Trail Cafe: Trip report - Nahanni Day 5 - The 3rd Canyon


Title: Nahanni_Day 5 - The 3rd Canyon
Trip type: canoeing
Summary: Paddle down the Nahanni's 3rd Canyon, including: the Gate, and pulpit, Canoe sucking whilpools, Bear tracks at camp.
Author: M. Tanton
Date of Trip: Aug 08, 2006
Country: Canada
Province: NWT
County/City/national park/etc: Nahanni National Park
Location Route: Nahanni River
Distance: 33km
Weather Conditions:Cloudy, intermittant sun and rain.
Directions to Set in or Trail head: See day 1
Directions to Set in or Trail head: camp then paddle
Partners: G. Watson, R. Barrow
Group experience level: Intermediate
Author's Experience level: Intermediate
Water Flow Rate: Nomal Aug (fairly low)
River grade: Grade I+ - Novice With some obsticles or grade II rapids.
Rapids and Hazards: Hazards inidcated as present, but not described
Authors Trip Rating: V. Good
Trip's Good Points: Gate/Pulpit was awesome
Trip's Bad Points: wave took out my camera
Author's Email: myrlinmungeatshawdotca

The Trip Report:

The book says no major rapids, I decide to go without my wet suit today. I'm also paddling with Glen, I go in the Stern to start. I out weigh Glen by a lot, probably 50-60lbs, and do not want to get wet going through any big waves. Glen seems keen to run every wave he can...

Just before turning the courner and going into the gate. Just before turning the courner and going into the gate.
Today we are running through the 3rd canyon. This is the Canyon with "the Gate", and Pulpit Rock. Very impressive. We are coming down stream, and see the group from the day before camped strait ahead.
 The Pulpit The Pulpit
The river turns hard to the right, going right through a mountain. I get a picture of Richard a long the cliff. It is not until we come to the bend that we see The pulpit... a quick ferry across to shore, and we break out for lunch. A very nice location to camp, and or stop for lunch.

The Gate. The Gate.

A quick bite, and we start hiking up the the mountain, to get a view of the river from above the pulpit. It is a short hike, that is very nice. Taking a fairly well worn trail, although we managed to loose it, as we worked along the edge of the cliff. It includes some working through a bolder garden. The view from the top is impressive.
the Pulpit from the hike. the Pulpit from the hike.
The day is hot, and I'd ditched my jacket on the way up, it took a bit of searching to find it on the way back down.

heading out to go through the gate. heading out to go through the gate.
After setting off again, the river is very odd going through this channel. it is very flat, lots of boils and the like, but no waves. kinda spooky for some reason, I'm not sure why, but it seems as if you can really feel the power of the river here as you float through the center of what seems to be the mountain it cut in half. The immensity of the river an cliffs is some what staggering. By this point in the rive trip you are some what used to the size of the river, the towering mountain canyons. (Something I'm already used to living spitting distance from Banff). However coming to, and then through the gate is very impressive.
looking back up through the gate. looking back up through the gate.
The one picture here looking back into the gate, note that Rich and his canoe are in the picture... those couple of pixels down beside the pulpit. Now the Pulpit, is small relative to the cliffs beside it. The cliffs on river right afte the gate are even larger than the gare.
Just after the gate... Just after the gate...

Some time after The Gate, I switch positions in the canoe with Glen, I go in the Bow. There is a set of waves across the river, glen is ferrying us across to them. I ask what he wants to do, he replies "I just want to take a look". Of course what he meant was "I want to run through them", I should have known. Unfortunately I took him at his word, as we plowed through the first wave, I was drenched up to my armpits. My camera was in my pocket, and never worked again. To bad, I had the dry case right next to me. I was a little grumpy after that for a bit, but glen took lots of pictures (which I should get soon), and I wanted a new higher resolution waterproof camera anyways.

At one point as we are floating along the side of the cliff, just skirting an eddy line, that is quite turbulent. The waves are not huge or anything, but the depth of the water is causing some big boils, and whirlpools to form. We are just outside the edge of two separate whirl pools that are somewhere between 1 and 2ft in diameter. We paddle out away from the line. Rich is coming behind us, he is a little closer to the eddy lines, but no whirlpools are present when he first gets there. A small one starts to form, he watches as it gets bigger and bigger floating right into his canoe. He utters an "uh oh" just as it hits. We look back in time to see his canoe spinning around, and start to sink down. Rich spins once, then twice, on the second revolution he starts paddling like mad, and breaks out to the main river current. I mention to Glen "you know, that's the hardest I've ever seen rich paddle". Rich catches up to us and says, "did you see that!". "I think that's the hardest I've ever paddled!".

Rich rafts up and tells us of the surprise of watching the whirlpool form, as the stern of his canoe started to suck down. Working the lean as the Bow went swung through into the eddy, and then back out into the main current. He tells us he was wondering, at which point he should jump out of the canoe if it goes under. Then decided to paddle like mad to get out, which we witnessed. I reach out, and lean with most of my weight on the back of his canoe (about 200lbs worth), rich figures the canoe was down about twice as far due to the suction of the whirlpool.

We all feel we are a little behind schedule with our early stop yesterday. Actually none of us really knows what the schedule is. It's hard to judge, we've been going 'lazy' short days, but the river is fast here. We know the river slows down for the last 1/3rd of the distance in the splits. However, we all enjoyed setting up camp early the day before. We discuss what to do, and decide we would paddle a bit longer today, and still get a fairly early setup. Eventually we find a reasonable place to stop, as we scout it out though we find very fresh bear sign. Fresh tracks from earlier in the day. So we move on. So once again we set up camp somewhat late.

Home for day 5. Home for day 5.
The campsite is a gravel bar on river left, the best location is in the sand up on the bank, with the gravel rocks down below for a supper area. It looks like there may be caves up on the far side of the mountains. Tonight I crawl into my tent wondering about bears, and how used to people they may have become here on this well traveled river.


Floatin down the river.

Rich playing Catchup.

Rafted up... relax

Looking down on the Pulpit from the hike.

working our way up the hike.

"_flowers"_... some kind of fungi?

Rich on the Nahanni.

Rafted... floating...

coming in for landing...

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Content Copyright M. Tanton 2006

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