The plan was to sail the 140 kilometers of the Blackstone River, then portage along the Ogilvie River and return via the Dempster Highway.
On August 24, my friends, Taiga (my dog) and I set out on a 10-day trek down the Blackstone River, which is in northern Yukon. The plan was to sail the 140 kilometers of the Blackstone River, then portage along the Ogilvie River and return via the Dempster Highway. Normally at the end of August, the water level in the rivers is usually quite low, which means portering in some areas. Well this year it was the opposite! We left in a heavy rain and quickly realized that the water level was quite high, not to mention the flooding. During the trip, we intended to hunt, but with all this water, having a moose as extra weight in the canoe was too dangerous. We therefore hoped to cross a very small sheep. On the second day we had a beautiful afternoon, although the river was still flooded and some areas were more difficult to paddle than expected. Which caught Guillaume and Michah by surprise. They capsized and their canoe got caught in a pile of wood in the middle of the river. After a little bit of effort and work from everyone, we were able to pull the boat and all the gear out of this area. We were able to continue our journey but some were really shaken by the event.
On the third day, after Mother Nature spoiled us with another rainy night, we arrived at our camp early enough, which gave us time to dry off the equipment. This was our last chance for drying, because around 8:00 pm the sky became cloudy and the rain hit us again. This storm was so intense, the rain was so heavy and loud that we couldn't even hear each other speak in the tent. It rained for 5 hours and when we woke up the next morning the landscape was covered with a white sheet. The water level was even higher, however the temperature was on our side, with 5 degrees, for the remainder of our trip. Realizing that portering along the Ogilvie River was going to be impossible, I began to look at our other options; that is, contact someone to get us out there. We managed to talk to Jim Fink, an experienced bush pilot who has been flying for over 15 years, and who has worked in the area. After telling us that conditions weren't improving, we thought it would start to be more difficult than we thought. On the 6th day, we decided to be careful but still get into the snow and rain. Once we got there Jim came flying above us. He opened the plane's radio to communicate and after a brief discussion he landed on a small gravel bank. He offered us the easiest way out of this. He picked us up one by one and drove us to his camp where a hot dinner awaited us.
In the end, we didn't hunt anything, because our stay was all about spending all our time drying off and staying warm, ultimately a beautiful experience in hell. Jim told us he had never seen anything like it in 15 years. By the time we got out of the camp there was already a fair amount of snow accumulating in the mountains and that was just the beginning. Now we need to go back in the winter with snowmobiles to bring our canoes back, because we had no choice but to leave them behind. Another adventure to plan!