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Storms and Sandbanks

Canoe Selfie
The landscape was now rolling, still covered in spruce Taiga but now with Birch, Aspen and Willow on the shore line. The wind persistently came from the North pushing us back the way we had come. When it was calm the river was so wide it felt like paddling across a massive lake. The lack of flow meant that all the power had to come from us now. Our maps where at a 1:250000 scale, much like a road map. Unlike the early days of our trip where we could cover a whole map in 3 days we were now only progressing a few inches on the sheet each day. We kept our leg stretches to a minimum as every time we went close to shore the winged beasties would soon be there to get their feed. 

Spag Bol on Flat Rock Camp
 We were also limited as to where we could go ashore as we either had steep banks, or the tail end of those hated black cliffs, or thick mud. Any disembarkation had to be done with care as we had a couple of near misses with sinking sand swallowing our feet. Probably the most life threatening moment of the entire expedition occurred silently as our canoe ran aground on a mudflat. Surrounded by murky water there was no way to know where the deeper parts might be. We struggled to push off, paddles sinking deeply into the mud grounding us further. Quite undramatic by comparison to facing off with a bear or bouncing off rocks on a white water rapids. The reality is that being stuck in the middle of a river, with limited food and no hope of rescue would kill us just as well, all be it really slowly and agonisingly. Fortunately before we had too much time to contemplate this we got lucky and the canoe started to slide again. Aluminium paddle shafts flexing as we bore down full body weight into the mud that bound us we inched our way towards what we hoped would be deeper water. 

Cushion Preparations
 Another hazard we encountered was strong headwinds that would whip up suddenly with little warning. On one particular lunchtime, within 10 minutes the river went from mirror calm to Force 3/4 winds. To make progress we clung to the river bank. Heavy paddling with heads down would get us to the next island of safety. Some protrusion from the bank or fallen tree to shelter us for a moment before heading back out into rolling waves and icey wind. Eventually the wind died off and we rather miserably noted that the map only showed a couple of kilometres progress in the last few hours. 

Moments of Tranquility
Finding a campsite was hard. Having been spoiled for choice on the Wind we now had poor options. Gloopuous mud, and bugs where abound. Then, as we were running low on energy from fighting the wind earlier we slipped off the map. This was not as drastic as it might sound. There was about 8km of the route covered by another map that we had not bought to save the 18 dollars or so. We rationalised that the river would keep on going until we were back on map, and we had GPS should anything go wrong. It was quite exciting entering an area that we had no information on! As if my magic almost as soon as we were off the map a huge sandbank appeared. At least for tonight we had ourselves a good camp spot. Time to get the kettle on.