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Bad weather. The prospect of it briefly crosses my mind, because the highlight of our trip to Nunavut is to be a hike along the Akshayuk Pass on Baffin Island, a lonely, 97-kilometre trough through the mountains between Cumberland Sound and Davis Strait….But it is no mere walk in the park. On the Internet, I have been reading up on what awaits us, using Parks Canada’s extensive pre-trip planning booklet as my principal source of information….
When it is warm and wet in the park there is increased glacial melt, and the rivers rise, making crossings where there are no bridges hazardous. They are, the booklet tells us, ‘the greatest cause of death in the National Parks in Nunavut.’ The greatest? So what ranks second? What’s third?
Excerpt from “Of Limits Unknown,” Roaming the Big Land: Flavours of Canada
On a bench near Hunker Creek we put on rubber boots and roll up our sleeves. Deb hands us shovels and pans and we walk down to the bank, where there’s a small pile of pay dirt that’s never been worked….
It takes an experienced sourdough only about one minute to sluice a pan. However, I imagine that after fifteen minutes the pans of most cheechakos looked rather like mine; still loaded with mud, gravel, and rocks, albeit only small ones now….Ten minutes more and I decide to take a break. I encourage Dot to carry her pan over to Goldbottom Creek, several metres away, so that I can take her picture with the narrow valley rising gently behind her to the spot where Robert Henderson made his strike….The trees on the hills are thin and anemic, like the ghosts of ill and exhausted miners, and the brush along the banks is thick and impenetrable, as if a barrier had been erected to warn off stampeders that it would be folly to stop here….
When I return to my chair, Deb Millar comes over again to lend a hand. Suddenly, unmistakably, three dark yellow flakes appear at the edge of my pan.
“Gold!” I shout, and thrust out my hand.
Excerpt from “Trekking for Gold,” Roaming the Big Land:Flavours of Canada
Penumbra Press, Manotick, Ontario
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