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PostPosted: April 21st, 2009, 8:10 pm 

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4044
Location: Toronto
I just realised that I had neglected to post the technical version of my Parent-Coppermine report.
The nontechnical version is at ... outeid=773

I prepared the following on a Unix machine and the formatting didn't carry over very well. I may come back and clean things up.

Coppermine River

Copyright: Allan E Jacobs, September 2007. All rights reserved.

Starting from the west end of Grenville Lake, paddle down the Parent River through Rawalpindi Lake and Parent Lake to the west end of Redrock Lake; join the Coppermine River there and continue through Rocknest Lake to Kugluktuk on Coronation Gulf.

Believe no map; trust no trip report, including this one. Send corrections, etc to allan.jacobs(AT)

Eric Morse: "... the Coppermine ... is the ultimate -- even better than the Thelon. The rapids, scenery, game, and everything put it at the top of my list." (from November 1966 letter to Bob Matteson).
Bob Matteson: "It has everything -- history, clear water, miles and miles of exciting rapids, great fishing, no people, pure air, beautiful scenery, few portages, and few bugs."
The source for both quotations is Matteson's trip report, 1970.

An excellent trip, at the top of the do-again list for some of us; it is moderately tough though and not recommended for a first north-of-60 trip.

We found them more difficult than expected from the information available to us; we had very low water however. Depending on what you run and the conditions, in our opinion the rapids are as tough as the rock garden below the Moose Ponds, and much tougher than those on the Bonnet Plume, Mara/Burnside, Kazan, Mountain, Thelon and Horton.

We portaged 5 times. Those around Rocky Defile, Escape and Bloody Falls are not easy; they are comparable to the ones around the Burnside, Thelon and Horton canyons, but shorter.

To us, not as good as the Horton or the upper Thelon, better than the Mara/Burnside.

We saw more on the Thelon and Mara/Burnside (where though I had to search for wolves).

The Coppermine is hard to beat.

Well up the scale; tough enough to discourage many. We saw only 6 people; we heard though that tourism was way down this year, likely to to the events of the previous fall. The Ross Hodgetts group of 6 was to start at Grenville Lake about 1 week ahead of us; I just heard that because of the low water they decided to start at Redrock instead.
Another group (report at Richard Munn's also started at Grenville.

We did almost none (100% success rate); others report very good fishing.

We landed on Grenville Lake on 16 July 2002 and camped there that night; we reached Kugluktuk in the morning of 5 August, for 19 days on the water.

People, boats, logistics:
WCA group: Jayne Beardsmore and Stephen Catlin (16' red), Linda Gordon and Allan Jacobs (17' green), and Enid Weiner and Bob Bignell (18' blue), from Toronto, Flamborough and Mississauga; all 3 boats were Novacrafts.
Boyd Warner of Bathurst Arctic Developments (, highly recommended) arranged boats and logistics (flight from Yellowknife to Grenville and flight from Kugluktuk to Yellowknife).
Boyd's idea to nest the boats (hence the 3 sizes) worked well; the several hours spent installing and removing the seats, thwarts, etc saved us a lot of money in getting the boats back to Yellowknife.

Most days were sunny with temperatures in the 10s and 20s; it was cooler near the coast. We had only a little rain, only a few cold days, and frost only one night; we were windbound only one day. It seems that we lucked out; most other groups had it tougher, some much tougher. The norm seems to be several cold rainy days and several windbound.

Water level:
According to Phil on his 4th trip and Faruk on his 11th, both of whom we met on the river, the level was well below normal.
Records from 1967 on show that water was highest in 2001 and lowest in 2002, a difference of 1.3 m [Source Faruk].
The consequence is that the rapids descriptions to follow may not be worth much at different levels.
Both we (with very low water) and Bill Layman (with very high) found it hard to recognize some rapids from the reports.

Comments on gear, etc:
Tent, pfd, sleeping bag, rain gear and clothing must all be of high quality.
Boats: I'm not confident enough to use a Kevlar or an aluminum boat.
Wet/dry suit: We think that one is essential, especially on the lower Coppermine; we didn't dump there but would have felt uncomfortable not wearing one.
Spray skirts: We think they are essential on the lower Coppermine; they are not needed on the Parent (where they are worse than useless since they hinder getting in an out of the boat at drag time).
Bugs: weren't as bad as on the Kazan and Thelon, but "few bugs" seems inaccurate.
Bug shirts: We think they are next to essential; head nets are not so good but the group could carry 1 or 2 as backup.
Bug tent: In our opinion, this is the greatest idea since the bug shirt; the guide tarp wasn't necessary (ordinary tarp was good enough).
Good ideas: paddling gloves and hand cream (fingers crack); waterproof camera or case; folding plastic food pots (Pak-Bowls from Backpackers Pantry); big carabiners; fungicide (feet got wet and stayed wet too long); a saw (even if you plan to use stoves exclusively; if you need a tree as a pry, I assure you from experience that a Swiss army knife doesn't cut it); helmet?
Flashlight was not needed (16 July to 5 August).
Barrels: The big blue guys worked great; olive barrels and seal bags leaked.
Bear protection: We carried pepper spray and bangers; we had access to a shotgun but voted not to bring it.
Cooking: We used wood mostly. The upper Parent and the Coppermine below Escape are in the barrens but driftwood is usually available; we needed our naphtha stoves at some sites.
Wayfinding: A pocket compass is not reliable (the dip is large, the maps are old and the declination is changing rapidly). The GPS was only occasionally useful.
Maps: We had 4 complete sets (copies) of 1:50k topos (all NAD27); the topos and the GPS disagreed at Muskox. The numbers of the 21 topos used are given under "Distances and elevations ...".
Cleaning: It is an extremely sensitive area. We used no detergent; we used gravel and sand for cleaning pots except occasionally we used biodegradable soap to cut grease (then rinsed thoroughly and dumped away from river; I've heard horror stories of people getting sick from ingesting soap). We rinsed bodies in river or sponge bathed, using bdg soap occasionally.
Water filters: Some filtered (you're crazy if you don't) and some didn't (you're crazy if you do); I haven't heard of anyone getting sick on the big northern rivers.
Waste: We covered poo and burned toilet paper.

Again, better:
Carry longer ropes and a satellite phone. Take river rescue course. Allow more time (or push harder) in order to hike more.

People encounters:
Phil, Mary, Mary Kay and Katie from Wisconsin, one tough group of pros, travelling fast (3 days to our 4 or so); two started at Rae and the others at Mesa Lake; all did the 4 mile portage to the Parent. Thanks for help with the pin.

Fishermen Faruk Ekich ("Flytying Enhancements", 14 Lismore Court, Brampton L6Z 1W1, fekich(AT) Brampton and Bill Blatch from Bordeaux. Thanks for tips on rapids and campsites. In Bob's words, they "were fly fisher aficionados, so despite being invited to cast a lure where they were fishing I declined. They were the consummate sport fishers and I didn't wish to offend their ideals of what fishing should be. It is rare to see this "class" of fishermen. They probably debate if fishing is an art or science!"

10 muskoxen (all in one herd), 5 moose, 2 caribou (maybe same one twice), 2 wolves, 3 bears (mom & 2 cubs), only a few Arctic ground squirrels, many peregrines, bald eagles, tundra swans, arctic terns and gulls.


Richardson, John. Arctic Ordeal, McGill-Queen's University Press, edited by C S Houston (University of Saskatchewan), 1984. Franklin's party left Rocknest Lake on 1 July and reached Bloody Falls on 15 July.

Douglas, George M. Lands Forlorn: A Story of an Expedition to Hearne's Coppermine River, Putnam, New York (1914). Rare and expensive; fascinating account with many photographs.
Second edition: Robert S Hildebrand, Zanduco Press (2008).

Goering: Trip report of Jack Goering (1966), with Eric & PamelaMorse, Bill & Tom Mathers, Angus Scott, Arch Jones and Pierre Trudeau. Started from Lac de Gras on 17 July, entered Rocknest on 26 July, finished on 5 August. I found this the most useful of the reports re rapids; I had difficulty with it though from the start of Muskox to just before Escape. Goering had the report of Richard Martin (1962, not available to us, with ? Miller) and used his numbering for the rapids. Goering had also Hearne's account (and Mowat's version of it), Franklin's journal, the account of Thomas Simpson (1836-39), Hanbury's book (1900-02), Lands Forlorn, aerial photographs, and notes of Geoffrey Gilbert (1929), Bill Kemp (1960) and Dexter Davidson (1965).

Verbeek: Trip report of Peter Verbeek (1993, handwritten), with Joop Steinfort, Ralph Zaffran and Doug Niles (1 tandem, 2 solo). Started at Providence Lake. Entered Rocknest on 23 July, finished on 4 August.
Water level was very high. Had Goering report. Peter met with Enid and me before the trip; he showed us his video, gave us his campsite locations (helpful in judging pace), and located Martin's rapids numbers on the topos (very useful). A polished version of his report appears in the spring 1994 issue of Nastawgan (WCA journal, volume 21, No. 1); it is available also from Canadian Canoe Routes at

Grater: Trip report of Wendy Grater (1977), with Jake Fallis, Fred Loosemore, Jim Raffan, Cathy Laing and Norm Frost. Started from Lac de Gras on 19 July, entered Rocknest on 29 July, finished on 14 August. "White water experience mandatory" is written on the first page of my copy.

McCreadie: "Canoeing Canada's Northwest Territories, A Paddler's Guide", Canadian Recreational Canoeing Association, edited by Mary McCreadie, 1995. No home should be without this one. Informative and gives good background. Her sources were GNWT Travel Arctic (1979), Franklin's journal, National Park Service Report (below) and personal logs of Barbara Cameron (1985), Fred Vermeulen (1976) and Shawn Hodgins.

Ekich-Blatch: Faruk Ekich and Bill Blatch (met them on the river).

Hodgins-Hoyle: "Canoeing North into the Unknown", Bruce W Hodgins and Gwyneth Hoyle of Trent University, Natural Heritage / Natural History Inc 1994. Call number F 5021 H56. Lists early travellers and further sources. Refers many times to the "Morse files" re reports of early trips; wish these were readily available.

Matteson: Trip report of Bob Matteson (1970), with son Sumner, John Lentz and Bob O'Hara. Started from Lac de Gras on 19 July, entered Rocknest on 26 July, finished on 5 August. Refers to Eric Morse as "the Sigurd Olson of Canada"! Some of the historical information seems inaccurate. Not used on trip.

National Parks Service report "A Wild Rivers Survey" (1972). Fred & Sue Cramp, Greg Ewert and John Horricks (names from Hodgins-Hoyle). Started from Point Lake Narrows on 10 July, finished on 28 July. Not used on trip.

Herb Pohl showed us his slides and gave suggestions about the river; he started well south (at Rae I think), paddled up to Mesa Lake and over to the Parent.

Notes, video and watercolours from Bill Hosford's 1996 Black Feather trip. Started below Rocknest. Not used on trip.

Eric Morse's abridged version (1970) of Franklin's journal (which is based largely on Richardson's; the original was lost on 14 September 1821).

Trip report of Bill Layman & Lynda Holland (1999) is available at the CCR web site (

Started at Lac de Gras. Had very high water (river was in the trees); at the first rapids below Rocknest they met a group heading upstream after calling in to be flown out.

Explorers Guide: Go to, then "Features and Interest", then "River Reports".

Information on Kuklok Territorial Park at Bloody Falls: ... _river.cfm

Thanks to Glenn Spence, Maureen Bretz, Peter Verbeek, Herb Pohl, Bill Hosford, George Luste, Faruk Ekich and Bill Blatch for the help.

Locating Franklin's sites from the old journals:
Richardson (and so Franklin) reports observed coordinates (from sextant and chronometers) and also values obtained by dead reckoning from previous positions. His coordinates for latitudes and longitudes of positions on the Coppermine can differ from modern values by a few km and by up to 20 km respectively.
For example, page 71 of Richardson gives the farthest west as 116d39', about 13 km west of the map value 116d21'.
Locating Franklin's campsites, etc seems to require a lot of pre-trip analysis; my one attempt en route (to fix the campsite of 11 July 1821 using relative data for it and Larrigan Creek from page 72 of Richardson) gave nonsense. According to Houston, surprisingly many people have tried to locate the sites and he suggests that they have been largely successful; I don't know whether the results are generally available.

Distances and elevations at map junctions:
Distances (wheeled out on copies of 1:50k topos, NAD27) are likely too small by 2% or so. Elevations (quoted from the topos or obtained by interpolation) are within 5 m or so.

Start on map 86B15, 527 km from the beach in Kugluktuk, at elevation 438 m.
to 86G2 at 506 km, 434 m; to 86G1 at 495 km, 434 m;
to 86G8 at 460 km, 399 m; pieces of 86G7 ;
to 86G9 at 418 km, 373 m; to 86G16 at 371 km, 342 m;
to 86J1 at 340 km, 318 m; to 86J8 at 306 km, 275 m;
to 86J7 at 290 km, 269 m; to 86J10 at 275 km, 267 m;
to 86J11 at 243 km, 265 m; to 86J14 at 223 km, 264 m;
to 86J13 at 218 km, 262 m; to 86K16 at 191 km, 261 m;
to 86N1 at 156 km, 245 m; to 86O4 at 114 km, 185 m;
to 86O5 at 92 km, 175 m; to 86O12 at 58 km, 98 m;
to 86O11 at 38 km, 55 m; to 86O14 at 18 km, 5 m;
we exited at TANKS road, 2 km from the beach.

The following gives UTM coordinates (read from 1:50k maps, NAD27, nominal accuracy of 50 m) for our campsites.
Also given are Peter Verbeek's sites, with prefix PV; the UTMs for these are less accurate.
number map E / N comments
1 86B15 998 012 base of esker at the west end of Grenville Lk.
2 86G2 129 150 esker on Rawalpindi Lk.
3 86G1 251 233 desperation site (pin) on river R, up hill; 2 nights; not so good, and buggy, but we were fortunate it was there.
If you have time (we found the next 2 rapids to be slow going), there are many good sites beyond the esker at 278 254.
4 293 367 approximate; beach on R side of Parent Lk.
There are many good sites on the R side of Parent Lk, with a very nice one up the hill at 203 417 on map 86G8.
5 86G8 203 512 beach on lake 393.
6 197 652 2nd sand spit on Redrock Lk (1st was barely above water); good protection from E or W wind.
PV7 86G9 265 807 approximate.
7 301 814 beach on esker on L shore at end of Rocknest Lk.
8 250 922 start (south end) of lake 342; beach and tundra; popular spot (from lack of wood); Grater group camped here?
PV8 244 933 approximate.
PV9 86J1 20? 27? location unclear; site not seen from river.
9 213 285 sand strip.
10 86J8 153 555 sand strip.
PV10 146 567 approximate, R side.
PV11 86J10 032 843 approximate, L side ("good" - PV).
11 927 923 sand strip on L.
918?937? approximate; Camp Misery of Goering [source PV].
PV12 86J11 714 033 approximate.
12 86J13 601 081 desperation site (wind), but not bad.
13 518 143 desperation site (high wind; lost day; did only 12 km); site cramped but OK; shelter behind willows; heavy frost on tents in morning.
PV13 86K16 314 135 location uncertain.
14 86N1 353?356? sandy spot at end of Rocky Defile portage; cramped but OK; PV14 at same spot.
15 86O4 487 571 sandy bank; not so good. Heard bear growling very loudly; then saw her (dirty white) and 2 cubs (dark brown); got boats ready for quick exit; all 3 bears started running our way; Jayne banged pots and they took off into the bush.
PV15 510 571 mouth of Copper Creek; "nice and flat space amongst the trees ... high up on the bank", not obvious from the boat.
16 86O5 549 772 sand and grass spot on L, below island below last of Muskox, just before wall closes in on L; PV16 likely here.
PV17 86O12 603 9?? somewhere on R.
17 604 942 approximate; 2nd sandy spot on R.
18 86O11 646 022 approximate; sandy spot at end of Escape portage.
19 691 152 sandy beach at end of Bloody Falls portage; PV18.

Rapids, portages, etc:
Paddlers have died on this river; it is no place for someone with something to prove. Intermediate skills are necessary for those travelling without a guide. Guides have to be very good to get ww rookies down this one. Some rapids can be scouted from shore, but most have to be scouted from the boat, often in fast water with hazards. Some are long with no easy exit; a dump could mean a long, cold, dangerous swim (and has meant it for some). It has been said that no one ever drowned on a portage.

The following describes what we and others did; there is no suggestion that you should do the same; rapids may be very different in higher or lower water. For each rapid, I give UTM coordinates for the start, as read from the 1:50k topos (NAD27, nominal accuracy of 50 m); the UTMs are given for identification only (not for use with a GPS).

Rapids, etc on Parent River section (Grenville Lk to Redrock Lk):
We had no information on this stretch, other than that other parties had paddled it and that we would be scrambling some (as was obvious from the maps).
We chose this route because:
the trip duration fitted our schedules;
it is the road less travelled;
we thought that Point Lake might be blowy and monotonous; we didn't want to chance seeing what the diamond mine is doing to the area; and
it looked like fun to paddle a small river as well as a big one.
The Parent is mostly a pool-and-drop river; many of the drops are through boulder fields unrunnable at 2002 water levels; higher water will mean less dragging but may cause other difficulties.
The numbering of the rapids is mine; the prefix P is for Parent (e.g. P1 is the first rapid on the Parent below Grenville Lk).
The ratings are inexpert, and apply only to low-water conditions; they are not adjusted for remoteness or for run-out.

Start on map 86B15.

120 038 P1 Grenville Lk to upper Rawalpindi Lk; white boulders at the entrance; we bumped through, then dragged

Map 86G2: no rapids

Map 86G1:

185 163 P2 to lower Rawalpindi Lk; bumped through R and L, then dragged
217 199 P3 CI; started L, then either L or R
228 204 P4 CII drop; can portage R
236 206 P5 CI
242 210 P6 CI+
243 215 P7 boulder field (dragged)
247 223 P8 CII; turn L immediately at exit
250 224 P9 CII and boulder field

250 232 P10 CI+; scout before running; can portage 150 m on R. Red dumped and pinned on centre rocks at end. Phil attached rope to thwart and passed it under and around the boat; people pulling on this one, others prying with a tree, and others pulling on other ropes spun boat about long axis and turned it bottom up, spilling out the water.

257 238 P11 tracked R (not runnable at 2002 water level)
267 245 P12 long boulder field, much dragging
278 254 Esker
282 259 P13 CI-; ran R
282 270 P14 boulder field; went L
304 297 P15 CI-; ran R
308 302 P16 ran L; then Ped 70 m L around CII+; then ran L
We dragged through the sandbars at the entrance to Parent Lk.

Map 86G7:
163 451 P17 CI-; ran L

Map 86G8:

166 451 P18 location approximate; 2 swifts, then CI+
180 466 swift
183 473 P19 CI- and boulder field
Lake 393. From here on, most white stuff on the Parent is marked on the maps.
205 527 P20 CI+; went R, then L, then R
203 530 P21 boulders; ran R
200 536 P22 boulders; ran R
190 537 P23 swifts then boulders
183 539 P24 notes bad, probably ran (can portage R or track R); then ran L, then CI-
182 555 Esker nice hike on R
184 572 P25 CII-
180 581 swift at constriction
178 583 swift at constriction
175 594 P26 several km of swifts and boulder fields; much tough dragging

Enter Redrock Lake. Max Ward's place is near 257 655 (no one was there). In case of emergency only (understandably if true, there's a rumour that the owner wants only paying guests), there's a camp on the south shore of Point Lake, about 25 km upstream from Ward's place.

Rapids, etc on the Coppermine River section (Redrock Lk to Kugluktuk):
Except in a few cases, the numbering of the rapids is Martin’s, as read from Goering (which I found unlear in places).
The prefix C is for Coppermine; for example, C1 is the first rapid on the Coppermine below Redrock Lk. Martin made a long portage near C27 and I'm not sure that all rapids got numbered. The standard advice to run the inside of curves in big water worked well.

Start on map 86G9.

229 726 C1 Big swift; started R and swung L to avoid line of rocks on R. We didn't see the second rapid mentioned in some reports.

Entered Rocknest Lk (23 July); stiff wind.

322 880 C2 Ped packs L 600? m. Takeout is rocky, with no trail worth the name. On returning from the first carry, we saw that we could run it so we did so on the second pass. Waves were fair-sized but we saw no rocks; there's an eddy on the L near the end.
Goering group Ped. Grater group ran. Verbeek group ran (one boat dumped).

310?895 C3 Not runnable that day, not by us anyway; many boulders, bad diagonal ledge, etc. Ped L about 600 m. Takeout is very rocky; 1st half of trail is indistinct, 2nd is well trodden. Green and red put in down steep slope, above point on L, and ran close to point through fair-sized waves; blue put in about 100 m farther, down steeper slope below point. The portage on R side looked easier, but we saw it only from the L side.
Most of Goering group Ped; 1 boat ran lower 3/4. Grater group ran. Verbeek group Ped; Verbeek saw 1 canoe of a Finnish group dumped.

280?892 C4 Much tempted to run waves, but Ped R 60 m as did Goering and Verbeek groups. Grater group ran.

258?902? C5 Very long (about 2 km) stretch of fast shallow water with many boulders. Blue dumped and wrapped. Water was shallow enough that blue paddlers could stay at boat; red and green put in at a handy gravel bar and most of crew could wade upstream and help. Portaging is not an option; wading looks tough as well as unnecessary.

Lake 342.

Map 86G16:

187 083 Bouldery swift.
195 124 Bouldery swift.
189 142 Bouldery swift.

192 153 C6 The L side of the island looked very shallow. We went down the R side to the bay, then continued on the R.
Goering group did the same. Martin Ped L 400 m. Grater group ran L (one boat dumped, another came close). Verbeek group ran down on R side.

172 202 Bouldery swift.
Verbeek reports that a Wanapitei group dumped 1 boat, likely between C6 and C7.

Map 86J1:

180 261 C7 Very long (about 3 km) bouldery swift ending at a high boulder dam that seems to run all the way across; we didn't see the extreme L where Verbeek says there's a chute. We went R of the island and stayed more or less in the centre. At the dam, green sideswiped a rock and almost swamped; red followed but adjusted and got through cleanly; blue swallowed pride, ran aground on the R and waded. If you don't fancy a blind probe at speed through a boulder jungle, do as blue. Martin ran, tracked and waded L.
Goering group ran the upper 3/4, then went R and waded. Grater and Verbeek groups ran without problem.

221 325 C8 We went R of the island, L of centre, and then drifted to the centre through fair-sized waves at the confluence of wash from R and L. Martin and part of Goering group went too far R, grounded and waded. Verbeek group ran through centre.

Saw wrecked canoe near 232 342, on L shore at start of lake.

238?376? C9 Location approximate; just a swift.

233 400 C10 Stopped at the tip of the island and scouted both sides. Went R of the island, snaking down little channels to get away from island. Below the island, green crossed to the far L to avoid gravel bars; red and blue stayed R, grounded and waded. You must go R of the island if you want to fish at the mouth of Fairy Lk River; we didn't go over. Next time, might go L of island, after scout.
Goering group went R of the island; Verbeek group ran L.
Bob caught a 5 lb lake trout (first cast) below the gravel bars; cleaned it on the spot; we cooked the fillets in foil in the fire and ate them as a "mega hors d'ouevre" that evening.

Map 86J8: no rapids.

Map 86J7:

117?643? C11 Location uncertain; just a swift.

Map 86J10: no rapids. 66deg 30' at start of map. Initiated Jayne and Stephen.

Map 86J11: no rapids.

Near 804 987: oil drums, remnants of cabin and assorted junk on R side.

Near 797 987: 2 abandoned plywood cabins (paddlers write names on walls of one).

Map 86J4: no rapids.

Map 86J13: no rapids.

Cabin on L, built into hill (502 138); didn't investigate.

Map 86K16:

320?128? C12 Very long, bouldery swift starting near end of canyony stretch.

301?191? C13 Location uncertain; just a bouldery swift.

Map 86N1:

348 353 C14 Rocky Defile Rapids. Stop early (can track later), just below fan on R. Some people run it; most of them live.
Grater says "WOW".
George Luste portages; we followed his advice and did the same.
The portage is listed as 600 m but seems longer. The takeout is rocky; the trail goes up a steep hill (4 of us on each boat); the trail is steep also at the lower end (at campsite). At the midpoint is a memorial cairn to Carol and David Jones who drowned here in 1972. Guy Honold drowned here in 1974 [source Hodgins-Hoyle]

381 400 C15, 383 413 C16, 383 419 C17:
My notes are bad on these three; none is anything special; in no particular order, one is a line of rocks passable on the left, one is just a rocky swift and other is a gravel bar.

We went R of the island at 385 433. Near 390 480 we entered a jungle of gravel bars lasting for several km; it was very difficult to spot the current. Most reports recommend the far R channel, past Mouse River (rule is to go outside early in shallow water). We were looking for the passage, but dodging gravel bars got us too far L and we missed it. We took the 2nd channel from the left dancing and wiggling through somehow; the channel on the far left looked unnavigable.

Faruk recommends visiting the mouth of the Kendall River on your journey through The Splits (section from Rocky Defile to past the Mouse River); he says that the area is a caribou crossing. There is another abandoned camp at the mouth of the Kendall, and a majestic red sandstone canyon with lots of falcon nests. The Kendall is part of the ancient route connecting Great Bear Lake and the Arctic; George Douglas went this way.

341 567 (L shore): Larrigan Creek. "... small stream ... which issues from the valley in which the Indians search for Copper" (Richardson, page 72).

355 585 (L shore): Stony Creek. An ice field was seen here by some groups. Matteson group and another group (Terk and Jim Bayly, Bill Mathers, Art Adamson, Peter Blakie and Scott Griffin) climbed over the ice and ridges to the top of the Coppermine mountains.

Map 86O4: no rapids.

510 571 (L shore): Copper Creek. Some of Verbeek group hiked here.

589 568 (R shore): Abandoned cabins, boats, etc. One source says that it belongs to Plummer's Lodge, another to Frontier Lodge. We all wish that whoever owns it would clean it up.

Map 8605:

Had to dodge many gravel bars on the straight stretch heading NW; saw nothing special at 566 682. See Douglas for comments re copper near Burnt Creek.

Muskox Rapids:
As other reports say, Muskox is mislabelled on the topos. Explicitly, the stuff marked Muskox Rapids near 558 695 is just a rocky swift; the real rapids are well downstream.
It appears though that Martin numbered 558 695 as #18, and grouped 555 732 & 552 743 together as #19, for some reason; maybe the latter two are not distinct in higher water, but we found them well separated.
Things didn't look right so we stopped at the mouth of Burnt Creek (560 688, on the L near the start) and took a GPS reading; we got different latitude and longitude from the topo values. We saw nothing at 557 715 except maybe a swift (again, the topo seems not credible in this region). Perhaps because of the low water, we found that previous reports re Muskox didn't correspond well with our experience. Your situation may be very different again; best rely on your own scouting.

555?732? C18 Location uncertain; the actual rapid, a ledge, may be farther down, near 552 736. We landed on the L and scouted from the top, as advised by Ekich-Blatch. The ledge seems to run all the way across except for a gap near the L wall. We ran the gap, through fair-sized waves. After the ledge, the river curves to the R; the cliff on the L blocks the view downstream so we worked over to near the R shore to peek around the bend. In higher water, maybe do a full shore scout to make sure that you can get into the next bay on the L, in order to scout the next rapid at 552?743?.
Half Goering group ran gap, half tracked.
Grater group ran.

552?743? C19 Location uncertain. Narrow passage with big waves in centre. We landed at the upstream end of the bay on the L (as advised by Ekich-Blatch), climbed to the top and scouted. Reports say to sneak L, but the gap was closed for us due to low water. Green and red ran, backpaddling hard.
Red dumped at the end, washed R into an eddy. Blue tracked L in no time.
Goering group lifted over 70 m L?.
Grater group ran.
Verbeek report is unclear; Ped 500 m L? on 1st carry, then Ped 100 m (around both?).

Island at 545 745: We went R (as advised by Ekich-Blatch), through a bouldery swift. Martin, Goering ("only reasonable method") and Verbeek groups went L; this side might be preferable in higher water.

Island at 565 807: We went R. Ekich-Blatch said that both sides are OK; other reports agree with this.

572 812 C20 Gate to Sandstone Rapids. Big basalt rocks with 3 passages. Ekich-Blatch advised the middle gap. Being on the R, and seeing no trouble, we took the R gap rather than cross in front; the passage was bumpy with fair-sized waves but we saw no serious obstacles. Goering group went L of the island at 565 807 and tracked part of the L gap (which we didn't see; we were too busy to look, and it may not have been open due to low water).

583 826 C21 Sandstone Rapids. The L channel around the "island" at 580 820 is blocked at the top.
We landed on the R side of the island about halfway down and scouted to the tip. Returned, paddled to the tip, up the L channel and over to the far side. We climbed the steep hill to the top and scouted; found a well-worn path close to the cliff. Decided to run. We went out hard below the froth on R, over nearly to R shore, paused on a gravel bar, worked back to centre and then L; this plan requires crossing in front of lots
of boulders, so it may be a bad idea in faster (higher?) water. The Verbeek group portaged initially (see below); walking back, they saw that they could run it; they started in the centre, went R and then L, apparently our route but in higher water.
Grater group ran (no details).
Faruk has run Sandstone every time but one, that in very high water.
Alice Wendt and Erwin Streisinger (in kayak, travelling with Goering group) dumped near here (Goering is unclear re location) and had a significant swim (one mile and 20 minutes in the water, hypothermia ...) [sources Hodgins-Hoyle and Goering].
Plan B: After scouting from the cliff downstream of the L channel, some groups run L, though likely with higher water. We looked at this route (advised by Ekich-Blatch) but decided it was too bouldery and ledgy at the 2002 water level.
Plan C: Again from downstream side of L channel, portage about 700 m L; the trail starts at the edge of the cliff, on top.
Plan D: We looked at this only from the L bank. Land on the R side well above the downstream tip of the island and carry R around the big stuff at the top, about 200 m; scout of part below portage may not be easy.
Plan E: P 600 m R (this from Ekich-Blatch; not verified).
Plan F: P 2400 m R. Verbeek read Goering (unclear here) as saying do this so carried packs on 1st pass; on way back saw could run so ran (see above).

580 838 C22 Kept to inside of bend, no problem.

Map 86O12:

574 878 C23 Dangerous in 2002; dump might be serious trouble. Long, almost continuous CII+ stretch; fast water, fair-sized waves, ledges, boulders and holes until end of C26 at 583 897. Frequent course changes required. Gravel banks on insides of bends are useful mostly as rest spots; scouting from them doesn't help much. My reading of Goering & Verbeek suggests that this stretch is less interesting in higher water.

593 897 bouldery swift.
610 917 OK; kept to inside.
603 921 OK; kept to inside.
597 957 OK; kept to inside.
604 978 OK; kept to inside.

623?975? C27 Dangerous in 2002; dump might be serious trouble. Starts well upstream from the most southerly point of the U; continues to 630 973. Series of 5 or so ledges, at least one CIII, running almost all the way across. Knew about it from Goering, McCreadie and Ekich-Blatch but had no firm location; read Goering as saying it is at 635 977.
Green went R at first ledge, realized where we were and signalled to others; couldn't work fully L before next ledge so stayed near centre, found gaps in the ledges (thanks Linda), lined up, charged and braced.
Red saw signal to bail out L and front ferried, missing the worst.
Blue missed signal and followed green; did most of the bad stuff (went R of one ledge). No dumps, not even much water in boats, but a bit tense. Pulled in at the end, looked downstream and thought there but for the brace of God go I. One boat of Matteson group swamped here or nearby. Advice from other reports: scout where possible, push hard L as soon as possible and hug the L shore; there's no problem once you get fully L.

635 977 15 or so ledges and half-ledges starting past the bottom of the U; can be scouted from gravel bank on L; ran L, easy. 634 984 Easy; stayed inside (on R).

Waterfall on R.

Map 86O11:

646 005 C28 Escape Rapids. Had decided before trip to portage it. Some groups run it; all reports say it's tougher than Sandstone. Portage is on R, listed as 2400 m; goes up steep hill from start (4 people on each boat). Trees on L at takeout are last on river. Trail is indistinct until about half way. Go L of the pond; look for early down, checking for trail near cliffs. Campsite is at end of portage. Goering group portaged; 1 boat took out lower down but had very steep climb. Matteson group portaged on L side, one and a half miles.

647?025? C29 Ran R around island at 644 030, just below campsite.

652 056 C30 OK; kept to L, on inside of turn.

Lots of gravel bars.

634 080 C31 Long stretch of gravel bars and boulders; got L avoiding gravel bars and had to work R through lots of fair-sized stuff (stay away from wall on L).

665?112? C32 "The delta". Huge maze of gravel bars; current is difficult to spot. Green went L and others R, 3 different routes; all dragged.

688?145? C33 Bloody Falls. Mandatory portage. Takeout is on L, before wall closes in; portage is listed as 1200 m. Start is up a steep, narrow, winding path (5 of us on each boat), then flat area, down to rocks, up to ATV trails and right to beachy area. Not numbered by Martin or Goering.

Lots of people ATV in from town or boat in from lower down to fish, primarily for char; the people we spoke to were catching only pike. Some camp here; it's very busy well into the night. Tried to hire lift to village but were told that ATVs couldn't handle the boats. Missed cairn at site of 1771 events. Gave stoves and fuel to couple for use by Kugluktuk Girl Guides.

Map 86O14:
697?158? C34 Go R of island at 695 159 (went L by mistake). #33 of Martin and Goering.

We had a strong tail wind lower down; we went L of the island at 785 207 for shelter. This stretch would be a real grind in a head wind; the main navigation problem is to spot the huge sand bars in time. We pulled out at TANKS road rather than risk being blown out into the Gulf. Most groups take out at the beach at the N end of town; I see no reason to do so unless you plan to stay at the campsite (or want to "finish the trip"). All stores were closed (civic holiday) so we couldn't contribute to the local economy. Found out that the hotel requires reservations for meals. The weather was too cold to clean up at the beach. Bumped into geological survey guys. Registered with the RCMP after a wait. Linda looked up people she knows from her time at Bathurst Inlet Lodge and their relatives. We hired the taxi ($100) to take us and our gear to the airport. We cleaned up a bit there while waiting for our 4 pm flight, but I still felt uncomfortable presenting myself to the general public.

The flight to Yellowknife paralleled the Coppermine for a long time, then the lower Parent; the eskers were even more beautiful from the air. It was great to see them, the rapids and campsites like the sandspit on Redrock again, but really sad to leave the north. Crammed into the aircraft after 3 weeks outside, I thought again how terrible a punishment it must be to imprison people who live mostly outdoors.


A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)

PostPosted: February 25th, 2016, 9:14 am 
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Joined: May 13th, 2014, 3:55 am
Posts: 8
If you finish your trip in Kugluktuk you may want to (have to?) stay a night or two which is at the so called camp ground a questionable pleasure (no plumbing, no nothing) and at the hotel certainly expensive. In this case you may want to consider the somewhat newly opened bed and breakfast (Arctic Vision). The owner is open to mixed solutions where you may camp and use the kitchen and shower at your convenience for fewer dollars. It will also give you an open door to the community, to the local carvers and alike. And if things work out in your favour there might be even a ride included to the airport when you leave. Have a look if you like: Even if you did not plan on staying it is worthwhile doing so.


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