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Paddlers for Parts Association #1545

Paddlers Trip Log
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Yellowknife, NWT  to Ft. Rae, NWT via the North Arm of Great Slave Lake

Sploosh ready to roll sail furled on deck waiting
for me to saddle up

Our favoured mascot "Smokey", he happens to enjoy
good canoe ride, but needs work in the padddle dept.

We would like to bring you along the miles paddled but since you won't fit in the boat, travel with us here. I will use this space to log the trips as we complete them and hope that you find them enjoyable.

Paddledate 25/08/2007/ YK Put in  UTM Zone 11 E636800 N6928700
All maps for this trip are 1:50,000 scale NAD83 and are available from the Mineral claims dept at very reasonable cost$3.00 per sheet.
located on the 5th floor of the Balanca Building in Yellowknife.
 I had been thinking about the North Arm paddle for a number of years but had been just to lazy to actually paddle it.  After returning from Edmonton I found the 3 day forecast was good and since I had enough stuff all ready, I loaded "Sploosh" and we were off.
When travelling northern rivers and trails I always turn in a Wilderness trip report with the RCMP and I filled this in and turned her in. Now we were covered in case the plan did not unfold as I hoped.
We left Yellowknife with a following wind from the North and were making good time under sail full and bye. The trip down Yellowknife Bay was exciting as the sailing was pretty fast paced and the following swells had the kayak awash not unlike sailing a squirt boat.
We passed Mosher Island in 22 munites, and the first two kilometres were toast. Next we passed Negus point and the last of the houses which are part of Yellowknife, at Cam Point we began our turn into the North Arm proper and a maze of islands.
Sploosh and I continued to paddle sail amongst the islands until roughly 20:00 hours when I decide to find an island and camp.
The barometer was slowly rising and the weather was looking very good. I settled down to a warm dinner of Hamburger stew and veggies, apples and tea . Not a bad first day and I had a great little camp site. seems other folks liked this spot as well as there is a gas stash here and lots of jack fish skeletons on the shore. This would not be that far from Trout Rock but I was closer to the outer edge of the islands where as Trout Rock is on the mainland.
Days like today made me wonder why I had taken so long to get around to this.
Paddledate 26/08/07 Camp 1  UTM Zone 11 E623807 N6912734
My second day of paddling started off great and I was up early and had the coffee on. Packed the kayak and began a day of island wondering. I had no real route in mind and sort of poked along taking advantage of the winds when possible, after all sailing is fun. The weather was perfect, a little overcast and not to hot for paddling, the occassional gust of wind would send me scooting right along. I decided to work my way north and see about hugging a lttle closer to the mainland as the weather can go off pretty quick here.
Travelling in the islands keeps things intersting and allows for lots of little breaks so I don't get to stiff. I use a deck mounted compass to keep myself pointed sort of in the right direction and can usually tell where I am within a few hundred metres. I find that since the kayak draws very little water reefs and shoals are not usually much of a problem. I find in this area there are a few large bays that you could wonder into that would take you off a more direct course, but other than getting to see more of the countryside and a little extra paddling this should not be a problem. Wildlife during the day consisted mainly of loons, ducks, geese and eagles, all of which are worth a good look.
This trip for me was a nice little break and other than reaching Franks Channel there was no real plan and I poked along allowing wind and wave to pick the route. It is amazing how fast you can paddle from the hussle and bussle of YK Bay into the relative quiet of the North Arm islands. I will be spending more time out this way in the future. This brought the second day to and end
Paddledate 27/08/07 Camp 2 UTM Zone 11 E604200 N6927200  
This location was an excellent spot to camp, so nice in fact that some one has a cabin not far from where I pitched the tent. Here I had worked my way almost through the islands back to the main land as I was hiding a little from the wind which was still picking up. From here I was within 500 metres of the mainland and could actually see it. I began the third day of paddling from here and paddled across to hug the shore. The head winds were strong but paddling into them was lots of work but easy enough and I never felt uncomfotable. I had a big half day of paddling in the morning and stopped in a nice little bay for lunch. The weather radio was predicting more of the same for the rest of the day and the next. I probably rested to long and began to stiffen up. I paddled until about 16:30 and then I needed to find a good island and give the back a break. I found a nice one and so ends the third day.
 Paddledate28/08/07 Camp 3 UTM Zone 11 E 6586150 N 6939700
The winds continued to increase from the NNW and I was glad to be here. I settled into my evening routine dinner, tea, book and bed.
Dawn arrived and things were not looking good weather wise. The listened to the forecast which was predicting increasing winds and shifting and dropping later in the day. I decided to wait as my back was still sore and the rest would not hurt.  I wondered the island for awhile and would return to the tent to read every now and again.
There was lots of drift wood for a fire but as the wind was really blowing I decided against one. I use stoves for cooking and had enough fuel for many days and the fire would have been more worry than it was worth. The temperatures were good and being cold was never a problem. There was a little rain that evening but not enough to worry my tent. The day did wonders for my back and I was thinking through a new paddling plan.
28/08/07 Weather day
The weather gods deemed my back needed more rest and the radio was not disagreeing with them so I settled in to wait. The end of August is a tricky time to paddle the North Arm as the fall winds are just firing up and they can come up very suddenly. The North Arm is relativily shallow and the waves pick up really fast with the wind and can leave you stuck for a day or two. Larry and myself were stuck once on an island off Old Ft. Rae for 3 days due  wind and waves preventing us from luanching or boat. We werre travelling in a 20 ft. Lund with  20 horse kicker and still had the work cut out for us when we finnally got going.
 There was a lull around 13:00 and  decided to put in and see what would happen. I cleared the point on the island was was right in the thick of it. I figured well even if I only get  a kilometre there are lots more islands. After a couple of very close to capsizing moments I decided the old island was the closest and really very nice. Turning around took a few moments and the wind had then blown me past the island . Paddling back was easy enough and the old tent site was still there, so I was home for another day.
Paddledate 29/08/07 (UTM same as above)
 The weather was moderating and I managed to get off the island with no worries, I paddled into the wind all day and actually the day went by quickly. During the afternoon I passed Waite Island and knew I was staring at the Old Ft. Rae point in the distance. I was getting tired but knew that unless I went to Old Ft. Rae I would not be happy with the days efforts. The last few hours of paddling the weather got really nice and I rounded the point to Old Ft. Rae in bright sunshine and hardly any wind.
I decided to camp and explore as they have done a very nice job of rebuilding this place. It is now used as a summer training area and meeting place for the local band.
I must admit was nice to sit on a dock with the kayak safely ashore and the sun shining. I relaxed and read and just enjoyed myself. We are within four hours of the end of the trip and you can almost see the bridge at Franks Channel. You can see Joyces house and that was my eventually destination.
 The evening was the coolest of the trip so far and everything was solid frost by morning.  I had a great night and lazed around in the morning. I hate to pack things away wet even if I know it is only for a few hours. I have been on the lake for 5 days at this point four of which were paddle days and one weather day. I was well within my time limit and roughly a day behind where I thought I would be.  The three days of headwinds slowed things down a bit. Still I was pleased with my progress and having great fun with my new GPS.
Paddle date 30/08/07Old Ft. Rae
With the end of the journey in sight it can be hard not to shoot right across the middle of the arm and head straight for the take out. However the North Arm has many tricks up her sleeve and this is not the time to get careless. Solo paddling requires that I remind myself to be careful as there is no help here.
I left Old Ft. Rae around 11:00 hours with the sun shining and a nice breeze for once behind me. You can almost see the Frank Channel bridge from my put -in, there is a point  that blocks the view. From the bridge you can see Old Ft. Rae as the bridge has a little height and you can see over the point. I could do a straight shot to Joyces place from my starting point, but this would leave me no islands to rest on should my back play up. It also leaves you with no place to hide should things get suddenly worse . I chose to skate the outer edges of the islands which would shorten my route but allow me the option of retreating to an island  if needed. I paddled for about an hour and there was a handy and fair size island so I pulled out and took a shot with the GPS and did a few streches to loosen up the back. I had decided that morning to use my sleeveless neoprene vest as a seat cushion , but this changed the sit angle enough that my back would not play and I had to get out and change it.
After my break the wind was picking up and still in my favour so I put in and headed off.  The wind decided to really pick up at this point and I was sort of committed as I was to busy with the paddle to drop the sail. I realized at this point that I had better try and reach the lee of the mainland which was about 4 kilometres off regardless which route I took. I decided to the north which would be a straight line to mainlands shelter. This meant a 4 kilometre beam reach with 1 metre crossswells. My other option would have been to turn and run before the wind but that would commit me to a very long sail with no where to hide and no where to get out until reaching the end of the bay. North was shorter and safer so I went with it. This is my fastest point of sail in Sploosh with the wind just slightly on the stren quarter and we were smoking. I needed to use the paddle as an out-rigger in a steady low brace  and it was surf time in a big way.  I couldn't put the paddle anywhere safe to dump the sail and dropping the sail may not have done me that much good.I decided to sail full out in order to shorten the time spent playing in the cross swells. I never felt that Sploosh wanted to capsize but I knew that things would not go well if she did in these conditions. I of course have all the gear to deal with a dump but much prefer to stay upright and avoid the whole issue if possible. The sail was very exciting and I was counting the metres until I hit the lee of the islands again. At this point I still had the wind to my full advantage but the rough conditions were gone and so smooth sailing and fast was the new plan.  I sailed underneath the bridge at a good clip and was very glad to be there. I paddled a little towards Rae and then turned and paddled for Joyces house. Joyce lives about  a kilometre form the bridge by water. Paddling back under the bridge was a tough go due to the wind pushing the water up the channel and you are now once again paddling almost directly into the wind. I was gald to make Joyce's place as the wind was steadily getting stronger and was directly on my beam for the last bit. I pulled the boat up on Joyce,
's swimming dock which would leave about a five hundred foot portage to her parking lot. That was that Yellowknife to Ft.Rae complete and still smiling and dry. Now as luck would have Joyce was home, this was a surprise visit.
I used the phone to report to the local RCMP that I had completed the trip and had pulled off the lake. After a few tries I managed to hook up with Naomi and Patrick was dispatched to retrieve Sploosh and myself.
Many thanks to Joyce for the hospitality, wonderful woman Joyce is, to Patrick for being good enough to come and get me and to everyone that made the trip possible. Thanks to Sploosh as she once again agreed to take me where I wanted to go and do it with out dumping me a charming kayak indeed.
we have some big trips in the works for the next couple of seasons should all go well and they will eventually end up here. I have left out the GPS fixes for the trip end and stuff as I knew the area and did not take any after my last one just off Old. Ft. Rae. However for those not used to this neck of the woods I will take them off the map and add them in. Please check back and you will find them listed.
See you on the water, I'm easy to spot big sail, big smile, Greg

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