Sunday, July 23, 2006 (Day 10):
I’m really looking forward to this day as I will finally reach the rapids where my research says Wallace and Easton dumped, losing quite a bit of their equipment and almost freezing to death.
The day started out as a mixture of clouds and sun. I knew that less than three kilometres ahead I would come to a series of three rapids, not marked on my map, but which Wayne’s notes assured me were there.
Wallace describes the dumping incident in Chapter 13 of the Long Labrador Trail. He and Easton had left a lake he calls Atuknipi or Reindeer Lake “some twelve miles long and two miles or so in width, blocked with islands, and innumerable rocky bars”. This would seem to be Lake Resolution. After killing a caribou and taking the time to set up a cache in case they needed to retreat, they leave Reindeer Lake and after several rapids, become wind bound for two days on what must have been Advance Lake.
Finally, in paragraph 23 of this chapter, after running one or two short rapids, they “started into another that ended with a narrow strip of white water with a small expansion below.” In Wallace’s words, “We had just struck the white water, going at a good speed in what seemed like a clear course, when the canoe, at its middle, hit a submerged rock. Before there was time to clear ourselves the little craft swung in the current, and the next moment I found myself in the rushing, seething flood rolling down through the rocks.”
They tow the canoe to “a little rocky island just below the rapid”. After emptying out and righting the canoe, they use their hands to paddle the canoe the “eighth of a mile across the bay” to where there was wood.
After barely surviving by finally getting a fire going with virtually their last match, they find their paddles and some of their other equipment and are able to go on. In paragraph 8 in Chapter 14, their next campsite was at “a portage…necessary around a half-mile canyon through which the river, a rushing torrent, tumbled in the interval over a series of small falls, and all the way the perpendicular walls of basaltic rock that confined it rose on either side to a height of fifty to seventy-five feet above the seething water. Just below this canyon another river joined us from the east, increasing the volume of water very materially.” This is a good description of the Three Gorges, only 4 kilometres beyond what I’m sure is the rapid in which Wallace and Easton dumped.
Stewart Coffin has a different location for where Wallace and Easton dumped (http://www.canoe.ca/GeorgeRiver/pic_coffin5.html). His picture, however, looks like the worst of the rapids in the Three Gorges and it seems clear from Wallace’s book that it was not here that he dumped.
Below is the view of the river just upstream of the rapid:
The beginning of the rapid:
Wallace and Easton were likely already in the water by this point in the rapid:
Island in the distance on which Wallace and Easton righted their canoe, immediately below the rapid:
Closer view of island:
To the right of the island is the forest to which they paddled, using their hands, in order to find wood to light a fire: