WaterLily Turbine on the River with Two Names

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On our River with Two Names expedition, we had many many things that were power-hungry such as our sat phone, Inreach, drone, cameras, GPS, and phones. Along with a few battery packs, we took our solar panel and the new 12 Volt WaterLily. In the picture above, you can see us trying to get a good placement of the WaterLily in one of the large waterfalls we camped near. I figured the water volume and flow rate would be turbo-charger possibility but we struggled to get a good placement because we didn’t have access to both sides of the current. Without being able to get the WaterLily perpendicular to the current, it tended to spin and roll out. What you can’t see in the picture above, however, is just how big the waterfall was-though we were working on a side chute. You can see the bigger picture below.

We had much more success in a smaller creek emptying a pond into the Labrador Sea. We were able to easily access both sides of the creek and had ample cord to get the WaterLily perpendicular to the current. Below you’ll see Mark and Darren finding the perfect place to maximize water flow through the WaterLily. Darren (in blue) is feeding out the cord anchoring the WaterLily and Mark (in grey) is holding the charging cable. In order to find the best placement, we needed to have a spot that allowed the WaterLily to be in the stiff current, be perpendicular to the flow, and that enabled the charging cable to reach the shore.

We used a rock to position the WaterLily just where we wanted it to be and voila-it started making power. We stored the battery we were charging in a plastic bag in behind the rock that we used to secure the charging cable.

Here is a diagram from the WaterLily support page on getting the most from your WaterLily representing the placement we were doing above. It diagrams using a rock to keep the anchor cord upstream of the WaterLily so that the WaterLily is perpendicular to the current. There are lots of diagrams on that page to help you know how best to place the WaterLily so it will produce energy well-I suggest you study them before attempting your first placement.

So, in our experience of using the WaterLily, here are some hints:

1) Practice placing the WaterLily near home so you can ask questions and get support if need be (you can see our practice session here)
2)Consult the support pages before you are in the field
3)Check all of your cables and batteries to ensure they work before leaving home
4) Seek placements that enable you to reach both sides of the flowing water
5) Have extra cord/rope along for making more complex placements handy
6) Bring your sense of adventure, patience, and MacGyver to getting a good placement
7) Don’t be afraid to reach out to the WaterLily folks if you have any difficulties getting your WaterLily to produce-they are awesome and love to help!
8) Bring redundant sources for generating power (i.e. WaterLily and Solar Panel)

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River with Two Names Expedition Photo Gallery

Day Two dawned fine and still. Harp Lake was forgotten. We spent our first day exploring the southern end of Shapio Lake. The mirror surface of the lake produced a landscape-size kaleidoscope of rock and sky.  

Journeying together in remote and wild places requires us to depend on each other in deeper, and often unspoken ways–learning and knowing each other’s strengths and places of struggle–bringing out the best of ourselves as we navigate the wild water, the stormy skies, and encounters with wild animals.

Read the whole story…
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River with Two Names: The Rest of the Story

A map of our route

Our Route Overview Map

Eight years after completing our epic descent of the Notakwanon River, four of us (Mark Dykeman, Darren McDonald, Marian Wissink and I) returned to Labrador for two weeks to tackle another river, Mark and Darren in sea kayaks, Marion and me in our canoe. Depending on which map you consult, which trip report you uncover, which river monitoring station you check, and which website you look at, this summer’s river has two names.

On the provincial road map, the upper part of the river is called the Adlatok River and the branch that leads to Ugjoktok Bay is the Ugjoktok River. On Canadian topographical maps, the upper part of the river is called the Ugjoktok River and the branch leading to Adlatok Bay is called the Adlatok River.

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The Overview Map of Our Route

Not wanting to take sides, and needing to do much more research about the river’s names, place, and the folks who have lived by it and travelled it, we decided to use both names. In the lead-up to the expedition, I enjoyed looking through archival documents and noticed several different spellings of the river’s names as well.  From an article written by Jamie Jackman of the Labrador Institute, I learned that Innu hunters and their families used parts of the 258-kilometre-long waterway as a travel route from the country’s interior to the trading post at Hopedale.  Jamie has a family connection to the river and community of Adlatok. He mentions that those who visit “quickly fall in love with Adlatok Bay, evident in the way many earlier pioneers and leaders discuss its natural beauty in Labradorian literature.”

I contacted Jamie and asked him if he could tell me more about the names of the two rivers.  He replied with the following:

“According to my father, Ujutok is the main river and empties into a Ujutok Bay just south of Adlatok Bay. The Adlatok River flows out of the Ujutok River. However, I’ve also heard the main river referred to as Adlatok right from the height of land and that it empties into Ujutok and Adlatok…the Adlatok branch of the river being referred to as the Adlatok River. This is not surprising however as maps around here are not always accurate in regards to place names – more work needs to be done on this before the real place names are lost forever, in my opinion.”

Adlatok is an anglicized version of the word “Allatok” or “Allatuk” or “Allaktuk” – I’ve seen it written each way – which, from my understanding, translates roughly to “Place of the Innu” or “Where there are Innu” – Allak being the Inuit word for “Innu.” The Innu would travel along this river from inland and come out at Adlatok Bay on their way to trade furs. The Bay was frequently visited by Innu travellers, who would stop to visit the Inuit settlers who lived there later on, my grandparents. As for Ujutok, according to my cousin Brian, it derives from the Inuit word for seal, ujuk, so Ujutok or “Ujuktuk” means roughly “Where there are seal.””

Cover of the Newfoundland Quarterly showing bright streaks in the sky (Northern Lights)

I continued searching the MUN Library and Digital Archives and found the above edition of the Newfoundland Quarterly from Fall 1991/Winter 1992. The cover features a watercolour of the Northern lights above the Adlatok River. The artist is not named, but the work captures the beauty sky, land, and water. I also learned that the late President George H.W. Bush fished the Adlatok River, as have folks from all over the world. The largest salmon ever caught in this province was landed on the Adlatok River.  A 1994 Toronto Star article said that President Bush had fallen in love with Labrador and was quoted as saying, “I left about a year ago, almost to this day, and for the in-between 365 days we’ve been thinking of nothing except coming back up here to the Adlatok.”

At this point, you are likely terribly confused about the river and its names, so please take another look at the overview map above where the red line marks the route we paddled and the green line marked our planned route.

The Beginning

You’ll notice that I said, “Planned route.”  Given low-lying fog on the morning we flew out of Goose Bay, we were unable to land on Harp Lake. Harp Lake is 50 kilometres long, 1.5 kilometres wide, and has 600-metre-high canyon-like sides. With little to no visibility at the top elevations of the canyon, it was impossible to land safely. When the floatplane turned south to return to Goose Bay, we sank into a collective depression. Keith, the pilot, asked if we wanted to be dropped in Snegamook Lake. I climbed over the seats to go talk to Mark and Darren who were seated in the back of the plane. Marian and I had paddled the Kanairiktok River in 2015 so were familiar with it but none of us had paper maps of the area.  A quick consult yielded a negative decision on that option and I communicated that to the co-pilot.

Soon thereafter, the plane began a rapid descent and landed on Shapio Lake.  We knew from our research prior to the trip that Shapio Lake drained into the River with Two Names. We collectively rejoiced at not having to return to Goose Bay.  The pilots confirmed that we were okay with this “second prize” drop-off location and soon sped away, leaving us in the deep silence of Labrador.  You can see Shapio Lake on the map above.  We were deposited on a gorgeous beach at the southern end where the lake narrows.

A floatplane parked at a beat with canoes and kayaks on the beach

As our new (and very unexpected) drop-off location had lopped about 80 kilometres off of our route, we had time to take the day to get used to the new plan.  We got camp organized and spent the afternoon hiking to get a view of our surroundings.  The sky turned blue, the fog lifted, and we wished we’d been able to fly out of Goose Bay later in the day. We agreed to sulk about it for the remainder of the day and then let it go and have a fine adventure.

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Day Two dawned fine and still. Harp Lake was forgotten. We spent our first day exploring the southern end of Shapio Lake. The mirror surface of the lake produced a landscape-size kaleidoscope of rock and sky.  On Day Three we paddled towards the northern end of Shapio, heading into its into the western arm for lunch.  Late in the afternoon, with 15 km of SW fetch, the lake challenged Marian and me (paddling the canoe) with a small surf landing at our campsite.

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The next morning, the black flies were swarming, and we became breakfast as we packed our boats to the first portage.  From the maps, we were pretty sure the exit of Shapio Lake would be protected by waterfalls.  We were correct and set about finding the best way to get ourselves, our boats, and our gear past these frothing obstacles.  We went scouting and first found a dry river channel that could work as a portage, but then Marian found a portage trail that made the carrying much less tricky in the footing department. Darren spotted a line through the two waterfalls he might have been able to run if he had had an empty creek boat rather than his Hammer hybrid kayak filled with expedition gear.

A large waterfall between two rocky cliffs

After paddling five kilometres along what we decided to call the Shapio River, we pulled off to river left when another waterfall blocked our progress. Indeed, four waterfalls blocked our progress to the River with Two Names, so we had some decisions to make about our portage route – do one long carry around all the falls or find a way back to the river after the first one? A deeply worn portage trail led us to a stunning campsite carpeted in caribou lichen.  We decided to stop for the day and think about it.

The next morning, after studying the maps and taking a jaunt along the portage trail, the most expedient plan seemed to be to make the long portage around all of the waterfalls.  The carry distance was 1.6 kilometres to a spot where we could stash the boats prior to a steep drop to the launch.  We knew we couldn’t do it all one day, so we divided our gear into what we would transport the first day and what we would need for a second night in our stunning campsite.

The first big load down the portage trail was indeed a pull for our kayakers.  Darren and Mark – who had declared one rule before the trip began, “I don’t paddle uphill and I don’t portage”- loaded up their kayaks and began to pull.  In the process, they did a thorough study of the coefficient of friction between plastic kayaks and caribou lichen (technical article for submission to the appropriate journals is in the works).  The day was scorching hot, the bugs ravenous, and I was glad Marian and I were carrying the canoe for the shade it provided.  We stopped often to rest, swat flies, and curse the original fog that had led us to a route allowing this moment of, uh, self-development.  We carried the last load the next morning, after getting to experience our campsite in the driving rain.

Reunited with our gear, we now had to sort out getting it down to the river’s edge.  Mark tied a rope to his kayak, kicked it over the lip, and held on for the steep 30-metre descent.  Darren, Marian and I followed in a similar fashion.  The woods were soaked with the previous night’s rain and by the time we reached the bottom, so were we.  After a few more schleps up and down, in tight quarters with ferocious flies, we stuffed everything back into the boats and paddled briefly upstream.  We quickly turned to go with the current and found an island on which to get warm and fueled.  Five days in, we took our first paddle strokes on the River with Two Names.

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Map consultation

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Map consultation

At this point, the river was exchanging its rocky shores for black spruce-covered sandy banks.  We enjoyed the push from the current and floated to watch the scenery go by. Surveying the banks, our new home didn’t seem all that hospitable to camping; it took several tries to find a suitable spot amid sand bars that would force us to wade to shore, crumbling sandbanks, and our wish for a breeze to ward off the flies.  We settled for river left on a sandy beach, the first that let us get all the way in without pulling the boats through the water.  Starting Day Six, we were one kilometre up from where the river split into two, the northern branch flowing to Adlatok Bay and the southern to Ugjogtok Bay.  Before leaving home, we’d decided to paddle the Adlatok branch, so at the fork, we turned left to paddle on the River with One Name: the Adlatok.

The River with One Name

About seven kilometres down the Adlatok, we stopped to scout the only rapid of the trip we would all paddle as a group.  We followed Darren’s line down the rapid and tried our best not to run over him.  It was the perfect rapid to run – big enough to get us excited, but small enough that the waves only filled one-third of our canoe.  At the bottom, we stopped to bail our canoe while Darren played in the rapid. By then we’d worked up an appetite and we enjoyed lunch on another sandy beach.

Two kayakers paddling with a rocky mountain in the background

The afternoon’s paddle took us to the mouth of the canyon that empties the Adlatok into the sea.  From our map study before the trip, Marian and I had noted the likely potential of a portage around the canyon and last rapids that started about half a kilometre downstream from the canyon. This research was confirmed when Mark spoke to one of the owners of Camp Adlatok while we were in Goose Bay.  He warned Mark, “You don’t want to be in that canyon.”  The portage headed slightly uphill from a grassy nook on river right.  Mark set out scouting along it but quickly returned saying his way was blocked by water.  Our (by now) experienced tow team went into action and pulled Mark’s kayak up to the small pond.  He jumped in, paddled across, and confirmed the portage trail continued.  When he returned, it took all four of us to drag our loaded canoe the 100 metres to the pond.  It reminded me of pulling tires up Signal Hill.  Once on the far side, we took a light load and scouted further up.  About a kilometre uphill, our way was again blocked by another small pond.  We dropped our loads and climbed a nearby hill to see the view and confirm that we could proceed after the pond.  We decided to bring the rest of the gear and boats up to this point.

By the time we’d accomplished this, it was time to make camp amid the worst bugs of the trip.  I had started to collect firewood when Mark noticed that my normally-white jacket was black, teeming with flies trying to find a way in.  He suggested that I forego cooking outside, taking shelter away from the torment in our bug house, and cooking dinner over the MSR stove instead of a fire.

We woke to misty rain on the morning of Day Eight. We packed and scouted the rest of the portage.  It seemed to be a route that folks from Hopedale use in winter to bypass the rapids and waterfalls when travelling by snowmobile; this would explain why the portage crossed two small ponds and a bog.  At Adlatok Bay, the wind was blowing hard, waves crashed against the shore, and the temperature was dropping.  By the time we finished the portage and reloaded the boats, we were cold and damp.  We needed to paddle around a small point, across the mouth of the Adlatok River, and then around another point to reach Camp Adlatok.  With the wind, the paddling was challenging in the canoe, but we made it in good style.

Canoe and kayaks on the beach with waves on the sea behind them

We made camp out of the wind and checked out the river from a nearby high vantage point.  The rapids below the canyon section were likely a lovely run. There was some discussion of hauling our boats up the next day to make a go at them. But, waking to a temperature of just two degrees, wind, and rain, we drank coffee instead.  In the afternoon, the weather cleared, and we walked upstream to check out the rapids and canyon we portaged around.  During this hike, we spotted a portage trail on the far side of the river that would have allowed us to bypass the canyon section but would have allowed us to run the last rapids to the sea (if we had not used the long portage to avoid both the canyon and last rapids).

Labrador Sea to Hopedale

With a good weather forecast from our Garmin In-Reach Satellite Communicator for Day Ten, we readied ourselves for the next phase of the expedition, paddling out Adlatok Bay to Hopedale.  Much like our second morning of the trip, the day broke with no wind, and the sea had a shiny mirror finish.  We couldn’t believe how the water has transformed from the day before.  The paddling was magic, the colourful cliffs reflecting in the still water.  We stopped for pictures so often that it was hard to get a steady paddling rhythm going.  Our goal for lunch was the settlement of Adlatok, and a building tailwind made the trip easy.  As we rounded the corner into the community, we noticed a motorboat.  Our eyes followed the worn line in the grass from the boat to the porch of a cabin where two folks were enjoying a coffee.  We waved and they waved back.  We paddled over and they met us at the shore.

We chatted about our trip and asked a few questions about the route ahead.  We were relieved to hear that the polar bears were out on the outer islands during this time of year so it was unlikely that we would meet one on our way to Hopedale.  There are two buildings that instantly catch your attention in Adlatok, both from the 1860’s and both built the great-great-grandfather of the man on the porch.  They said it was fine to visit them after lunch, but warned us to “watch out for a three-legged bear – we saw one as we boated in this morning.”  We had lunch and made our way through the tall grasses and raspberry canes to admire the construction methods that had kept the buildings standing for such a long time.  No three-legged bears here, however!

An old wooden house surrounded by large green palnts

We left Adlatok and rounded the corner into a stiff headwind and waves kicking up.  We scanned the far shore to decide on our crossing angle – and then spotted the three-legged bear speeding along the shore.  Marian and I had contemplated putting on dry suits on shore, but we changed our minds pretty quickly.  There was a line of small islands on our crossing angle so they would provide resting spots in the lee of each one and a chance to don our drysuits if necessary.  We reached the far shore, and began to look for camp.  We found a beach in the nook of a small point and decided we had a dandy place to call home for the night between two rocky outcrops.

An overhead shot of tents and boats

We enjoyed a tailwind on Day 11 as we made our way further and further out the bay.  The terrain continued to dazzle our senses.  We passed several cabins and stopped for lunch beside one, perched on a rock.  A few hours later, we filled our water bags from a stream and started to look for a campsite.  The shores sported cliffs with only minute beaches.  We paddled on and then spotted a small island that held potential.  We paddled over to the smooth rocky lump and jumped out of our boats.

Just up from the beach, a soft green carpet called out for tents.  As we climbed the small slope behind it, a small black head popped up.  I called out, “That’s a bear – let’s retreat!”  We backed down the slope and rapidly pushed off from shore.  As we rounded the corner, Darren said, “Hey, there goes the bear swimming across to the mainland.”  We marvelled at its swimming speed, trying to capture it with our cameras.  After it reached the far shore and turned south, we considered whether to camp on “Beary Island.”  Since the bear had moved on so quickly, we decided it likely wasn’t coming back, so the island was ours.  It was early afternoon and still quite hot.  We enjoyed getting gear dried out, exploring the island, and setting up Mark’s wireless motion-sensing bear detection system.  Testing the system, it easily detected me sneaking into camp.  Later that night, however, it seemed overly sensitive as Mark jumped out of the tent twice with his shotgun to confront field mice.

A person jumping into the air on a rocky outcrop surrounded by water

We set off on Day 12 with another tailwind (three times lucky!) and set a bearing for a rocky headland.  With that crossing done, we rounded a point that had rocks scattered about like pepper on a fancy meal.  Looking down, we noticed that the shallows were filled with mussels.  We harvested lunch from the comfort of our boats and cooked up a delicious scoff on a nearby beach.  The afternoon temperature was very hot, so we sought out a few snow patches (leftover from the previous winter) and cooled off near them.  Mark scoped out a likely campsite on the map that would likely be a good spot to take a layover.  We wanted to be near enough to Hopedale to get there regardless of the weather, at a place with fresh water and good hiking.

When we arrived, Mark’s spot met all of the criteria. We camped by a lake that drained into the sea via a small creek and was surrounded by rocky hills. The campsite had a wooden tent frame apparently used in winter by folks from Hopedale.  It provided a perfect host for our bug house, with a lovely view out the bay.

Still waters in early morning light with boulders sticking out at low tide

We spent Day 13 (Tuesday) hiking to the tops of the nearby hills, both to enjoy the views and to beat the heat.  We were lucky to hit the only sunny days that Hopedale had seen all summer.  Our windy perch proved excellent, and we spent much of the day looking out to the Labrador Sea for the ferry that should have been coming into Hopedale that day on its Northern swing to Nain.  Mark texted Linda to get the ferry schedule, and she replied with, “The ferry sails south on 9:00 am Thursday, you must go to Hopedale tomorrow.  Don’t miss the ferry!”  We had a confirmed booking for 5:00 pm Thursday sailing, but the schedule had changed to leaving eight hours early with no notification.  With this new information as well as an updated weather forecast, we updated our plan for paddling to Hopedale and catching the ferry.

To beat a falling tide and a growing wind, we were up early on Wednesday morning to pack and make our way around three big points.  We woke to drizzle and fog and set out using the coast as our handrail.  A few hours later, we paddled into Hopedale and toured the village from the water from one end to the other.  We paddled over to the ferry dock and found a place to land.  We needed to turn in our canoes and cargo before the end of the day.  We’d hoped to stay in the hotel but heard it was full.  We unpacked our boats and moved them to a secure location, leaving out tents and sleeping bags to hand carry onto the ferry the next morning.  We let the hotel restaurant cook for us, enjoying both lunch and dinner.  Once all of our work was done, we walked around Hopedale, visiting both the old mission building and local store.

Paddlers entering Hopedale with historic mission in the background

The next morning, we caught the ferry and settled into our new boat for the 36-hour journey to Goose Bay.  The boat made stops in Postville, Makkovik, and Rigolet, and we were able to walk around each village as the ferry unloaded cargo.  After a short sleep in Goose Bay, we all piled into Mark’s truck for the two-day jaunt back to St. John’s via the Labrador and Trans-Canada Highways.  Both the ferry ride and long drive provided wonderful opportunities to reflect on the excellent trip we’d shared.  Our trip plan had changed dramatically from when we first met in January eight months earlier (different group, different river), but by working together as a team from start to finish, we’ve experienced a new collection of stories to tell (and relive) of shared challenges, expedition meals, and dramatic landscapes. Journeying together in remote and wild places requires us to depend on each other in deeper, and often unspoken ways–learning and knowing each other’s strengths and places of struggle–bringing out the best of ourselves as we navigate the wild water, the stormy skies, and encounters with wild animals.

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Pretty Big Walk Expedition Photo Gallery

We rested and prepared for the rest of the day. Wake up call came at 5 am the next day and we choked down some porridge and tried to breathe away our small altitude headaches. We decided to proceed and started up from high camp trying to find the ideal “I can go uphill all day pace.” The initial sections of the climb were gentle up which allowed us to find a rhythm before the steeper sections. We were climbing on snow ( and some rock) all the way.

The funny story about why we chose to climb Yala Peak has to do with a hotel we stayed in often here in Kathmandu during the fall of 2017. We found the Yala Peak hotel on booking.com and ended up loving the friendly family feel of the place. We stayed there five different times during our various ins and outs that fall. In their lobby, they had a map of the Langtang Valley with Yala Peak at the end. Although relatively small by Nepal standards, Yala Peak is only 400 metres shorter than Canada’s highest peak and is taller than three of the Seven Summits. It was great to be out finding my climbing legs and my climbing mind once again and we did have to dig a bit deep to start and finish the climb.

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River with Two Names: My Canoe Got Bigger

Looking over the bow of our canoe, it is much bigger now. We traded our smaller boats for a ride on the Kamutik W from Hopedale to Goose Bay. We traded the calm solitude of the wilderness for the intense group experience of the Labrador ferry.

We settled in for the 36 hour run and enjoyed the sensation of going 24 km/h with no effort. We first traversed a piece of coastline we had paddled the day before but then enjoyed seeing the outer islands for the first time on a lovely sunny day.

Our first stop was Postville and the group obliged me with a collective effort at a shape. After a quick stop, the ferry headed out to see again. Just as we turned the cape towards Makkovik, some beauty icebergs put the group’s effort at a shape to shame.

Pulling into Makkovik, I pointed out all the sights I remembered from a winter visit a few years ago to do a talk at the school.

With a bit more practice and incorporating some local props, the team rocked making a shape. After Makkovik, we settled into our bunks for the night and it was the Labrador Sea’s turn to make a shape. Many, in fact. The seas were rough and we were rocked, gently and not so gently, as the ferry pitched and rolled.

This morning we docked in Rigolet and the team tried to blend in with the town sign. We enjoyed a walk along the province’s longest boardwalks.

We are now leaving Rigolet for the 6.5 hour run to Goose Bay. Our boats have been riding in their very own container and we might get them this evening…or tomorrow morning. We will laid up and hit the Labrador Highway to catch our next ferry.

More from Goose Bay.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D14 Paddling portion finished 2day in Hopedale. Foggy cold morning gave ephemeral views. Last night in tents. Ferry south 2morrow. Lovely to explore Hopedale.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D13 Hilltop view of islands South reveal shades & hues of blue that we could only imagine B4 2day. High perch beats heat & bugs. Coastal rock swirls & layers.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D12 Loons sing us asleep. Magnificent day. Heat was wearing. We visited snow & 30 degrees C in 2day. Rocks we will never forget were our handrail today.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D11 Island. Crow & partridge berries. Camping perfect. Oh, there’s a bear. A big bear. A black bear. We leave. It swims. We stay.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D10 Spectacular day on the Labrador Sea. Headed out of Adlatok Bay on an oily sea. Headwind in the aft. Sun all day. Campfire. Yum

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D9 Rest, explore, McGyver, bake brownies kind of day. All weather 2day Prepping 4 ocean phase. No audio update conserving sat batt

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D8 Off the Adlatok & camped at the head of Adlatok Bay. Big headwind. Too late to make headway after portage. Weather is cold Brrr

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D7 Almost 2 the Labrador Sea. Halfway over last portage. River w/ two names became river with one name today: Adlatok. Black flies

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D6 you should have seen the boats sliding down the hill to the river…blue, yellow, red with us running behind. Braking gently

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D5. Big day of going to & fro. All boats over our first long portage. 3 trips. 1 more 2morrow. Lots of heat, bugs, & no wind. Rain

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D3. Hiding from horrific black flies A large day w/ waterfalls, portages, paddling in/with to the wind. & a small incident where I wear bear spray No bears

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D3. Shapio Hilton. Big day exploring books & crannies of SL. Now camped at N end. Lots of exciting g tailwinds. White caps. Exit Shapio 2morrow. Great day.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

A few days on Shapiro and then big portage back to Adlatok. Miss most of the rapids/portages. Then same plan as before. Super beauty day here. Blue sky. Mtns.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

D2.Stunning beauty as we paddled W. up Shapio Lake to a tributary. Lunch on gravel bar. Easy paddle home in stiff tail wind. 22km

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

Settling in nicely. Camp is gorgeous. We are “Harp-Broken” but adjusting to our new trip plan. Rewarded with great views today

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

Flexibility is key while adventuring. New trip start on Shapiro Lake due to socked in conditions over Harp Lake. Thanks Keith!

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

Hading our from Otter Creek Float Plane Base. Catch ya from the River with Two Names

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River of Two Names: The Team is in Goose Bay

Meet the team. Mark, Darren, Marian, and me. Eating a cone at The A & W in Goose Bay. It’s a tradition.

Another tradition is visiting the old Hudson Bay Company Post Museum in NW River. They have great wooden models depicting traditional life in Labrador as well as an extensive collection related to the Hubbard’s.

Mina Hubbard’s book, A Woman’s Way through Unknown Labrador, first introduced me to Labrador. I’ve read about her extensively and even presented an academic paper about her once. She’s one of my many outdoor women heroes.

I won’t quite look like this tomorrow but perhaps in two weeks. If you haven’t read about her 1905 expedition, I highly recommend it. I saw evidence today at the museum of “fake news” about Mina. One newspaper article claimed she’d quite even though her expedition was very successful.

She did what she set out to do and so we hope to as well. We are reporting to the float plane base at 6:30 and hope to be flying by 7:30 am. Catch you tomorrow from Harp Lake. Now I have to finish packing and get some zzz’s.

PS. The red dot is Harp Lake.

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The River With Two Names

Our current expedition is called The River with Two Names and it begins/began on August 15 when we fly into Harp Lake. After a few days paddling along the lake we will exit via the Harp River onto the the Adlatok River…or is it the Ogjoktok River? It turns out that the river has two names. Depending on the map you look at (especially how old the map is), depending on which trip report you uncover, and depending on which website you look at, the river has and had two names. Currently on the provincial road map, the upper part of the river is called the Adlatok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Ogjoktok Bay is called the Ogjoktok River. On Canadian topographical maps, the the upper part of the river is called the Ogjoktok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Adlatok Bay is called the Adlatok River. It’s also called the Ugjoktok River at the hydrographic monitoring station where you can see the water levels we are paddling.

We plan to take the northern branch to Adlatok Bay and hope sea conditions will allow us to paddle out to Hopedale to catch the coastal boat. Some may remember that a few years back, we paddled the Kanairiktok River and had hoped to paddled to Hopedale then. Both the Adlatok and the Ugjoktok ultimately join Kanairiktok Bay. So our fingers are crossed that we get to complete both of this trips by paddling to Hopedale.

Follow along and send us good thoughts as we adventure amid the bugs, bears, and wonders of the River with Two Names. You can also keep an eye on us here or through Facebook, or on Twitter.  Please scroll down to see our latest posts from the expedition. They will appear below from most recent to earlier ones.

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inReach message from TA Loeffler

Testing the Inreach. Still in St John’s. heading to the Big Land on Wednesday. Congrats to the Tickle Swimmers.

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Less than One Week and Counting: River with Two Names

As part of our last minute preparations for the River with Two Names expedition, we took our new WaterLily 12v turbine out yesterday for a test spin. We walked over to the Rennies River and placed in in a few spots to get a sense of what it can do in terms of output.

Last year on Paddling North we had the USB version but the 12 volt version is more versatile for our needs since it will allow the direct charging of our sat phone as well as a few other photo & tech items. In the picture above, it looks like the waterlily is my heart-it may end up being the heart of our power generation depending on our water conditions and camp sites. The Waterlily seems to work best where there is a constriction in the current so here’s hoping we camp beside a few of those while on the river. The idea for the Waterlily actually has roots in our Kanairiktok River expedition in 2015 where we needed to make some sat phone calls for end of trip logistics and watched our sat phone drain and there was no sun to be had to generate power through our solar panel. This prompted the Waterlily folks to adapt some tech for the needs of outdoor adventurers.

The folks at WaterLily gave us this nifty device that will assist us in maximizing output from the Waterlily as well as our solar panel. We ill have both on this trip so we can generate power from either or both depending on conditions. In order to provide daily updates, captures photographs and video along the way, and maintain our ability to have emergency communications, I appreciate the redundancy in electricity generation systems. I’ll do a longer blog post about how our systems worked out after the trip.

Along with WaterLily testing, we’d had the solar panel out. I’ve just reactivated my Garmin Inreach and will send a test message later today or tomorrow. You can see the map and where we are at this link. We’ve been fitting our gear and food into barrels and waterproof bags and attending to what seem like hundreds of details in both putting life here in St. John’s on pause and making our Labrador expedition a reality. Please follow along and send us good thoughts as we adventure amid the bugs, bears, and wonders of the River with Two Names. You can also keep an eye on us through Facebook and Twitter. Catch you next from Labrador.

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The River with Two Names: Two Weeks and Counting

Two weeks and counting. We had a wonderful event last night on Long Pond where we introduced the joys of canoeing to some New Canadians and their conversation partners. It was a great partnership between School of Human Kinetics, Student Services, and the Association for New Canadians. I annotated the photo above with some common parts you might hear us use during audio updates.

Mark has been busy watching the news for relevant items as we get closer to our trip. One recent pst he sent mentioned swarming black flies: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/hundreds-of-black-flies-attack-labrador-woman We are packing fly dope as well as our head nets and bug jackets-which say be know henceforth as our “happy places.” We will also be travelling south at the end of our trip on the next Labrador coastal boat: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/kamutik-w-maiden-voyage-1.5225946 Hopefully sea conditions allow us to get all the way to Hopedale and ride the new ferry.

We are also watching the weather: https://weather.gc.ca/city/pages/nl-38_metric_e.html It looks like Hopedale is having a cool and wet summer thus far. Today in St. John’s it’s hot and sunny and the squashes in our garden are loving it. We’ll make sure to pack our woolies because 8 degrees and rain can be quite chilly. As we ended neared the end of our big trip, Paddling North, last year-it got much cooler and wetter as we approached the Arctic Circle. Here’s a fun post from last year as we were looking back as well as forward to the last kilometres of our trip: https://taloeffler.com/2018/08/02/paddling-north-2739-kilometres-of-memories/

I’ve mentioned the legendary salmon fishing on the Adlatok River. Here is a newspaper clipping from September 1963 reporting that a 27.5 pound salmon had been caught on the river.

OK-off to do more prep. Stay tuned.

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The River with Two Names: Three Weeks & Counting

A graph of water levels indicating that the amount of water in the Ugjoktok River is decreasing

Our expedition team met last night with Richard Alexander to go over the map, see some pictures, and get some beta (information) from him. We then (almost) finalized our group gear list with who is bringing what. The excitement is building as are the butterflies (they always seem to show up about this time before an expedition). This is the time where final gear, clothing, tech, and boat decisions are made. The picture above shows current flow rates below Harp Lake, where we will begin the trip. You’ll notice that the monitoring station names the river as the Ugjoktok. As mentioned in my previous post, the river we are paddling has two different names with a few different spellings depending on who you ask, the age of the map, and when people have travelled the river in the past. It’s been very interesting to explore the practices of geographical naming and which names are on the map as we prepare for our expedition.

Jamie Jackman was kind enough to answer my query about the river’s names. This is what he replied:

“Ujutok is the main river and empties into a Ujutok Bay just south of Adlatok Bay. Adlatok River flows out of the Ujutok River. This is all according to my father. However, I’ve heard the main river referred to as Adlatok right from the height of land and that it empties into Ujutok and Adlatok…the Adlatok branch of the river being referred to as the Adlatok River. This is not surprising however as maps around here are not always accurate in regards to place names – more work needs to be done on this before the real place names are lost forever, in my opinion.

Adlatok is an anglicised version of the word “Allatok” or “Allatuk” or “Allaktuk” – I’ve seen it written each way – which, from my understanding, translates roughly to “place of the Innu” or “where there are Innu.” Allak being the Inuit word for “Innu.” The Innu would travel along this river from inland and come out at Adlatok Bay on their way to trade furs. The Bay was frequently visited by Innu travellers who would stop to visit the Inuit-settlers who lived there later on, my grandparents.

As for Ujutok, according to my cousin Brian, derives from the Inuit word for seal: ujuk – so Ujutok or “Ujuktuk” means roughly “where there are seal.”

This image is the cover of the Newfoundland Quarterly. It is a watercolour painting of the the Adlatok River with Northern Lights above it. The Northern Lights are depicted as dancing white streaks in a blue sky. The are reflected in the river.

I have been searching the MUN Library and Digital Archives and found the above edition of the Newfoundland Quarterly from Fall 1991/Winter 1992. The cover features a watercolour of the Northern lights above the Adlatok River. The artist is not named in the edition but captures the beauty of both the sky, land, and water so well. I also recently learned that the late President George H.W. Bush had fished the Adlatok River and that folks from all over the world, come to fish there. The largest salmon ever caught in this province was landed on the River of Two Names (though likely one of the two branches since there are high falls that might block the salmon’s progress upstream). In a 1994 Toronto Star article, that said that President Bush had fallen in love with Labrador as was quoted as saying, “I left about a year ago, almost to this day, and for the in- between 365 days we’ve been thinking of nothing except coming back up here to the Adlatok,” he said.” I know from past expeditions in Labrador, that I will likely feel the same. Each trip there occupies a portion of my heart and soul and I often look at the Labrador pictures that adorn our walls at home and wish to be there again.

Marian and I depart St. John’s for Goose Bay on August 14. Mark, Darren, Marian and I fly into Harp Lake on August 15. Stay tuned as preparations continue and please do follow along while we paddle this most amazing river.

This image shows a map of Labrador zoomed in on Harp Lake and shows our expedition route from Harp Lake to Hopedale.

Adlatok/Ugjogtok Route Overview

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Coming Next: A River with Two Names

Thanks to all who played “Which expedition is next?” a few weeks back. I realized that I never confirmed what river we are paddling in mid August…so here goes. Our next expedition is called The River with Two Names and it begins on August 15 when we fly into Harp Lake. After a few days paddling along the lake we will exit via the Harp River onto the the Adlatok River…or is it the Ogjoktok River? It turns out that the river has two names. Depending on the map you look at (especially how old the map is), depending on which trip report you uncover, and depending on which website you look at, the river has and had two names. Currently on the provincial road map, the upper part of the river is called the Adlatok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Ogjoktok Bay is called the Ogjoktok River. On Canadian topographical maps, the the upper part of the river is called the Ogjoktok River and then the branch of the river that leads to Adlatok Bay is called the Adlatok River.

We plan to take the northern branch to Adlatok Bay and hope sea conditions will allow us to paddle out to Hopedale to catch the coastal boat. Some may remember that a few years back, we paddled the Kanairiktok River and had hoped to paddled to Hopedale then. Both the Adlatok and the Ogjoktok ultimately join Kanairiktok Bay. So our fingers are crossed that we get to complete both of this trips by paddling to Hopedale.

Not wanting to take sides and needing to much more research and learning about the river, its names, its place, and the folks who have lived by it and travelled it, we will call by both it’s names for now. I enjoyed looking through some archival documents yesterday and noticed several different spellings of the river’s names as well. Here is a picture of one of the falls we will likely have to portage around. It is from the MUN Online Library Archive. It is identified as “Paget River Falls in Allatok” and indexed as Adlatok.

I also enjoyed reading this entry in the Encyclopedia of Labrador entitled: A is for Adlatok written by Jamie Jackman, Program Director at the Labrador Institute. In his article, Jamie mentions what the word Adlatok comes from: “The Adlatok River flows eastward from the Quebec-Labrador boarder and empties into both Adlatok Bay and Ujutok Bay. In the past, Innu hunters and their families used parts of the 258 kilometre-long waterway as a travel route from the country’s interior to the trading post at Hopedale. The name comes from the Inuit word Allaktok, meaning “where there are Innu.”” Jamie has a family connection to the river and community of Adlatok. He mentions that those who visit “quickly fall in love with Adlatok Bay, evident in the way many earlier pioneers and leaders discuss its natural beauty in Labradorian literature.” In the next weeks, I’ll be looking for some of that literature and I’ll continue to share what I find. If my experience in other parts of Labrador are any indication, I’m sure the Adlatok/Ogjoktok River will take up residence in my heart.

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Pretty Big Climb: Yala Peak

This is a summit photo of Marian and I (and Niranjan who trying to hide in the background) on the summit of Yala Peak. We climbed the peak over two days on our Pretty Big Walk expedition. Most folks were surprised since they didn’t know we had a climb planned.

We climbed to Yala Peak high camp (4800 metres) from Khanjin Gompa (after acclimating there for a day and climbing to Little Khanjin Ri at 4300 metres.) We might have climbed higher to the top of Khanjin Ri (4700 metres) but the clouds rolled in and took away the view. The pull to Yala Peak high camp took about 5 hours. It was a contouring up with some steep sections thrown in for character development.

We rested and prepared for the rest of the day. Wake up call came at 5 am the next day and we choked down some porridge and tried to breathe away our small altitude headaches. We decided to proceed and started up from high camp trying to find the ideal “I can go uphill all day pace.” The initial sections of the climb were gentle up which allowed us to find a rhythm before the steeper sections. We were climbing on snow ( and some rock) all the way.

After about 4 hours of climbing, we reached the final ridge which was a bit exposed so our guide folks placed a hand line. You can see me above making the last few steps to the summit and Marian doing the same below.

The view from the summit was incredible and one of the most memorable and clear of all the summits I’ve been on. The weather was stable so we all took lots of photos. Here is our guide Shyam on the summit.

We could see the junction of three glacial valleys and even into Tibet. It was 360 degree mountains and my inner Snow Lion soared.

Although relatively small by Nepal standards, Yala Peak is only 400 metres shorter than Canada’s highest peak and is taller than three of the Seven Summits. It was great to be out finding my climbing legs and my climbing mind once again and we did have to dig a bit deep to start and finish the climb.

The funny story about why we chose to climb Yala Peak has to do with a hotel we stayed in often here in Kathmandu during the fall of 2017. We found the Yala Peak hotel on booking.com and ended up loving the friendly family feel of the place. We stayed there five different times during our various ins and outs that fall. In their lobby, they had a map of the Langtang Valley with Yala Peak at the end.

That planted a seed and when the Pretty Big Walk came together, I realized we had our chance to climb Yala Peak. We dropped by the hotel the other night to show off our summit photo. So done folks climb a peak because it is there, we climbed this one as a tribute to some kind folks in Nepal and to our two new granddaughters, Anna and Sylvia. It was a Pretty Big Climb within a Pretty Big Walk.

Many thanks to Raj at Mountain Sun Valley Treks for setting up our logistics and staffing for the Pretty Big Walk/Climb and to Shyam and Niranjan who climbed Yala Peak with us (as well as making the Pretty Big Walk a grand success through your leadership).

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