Sorry for the lack of pictures. Internet too slow…
I awoke in the sun. The heat waking me up. I got up and tried my luck at fishing near the outlet of the lake. I struggled to cast the line so I didn’t catch any fish. But it was nice to be up in the morning, it was quiet and I ate breakfast while a defensive Plover chirped at me. I enjoyed my first day of oatmeal and started packing my stuff up.
We got all our stuff cleaned up and started the day off with some resource monitoring. There were a few well used sites where we were and some trash to pick up. We picked up trash and documented the sites. Once we were done with resource monitoring work we were ready to get back in our canoe. We loaded up our things and got in. The sun shined down on us as we rounded the corner into moving water. The stream was gentle and clear as glass. I was keeping an eye out for the water to move faster.
Rounding another corner water turned white. We pulled off to scout the rapids, they were running fast so we knew we would have to carry all our things and the boat to where we could put in. We portaged all our things and our boat in several trips under the hot sun.
We loaded the boat up again after noting several obvious impacts in the area. Navigating some Class II waters we got all the excitement we needed. We paddled hard to smoothly get through the rapids. We bumped into a small boulder in the water and took a good bounce around it. My heart racing, the water flattened out and became smooth again. I watched the reflections in the water and looked down to the bottom periodically seeing fish.
Eventually we reached the Kobuk River! We ate lunch on a tiny island taking a rest from the day’s excitement. Cumulus Clouds were starting to fill the sky as we left for more river miles. We floated down the calm river. I kept checking my GPS, waiting to reach the Upper Canyon.
Hours melted away as more clouds moved in and started combining together. We chatted and moved downriver.
Soon we rounded the corner into the canyon. The water moved faster as we navigated some standing waves and small rapids. N steered us expertly through the manageable sections. We floated down through the canyon. Small bumps made the ride exciting, but not over exhilarating.
After the canyon we settled on a nice gravel bar. The wind had picked up slightly and the clouds had replaced our blue ceiling. We ate dinner under the clouds and made our way to bed after a long day.
I woke up to the on and off sounds of rain. It pitter pattered on the rainfly of my tent. I got up anyways and went to see if I could fish.
I ended up tying the fishing line in a big knot and gave up. I made myself some hot breakfast as the bugs found me. The wind had died over night so the bugs came out.
I ate my breakfast and swatted at mosquitoes before going back over to pack up my things. Things were wet, but I threw them in my pack anyways. We got into the canoe and paddled to get away from the bugs. The river the calm and moving really slow.
N spotted a bull moose on the side of the river. It panicked and ran in our direction, which made me panic! It soon realized that’s not the direction he wanted to go and ran down stream away from us before jumping back into the brush.
The rain stopped being on and off and started just being on. We dawned our rain pants and coats and carried on. We sang to take our minds off the cold and the rain. I had been waiting for us to reach the Lower Canyon. We tried to keep our eyes open for animals and human impacts. Several gulls mobbed us as we went through. I kept my paddle up in case the birds decided they might actually be able to take a chunk out of us. The gulls swopped close, but I never had to hit one.
It was quiet as we went around a corner. N looked up at a branch beside the river and pointed out a bald eagle. The massive bird decided we were too close and it took off upstream. We watched in awe at the power of such a large bird.
Soon we reached the Lower Canyon. We could hear the white water and knew we needed to get out and scout the rapids. As we got out to walk down the canyon the rain slowed. We walked along to look at the first rapid. We decided we could run it and headed back to the boat. I got a whiff of chives as we walked back to the boat. I picked some wild onions and ate them. They were delicious.
I headed up into the brush to look at a site that had been impacted. The mosquitos found me instantly so I hurried up. I got back down to the canoe and we got ready. We moved to a more practical position in the boat on our knees and rounded the corner into the white water.
We moved swiftly through the waves paddling hard to not get turned or flipped. A few waves came over the canoe, but I felt confident in our abilities. The fact that I had rain pants on made it more fun. We pulled over again before the next rapid. We scouted all the way along the side and decided we could run that one as well. A few more waves came over as we worked to stay safe.
Black canyon walls of shale towered around us. The sun came out making the canyon more beautiful and drying us out. Even making us sweat.
We scouted another rapid and decided to play it safe. We lined the canoe along the side of the river and had to portage a short bit over a shale hill. We worked hard carrying all our things before having to reload them again and carrying on down the canyon.
We paddled a bit further before pulling off to the side again. We walked out along the rapid rounding the corner. Cliff walls lined both sides and beyond the last few rapids the landscape opened up. My coworker said it reminded him of Jurassic Park. Instead of Pterodactyls, Gulls swooped down along the canyon of steep shale rocks. Water stair stepped down the sharp rocks in the center of the canyon.
We took a lot of pictures before lining the canoe as far as we could. We got back in the canoe and rode the last part of the rapids. The sky and landscape opened up before us.
N, in the back of the canoe, told me to look. I turned around and he held up one of the cross bars that had unclipped itself from the canoe. We laughed and continued on. It had been a good day. We made smart decisions to our boating skills and felt good about what we had done.
We found a nice gravel bar not too far down from the canyon and set up camp. Rain came in as we ate dinner so we went to bed early feeling good about our day.