Almost Overlooked - Day 9

By Zachary Sheldon | Published Feb 1, 2024
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Our instructions were to head towards the Kavik River and find a place to land.

We packed up the tent in the wind. Loaded up our packs and headed west. Tussocks, tussocks, tussocks. What can I say. At this point we were pretty well out of enthusiasm. Though we did find some good blueberries, it was a minor victory.

We traveled about a mile and a half and dropped our packs. We walked around the hilltop covering probably a mile without seeing anything smooth enough to land on. So, we returned to our packs, crossed the tussocks and began to drop into the next drainage. We stopped for a rest and while waiting more and more mosquitoes appeared. They seemed to emerge from the arctic ground squirrel burrows.

We made our way down to the creek. I went up stream a little, looking for a less brushy exit, while Eric stayed around where we entered the stream. I found a nice clear bank and climbed out of the creek. My head nearly level with the tops of the willows and alders lining the creek, I panned around, surveying what was around here. About 200ft up stream something caught my eye.

I stopped and focused to see a good sized fluffy brown bear giving itself a dirt bath in a dry wallow. I dropped to my butt and slowly lowered below the tree line. I grabbed my inReach and began texting Eric. I moved up the hill in a downstream direction and sat to wait for Eric approximately 40ft up from the creek. Soon Eric emerged and approached me. We took off our packs and watched. By this time the bear had caught scent of us. It stopped wallowing, stood up and was intently sniffing the wind and looking around.

When Eric reached me, it was already making its way down stream in our direction. I got my firecrackers ready for when it emerged from the stream and would finally see us. We saw it on the other side of the creek still sniffing. As soon as it reached where we had walked it quickly turned a 180 and ran as fast as it could up the stream. We didn't see it again but were sure to look over our shoulders every now and then as we hiked up the ridge.

When we reached the top some 300+ ft above the creek, we dropped our packs and once more continued to look for possible landing zones. We found three good options and waited to hear from Matt. We took advantage of the break and just hung out, talked, and tried to find this bird that was making a noise. For the last 2 days Eric was sure something electronic we had was making a noise. I went back and forth between our electronics and a bird. Finally, we spotted it. They were the faint alarm calls of an American golden plover.

A couple hours later Matt gave us specific instructions as to where he wanted us to wait. So we packed up and descending to the Kavik River. Once at the river we headed north towards the mountains. Nearly four hours after setting out we made it to the landing zone. We were both knackered.

I was going to go get water and offered to fill Erics water as well. We were right off the riverbed, so it wasn't far. Or so I thought. I walked about 900ft before I reached the other side of the river. But where was the water? I walked about a third of a mile up the riverbed before finding water. By the time I made it back to the tent I had walked about a mile.

We made dinner and settled in for the night listening to the thunderstorms over the hill to the east where was had just come from. I peeked out to look at the sunset and over by the river was a caribou. It was walking upriver with an interest in our tent. I crouched down and crawled towards it. Occasionally raising my head, I would duck back down and modify my course. Finally, as I got close to the bank, I stood up to try and see it. By now I was about 100ft away. It gave a jump, flagged it's tail and trotted up the riverbed.

I headed back to the tent. We talked and went to bed; the plan was for Matt extract us at 9 in the morning.

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