August 1, 2008, 8:18AM – Day 19:  Happily, I found a portage route which ended downstream of the ledge.

August 1, 2008, 7:21AM:  The end of the portage route is next to a cabin mentioned by Stew Coffin in his notes from his 1960s trip down the George.  It clearly has not been occupied for many years and the inside has been torn apart by bears.  This was day 19 of my trip and the first sign of humans since crossing the Ossokmanuan Reservoir to the Smallwood Reservoir.



July 31, 2008, 5:34PM:  I had camped the night before at the point where the portage route turns to the northwest.  It was raining and so I took my one and only rest day of the trip.

On August 1, I headed off down a George River twice as big as I had been facing up to that point.  Within a few hours I came to the monster rapid which had ended my trip in 2006.  Above is a picture from 2006 showing my route down the rapid after dumping!




August 1, 2008, 12:55PM:  My plan this year was to try and portage around this rapid, but it turned out that the alders made this virtually impossible, so finally I ran it and, happy to say, made it!  Once at the bottom, I turned around and took the shot above looking back up the rapid.  From this angle, the rapid hardly looks challenging at all!

August 3, 2008, 9:43AM:  On day 21 I came to an area known as the Thousand Islands.  The George River spreads itself out and runs down many channels.  It is a real challenge to canoeists.



August 3, 2008, 11:43AM:  I chose to stay in the central channels and made great progress.

August 3, 2008, 3:52PM:  Patting myself on the back, I seemed to be through the worst when suddenly I found myself in a channel.  Even though I could hear nothing, I suddenly realised it was leading to a falls and it was too late to do anything except go over it.  I could not tell how high it was until the moment of going over the edge.  It turned out to have a six-foot drop.  My canoe turned over and I finally ended up where I took the above picture.



I went over the falls on the extreme right hand side as seen from where I took the picture.  I was very lucky as there were no boulders there.  There turned out to be a campsite where I managed to land, so I spent the night before going on.

August 4, 2008, 11:38AM – Day 22:  It turned out my misadventures were only beginning.  The next day, while lining my canoe down a rapid, the rear rope came off and my canoe went down the rapid, leaving me standing in a stunned state of disbelief with the rope in my hand.  After chasing my canoe down another rapid, I started swimming after it and by sheer good luck succeeded in beating it to a rapid and caught it just before the two of us were about to be swept into the rapid.  The water was just shallow enough for me to be able to stand up, stop our forward motion, retie the rope and then let the canoe down the rapid.  I shortly found an area where I could stop and dry my clothes and take the above picture, still in a state of disbelief.



I still have not figured out how the rear rope managed to come untied.  The above picture shows the knot as tied when I started the trip on July 14th.

Five days before the rope came off, July 29, 2008, the knot was as above.  The picture was taken at Lake Resolution in photographing the caribou.  It appears that one loop in the knot may have come untied.



I always have an emergency backpack on under my life jacket.  In order to keep it very light in weight, it only has the absolute minimum that I need for survival.  This is (1) my satellite phone in a waterproof box (Pelican 1060); (2) a mylar survival blanket; (3) matches in a waterproof bottle; (4) firestarter in a waterproof bottle; (5) bug repellent; (6) suntan lotion, and; (7) credit card.  In addition, I count on having my GPS, as it is waterproof and is tied to my belt.  Key emergency telephone numbers are programmed into my satellite phone.  This year I’ve added the SPOT Personal Tracker which provides a 100% backup to my satellite phone-GPS combination and which I highly recommend.  In addition to being able to send emergency signals, you can send a signal indicating that you are okay and giving your location.  I sent an okay signal every evening and it proved to be 100% reliable.  This was the source of the benchmarks which can be seen on-line.

My emergency backpack on me.



The life jacket goes over the emergency backpack.  If I had not been able to recover my canoe, I would have been able to call for help, keeping myself alive until rescue arrived.

August 5, 2008, 8:51AM – Day 23:  Above is one of the toughest rapids on the George.



August 5, 2008, 8:51AM:  I ran the upper section along the edge and lined the lower section, scrambling from rock to rock while controlling my canoe with the ropes attached to the front and back of the canoe (well knotted!).

August 5, 2008, 3:06PM:   Later that day I reached the junction with the De Pas River coming from Shefferville and the start of Indian House Lake, a wide section of the George running for 100 kilometres to the north.



August 7, 2008, 2:11PM – Day 25:  Half way down Indian House Lake, I arrived at Wedge Point.  It turned out to be a rock barrier practically blocking the entire width of the lake.  I had to paddle about a kilometre to my right to get around it.

August 7, 2008, 2:54PM:  When I got around the end of Wedge Point, there like a mirage in the distance were a white tent and tepees.  I barely had time to admire the vista when the second violent thunder storm of the day hit.  I quickly grabbed onto the rocks on the inside of Wedge Point and hung on for dear life as the wind and waves buffeted me.  When it finally ended, I paddled towards the tent and tepees, where I could see smoke.



August 7, 2008, 4:43PM:  I got a fabulous welcome from Serge Ashini Goupil.

August 7, 2008, 4:42PM:  As is stated in their website at, “AVENTURES ASHINI offers an authentic visit of discovery in exceptional surroundings. A vast range of activities centering around the traditional way of life of the Innu (also known as the Montagnais)”. They were preparing for the first visitors a week later.  I was invited to stay for the night.



August 7, 2008, 5:48PM:  I had supper with them and an evening of fellowship which I will never forget.  It was day 25 of my trip.

August 8, 2008, 9:29AM:  The next morning I was taken on a visit of a site with tepee rings dating back centuries.



August 8, 2008, 9:48AM:  The final gesture was to deposit tobacco at the site of an ancient grave in order to secure good luck for me for the remainder of my canoe trip.  At virtually the same instant that the tobacco was deposited, a tiny bird landed in front of us.

The same bird had been with us the evening before outside the tents, running around our feet, jumping up at the black flies.  No one said anything, but it was hard not to see it as a sign.  I resumed my trip a short time later with gifts in the form of a package of oatmeal, as my stock was running low, and a container of shortning in order to increase my intake of fat.  The evening and morning were a highlight of my trip and I had a feeling that someone or something was looking out for me for the remainder of the trip.



August 11, 2008, 6:37AM - Day 29.

August 11, 2008, 10:47AM:  The George rushing along in between rapids.



August 11, 2008, 8:44PM:  There is no more black spruce and caribou moss.  It has been replaced by a type of grass or sedge.  The hills are bare tundra.

August 13, 2008, 9:44AM - Day 31.



August 13, 2008, 6:36PM:  Campsites now have very little protection.  109 kilometres from here to Kangiqsualujjuaq.

August 15, 2008, 10:58AM – Day 33:  The Bridgeman Mountains.



August 17, 2008, 9:39AM:  The two day long portage around Helen Falls.  Back in  the Taiga with black spruce and caribou moss.

August 17, 2008, 3:25PM:  Helen Falls.



August 18, 2008, 2:14PM:  Lodge at Sarvakallak Rapid, 2 days from Kangiqsualujjuaq.

August 18, 2008, 1:33PM:  Wow!



August 18, 2008, 2:10PM:  Myloh Villaronga.  I met him, his uncle and brother on the train to Shefferville in 2006.  They canoed the De Pas and George Rivers.  This year, Myloh and his uncle started in Shefferville but canoed down to the Smallwood Reservoir and then did the same route as I’m doing.  Myloh, who is staying for possibly a year in Kangiqsualujjuaq, canoed solo back up to the lodge.  We agree to canoe together to Kangiqsualujjuaq.

 August 19, 2008, 6:31AM:  Myloh and I spend the night in a cabin belonging to the owner of the lodge at Sarvakallak Rapid.  Here I’m cooking breakfast as we make an early start to get across a key rapid at high tide.



August 19, 2008, 1:18PM:  Lunch at the edge of the river with Inuit from Kangiqsualujjuaq as we wait for the tide to reverse direction.

August 19, 2008, 2:19PM:  The Inuit and Myloh heading for Kangiqsualujjuaq.  Ford Island is straight ahead, just to the right of Myloh. The Hudson’s Bay Post from 1905 used to be located to the right of Ford Island about 13 kilometres south of Kangiqsualujjuaq.



August 19, 2008, 9:47PM:  Arrival at Kangiqsualujjuaq on day 37 after a long afternoon’s fight against strong headwinds and tides.  Myloh and I finally teamed up, paddling his canoe tandem and towing mine.  My strange looking posture is explained by my having my emergency backpack and life jacket under my coat.

August 19, 2008, 9:48PM:  Myloh.  The tide was rising about 6 inches every few minutes.  We were several kilometres from the town, chilled and completely worn out. Suddenly a pickup truck showed up with two young Inuit who loaded our canoes.  Kangiqsualujjuaq has a fabulous volunteer program called “Hunters Assist” and we were the beneficiaries.  I’ll never forget how nice it was to climb into the warm cab.



August 20, 2008, 5:32PM: 
Yes, those are huskies.

August 22, 2008, 3:12PM:  More huskies who will be future members of Tommy’s dog team.



August 21, 2008, 3:06PM:  The Coop Store at Kangiqsualujjuaq where I’m to leave my canoe and barrels for shipping back to Montreal.

August 23, 2008, 10:52AM:  My canoe and barrels are in the second container from the right.



August 21, 2008, 5:59PM:  With Johnny Baron, manager of the Coop.

August 21, 2008, 3:27PM:  Kangiqsualujjuaq



August 21, 2008, 3:35PM:  Bay leading to Kangiqsualujjuaq which is located down the channel on the left.  Myloh and I crossed the channel seen in the distance while fighting 4 foot waves.

August 21, 2008, 5:29PM:  Entrance to Kangiqsualujjuaq at low tide.  Myloh and I arrived at low tide.  Tides rise and fall a total of 26 feet at Kangiqsualujjuaq.



August 23, 2008, 12:55PM:  The airport at Kangiqsualujjuaq.  I flew to Kujjuak on Air Inuit and then to Montreal on First Air.


Go back to website: "Retracing the Hubbard and Wallace Saga"


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