13 Jul Last Camp
Our last day of paddling the Thomsen River is here. Our pick-up isn’t set for 3 more days, but we have chosen to arrive at our last camping spot a little early to be on the safe side. This will give us some extra time to explore on foot, and most importantly, not risk missing our pick-up if heavy winds move in and keep us off the water. In the remote wilderness, it’s always better to put the odds in your favour and not push lady luck too much.
We had been exploring the idea of moving further down-river to another pick-up location on the map, a little closer to the ocean and some high nearby ridges that could offer up some large vistas. That idea came to an end when we found out that a plane hasn’t actually landed there in recent memory. If it couldn’t land there, we would have to paddle our way back up-river to the first spot, and the flight would have to be rescheduled for another day at great expense. So the first spot it is.
As we paddle, a nice looking hill lures us over to the shore for a hike. We don’t have a lot of river to cover today, allowing us time to explore. I feel listless as I take my first step though. Where did my energy go? I’ve had some really late nights, and a few uncomfortable sleeps as well. Or maybe its the toll on my body from being out in the elements for a while, and its catching up to me. I’ve already lost a few pounds. Or maybe…. it’s because we ran out of coffee 3 days ago! Whatever the reason, we head uphill, where the view begins to grow once again. As we do, I munch down on a few snack bars, and start to feel rejuvenated once again. I guess I was just needing some more fuel.
Reaching the high point of the hill, I see the Thomsen snake through the landscape. Breaking into numerous curvaceous braids, it rejoins again and again as it continues its gentle flow as it has for eons. It doesn’t require anyone to witness its beauty. It just carries on, sparkling in the sun, creating a serene and beautiful view that I have the privilege of enjoying for a few brief moments. Seeing sometimes isn’t enough though, and I pull out my sketchbook to try and extend my experience here, and bring a taste of it home before leaving this special place.
A lazy paddle the rest of the way brings us to our final camp. A few tents are here already. It’s the Parks Canada research team of 6 that we met at Green Cabin, who have finished their work, and will be picked up the day before us. We say hi, share a few travels stories, and set up our tents on the river bank a little ways up from them. The clear skies have now returned in full, and after dinner, and a visit from 4 more Muskox, I grab the video camera and crawl along the ground for hours, filming the beauty of the backlit glowing flowers that surround us.
Everyone else has crawled into their sleeping bags, and I enjoy time alone in the wild. With so little time left on this leg of the journey, I want to make the most of it. I soak it all in, and film some more until 3:30am, as the rich orange sun slides quietly across the sky at eye level. I don’t want to stop, but my body says it time, and I reluctantly head toward my tent.