The Flat River Expedition members will rendezvous at the Fort Nelson airport upon arrival of the Central Mountain Air's flight from Edmonton. Those who drove to Fort Nelson can leave their vehicles at the airport for the duration of the trip. Following introductions we will load the Nahanni shuttle and canoe trailer. Our route to the Alaska Hwy will take us through town where we will shop for additional food and any last minute items. The road trip to the headwaters of the Nahanni River takes us west through the NE corner of the Rocky Mountains. The landscape has a rugged beauty of all its own. We will make a sightseeing stop at Stone Mountain Provincial Park and camp for the night at Muncho Lake Provincial Park. From the road we are sure to see stone sheep, mountain caribou and bears along the way.
Following breakfast your guides will organize a half day whitewater skills session starting on the lake and then proceed down the exciting class 2 Trout River. A short drive from the takeout is the Liard Hot Springs where we will enjoy a meal and a relaxing soak. Back on the road again we'll drive to Watson Lake and walk through the historic Sign Post Forest. At Watson Lake, Yukon we drive north on the Robert Campbell Highway and then onto the Nahanni Range Road for our detour back into the Norhwest Territories and our campsite on Divide Lake at the headwaters of the Flat River.
After breakfast we will load our boats and wave goodbye to our shuttle driver. On the water we will get a feel for the river's fast meandering flow. The mining ghost town of Tungsten with a one time population of 700 will shortly come into view, with permission from the mine manager we will take a short walk through the vacant streets and enjoy soak a river side natural hot springs. Back on the water we paddle through a valley of lush spruce and willow that skirts the soaring peaks of the Ragged Range.
This marks the start of the whitewater adventure we have been looking forward to. The river gradient increases with numerous mid stream boulders and waves to work around. In a few places we will play safe by portaging around some class 3 plus rapids. The country looks wilder with every kilometer as we penetrate into the Selwyn Mountains. We'll keep watching for moose, wolves and caribou in the calmer sections.
Further on the country opens up as we approach the Liard Plateau. A riverside trail offers an optional hike taking us to the serene waters of Seaplane Lake.
The flow remains fast with some fun R2's The side streams of this reach were once prospected by optimistic gold seekers. Borden Creek was also known as Gold Creek. Nahanni legends, Gus Kraus, Albert Faille and Bill Clark, became convinced that Bennett Creek was the site of the McLeod's lost mine after finding remains of old sluice boxes with picks and shovels. They spent the summer of 1936 working Bennett Creek to no avail. We pick up the distant view of Two Cone Mountain and Wildmint Hot Spring on river right. We'll make camp at the Flat River Canyon with its notorious "Cascade of Thirteen Steps".
Today's activities will combine moving our outfit over the 850m portage trail and exploring the scenic canyon. It was here that the McLeod brothers lost their boat while attempting to line through the gorge. There is an old subterranean cabin in the area with a sod roof. This is the type that the Klondikers built in various places as they made their way to the Yukon.
Today we'll head to a campsite on Irvine Creek and enjoy paddling through numerous R2's. Irvine Creek was the ill-fated site of Phil Powers trapping cabin. His bones were found within its burnt out shell. Albert Faille, the best known Nahanni personality spent many years trapping and prospecting along the Flat River. We'll search for the cabin he built across from Irvine Creek. Old Pot Hot Springs can also be found on the south side of the river.
Our next campsite, Jorgenson Creek was named for Poole Field's partner at a Yukon trading post. The legend has it that Marten Jorgenson had taken leave to explore the Nahanni country to the east. After some time he sent Field a letter instructing him to his cabin at the mouth of the Flat River. Jorgenson claimed to have struck it rich and wanted Field to join him. When Field arrived in 1915 he found the cabin mysteriously burned to the ground and Jorgenson's axe, rifle and headless skeleton lying near by. Field was convinced that Jorgenson had found the McLeod's lost mine and was murdered for the secret.
Our next tributary is the braided Caribou Creek with interesting hoodoos on the opposite shore. We'll camp this night on the flat next to the point.
Today we will reach the confluence with the South Nahanni and camp upstream of Third Canyon.
Downstream we enter Third Canyon with its imposing 1200 m walls formed as the Nahanni has carved its way through the Funeral Range. We will camp in the shadow of the Gate; where the river has sliced a narrow chasm on the apex of a hairpin meander. An optional hike to the top of the Gate presents magnificent views of the river valley with imposing Pulpit Rock 460 m below. We will complete the 35 km Third Canyon and continue on through 2nd Canyon, (15 km) where the Nahanni has carved its route through the Headless Range and into Deadmen Valley. This valley is known for its legends made famous by the mysterious deaths of the McLeod Brothers. Here the vista is noticeably different, as the valley opens up, with distant views of the Tlgotsho Plateau and Deadmen Valley. The massive Prairie Creek alluvial fan provides excellent camping, hiking and wildlife observations.
We start the next morning with a run through the exhilarating waves of George's Riffle and on into First Canyon. The imposing walls of First Canyon reach heights of over 1400 m. Groups often drift the length of this magnificent 26 km canyon, immersed in its splendor. The canyon walls are dotted with hundreds of caves. Close to the exit we will camp for the night at Lafferty's Canyon, with additional hiking opportunities.
Following breakfast the next day, it's down to Kraus' Hot Spring for a soothing dip in its 32 C plus waters. From here we bid farewell to the canyons and make our way to the Nahanni's Splits, a 70 km run through a maze of islands.
Following breakfast, we will continue on to the Native village of Nahanni Butte. (Pop. approx. 120) Remote yet surprisingly modern, a stroll into town provides insight into a culture far removed from most of North America. Following a snack from the village store we will board the Nahanni Butte River taxi for the 15 km ride to the Nahanni Butte Road Landing on the Liard River. The awaiting NWA shuttle van will take your group on the short drive to Blackstone Territorial Park. This beautifully situated park offers hot showers, a private day shelter, an information centre and tenting. Any baggage you left behind will be waiting for you. Sue Lindberg, a local homesteader, provides your meals, mainly from her garden for the last night and morning with inviting northern hospitality.
After breakfast, we will depart with a van shuttle for Fort Nelson. We will make a gas stop in Fort Liard with an opportunity to visit the renowned Acho-Dene craft shop. We will arrive in time to meet your Southbound flight with Central Mountain Air, or for you to begin the drive with your own vehicle.