A young family of four, plus two friends, have returned from a two-month journey through some of Canada's most remote landscapes. Dan Clark, Alice Young Clark, their children Koby and Ava Fei (7 and 5 years old, respectively), and their friends Bruce Bembridge and Marilyn Toulouse paddled from Yellowknife, along Great Slave Lake and passed through the proposed Thaydene Nene National Park on the historic Pike’s Portage route. The expedition—supported in part by The Royal Canadian Geographical Society—stretched over 1,000 kilometres and included portages, upstream travel, exposed lakes and whitewater rivers.
“It is only on lengthy trips in lands unchanged by people, places where solitude still cloaks the land, that we can see the world through the eyes of explorers of centuries past,” the group writes on their website.
Here’s a glimpse into their adventure.
This trip was inspired by a desire to explore the tundra, Canada’s least populated biome. This is the Clark family’s fourth northern paddling adventure and proved to be the most challenging. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Ava Fei turned six enroute to Yellowknife and eagerly followed her eight-year-old brother Koby everywhere. (Photo: Dan Clark)
The Clarks were joined on this trip by friends Bruce and Marilyn, making this a multi-generational expedition. The first two weeks of the trip followed the East Arm of Great Slave Lake. Many days were challenging with wind and waves, but one special morning the team paddled in fog for hours. (Photo: Dan Clark)
After nearly 400 km on Great Slave Lake, the team finally glimpsed the end of Macleod Bay and the start of the portaging.
Koby leads the group up the five kilometer long portage that is one of many on the historic route made famous by Warburton Pike. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Koby unfurls the RCGS flag at the campsite that signals the end of the Boreal forest and the start of the tundra. (Photo: Dan Clark)
On one foggy morning the team were surrounded by ‘fog bows’ created by the tiny water particles that are too small to refract the spectrum of colours typically seen in rainbows. (Photo: Dan Clark)
On a much needed rainy rest day, the cook tent became auditorium with ukuleles, kazoos and shakers. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Alice helps Bruce find his footing in the dense tundra scrub as the team portages around the biggest waterfall of the trip near Ptarmigan Lake. (Photo: Dan Clark)
A land of sky and water on Aylmer Lake on a rare calm day that allowed the group to make long crossings that would be impossible with any wind. (Photo: Dan Clark)
A typical tundra camp high above Aylmer Lake. (Photo: Dan Clark)
The team regroups while travelling upstream on the Lockhart River. Often the water was too shallow forcing part of the team to walk along shore. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Dan poles upstream through a shallow riffle on the fourth day of travel up the Lockhart River. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Bruce and Marilyn running in building following waves on Camsell Lake. (Photo: Dan Clark)
The team surprised this bull muskox while he snoozed on an esker. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Starting down the Beaulieu River system, the team struggled with low water, often having to unload the boats and drag them downstream. Returning to forested lands made navigation along these creeks increasingly difficult. (Photo: Dan Clark)
Some downtime in the tent on the first rest day in 22 days of constant travel. Unfortunately, five days of rain, wind and cold conditions followed and the group was forced to cut the trip short and contact a floatplane. (Photo: Dan Clark)
The group minutes before pickup, happy to be going home, but sad to be leaving the wilderness after 59 days away from civilization. (Photo: Dan Clark)