Up McClusky Creek

Map of the Wind River

 It was a frosty start to the day. Clear night skies had allowed ice to form on the tent canvas. Tiny shards of frozen condensation were finding their way down my neck as I made a futile attempt to dress whilst still inside my sleeping bag. Niall was already up and about gathering firewood. I'm not sure whether breakfast or the thought of a source of heat motivated him more! The lake had a gorgeous veil of mist across it, but even at that early hour, the summer Arctic sun was strong and burning through it quickly. Moments like this are fleeting. The light had the intensity out pull every last detail of colour and shape into contrast and yet softened like a great work of art. CLUNK, CLICK. Breakfast had to wait, I'd already dived into the waterproofed cases carrying the cameras and headed at speed to the waters edge to capture the scene.

Grandpa with his Grandpa fork
The sun was now bringing warmth to our world and I found my Dad testing out the LMF Grandpa fork to toast up slices of rye. One of the great things about traveling by canoe is the extra weight you can afford to carry, particularly in the food department! So, initially at least, there is no need to rough it and we settle into the Yukon wilds with bacon, eggs and rye toast.

The open boat, or Canadian canoe, as we know it today hasn't changed much from Native American roots - the design was that good. Canada has an incredible history of pioneering spirit that is entwined with the humble canoe. This is the method of transport of choice for this country. I can't conceive another method that we could have used for our journey.

Our first challenge was a portage to McClusky Creek. A portage is basically when you have to lug your canoe and kit over land for some reason. In this case it was because the lake the plane could land on was separated from the creek by a hill, but sometimes you portage to avoid hazards in the water, risk of capsize or transferring from one water system to another. It took a fair few trips to get all the kit from the lake to the creek fighting our way through dense scrub and trees. It was much warmer now and we were shifting over 100 kilos of equipment. The Mosquitoes were certainly loving us. Restraint found new definition in the predicament of having a large mozzie on your nose and not being able to do anything about it due to the canoe you are carrying on your head!
Packing the Canoe at McClusky Creek
Believe it or not, despite 2 years of preparation and 5 traveling days to get to this point, the morning the canoe was first put beside McClusky Creek was the first time we had actually seen whether all our kit would fit into the canoe! Yes I'd done the theoretical calculations and have packed a fair few canoes, but even so, it was a tense 15 minutes as the canoe devoured the kit and sat back resplendent, taunting us as to what on earth were we worried about. I was really struck with just how amazing these canoe things are! Including us, the crew, our total weight peaked over a quarter of a metric tonne! Despite this, the canoe only needed 4 inches of water to float. Just incredible!

Ready for the Off at McClusky Creek
My excitement was palpable. All my concerns had revolved around errors in planing. Now the boat was packed, and as a bonus floated, the time for planning was over. A call to action sounded in the form of bubbling water over the pebble river bed. From now on we would have to think on our feet (well bums really as we were mainly sitting in the boat). What we had in the boat is what we would have for the following 3 weeks, and the only way to go was down river, and North to the Arctic. I couldn't wait to start shoveling water with my paddle.

There was a challenge to be met first though - not all of McClusky Creek is over 4 inches deep!!

To be continued..........