Getting There

Lessons from the trail with Jim Baird

BY JIM BAIRD We set out to reach the Labrador Sea via four rivers. We’d travel on the Du Pas, then paddle a river with no name until we joined the mighty George. Finally, we’d reach the Adlatok, a spectacular mountain river of deep canyons and numerous thundering rapids. This route we planned is about as tough as a month long trip gets. In front of us lay three height-of-land crossings, countless compass-led, bushwhack portages, massive open water crossings, and six miles of up river travel on the mighty George. The region is known to be among the most rugged and unforgiving in the Canadian north. Steeped in the history of Vikings, Basque whalers, fur traders and first nations, just the word Labrador can give goosebumps to the adventurous at heart. We'd be the first to travel this route since 1982.

We used, and in some cases invented, a variety of bushcraft skills to keep ourselves alive and moving.

It's a 32-hour drive to Labrador City from southern Ontario, the final five on gravel. Friends Will Wilkinson and Martin Anevich looked on from the back seats with fear in their eyes as logging trucks drifted around the tight corners in front of us. Behind the wheel my brother Ted veered to the very edge of the shoulder-less road to avoid the oncoming rigs. A buggy sleep under a boat trailer in a small lot hacked out of the bush was our resting place when we were finally within reach of town. Although the drive along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River was impressive, I'd say, getting there was not half the fun. The following day we board a train which takes us further north to Schefferville, Quebec where we'd spend a night at Tunalik Adventures and then scramble to add front thwarts to our canoes. In the near future, we'd be thankful we had them. Finally, following a 20 minuet drive to our put-in at Attikamagen Lake, we were ready to begin. In the days to come we learned, used, and in some cases invented a variety of bushcraft skills to keep ourselves alive and moving. Over the next few weeks, we’ll share them with you. You’ll get to see a lot of the hardships, dangers and lessons we captured on this adventure on the northern frontier. Come along for the ride, because this trip, my friends, was one for the books. Each Wednesday, C&K will release a new episode of Lessons From the Trail, presented by Nova Craft Canoe and Brunton, makers of the TruArc compass.