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The Mackenzie River

The Last Great Frontier - An Epic!

What Can i say about this 22 day Kayak river expedition other than "Unbelievable". In June of 2019 I set off to paddle the source-to-sea expedition along Canadas mighty Mackenzie River through the unchartered Decho region of The North West Frontier with my friend Rob. It was to a a totally self supported adventure into the wild's of North America.

From Hay River to Inuvik, we had a blast from the start in what was to turn out to be an enlightening experience for both.

Starting off a little apprehensive as you do on venturing into the unknown, we set off after a few days preparation and packing/repacking in Hay River. Our first night was spent on the Jetty at Fort Providence where a local indigenous Indian elder came by and when asked what we were doing, he then explained to give us a one liner that both of us would never forget - " That's a long f***ing way!"

As if this wasn't enough, we got caught out in a storm on Mills Lake and the resultant Northern Winds would put pay to our tent - It ripped the tent outer, rendering it useless for the next 10 days. A quick satellite call back to the UK and a call to Martin Like who runs the 6633 Ultra Marathon series in this region, resulted in a new MSR Elixr being purchased and then forwarded to our nearest area where we could pick it up - Norman Wells (10 days away!!) Now we were in survival mode at night, unless we could find a hunting shelter...... Good luck we thought. As it was the weather after the first storm was relatively kind to us and a fly sheet to keep the midges out was to prove good enough until we got to Norman Wells.

Visits to Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson, Wrigley and Tulita would all serve as amazing backdrops for evening dinner prior to moving along the river to find a place to rest. The weather closed in as we arrived in Norman Wells where the river developed an oily slick (Drilling operations were everywhere) and forced us to take refuge in town for a couple of nights. The 'Chop' was to much for our sea kayaks so a few 'adventure beers' were sought in the local 'punch house!'. We made some great friends and even had chance to drop into the Canadian Legion to say hi - In the middle of nowhere!

After a few days of 'going soft' on land we set out to take on the second half of the journey. Its fair to say there was very little in the form of Decho settlements on this stretch, it really was day after day of beautiful, raw last frontier-land. We'd occasionally come across some hunting shelters in the most basic form to stop and get out to stretch the legs but we were intent on pushing on. Mileage was up to around 100-120km per day at times but this could soon be remedied by the north wind blowing in a chopping up the river.

A last stop at Tsiigehtchic settlement prior to venturing into the flow-less swamp of the Mackenzie Delta before it kicked into the Beaufort Sea. With the last 2 days proving torturous in terms of distance, we made it into Inuvik on day 21. A monumental 3 weeks in the wilderness, an opportunity to reset and allow your body to adjust, whilst living off basic means to ensure you get thto the end as per your plan. The Kayak was considerably lighter on both bodyweight and food by the time we landed.

An exceptional opportunity reset your focus on life and coming away with a real sense of achievement and internal re-evaluation. Its a trip i'll never forget and look forward to returning one day with a group of like-minded individuals..

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