AYLMER TO ARTILLERY – CANOE EXPEDITION
Retrace the route of arctic explorers as we take this spectacular journey from the barren lands down to Artillery Lake, near the tree line. This trip is as rich in northern history as it is in tundra landscapes. In 12 days, we paddle from Aylmer Lake Lodge down the Lockhart River into Thaidene Nëné National Park and Artillery Lake. Come experience a setting like no other while learning the stories of many historic arctic adventures!
The series of lakes we will be canoeing through present a natural barrier for the Bathurst caribou herd on their annual migration. Many of the narrow spots between the lakes are well known caribou crossings. First Nations people have used these crossings to find and hunt caribou for millennia, with both Caribou Inuit and Dënesųłıné living, travelling, and hunting in these areas.
It is useful to have some experience canoeing for this trip, but not necessary. This is a relaxed trip, with short days paddling through lakes and lots of opportunity for hikes to historic and scenic places. Once we have a few days experience paddling through Aylmer and Clinton-Colden Lakes, we will descend the Lockhart River where we may get the chance to run some easy rapids. There may also be a short portage, depending on water levels. There will be 8 days of canoeing with 4 days reserved for exploring or resting in camp.
We will end up at the north end of Artillery Lake, which has a massive esker system. Animals often use eskers for dens and to move easily through the tundra, so the possibility of seeing wildlife is quite high. A float plane will pick us up on Artillery Lake and take us back to Yellowknife.
$________.___ USD plus 5% tax per person.
Based from out of Yellowknife, NWT float plane base. Minimum 4 people
Canoe Activities Each Day
Following prescribed route
Aylmer Lake Lodge will supply the following:
- canoes, PFDs, paddles, throwbags, dry barrels, dry bags.
- Note: if you have your own pfd, paddle, or dry bags feel free to bring them
- shelter and kitchen gear other than your thermos and water bottle.
- breakfast, lunch, and supper on the canoe trip.
- safety equipment such as InReach and first-aid kits.
3 meals per day at the lodge, on the trail or in camp
16′ Lund or Crestliner Boats, equipped with swivel seats, motors & fuel.
- sleeping bag – Rated to -5 or -10°C.
- insulated sleeping pad
- sunglasses with strap – also bring a strap for prescription glasses if you wear them.
- extra prescription glasses or contacts – if needed.
- sun screen
- lip balm/sun screen
- bug spray
- tough garbage bags – 4 (these are for putting wet clothes in your barrel so you don’t get dry clothes wet).
- toiletries – bring the minimum (tooth brush and tooth paste) – no need for perfume or even deodorants.
- full roll of toilet paper in a zip-lock bag with a small bottle of hand sanitizer.
- water bottle – min. 1 litre. Bring two if you like.
- leakproof insulated bottle (recommended if you want warm drinks in the canoe)
- carabiners to clip water bottles into the boat
- small travel towel
- personal snacks
- headlamp – bring extra batteries (early season trips likely won’t need this, late season will)
- journal and pen or pencil
- camera and waterproof case
- fishing rod and small tackle box
(NO COTTON other than t-shirts, shorts, and underwear)
Important in the North:
- Bug shirt (bugshirt.com elite edition recommended)
- Bug hood or headnet (optional)
- long sleeved tops – 2
- long johns – 2
Insulation/Mid Layers (Fleece or Wool):
- long sleeved tops – 2
- pants – 1
- jacket – puffy or warm fleece for cold evenings in camp
Wind and Rain/Outer Layers:
- Rain jacket with hood – 1
- Rain pants – 1
- Dry pants – 1 (optional, but recommended)
- Wind jacket -1 (must be breathable)
- Quick drying hiking pants – 2 (must be breathable)
- Toque – 2
- Buff or neck warmer – 1 (no cotton buffs – these are common)
- Sun and rain hat – 1 (can be a simple baseball cap)
- River gloves – 2 pair (either neoprene gloves, a wool glove inside a rubber glove, or waterproof insulated gloves)
- Gloves to protect hands from mosquitos – these could be one of your paddling gloves that are not too warm, or they could be a pair of work gloves
- Warm gloves or mitts for camp – 1 pair
- Wool socks – 6 pair (one dry pair for at sleeping / around camp, and enough to get through a lot of wet days before we have a warm day to dry them)
- River shoes – 1 pair (these are the shoes you will wear in the canoe every day. Can be a pair of runners with neoprene socks, or can be neoprene rubber boots such as a pair of Muck or Bogg boots, or neoprene booties to go over dry pants. Sandals are not recommended unless they are very sturdy.)
- Hiking boots – 1 pair – waterproof is good, the ground is often wet and very uneven.
- Camp shoes – 1 pair (these you will never wear on the river. Keep them dry. This can be a pair of runners or rubber boots).
- t-shirts – 2 (these can be cotton, but ideally wool or synthetic)
- shorts – 1 pair (quick drying)
- underwear – as needed
- swimwear (optional)
- small towel (optional)
14km – From Aylmer Lake Lodge, we paddle south along the shore until we get to our campsite in Thanakoie Narrows.
23km – We paddle through Thanakoie Narrows, visiting Seton’s monument to John Hornby. In the afternoon, we’ll paddle into Clinton-Colden Lake to find our campsite.
DAY 3 + 4
14km/20km – For two days, we’ll paddle south through Clinton-Colden Lake, heading towards the Caribou Narrows. We have a few options for routes and camps, depending on the weather.
20km – We enter Caribou Narrows and likely some current. We may visit a survey marker placed by Guy Blanchet in 1927. There are places where there are deep caribou trails from the millions of caribou that have crossed here over the centuries.
23km – After a short paddle with some current pushing us along, we enter Ptarmigan Lake and camp near the south end of this smaller lake.
16km – Today we see our first rapids! We may have a portage around some of the larger rapids, depending on the water level and skill of the group.
16km – More paddling on the Lockhart past a massive esker and into Artillery Lake, where excellent hiking and our first spruce trees await!
0km – Today is a hiking or rest day. We may go find Hornby’s Cave (where two explorers survived the winter in a cave they dug out), or we may wander along the esker, looking for birds or animals.
We have 3 flexible days during the trip in case the wind picks up and the lakes are too rough to paddle, for side trips to interesting places, or just to relax in the beautiful arctic prairie.