Title: Nahanni Day 6-7 Deadmen's Valley and 4 Star |
Trip type: canoeing
Summary: Canoeing out of 2nd Canyon, through deadmen's Valley. Then a stay over at 4-Star campsite. Just after George's Riffle.
Author: M. Tanton
Date of Trip: Aug 9 and 10, 2006
County/City/national park/etc: Nahanni National Park
Location Route: Nahanni River
Distance: 84.4km in 4 hrs.
Weather Conditions:Rain, lots of drizzily rain. Camp day was mostly sunny
Directions to Set in or Trail head: See Day 1
Directions to Set in or Trail head: keep on going.
Partners: R. Barrow, G. Watson
Group experience level: Intermediate
Author's Experience level: Intermediate
Water Flow Rate: typical Aug... fairly low.
River grade: Grade II+ - Intermediate with higher rapids
Rapids and Hazards:
Hazards indicated, some are described below
Author's Email: myrlinmungeatshawdotca
The Trip Report:
Rich and I tke out the fishing rods and resolve to determine if there are fish in this river or not. The silty water make fishing unlucky.
She tells us that she really prefers the canoing to the rafting. Tells us about how crazy her previous canoe trip was, and how busy here summer has been. She only got 4 hrs rest between her last trip and this one. She gives us some chocolate chip cookies, which we inhale. She laughs at us when we start cooking soup for lunch. Most importantly she tells us of "four start" the campsite just after Georges Riffle. It's past George's Riffle, just after the island, pull off at the gravel flats there. It comes complete with a small slow side channel (no water from the river), A creek flows in, then slowly makes its way to the river. During which it warms a bit, there is a 'soaker pool' built up just before it flows into the river. Expect fantastic views of the canyon, knowing our schedule, she recommneds staying an extra day at 4 star to and just relax.
She also tells us what to expect from Georges riffle, and does not recommend taking the sneak route on river left, due to mixed waters going into the main channel, rather telling us to stay river center. For those that want a wilder ride (read Glen) stay center right.
The lunch break is great, it is dry and sunny. Rich and I stop to do some fishing from shore, where the clean water runs in from prairie creek flows into the river, hoping that the fish may be there. No luck. Then with rain coming back in, we head out to run down past Georges Riffle. Glen is in front of the tandem with Rich in the back, once again I'm solo.
George's Riffle is just inside the start of the 1st canyon. I'd always assumed a "riffle" meant small mixed waves, usually caused by a speed up in water. Small being a big part of the description, such that a riffle is what you get when as a class just below a class I rapid. I guess that is because I usually paddle on small rivers, like the Bow river in Calary. Georges Riffel was the biggest rapid we ran the whole trip. There may have been biggers wave sets, but I avoided them, there is no Portage route for George's Riffle, and you must run at least through part of it.
Rich and Glen went first. They ran river center/right. (The guide suggested staying away from the far right due to rocks). I watched as the Canoe droped down behinde a wave and disapear for a instant, before popping back up. popped back up. After that I had to pay attention for my self. I was running more river center, so I missed the first wave that they hit, which was 'huge', according to Glen later. It hit him in the chest, it looked to be 4-5ft tall, which is over your head as you aproach it when seated in a canoe.
After that there are a few more waves in a wave train, before the reflections from the walls turn it into confused chop, at around 3-3.5ft tall, which span the entire river.
The sneak channel is very small, and I agree with the guide, it should be avoided by canoests that are not very experienced. It would be a very intense and confused eddy turn into the current. Just below the confluence of the channel, there has been a rock fall along the shore that needs to be avoided. After fighting the eddy turn you need to quickly get out into the main current, which is to say into the meat of the riffle. Note this advices is contrary to what is in our guide book, written by a very experineced guide on the Nahanni River, Neil Harting.
We setup our fire box for the first time and light a fire. We watch the rafting group go by that day.
Day 7: Thursday: Stay over at four star campsite.
After breakfast (another fairly late one), we decide to paddle/walk back to Georges Riffle. We begin the paddle, initially the current is not to bad along the island and we are able to make ground. When we get to the head of the island the current combined with the shallow water makes progress impossible by paddle only. We push and line our canoes past the top. there is a bit of a bay at the top, and we are able to take to the water again. At the edge of the bay the there is a very tight set of eddies we work up. The shore is made of rock wall, about 8-12 feet tall, with some large bolders down in the water. It makes for comming in tight between rocks, shooting up through and eddy with speed out into the current and around the rock. Eventually it becomes to much and we need to hausl our canoes out up an 8ft bank of rock, can continue on foot.
We make it to the rocks at the point right in the middle of the rapids, Sitting out on the rock as the rapid that put George and his boat in the water is very nice place for lunch. By the time I was 6 yrs old I knew Peanut buttter and jam sandwich was the best lunch. 30 years later sitting in the middle of the rapid, it good to re-confirm that fact. We hope one of the other two groups will go by so we can get some pictures as they run the rapid... no such luck.
Around 4:00 the weather looks like it is starting to go a bit sour with the threat of rain. Glen wants to scramble up one of the mountain, but we agree to head back to camp. The rain starts a bit, but does not really materialize. by 6:00 as we are getting back to camp the sky is clear again. Back at camp Glen decides to scrable up one of the cliffs on the river right side. Rich and I stay back and each just read a book. I kind of think that we should have gone, but it is nice to just relax once in a while. When Glen gets back, I'm glad I did not go with him. It turns out he set of a large enough rock slide that it would have been dangerous. He was rewarded with a very nice view of the valley on the other side of the cliffs to the South, but a bit shaken with the story of the ledge that fell out below as he was desending... good thing he had a solid hand hold.
Rich and I both tried fishing again, but still no luck. None of us try the 'hot tub' created by the water that pools and then warms in the sun prior to flowing into the Nahanni.
I was really happy to get the chance to let my sleeping bag stay out to dry a bit. (my tent leaked a bit the 3rd night, and it got a wee bit damp). Unfortunately I left it out to long and the dew made it much more wet. hmmph, that nights sleep I put on some synthetic long johns, and a shirt which made the dampness barely noticeable. By the end of the night I kicked them off as I was to hot, the sleep was fine.
A small set of waves.
One of the cliffs of the Headless Range on the Nahanni
Inside pattersons cabin.
Dry Canyon from the Nahanni
Entering the first canyon
River above Georges riffle.
Looking upstream from 4-Star
The rafters go by 4-Star
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Content Copyright M. Tanton 2006