and see that this thing may miss us to the east. Rain starts to fall and I head to the tent, but in a few minutes it stops and the cloud is clearly heading away from us now. The storm skirted camp by less than a mile.
Once clear from the storm the bug tent goes up. Bannock bread is made for dinner along with the trout Troy and I caught upstream. Cheesecake is prepared for dessert. It is 11:07pm now. This may have been the best day of the trip yet. Should reach Indian House Lake tomorrow.

Up at five thirty to the sound of rain pouring on the tent. Go back to sleep until 6:30 at which point I poke my head out of the tent to check the weather. Some patches of clear sky, but some sections of gray rain scattered around as well. Wind is blowing from the Northwest. Looks like I have enough time to make a bathroom run before the next downpour arrives. By the time I get back the others can be heard awake in the tents. I am able to break camp between showers. Although the tent has to be packed wet it is not put away in a driving rain. A nice breakfast is had while our camp is hit by wind driven showers.
Canoes are loaded and the first rapid of the day, which lies fifty yards below our put in, is run left of center. After this a narrow chute on the left shore is run to avoid big holes in the center of the river. The George narrows and enters an extensive area of rock islands with numerous channels and ledge drops. The massive main flow of the river goes left so we stay to the right. The lower volume allows some of the drops to be run while all others can be lined. Only one short semi portage is required. The river is looping its way around the solitary bald peak that dominated the view from last evenings camp. At one point a heavy class III rapid is reached that Troy decides he does not want to run. We shift gear in the canoe and I make a solo run of the rapid. The move has me driving left to right into an eddy to avoid some waves. From the eddy I stay right and run some large waves into a river right eddy below an island where Troy returns and we repack the canoe while Caroline and Jim line their craft around the whitewater. The fifteen foot Explorer handles very well when paddled solo.
More shallow sneaks and lining leads us to a shallow side channel around a larger falls. This nearly dry channel is lined but the ledges are very slippery and a great deal of time is consumed. Fishing the pool below the channel produced two small trout that are released. The main rive is rejoined and we stop on river left to eat lunch in wind driven rain above a narrow constriction rapid. The George narrows to less than fifty yards wide and is reminiscent of the rapid above Coliseum on the Ottawa River. A long ramp of green water leads through diagonals that end in a series of large standing waves. Troy and I run a conservative left line to an eddy, drag the canoe ten feet over a ledge, and enter the river in another eddy. What this route lacked in bravado and excitement, it made up for by ensuring that we did not swamp and swim. Jim and Caroline take their much larger boat down the left center. Although the line was clean they had a bit of bailing to do at the bottom.
As the day progresses the clouds continue to break up but scattered showers remain. The Dumas River enters on the right where the George bends ninety degrees to the left. A torrential downpour opens up but it is short lived and the weather breaks immediately after this. Sun patches dance here and there while lots of blue sky can be seen through the crystal clear atmosphere. There is very crisp fall like air giving the place a northern feel. Greens and browns and the reddish rock colors are vivid without the haze we have had for the past few days.
The current is exceedingly fast again and we make excellent time after slow work through the ledges this morning. One bigger rapid is paddled before a long stretch of clear fastwater. The only trees to be found are along the immediate river now. The hills all around us have the look of the landscape above treeline in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Incredible views open up around each corner. Massive rock walls are piled up in the woods by the river icing out or flooding in bad years. Eventually a left turn is reaches and a rapid begins that seems to build and grow larger as it continues out of sight around an S turn.
A scout from river right shows five hundred yards of big water class III+ or class IV. We are fortunate to be able to line down the rive right side with only on tricky spot necessitating some on your toes river work. After the rapid the headwind is so strong that our progress is slowed even though we are in a ripping current. The current assisted us in making our way down to a huge esker and flatter water. A canvas tent frame on top of the esker was explored before fighting on for another two miles into the headwind, which was probably gusting up to twenty miles an hour. This headwind blowing against the current produced unusually large rolling waves. Despite an all out effort, progress was slowed to a crawl.
Troy and I out paddle the others by a long shot so we went to a river left beach and waited for them to catch up. Very fresh looking wolf tracks are spotted on the beach. They were made after the rain because no water drop marks were seen in the prints and the claw marks were still visible. Once the others arrive we are back in the canoe and heading downstream. Two hundred meters downstream and just above the next rapid I look to the left shore and there is the wolf. The large silver gray animal is healthier and bigger than I had imagined a wolf would be. The canine gave a few curious glances before heading back into the bush. The wolf was only forty yards away. This was so awesome. I really wanted to spot one. This was my first wolf sighting ever. What a spectacular and wild looking animal.
Although we were psyched about the wolf sighting the large rapid just downstream had to be dealt with. The late afternoon sun was low in the sky and made scouting difficult since the George was flowing due west at this point. This forced us to land on river right and make a foot scout. The first two hundred yards of whitewater could obviously be run on river right tight to shore. This was a good fun line, but a big hole extending out from the right bank forced us to stop and scout again. The scout showed we needed to head to the center to avoid the hole, but there were some big waves out there. It is late in the day, we want to make camp without dealing with a portage or lining, and I think it is runnable.
I convince Troy to run the rapid. We head out into the river and are drawn down by its current. The speed and power is greater than anticipated and we narrowly miss the hydraulics on the right shore. I back paddle and yell at Troy to do the same in order to slow the canoe so it rides up the waves and stays dry as opposed to plowing through and swamping the boat. The first wave is over four feet tall and our canoe stalls out on it and almost gets back surfed. The next few waves are large as well and we fight to get back near the shore. Somehow the canoe stays bone dry and the last three hundred yards are run to the bottom through continuously heavy rapids. This is the best rapid run yet.
Below here we start to look for a campsite in a flatter area above a sweeping bend to the southwest. The first site we check is at the top of a large unstable hill and the alders and bushes are too thick to allow camping. The second spot is an open gravel and rock beach with very little sand. This is a good spot for the tents with easy access to the water. Camp is set and the breeze is strong enough so no bug tent is needed. Pasta with peanut sauce is made for dinner with a little soy sauce that was borrowed from the hunting camp the day before. Brief yet intense northern lights are seen around eleven o’clock after sunset. The sun set at 9:30 Labrador time or 8:30 Quebec time. It is now 11:15pm. The wind has died down and flies and mosquitoes are bad tonight. Colder weather outside and a clear sky settle in for the evening. Things look like they should stay clear for tomorrow.

Up until twelve fifteen last night and wound up sleeping in until seven thirty this morning. Felt very good. Had quick breakfast of cereal in a slight north breeze and were back on the water around nine thirty. It was an easy morning paddle for three miles to the confluence of the De Pas River.

Fresh caribou tracks, the only ones seen since leaving the head of Long Lake, were found on the first portage, and on the second I gathered my first moss berries. A heavy shower passed late in the afternoon and the sky remained overcast; but we were not delayed, and towards evening arrived at the point, twenty miles below Thousand Island Expansion, where a large tributary comes in from the west, and the George River turns abruptly northward among the higher hills.

Several class II rapids were encountered along the way. After this junction the George turns north again and approaches Indian House Lake. A brief rest is taken at the Two Rivers caribou hunting lodge which we explore. The particle board wall facing the river has a bear sized hole in one side leading directly to the kitchen. The inside of the place looked a little dreary, but I could see it being hospitable if it were full of hunters.
From here we paddled into Indian House Lake. Headwind becomes a factor, but we are able to make progress slowly. The lake is lined with treeless hills that look a thousand feet tall from a distance, but are really quite small.
In the distance we could see the mountain tops standing far apart and knew that there, between them, a lake must lie. Could it be Indian House Lake, the Mush-au-wau-ni-pi, or "Barren Grounds Water," of the Indians? We were still farther south than it was placed on the map I carried. Yet we had passed the full number of lakes given in the map above this water. Even so I did not believe it could be the big lake I had been looking forward to reaching so eagerly.
Very northern feel. The shores of the lake are absolutely choked with alders and willows. This impenetrable growth is up to ten feet tall, but in most places does not surpass six feet in height. Seldom there is an open sandy spot along the shore that allows us to stop and rest without having to fight the bushes. Several prominent peaks dominate the view to the east. We make slow progress and take several long breaks when the wind seems particularly bad. It is here that Mina, George, and their company met the Nascaupi Indians that Leonidas Hubbard had been in search of. When they inquired about the river below here the answer the natives gave was quite accurate, even by today’s standards as we were to find out.
We enquired about the river. All were eager to tell about it, and many expressive gestures were added to their words to tell that the river was rapid all the way. An arm held at an angle showed what we were to expect in the rapids and a vigorous drop of the hand expressed something about the falls. There would be a few portages but they were not long, and in some places it would be just a short lift over; but it was all rapid nearly.
A long afternoon break is taken to avoid the winds and a dinner is prepared. We eat stove top stuffing with marinade sauce poured on it for flavor and pistachio pudding for dessert. By six o’clock we are paddling again in a diminishing wind. In the distance what seems to be a three hundred foot esker looms up. However, by the time the esker was passed it turned out to be a fifty foot eroded away sand pile of an esker lined with a set of animal tracks. By seven forty five the wind has stopped and five more miles was made by nine thirty.
The only likely camping spot that can be reached without fighting through the alders and willows is an incredible barren rock strewn island in the middle of the lake. This appears to have been a native camp for a long time. It was very likely used by the Mountaineer Indians that Mina Hubbard encountered during her 1905 expedition through this region. There is a fire ring in the center of the island and enough flat spots for all of our tents. At the east end of the islands there is a circular ring of rocks with a low center. Overall the structure was five feet in diameter by three feet deep. Perhaps this was an old sweat lodge foundation or a tent platform of some sort. A few animal bone fragments are scattered around. There is also a cave like hole with rocks propped up as shelter. This is such a great spot.
The weather has calmed and the mosquitoes are out of control now. It is a clear evening and I decide to wait up and look for the northern lights again. It may be possible to get off of this lake in two more days, but more likely than not it will take three. The lower river is supposedly a super fast paddle. We are still two hundred and fifty miles from Kangiqsualluajuaq, so the route better speed up once off of the lake. Gently open rolling hills stretch away to the west. Just before bed I have a small pack of MnM’s. A thin sliver of a moon is setting by ten forty five. This would be an incredible spot to see the northern lights from. A set of footprints was seen at the Two Rivers Lodge this morning, but we have still not seen any other people since Allen’s camp. It is hard to believe that there are only nine or ten days left in the bush, then we will be heading back home. I can’t wait to see everyone again. It seems very normal to wake up in the bush now. In many ways it does not seem like we have even been out that long, while in other ways it seems like it has been forever.
I am still amazed about having seen the wolf the other day. Eight to ten Geese were seen today, but they have their flight wings back now and will be very hard to shoot. Looking for at least a twenty mile day tomorrow. Kind winds will be necessary if this is going to happen. Lots of good sized fish were spotted swimming over a sandy bottomed part of the lake today, but they could not be enticed to strike at a lure. It is possible that they were nesting. Overall a good day with great weather despite the winds. Tomorrow should remain clear if nothing else. A south wind would be absolutely amazing.


The expedition slept late until eight thirty to discover that a headwind was already blowing. Although the conditions would allow slow travel, Jim decides that he doesn’t want to fight the breeze. Troy and I are not upset because it gives us a chance to go for a hike on the west side of the lake. Everyone decides to go on the walk.
From the island a likely route was located for the hike. Almost directly across from our location an open ridge appears to extend almost all of the way to the waters edge. To access the hike we crash through the wall of ten foot tall alders for twenty yards. The growth is almost physically impossible to move through. After this struggle the barrens are reached and the walking is easy along open rocky slopes covered with ripe blue berries. The route must have been at least a mile long and followed a rugged creek bed still filled with patches of snow and ice in a few places. At the top of the stream I veered left with Troy and Caroline to head for the summit of a prominent peak, while Jim headed off towards a different summit. Shallow alpine ponds are scattered around. Barren above treeline land similar to that found at high altitudes in the White Mountains in New Hampshire stretches for as far as the eye can see.
A steady wind blows across the summit and keeps the bugs manageable. When the breeze stops the blackflies become almost entirely out of control. An amazing view stretches up and down the lake. I roll a few rocks off of the steep back side. The tumbling boulders splinter and break, release an odd smell, and make an incredible racket. From here I hike to the next peak north that Jim has headed for. At the top a cairn is found, standing as a reminder that indigenous people have inhabited this land for a long time. Jim says he spotted a lone caribou up here when he first arrived. After taking in the view and looking at Indian House Lake stretching away for miles to the north all of us headed back down to our canoes.
Back at our island camp the wind is much calmer, but we want to nap and rest some more, since there is still a headwind. I thoroughly enjoy my bug free nap out on the open ground of the island in a steady breeze with fleece and jackets piled over me for warmth in the mid day sun. Waking up on this island in the middle of nowhere feels incredible. Dinner is prepared and at six thirty the decision is made to paddle even though it is still windy. This does not make complete sense but we decide to go for it anyways. Why would we not have paddled all day if we were planning on fighting a headwind in the evening? At least we will move now, which is good.
Slow progress is made and at eight thirty a small bear is spotted on a hill. The temptation to paddle over to look at the animal can not be resisted. The bear is small with a white patch in its chest, most likely a second year cub just kicked out to live in its own. The bruin is scratching around looking for food while periodically running to avoid the blackflies that it is being tormented by. The bear sniffs at us and walks down to the gravel beach for a look. The wild animal approached to within fifteen yards of us, a sign that it must never have seen humans before. After rolling around and swatting flies for five minutes and sniffing at us some more, the bear heads away and leaves us alone. What a great encounter.
The wind continues to calm down as dusk approaches and the decision is made to paddle all night to take advantage of the favorable conditions. This lake is the last major barrier in our way and it needs to be surmounted at all costs. The faint glow of dusk and the green light of the aurora borealis provided enough light to see adequately. Shooting stars streak across the cold night sky. By dawn the temperature is down to thirty five degrees. Wedge point is reached in the growing light of dawn, the night has been passed with only a few hours of complete darkness. Tents are spotted on a sand beach and the first people we have seen on the route in forty some days walk around the beach. They do not spot us and we head to camp on the same beach up lake of them, hidden by a point. Every one is very tired, but glad to have seventeen miles of flat water to our credit. The day was saved.

Woke up at twelve forty five. The day is hot and sunny with a light north breeze. Everyone hopes to be paddling by four this afternoon at the latest. If we paddle until nine thirty this evening it should be possible to return to a somewhat normal schedule without taxing ourselves too much. Ten miles this afternoon would be very good. My current prediction has us reaching the village by August twelfth. This is my day to wash up. The temperature is around sixty five, there is a bluebird sky and I go for a swim off of a sand and gravel point. It feels good to wash my body and hair. Forty five days have passed since I took a shower. The smell is gone and I feel like a new person.
After the shower I break down my tent as the wind dies down and the flies become horrendous. We are now in a treeless land. The tundra has been reached. Only a few widely scattered spruce and tamarack nestle near the water. I laze around and make blueberry bread with berries gathered during our hike yesterday. The fuel bottles were replenished with the spare white gas I had been carrying for the entire trip. After this I made a quick exploration of a dilapidated shack falling apart on the beach. The wreckage of an old bush plane lay next to it. I left the empty can of white gas in this broken apart cabin.
By three thirty the expedition is underway. Just below Wedge Point is an extensive open sandy esker like area on the west side of the lake. Teepee poles and a shack or two occupy the beach. This could be the spot where Mina Hubbard encountered the Naskaupi Indians, or it could be an old trading post. A strong current in the lake here leads to a wider body of water. Larger mountains lay off to the east and a snack break is called.
The hills on the east in places rose abruptly from the water, but on the west they stood a little back with sand-hills on terraces between and an occasional high, wedge-shaped point of sand and loose rock reached almost halfway across the lake. Often as I looked ahead, the lake seemed to end; but, the distant point passed, it stretched on again into the north till with repetition of this experience, it began to seem as if the end would never come. Streams entered through narrow openings between the hills, or roared down their steep sides. At one point the lake narrowed to about a quarter of a mile in width where the current was very swift. Beyond this point we saw the last caribou of the trip.

A peanut butter spill is discovered in one of the food dry bags that will have to be dealt with at some point. After the snack another hour is paddled until a rock island is reached which is the site for a leg stretch. Fish are rising and jumping everywhere, but none will strike at our lures. It seems like they are feeding only on the flies of a particular hatch that has just taken place. The lake has gone to glass now as there is not a breadth of wind. The dry bag that has been gummed up with peanut butter is cleaned and the canoes are launched again after an hours rest.
Paddle until nine at which point the head of a narrow spot on Indian House Lake is reached. Twelve to fifteen miles of lake paddling remain before the downhill ride to Ungava Bay. This has been a gorgeous lake, but everyone is looking forward to leaving it behind. Falling darkness forces us to camp on a rocky beach. A rice and bean dinner is prepared with chocolate pudding and dream whip for dessert. Saw a family of Ptarmigan just as our canoes landed at the intended camp, but none were shot because there were babies and the expedition needed no additional food at this point. It is getting exciting to think about reaching our destination now. The end is in site although it is still two hundred miles away. A half moon sets at ten thirty. We hope to wake up by six thirty tomorrow and be paddling by nine. I want to reach the outlet of the lake by four o’clock tomorrow afternoon.

I woke up at six thirty to glass conditions on the lake after an incredibly good night sleep despite being camped on rocks. Paddle ten to twelve miles on the lake in hot sun and perfect conditions. This is a great way to end our stay on Indian House Lake. Fields of rocks all along the lake shores dominate the scenery. We canoe through a narrow section of lake with fast current by ten thirty and stop where a side creek enters above a camp. Troy catches three brook trout and one lake trout at the confluence of this stream while all I come up with are a few snags.
The rest of the lake is more of the same with higher hills becoming more predominant to the west. A larger stream enters on the right about a mile from the end of the lake. Troy and I stop to fish the crystal clear waters. I catch three brook trout while Troy lands five ensuring us a good feed of fish tonight. All are pan sized and will be easy to cook. The gorgeous creek drops from the mountains rising up on the east side of the lake. After fishing we paddle on to the end of the lake and see a tent and canoe pulled up on the beach. This looks like the same outfit we saw the other day, but no one appears to be around so Troy and I paddle down until we meet Jim and Caroline again.
They are pulled over above the outlet rapids of Indian House Lake. The entire north end of the lake draining out into a class II-III rapid is impressive. The river must be a half mile wide here. According to the map, these rapids continue for two miles to a wide section of river. Everything looks runnable, but I make sure to point out to Troy the tremendous width of the river and the need to stay close to shore and out of the heavy water. A swim would be long and frightening. Some of the waves were up to six feet tall through this section. The fast and deep current produced irregular waves, but a dry line was run. Ten scoops with the bailer saw our canoe empty and ready to go. Troy and I stuck to shore whenever possible, while Jim ran a more center line.
Near the bottom of the rapids we saw two people on shore. A strong ferry was made to land our canoes along side of them for a chat. These were the first people we had has contact with in forty some days and it was exciting for us. There was a guide from Montreal and a woman from New York State. They had heard about our trip while talking with people on the train to Schefferville who had heard it mentioned in a radio show on the CBC. The guide’s name was Eric and he was very excited to have met us here. We chatted for nearly an hour. Eric told us that he had forty pounds of extra food to get rid of, but it was all at the top of the rapid about three and a half kilometers away. Since our group had no real need for extra food we politely declined, feeling a little upset about not having the Nutella and ham they described to us.
After our conversation we paddled the last hundred meters of class II to a lake expansion with a fishing camp on the left. The whine of a motor could be heard and a small speck grew larger as a motor boat approached us. This was the owner of the camp and a guide. He offered the use of his beach as a campsite and seemed a little shocked when we told him our trip had started at Northwest River Post. The guide gave us advice about the rapids below. He said the sides would be fine, but that the water in the middle of the river was very big.
Below here Slanting Lake is a wide area with current leading to a six and a half kilometer section of class II – III rapids. We decided to hug the right shore. The huge river is two or three hundred yards wide and the current is incredibly fast. Waves in the middle of the river reach heights of over six feet and the shoreline scenery speeds past as fast as if we were on a bike. The current must have been over ten miles an hour at times. It felt like we were being expelled from the interior of the land. Five miles are covered in thirty minutes without much paddling at all. Views of increasingly larger mountains appear as we sneak along the shore at break neck speeds. Troy is a bit hesitant, but we paddle well together. After the rapids we are exhilarated and amazed that in half an hour we covered a distance that took us over two days in places on Susan Brook.
After the rapids the Riviere Falcoz enters from the right just as the George makes a sweeping bend to the left. Collines Hades is an eight hundred foot barren mountain wall rising above river right in an almost vertical cliff face. We eddy out to look at a camp site and I take a cast. On the second cast I catch a three to five pound lake trout that manages to slip itself off of the hook. On the next cast another fish the same size is landed and it finds its way into the canoe so we can have it for dinner. The George narrows here and the current is ripping by in a smooth ramp of water. It looks like we will make incredible time on the lower river if this is any indication of what to expect.
After much discussion it is agreed to camp on a sand and grass beach. Jim argues that he does not want to camp on sand, but the options are few and far between. He urges us to continue, but the hour is late and the odds of finding a better site are very slim. Some time was spent collecting wood from a clump of trees so a fire could be made to cook the fish over. A rice dish and chocolate pudding cake was cooked in addition to the lake trout. We discuss our odds of making the village in seven days. I think it is possible, but eight may be more realistic. Who knows, there are lots of factors. The hills light up with the glow of sunset followed quickly by the setting half moon.
The dark blue evening sky gives way to complete darkness and then the best northern lights display of the trip. Bands of green dance and fill the sky like shifting streamers rising from the earth. The display is enjoyed until mosquitoes come out in ferocious numbers and put a damper on things. The biggest danger of the lower George seems like it will be avoiding getting sucked into big rapids by the super fast current. There is the need to make time, but safety should not be jeopardized. This is a big river that must be respected. The trip should be comfortably completed in eight days. Forty mile days do not seem to be out of the question. Eleven fifteen now. Up at seven tomorrow morning.

Far beyond my wildest thought, however, was the reality. Immediately at the outlet the canoes were caught by the swift current and for five days we were carried down through almost continuous rapids. There were long stretches of miles where the slope of the river bed was a steep gradient and I held my breath as the canoe shot down at toboggan pace. There was not only the slope down the course of the river but where the water swung past long points of loose rocks, which reach out from either shore, a distinct tilt from one side to the other could be seen, as when an engine rounds a bend. There were foaming, roaring breakers where the river flowed over its bed of boulder shallows, or again the water was smooth and apparently motionless even where the slope downward was clearly marked.

Today was one of the best days I have ever had on a river. I was awake at seven and we were in the canoes and moving by nine o’clock. The current of the lower George River moves us under Collines Hades with great speed. The super fast current continues, alternating with flatter sections. The landscape is hilly and absolutely barren of trees after lunch. Piles of huge boulders are lined up along the river banks from spring floods and ice out Ancient water levels have left their mark higher up on the hillsides in the form of flat terraces. The banks of the George are simply piles of rock deposited by the river in massive heaps. The volume and velocity of the river is tremendous and even a little intimidating. This may be the fastest current that I have ever been on.
In a slower section Troy and I spot fins of fish rising everywhere. Just before our lunch stop I catch a fourteen inch brook trout and release it because the day is warm and the meat would have spoiled. The weather is phenomenal. Temperatures are in the mid eighties, too hot for flies and crystal clear. With just easy paddling fifteen miles lay behind us by lunch time. Just before our stop was an incredible section of river.
A section of marked rapids started in a right turn as the George River dropped around Collines Wedge. The entire section is very fast and runnable. All of the heavy water was snuck on river right along side barren fields of rock. A few spruce line the river on its left side. Fluted, water worn ridges rise up on the left with snow patches and metamorphic ledges in front of us. The river is flowing through an amphitheater of wonder. The river is reaching into the mountains as a ramp of huge class II water moving at least five miles and hour. I could look at this scenery all day long and not tire of it. The George moved back to the left and entered a two mile long class II that spilled from between the mountains into a lake expansion.
We stopped on river right below here for a stretch and a swim. I catch a tiny brook trout which I released. Our stop is at the base of a fifteen foot pile of loose boulders tossed up by the river. An otter swims in front of us while we are eating and hangs around for a while. The animal dove and played while barking curiously at us as a warning for us to vacate its land and move along. Basking in the sun was very enjoyable, but the time came to cover some ground.
After our rest the remainder of the flats were crossed to some outlet rapids. The next ten to twelve miles are the fastest of the trip. Ripping current and runnable class II sneak lines typify this section of river. Huge waves fill the middle of the George River and we even move out and take on a few of them. The rocks below speed past as the canoes are ocketed on a ramp through more barren scenery into a slightly wooded valley. The whole world is on a tilt. Troy and I eddied out on river right near the bottom of a left turn in the middle of a class II rapid. In two casts I manage to catch two twelve inch brook trout. The fish jumped and put up a great fight and were covered with colorful speckles. Both were released. I believe there are almost limitless numbers of trout in the river now. A few hours earlier I caught a fifteen inch brookie on my Thomas Bouyant lure and played it in for a while before releasing it. Jim and Caroline flew past us a while ago and we headed out so as to not get to far separated.
The next rapids and stretch of fast water takes us past more amazing hills. I am still in awe of the fast powerful current and the size of the river that is up to three hundred meters wide in places. A swim anywhere would be horrendous. By six thirty it is time to start looking for a camp. There seem to be no good spots because the shores are rock fields and away from the river are either piles of boulders or land covered with low and thick spruce. One potential site is checked out on river right, but it is at the top of a thirty foot slope of loose rocks and boulders that is too treacherous to climb more than once.

After noon, more rapids and I got out above one of them to walk. I climbed up the river wall to the high, sandy terrace above. This great wall of packed boulders is one of the most characteristic features of the lower river. It is thrown up by the action of ice in the spring floods, and varies all the way from twenty feet at its beginning to fifty and sixty feet farther down. One of the remarkable things about it is that the largest boulders lie at the top, some of them so huge as to weigh tons. On the terrace, moss berries and blue berries were so thick as to make walking slippery. The river grows more magnificent all the time. I took one photograph of the sun's rays slanting down through a rift in the clouds, and lighting up the mountains in the distance. I am feeling wretched over not having more films. How I wish I had brought twice as many.

From the top of the rock heap Jim and I spot a potential open spot on river left just upstream. The canoes are ferried to the other side of the river and I run up the few hundred yards to scout out the site. The spot is absolutely perfect. The ground is flat and covered with tight moss on the edge of a stand of spruce. Mountain and river views dominate the scenery at this little piece of heaven. The boats are lined upstream so camp can be made here and the work is well worth the effort.
I set my tent quickly, grab the survival rifle and set out to hike up the mountain rising behind camp. The climb is all over open rocks and very steep. I set out at eight thirty and made my way up the five hundred foot hill by eight forty five. Sweat is pouring from me and I am breathing hard at the top. The view is incredible up and down the river. From here it is clear that the water level is much lower than it is at its height because a good deal of exposed river bed can be seen. Barren land extends for as far as the eye can see. A set of rapids was spotted downstream that looked large even from this vantage point. Farther up on the actual summit I spot a cairn that must have been made by Inuit to mark the location. A short walk brings me to the marker. The Inukshuk has a narrow base with a flat angular stone laid flat at its top. These markers are supposed to resemble the form of a human and I can see the resemblance. I feel very connected to this place that seems so remote, but has been inhabited for thousands of years by native people.
The hike was great and steep and I found myself back in camp by nine fifteen. The others had not motivated to prepare dinner yet so I helped make some pasta and pesto sauce. A big bowl of pudding and dream whip was made for dessert. Jim made a batch of bread for the next few days. The time is eleven twenty eight and I have accidentally let over fifty mosquitoes into the tent. A solid five minutes of mashing and smearing them was required before I could get ready for bed. Seeing the sun set from the hill top this evening was one of the highlights of the trip. It is to bad there has not been more time for hiking on the lower river.

Up a little after seven to sunny and warm blue skies yet again. This is an absolutely amazing string of weather. We paddled away from camp and after a small lake section six miles of fast water and rapids came at as. The speed of the current is still unbelievable. Below here the George runs into a longer flat water section. Fish are rising all over the place and the fisherman in us can’t resist a cast. In two minutes both Troy and I have caught, landed, and released brook trout. The rest of the morning is alternating flat and fast sections of river. Eventually a river is met entering from the right. Its green and aqua colored water flows separately from the darker blue waters of the George before mixing and carrying on towards the sea. The Pyramid Hills can be seen ahead. These mountains are distinctively shaped and flat terraces from old ocean levels are eroded into the hills at different levels.
In three miles we reach Peter Mae’s camp on river left. Peter has a buddy up from Moosonee to help him with his camp for a while. These guys are all about having a good time. They are the friendliest people we have met yet. This is a great spot for a camp with a long flat esker as a runway for planes. Pete tells us that he used to see herds of a hundred thousand caribou at a time. They are full of stories and show us a spot in a sandy rock pile across the river that is full of ice buried by debris during break up. The rocks and sand act as insulation and keep the ice there all summer. He tells us that the river has been dropping fast and that the water has gone down two feet in the last three days. The water is apparently not at its lowest level. He does say that this stretch of calm and dry weather is unusual for August and more typical of July. Pete thinks that the best time of the year is June when the weather is good and the insects are not out yet. We learn much more valuable information. The Des Pas River can be boated from Schefferville into the George which would allow for very cheap and easy access to this incredible land. It sounds like the Salmon should start to run any day now. We are told about fast current running for the next twenty miles and given a little advice about a few of the rapids below here.
After eating our lunch we said good bye and headed downstream. Continuous fast water and easy rapids lead for what may have been ten miles to a harder rapid. We run the first set through a shallow shore line route that takes us to the right of ledges and a big hole. After this I spot another ledge extending out from the right shore so an eddy is caught from which a boat scout is made. It looks like we can run to the left of the hole while staying inside of the largest waves. Peeling out into the fast current is a little tricky and I have to lean the canoe so much that its downstream gunnel almost dips into the water. Fifty meters below here we commit to the center of the river to miss the hydraulic. It quickly becomes obvious that we are committed to running two huge waves, the first of which is breaking. It sure looked like we were heading for a swamp and swim from my seat in the back of the canoe and I am sure that Troy thought like wise. The water simply looked too big to run in an open canoe. I yelled up to Troy to power ahead at full speed. Back paddling to stay dry was obviously not going to work with that breaking wave. Our boat rose nicely over the first wave but slammed into the second, half filling us with water. Somehow Troy and myself managed to brace the canoe into a river right eddy and bailed her dry. This was real exciting and a good adrenaline rush, but certainly a situation to avoid in the future.
More fast water follows and Troy caught two brook trout in the current. The fish are absolutely everywhere. Not far after the rapid a pair of Geese was spotted standing on shore. Their flight feathers were not back yet and they decided to hide by standing perfectly still. This interesting behavior made one of them a very easy target for Troy and with the crack of the rifle a goose dinner was obtained. The George bends to the right and we scout the blind corner to avoid another near mishap. A tight line on the right shore is run and the rapid is behind us. The George now enters an area with bigger mountains and endless hiking opportunities. Fluted sides, loose rock piles, hanging glacial valleys, and scenery as incredible as on the Moise but on a larger scale greets us. The current is fast and we are covering lots of ground so I have us stop at the entrance of the Nutililik River.
This was perhaps the single most spectacular spot of the entire trip. The aqua blue water spills out of a range of jagged mountains, through a spectacular gorge of falls and cascades, and over a final sheer falls before spilling into the George. The water is so clear that tiny pebbles can be seen at the bottom of twenty foot deep pools. I took a few casts and caught a fourteen inch brook trout in this most incredible of places. Initially we stopped in here for a quick snack. I walked up the hill to look at the falls and came across a flat area carpeted with moss and lichen and an old fire ring. This could be the most spectacular campsite ever. Twenty five miles have been paddled today which helps me convince Jim to stop here at five thirty. He is reluctant, but gives in. Had he said he wanted to proceed I believe this would be where we would have parted ways and sent Jim and Caroline off on their own. Stopping here did much to improve group dynamics.
Fat blueberries and hairy gooseberries are everywhere. After setting up my tent I hike up the creek and explore the series of falls. At one point I waded across the river and scrambled over water worn ledges and over rocks to access a better view of a cascade. It looks like the water can get to be eight feet higher in here which would be a truly unreal sight to behold. One forty foot sliding double falls has a pothole off to its side that contains a lone trout stuck here when the water from spring receded. Thousand foot mountains rise above Nutililik River and fresh caribou tracks are found along a trail running up the north side of the creek. Down in the gorge I catch and release a small brook trout. This is certainly one of the top ten most incredible places I have ever seen on a river.
For dinner we had a meal provided by the bush. Goose, trout, and berries with rice and a cheesecake topped with blue berries for dessert. What a great day. Fifty five miles have been covered in two days. Ninety five miles remain to Kangiqsuallujuaq and we should arrive by Monday. Four days from now and we will be at the end of our trip. It is eleven forty seven and a few high clouds are drifting overhead, hiding any northern lights display.

Hard to get up this morning. The sun was shining in the tent and it was so warm. I threw my wet clothes out to dry and stayed in bed until seven thirty. We all ate cold cereal and a candy bar for breakfast. It was amazing to wake up and see the falls on the side creek. Definitely one of the most memorable spots on the trip.
Paddle a fast ten miles on a ramp of water. Troy catches a trout and releases it before we paddle into a flat section and have lunch. I catch four or five twelve to fifteen inch brookies by fishing off of a ledge. Three or four fish are following the lure at a time. This is unreal. All trout caught were released. Troy lands another. The skies are crystal clear again with temperatures in the eighties and a nice breeze blowing.
The breeze blows as a tailwind for two miles of flatwater before the river turns and we are faced with a headwind. The breeze is fought for a while before the current picks up and helps us along again. Huge mountains line the river and act as a wind tunnel of sorts. Barren ledges, waterfalls, domes, and ridges stretch up and away from the George. A person could spend an entire summer paddling and hiking the river. Big cliffs rise up above the George now, with talus slopes lying below them. At the end of a long straight away we break for an hour at a rocky island.
Some fun rapids follow for two miles before coming to a heavier rapid. Three quarters of a mile of class II+ are paddled before the river narrows at a ledgy constriction and the George spills through a big rapid. A series of huge green water waves ten to fifteen feet tall dominated the center of the rapid. We lined this drop through a series of side channels on river right under the humbling mountain scenery all around us. I took a cast in the swirling eddy below the rapid and caught a great fifteen inch trout that put up a big fight in the heavy current. I released it since we were near the end of the trip and had lots of food now.
We paddled until eight thirty and camped on river left at the top of a sixty foot high bluff. The ground at the top of the bluff was as flat as pool table, open, and covered in moss. The only problem was that a steep sandy slope had to be climbed in order to reach it. A series of cliffs lined a mountain wall behind here. There was a big sunset over the hazy blue mountains to the north west.
Dinner was prepared down by the river so everything did not have to be carried up the steep sandy hill. Macaroni and Cheese and a pudding dessert was prepared. The menu was getting a little monotonous, but at least there was plenty of food. From here it looks like we could reach the village late Sunday evening or Monday if the weather holds and we have good luck with the tides. It is now eleven fifty four and we are turning our clocks back to Quebec time so there is no confusing transition when the town is reached. This makes it ten fifty five.

Up to sun and more hot clear weather yet again. This stretch of perfect weather is as remarkable as the period of rain and gloom that we experienced in July. After breakfast I caught three small trout off of the beach and released them all. The morning was lazy, but it felt good to relax. The expedition is coming to a close quickly now and I wanted to enjoy every last minute out here.
Six miles of flatwater led to Helen Falls. A kilometer of class II was lined and run to a sandy beach above the main drop at Helen Falls. The falls is actually a huge class V rapid that is some of the most spectacular whitewater I have ever seen. Large cliff lined mountains are all around us. Before starting the portage we explore the rapid. It features a drop of thirty to fifty feet throughout the rapid. There must be a vertical ledge under there somewhere, but the volume is so great that it makes a series of holes and waves that are immense. One hole in particular must have a twenty foot high foam pile.

And still the river roared on down through its narrow valley, at Helen Falls dropping by wild and tempestuous cascades, and then by almost equally wild rapids, to a mile below where it shoots out into an expansion with such terrific force as to keep this great rush of water above the general level for some distance out into the lake. Here we made the longest portage of the journey down the George River, carrying the stuff one and a quarter mile.

Back at the canoe a short bushwhack leads to a three foot wide portage trail. The trail has been used for years and cleared out by camp owners portaging freighter canoes upstream. All of the motor boats on the George motored up from Ungava Bay. Helen Falls is the only place where they have to portaged, which is remarkable in its own right. Although the trail is well established, the temperature is out of control hot. It is easily in the nineties and way to hot for any insects. I did the portage in a pair of shorts with no shirt on. At the end of the carry I jumped into the cold water for a refreshing swim before walking up to the woods at the edge of the river and collapsing in the shade while waiting for the others to complete the carry.
In two miles we approached another rapid with a fishing camp on river right. As we arrived three canoes motored downstream with fishing clients on board, each giving a wave as it passed us. Then the noise of a float plane taking off was heard. The plane circled and started to cruise up the river a mere thirty feet above the water. The plane buzzed us and we carried on our way. A class II side channel was run through the big ledge rapid next to the camp before putting in to a beach.
After landing the four of us walked up to see who was at the camp. Two guys from Maine were the first to spot us and we tried to talk with them. These guys were thick as a brick and it was hard to tell if they were being unfriendly or just socially inept. After five minutes of painful attempts to chat the camp cook came out and invited us in. Her name was Treena and she gave us bread, cookies, and soup. We talked to a few clients, one from northern New York State who gave us cheese and sausage. After an hour we left and Jim had managed to get a pack of cigarettes from Treena, much to his delight.
Two more miles were paddled down to camp on river left at a shore line beach type spot that was dry enough to set up tents. From the maps it looked like there were only twelve miles to cover until tidewater was reached and only thirty miles to the town. Our plan was to come close to the village tomorrow, figure out the tides, and paddle in on the high tide sometime Monday. This has been a great trip, but with the end so close the desire to get there is nearly overwhelming. The time has come for the expedition to end. Everyone is so excited.
Before going into camp Troy catches three brookies for dinner, two of which are kept. Rice and Beans are on the menu tonight. Stopping at the fishing camp was a little strange. It was hard to socialize with ten people after being in the wilderness for forty eight days. Things are starting to cloud up. Perhaps it will rain tomorrow. Twelve after ten now on Eastern Standard Time.

This could be our last full day in the bush and there are mixed feelings for sure. What a carefree routine we have had this summer. A hot morning gave way to cool breezes that ushered in showers by evening. After lunch the upper extent of tidal influence was reached. It is hard to say if the tide was low or high when we showed up. At the upstream end of tidal influence is a rapid that we ran on river right through a narrow channel that avoided heavy water in the center of the river.
Below this rapid we fished for a while. A bunch of small brook trout were caught and released and I landed a sea run trout or a small salmon that I released. The George is now in its estuary and the terrain is as barren as it has been at any point on the trip. The scenery of like a fjord and the river continues to widen. Currents begin to affect us and a headwind starts to build stronger and stronger. Much effort is exerted, but we are determined to reach a site marked as having fresh water and tent sites by this evening. Troy and I outdistance Jim and Caroline by a good distance early in the afternoon and we stop on a sandy island exposed by low tides to wait for them. I climb a boulder and we mess around for nearly a half hour as the other boat comes up from behind.
It is agreed to stay a little closer together since the George is getting very large and we are unsure of our final destination for the day. The whole river swings to the left and we paddle along under mountains lined with gray rocks covered with scatterings of white quartz that looks like snow. The wind continues to build and it starts to feel chilly as a few showers blow by. The river eventually turned back to the right. When this corner was rounded a strong headwind slammed us. Forward progress became difficult and swells made travel treacherous. An incoming tide was being fought as well and Troy thought he saw something rise out of the water along side of us. We were getting tired and things were getting difficult and strange. The shores were bare rock and ledge and a high water mark could be seen. It was time to make camp. The first spot marked as suitable was around a small point. This protected bay had a small trickle of a freshwater stream coming in and a little shack of a hunting camp tucked near a stand of vegetation at the bottom of mountain on the north side of the bay. We paddled to this spot and landed the canoes.
The tide was coming up quickly and by the time a load was taken out of the canoes and carried up to the shoreline vegetation, which was the only sure fire indication of a place where the tide did not reach, the boats were almost floating again. The whole outfit was dragged way up and we decided to make the last camp of the trip in this rugged little bay. Once on shore we spotted a seal or sea lion out in the bay. It swam around for a while and checked us out. This was great and we were all excited to see this creature. It was a sure sign that we were close to the ocean now.
Our tents were set up on the edge of a stand of spruce and a macaroni and cheese dinner was cooked up with a pudding for dessert. After eating I decided to hike up the mountain on the south side of our bay to get a view of the surrounding land. The walk took me across slabs of ledge at the head of the bay and across the fresh water brook that spilled into the George. The hill was only a few hundred feet high but provided a commanding view of the surrounding area. I may have been able to see Ungava Bay had the weather been clear. At the summit of the hill I saw something surprisingly large bound away. It turned out to be an arctic hare. I was shocked at its size. I took a few pictures and noted that dark clouds were swirling all around. The little shack and our tents could be clearly seen next to the full bay below us. I hope the weather would calm down and hold long enough to let us reach the village tomorrow. By ten fifteen I was in bed and asleep.

Well. It turns out that yesterday was not our last full day in the bush. It is storming pretty badly this morning. Woke up to wind and patchy showers blowing through all morning. The tide was high this morning and starting to drop when I poked my head out of the tent. As we get ready to leave the wind increases and swells out on the river grow to three or four feet. The group decides that conditions are not fit for travel. The only course of action that makes any sense is to wait out the weather.
Squalls blow through now and I take a walk up the open rock behind the cabin in the bay to check things out. Whitecaps are blowing across the water and showers are slamming through. The wind is blowing so hard that I can hunker down in the less of rocks and not get wet from the wind driven rain showers. These showers produce incredible rainbows over the water. One rainbow looks like it is actually below me from my position up on the hill.
By lunch time a steady rain has developed but the wind appears to have calmed enough to allow us to paddle. We eat and try to leave the bay. The tide is so low now that there are at least a quarter mile of mud flats to the water. We tried to drag the loaded canoes through the mud to the channel cut by the freshwater creek and out to the George. As we make our way through the slop to the water the tide continues to fall. Our attempt to make the final push is squashed when winds in excess of twenty miles an hour with heavier gusts build up and blow the water we are headed for into a frenzy of whitecaps. The wind gets so strong that it is hard to even stand up when it gusts. The attempt is aborted and we struggle to drag the outfit to a clump of spruce above the high tide mark. The canoes and whatever gear we do not need is tied off and stashed here. From this position we retreat to the shelter offered by the little shack back in the bay.
A full on storm is blowing now and travel is impossible. We agreed to wait for good weather and to try to leave here on the high tide to avoid dragging through mud flats. The schedule was becoming clear now and we would try to use this to time our arrival at George River Village. Hopefully the storm abates by tomorrow. This place is so rugged. Rain is pouring down now and it looks like it could storm for a while. The shack is getting chilly and it is very humid and damp in here. Still, there is more room than in the tents and we can cook in here and stretch out. The final push to town will be made tomorrow whenever the conditions allow.
Lots of food and fuel are left and we are making lots of hot drinks and food. It is hard to believe we have come all this way. Being in Northwest River Post seems like it was a different lifetime. What a way to spend an entire summer. I am excited to get to enjoy the nice hot summer weather of late August at home, with crickets chirping, warm nights, corn on the cob, and fresh tomatoes. I am missing my friends and family some.
The little shack is creaking in the wind now and starting to leak. There is no sign of the weather changing except for the fact that the wind is getting stronger. It is blowing so hard out there. August is known as the start of the fall storm season and we are lucky that this is the first of these we have experienced. The shack is feeling more and more like home. It should be possible to reach the village in five or six hours of paddling from here. I will be very happy to have some time to be at home and relax before work starts.
Everything will be a luxury after this trip. So many modern conveniences. Still, it was nice to have nothing to worry about for two entire months. Some days I thought about nothing at all except for the task that was at hand. I am very ready to reach the village though. Sitting here waiting is frustrating, especially since we are so close to the end. It is now four o’clock. The shack is starting to leak more. I ate a Cloudberry or bake apple berry. It was a little under ripe and seedy, but still tasted good. Slightly chilled and bored. Tough to deal with delay now, but it is the reality of the trip and of life in the north. Weather reigns supreme here and dictates everything. It certainly raises one’s awareness of their surroundings.
It has been really remarkable to have seen such a variety of terrain on this trip. We have been the first people to paddle the route we have just completed. Patience and perseverance will win out now. We should all be home in a week at the most, probably much sooner.
It is seven in the evening now and the storm is slamming us. Winds must be gusting well over thirty miles and hour. The shack is rattling but should hold up through the night. Troy and I have decided to spend the night in here instead of setting up the tents again. Setting up the tent in this driving rainstorm would be ridiculous. This is the first full storm of the year. We are bummed out to be stuck, but I am glad to experience the harsh reality of this land. You just can not be in a rush when you travel in the north. The shack is very rickety, but we have managed to plug up most of the holes with bags and other stuff.
Future trips in the north will involve more time for side trips. There is such spectacular scenery and fishing. I could have spent thirty days paddling the George River relaxing, fishing, and hiking. It is inevitable that I will return to Canada for another bush trip. It is so cool to be totally self reliant for so long. Saw some caribou tracks in the mud today and found some bones and vertebrae with flesh still attached. Still playing the waiting game now. I can’t imagine the storm lasting through tomorrow, but I suppose anything is possible. There is no way to overpower nature.
Life is so simple in the bush. You need food, water, and shelter. That is simple to understand. It often seems like we are forced to deal with too much in our daily lives. We are locked into this system from birth and any chance to escape, no matter how long or short, is worth while. The chance to escape is essential. Still, it is hard to complain about our lives. The amenities of home are so enjoyable and we certainly use them all of the time and rely on them. Some may not see the importance of the chance to get away and explore and test yourself. I may teach forever. It is different each day yet has a reassuring routine to it. There is so much that I want to do. It is a great job for planning trips like this. It is great to think that I have seen places that no white men have ever seen from the ground. Truly unspoiled land up here.

I am writing this from the inside of the hotel in Kangiqsuallujjuaq! We have made it. The Hubbard Memorial Expedition was a success. Awake at six this morning to the sound of rain still falling, but tapering. The wind seemed to be lighter, but it was still audible through the shack. It was decided to attempt to leave for the town if there was any possibility of paddling. By breakfast time at eight the wind is diminishing, whitecaps are becoming fewer and fewer, and our little bay is starting to fill in with the flood tide. Hopefully we will be able to leave here as the tide turns and ride it out to the village. After breakfast is finished the wind has settled to a breeze and there are no whitecaps. The decision is made to make a final push.
We walked the three hundred meters to where the canoes were tied off yesterday and paddled them back to our gear. By ten the tide has just started to ebb. The boats were loaded and we were quickly underway. There were some rollers but we crossed to the west side of the river. Rode the current past Ile Ford and came to a large crossing. Troy and I notice buildings to our right about three miles away. Headlights and an airplane are seen. This must be the village. As we start to head into the open water the current is ripping out so fast that it is drawing us away from the village. I express my concern to Troy, set a strong ferry angle, and start paddling hard to escape the big current. Large waves are forming here and things are a little intimidating. The closer we get the more apparent it becomes that what we are seeing is Kangiqsuallujuaq. The tide was carrying us out to Ungava Bay much faster than we anticipated and we both started paddling hard to make the crossing.
There it was deep in a cove, on the right bank of the river, a little group of tiny buildings nestling in at the foot of a mountain of solid rock. It seemed almost microscopic in the midst of such surroundings. The tide was low and a great, boulder- strewn, mud flat stretched from side to side of the cove. Down from the hills to the east flowed a little stream winding its way through a tortuous channel as it passed out to the river. We turned into it and followed it up, passing between high mud-banks which obscured the post till we reached a bend where the channel bore away to the farther side of the cove. Then to my surprise the men suddenly changed paddles for poles and turning the bows inshore poled right on up over the mud-bank. It was such a funny and novel performance that it snapped the spell for me, and I joined with the men in their shouts of laughter over the antics of the canoe on the slippery mud-bank. When we finally reached the top and slid out on to the flat, we saw a man, who we supposed must be Mr. Ford, the agent at the post, coming over the mud with his retinue of Eskimo to meet us.

Jim saw us make the turn towards the town but though that it was too soon for the town so he kept to the left shore. Rain showers and a fog bank rolled in and we lost sight of Jim and Caroline. We can’t believe they have not followed us. The conditions were a little to rough to sit and wait for them realize the mistake so we kept paddling hoping they would see the town. Troy and I eventually reach the edge of the bay that the town sits in and find a few hundred meters of mudflats separating us from an access road leading to a point on the water. We portage our gear this three hundred meters to the roads and start to look for Jim and Caroline. We are on shore around two and there is no sign of Jim’s canoe. Troy waves his paddle and screams but there is nothing. Then, along the far shore he spots the red canoe being carried out on the ebbing tide. Even from a mile away we could see their canoe rocketing down the river. We were a little scared for them because some fog was rolling in. Apparently Jim did not realize his mistake until it was too late. There was nothing to do now but hope that they would make the crossing safely and be able to carry their stuff up to the town.
On the road Troy and I meet two Inuit. Felix and his father load our gear into their truck and drive us to the double wide trailer owned by Pierre that acts as the town’s hotel and restaurant. Pierre gives us a room for seventy five bucks and drives us out across the mud flats to pick up Jim and Caroline’s gear. This is a great deal really. It is a little strange to be riding around in the back of a truck all of a sudden. The village is a little severe looking. Rock dominates the landscape with buildings going back in a valley away from the water. Dirt streets and kids tearing around on four wheelers dominate the scene. We get our gear into the hotel and start to scatter things around to dry them out and separate them. Now we have to deal with flights home. The shower and shave I had was incredible. I feel like a new person. I will explore the town tomorrow. It is unreal that this journey that has consumed my thoughts daily for at least two years is over. Will check with the airport tomorrow to see how to work things out.

Special Comments: 

We ran the George River as the end to a 50 day expedition that brought us from Northwest River Post in Labrador to the headwaters of the George River. We followed the route that Leonidas inadvertently attempted in 1903. Thsi brought us up Susan Brook and the Beaver River to Smallwood Reservoir. We accessed the George by paddling across Smallwood Reservoir and portaging into Hubbard Lake, very near Cabot Lake where many typical George River trips begin.

This route description is for the George River only.

We were pressed for time and paddled the George very quickly. The hiking and fishing oppurtunities are so great that more time out there would be desirable.

Good luck finding campsites on the southern half of Indian House Lake. The shore is a disaster of ten foot tall alders and willows. Look for the small island fifteen miles into the lake to camp on.