Please arrive in Yellowknife the day prior to the start of the trip. There are numerous hotels and B&B’s available, ask us for suggestions. The Fred Henne Park offers camping and is conveniently located near the airport. A pre-trip organization meeting will be held over dinner.
We will catch an early morning flight with First Air to Plummer's Great Bear Lodge. From there we will load our gear and board Plummer’s turbo Otter float planes for the cross country flight to the Big Bend on the Coppermine River (weather permitting). On the way we’ll keep a watchful eye for caribou and muskox on the open tundra. We will settle into camp, your guides will make you feel at home on the tundra. We will toast the adventure ahead with a celebratory first night’s meal.
After a healthy breakfast, we will go over how to break camp and load our canoes for river travel. There will be time for a flat water paddling session to refresh everyone’s skills for the whitewater ahead. We will travel a short distance down stream becoming more confident paddling our boats, enjoying expansive views and watching for birds and wildlife. There may be time for a short hike to a river-side knoll for a survey of the watershed we are about to explore.
The Coppermine finds some speed at the Big Bend as it turns north toward the Arctic Ocean. Down river paddling is easier as we pass through riffles and small rapids. The panoramic view of the surrounding hills is our invitation to hike off the river to view the resident caribou and muskox.
Day 4 - 5
As we approach "Rocky Defile", the current picks up and the impressive canyon walls appear. This class 2 rapid was named by John Franklin on his exploratory trip in 1821. Numerous birds of prey, particularly gyre falcons, can be seen nesting in the cliffs. Shortly below the "Defile", we will stop for a short hike up the Kendal River Canyon, one of the historic routes to the Coppermine from Great Bear Lake. The Kendal offers good fishing for Grayling and Char in season.
Today we will be camped in the midst of the Coppermine and September Mountains. The treeless tundra offers exceptional hiking up onto various plateaus. You will want your binoculars in hand to glass for wildlife!
Continuing through the September and Coppermine Mountains our next camp will be a top the lookout at Melville River. We will stop here for some excellent char fishing and hiking.
After breaking camp we’ll paddle to "Muskox Rapids". This site, where Franklin's party killed several muskox for food, provides an excellent view of the rapids which we will negotiate the next day. Downstream, the river leads us to Sandstone Rapids, a section of river that involves miles of exciting class 2 rapids between high red sandstone cliffs. These cliffs are interrupted occasionally by dramatic intrusions of basalt that greatly affect the course of the river. The native copper, from which the river got its name, becomes increasingly evident during this section, if one takes the time to do a little investigating along the shore.
Early in the day we will encounter a long stretch of class 2 ledges in the midst of which a tiny river plunges through the cliff walls forming an impressive little falls complete with deep pools. Carrying on, the red sandstone cliffs change to grey basalt as one approaches "Escape Rapids", from which Franklin had a narrow escape. From here it is a swift paddle for the next 10 km to "Bloody Falls".
Bloody Falls was named by Samuel Hearne when on his overland journey to the Arctic Ocean in 1771 he witnessed his native guides murder a camp of Inuit fishermen and their families. The hills behind the campsite offers us a panoramic view of the Coronation Gulf. Anglers will be able to cast for migrating char and whitefish resting in the side eddies of this impressive rapid. A well worn portage trail leads to our campsite.
Today we will paddle the final 15 km to the Inuit village of Kugluktuk (Coppermine) marking the end of our odyssey. The town is very welcoming and makes a wonderful end to the trip. After some time in the village Plummer’s float planes will arrive to return us to Great Bear Lodge for our last evening as a group. After hot showers we will enjoy a celebratory meal, sharing highlights from a successful and memorable expedition.
After breakfast, we will take a schedule flight back to Yellowknife. Our midday arrival will enable you to make connections south from Yellowknife or you may choose to spend one last night in the north. There are many excellent restaurants and other attractions in Yellowknife to enjoy.