Geology Camp

Hammering in pegs at 'Geology' Camp
Our camp was set in a wide expanse of low heathery scrub and grass. The Wind thundered on past, sound magnified by a thousand pebbles continuing their journey to the ocean or oblivion, whatever came first, a rotation at a time. Atmospheric mountains surrounded us. We could see so far that each mountain range had a slightly different light and weather to its neighbor. Having been confined to river level for the most part of the trip, we eagerly clambered up the steep hill beside camp. Still mindful that a bear could be behind every bush, just waiting to be startled into a man shredding rage, we were on the alert! No bears, but plenty of life, as the bank was riddled with gopher and chipmunks holes. The gophers marked our progress squawking angrily as we trespassed their manor. Although it wasn't a particularly high hill the effect of being those few hundred feet up was breathtaking. The vista opened up and the complexity of the river channels could be fully appreciated. I found renewed admiration for our little river seeing how these huge mountains had crumbled to her persistence over the years. 

Niall enjoying the view

The Wind River

Impressive Scenery from Geology Camp

The night was cold with a brisk Northern wind funneled down the valley. One of our mountaineering objectives, Mount Royal, dominated the skyline. We scoured the ridge lines through the binoculars trying to establish what would be the best approach. Our plan was to make a summit attempt in the morning. We settled in around the fire, burning strong, in the natural scoop we were using. Tucking into a hearty Yukon Stew we set the world to rights. It was the sort of conversation that one rarely has the opportunity to have. In fact, without the luxury of long evenings of Arctic light, a fire and a few hundred of miles between us and any distractions we almost certainly would never have done so. We went to bed on full bellies ready to get up early and climb Mount Royal. 
I was probably camped a hundred metres from my dad. When I poked my head out of the tent flysheet at 6am I couldn't even see his tent! The mist had rolled in with a vengeance. The mountains were gone, as were our chances of a successful ascent. The principle reason to climb the mountain for us was for the views and the cloud looked set for the day.  Added to that there are no paths and the route finding was likely to be challenging in good conditions, fool hardly in these. I rolled over to get another couple of hours of shut eye. 

Coffee to get the day started
Having leisurely consumed a pot of fresh coffee we resolved to head up the valley behind us. Just to see what was up there. We set off up a dry river bed, cloud hanging above us. Dropping into the river bed itself the first thing that really stuck us was the array of different coloured rocks. On closer inspection the colours gave away different rock types. Lots of rock types! Our limited geology knowledge couldn't explain how so many different rock types could end up in the same valley. I've never seen anything like it. Limestone, basalt, shales, mudstone and slate all within a few steps of each other. 

Geology Valley

Amazing Rock Types

Our hike took us up to a high col. We hadn't planned it but with the now rising cloud, and the next horizon endlessly beckoning us on, we had to actually be quite firm with ourselves to turn back. We picked a large boulder to be our destination, took in the view, then started our descent. 

Impromptu Bouldering Session

When the tents came into view I was struck by just how tiny they seemed. Two green specks with a flash of red from the up turned canoe, then wide, wide open space. It was also amazing how much returning to our little encampment felt like going home. We had only camped there a night but it had all the associations of comfort and security (and food!) already. 

Chatting around the Campfire
You mustn't let bad weather get in the way of having an adventure. We certainly had a great day that wouldn't have happened if the weather hadn't derailed plan A. This change of plan also paved the road for what happened next...