Churchill River Saskatchewan canoe trip: August 17, 2007

Day 6

It was misty in the morning and quite cool. While making breakfast, a couple of fishers showed up in the bay beside us. We waved cheerfully, but they ignored us. Our campsite had some neat twisted jack pines.

It was very still for a change. We detoured to photograph some pelicans. Then we noticed the beautiful reflection of the clouds and sun in the water.

We ran the swifts and the C2 at the outlet of Mountney Lake after scouting from the canoe. There were some large waves, no big deal.
Abruptly, the river narrowed like a typical river for the next 2 km. We heard a lot of birds twittering at a bend in the river. They were mostly Chickadees. Closer inspection revealed that they were Boreal Chickadees. We got out and photographed them, and found that there were Ruby-crowned Kinglets too.

We thought that the plant growing beside the canoe might be wild carrot, since it was mentioned in the guide.

Next came a surprise. A very cooperative Mink ran along the shore beside us, posing for photos now and then.

Where the river channel meets Nipew Lake, we stopped for lunch. Of course, Bill caught a pike. Nipew means “dead”. The name comes from a smallpox epidemic from 1780-82 which wiped out most of the Cree population. The population was so depleted that Dene were able to reestablish themselves in the upper reaches of the Churchill. The lake today is beautiful. We got our best close-ups of a Bald Eagle and Pelicans.

Towards the end of Nipew Lake, the channel narrowed again. Barbara spotted an interesting bird. Bill thought it was a Northern Shrike. But examination of the photos afterwards showed that it was a Gray Jay.

We could hear flowing water to our right. Nipew Lake drains into Hayman Lake by many little channels. We took the last exit, which, presumably, had more water. It was time to camp, but no sites were marked on our map. We kept going, and finally found a small site at E0509333 N6171500. We could hear the roar of Sluice Falls in the distance.