As the tundra bloomed with summer I took every opportunity I could to explore the landscape around my temporary home. Spring accelerated into summer with long, warm evenings and the lake even warmed up enough to take a quick dunk on my birthday.
Nahanni and Nááts'ihch'oh National Park Reserve encompasses a watershed. Mostly undeveloped, rarely explored and spectacularly beautiful, each raindrop and snowflake is making its way through the South Nahanni watershed and into the Mackenzie basin. Looking at it on a map it is hard to comprehend the scale of these valleys. Part of what makes this area so unique are the limestone and granite heights of land that separate this watershed this watershed into areas with dramatic differences.
While the Nahanni’s landscapes, geology and ecological significance are truly on a scale that is difficult to comprehend, it is often the colourful myths and legends of the Nahanni that people first hear about. Tales from the Nahanni have found their way into our collective imagination in part through the many books written about this river with the beautiful name.
Nahanni is an evocative word. For many Canadians, whether you paddle or not, this word summons images of the renowned Nailicho (Virginia Falls), of towering mountains, and a kingdom of canyons. The word has become synonymous with adventure and wilderness. It is one of the finest representations of natural beauty in Canada.
I’ve been working with Nahanni Wild for the past few years supporting the marketing department with graphic design, and light media projects. Last May I had the opportunity to enrich my understanding of their business, and start my journey to becoming a guide, by joining their Guide School. I brought a couple of disposable cameras along the ride (partly for the nostalgia, partly for the convenience), and the results were surprising. Bold colours, and suspended movements.
When you are heading out on an extended wilderness adventure the food you eat is important and you want to feel your best. If that means no gluten, no problem. We invite input from our guests with dietary concerns before the trip to ensure that we are providing them with the appropriate options. And we love learning tricks from our guests about their favourite options; whether it’s a vegetarian lasagna recipe or gluten free brownies, more than a few of our guests’ suggestions have made their way into the infamous Nahanni Wild trip menu.
I was so very fortunate this summer to work along side an incredible female guide team. I have appreciated their support, their intuitiveness and been so very impressed with their professionalism and skills. Every bit as tough as their male colleagues (and yes they are paid the same amount!) they accomplish their work with smiles and while caring for others.
Whether you like the idea of stretching your legs after a day of paddling, want to seek out wildflowers or have summit fever, the Nahanni holds hiking opportunities for everyone. Here are some of Dana’s favourite hikes that we share with guests on the guided trips we offer along the length of the Nahanni River.
This week we came together for our annual training expedition. As much as we worked through rescues scenarios, first aid and camp management we also built relationships. The teamwork, camaraderie and respect that our team shows each other, acknowledging areas of strength in each other and collectively is the core of Nahanni Wild. Through the course of your expedition you will see their skills on the water, around the campfire in the field as they share their love of wilderness.
As I come to understand what the body is really capable of undertaking, this was an important learning experience. The day’s heat was unexpected and intense. A winter of training in Vancouver Island’s dark forests was unfortunately poor preparation for the realities of the day. The left side of my body now carries a darker hue, having experimented with being a human sundial once our tracks turned due North, and the lingering effects of electrolyte imbalances are still lurking. It is hard not to immediately look to the future in this fast paced world but the recovery process is providing some much needed space for reflection.
In the Mackenzie mountains this awakening of life is still a month away but these first inklings in the south tell me it won’t be long until all the wild lands of Canada erupts into life. To see an ecosystem come alive with the strengthening sun is a profound experience. Contemplating the continuity of life while sitting back and admiring the river banks blushing with willowherb puts the rush of life in perspective.