The Ellice River 2003: By Fair Means expedition will start in Yellowknife, NWT. We will launch our canoe on Great Slave Lake and start paddling up the Yellowknife River. Since the Yellowknife has a more or less drop and pool character, it is easy to navigate. Some small lakes help us in speeding up our progress here.
After a couple of days, we will leave the Yellowknife River and find our way through a maze of lakes, creeks and portages to ensure a more easterly course. The main difficulty on this stretch are the portages which are used to chain small lakes together and to avoid the whitewater stretches going up rivers and creeks. Here, we will still be in a area with dense forests and brushes. To find our way through this, we will use Moose and Cariboo trails and from time to time old traplines. As a general rule we will not mark any trails or cut new portage trails into the woods. We do not leave traces.
After two weeks, trees will become scarce and travel will be easier from now on. No trees, the promised land! Easy portaging on Eskers and camping on sandy beaches. This is where we can make up some time eating kilometers on the big tundra lakes. But this is also the point where fuel becomes scarce. No more camp fires to warm us. We will have to rely on the fuel supply we will bring. 11 liters of white gas and 2 kg of Buthane gas. We intend to use the Buthane in the morning, so we do not have to preheat the stove. Further, we think of it as an emergency supply to be used in the tent for heating and drying if desaster strikes. Buthane stoves are much easier and safer to handle in a tent.
After some downriver travel, it is time to switch the watershed. Numerous long portages between 3 and 4 km in length will bring us into the Ellice River system. By then it will be early August with the summer almost gone. Waterlevels will be low and we will have to do lots of portaging and lining in the upper parts of the river. It is really hard to predict, what kind of waterlevels will await us. In recent years, the levels in early August varied between 25 and 120 cms at the mouth. We planned extra days and a low averęge mileage per day to be able to handle very low water levels.
After two month, having covered about 1200 km, we hope to reach the Queen Maud Gulf at the mouth of the Ellice River. Here we will meet a small plane taking us to Cambridge Bay, where we can connect to schedueled air service.