Slave River & Great Slave Lake
This stage covers around 780km and we plan to take 25 days to complete.
From Fort Chipewyan we paddle the Rivieres des Rochers which, interestingly, can flow North or South depending on the flow of water coming from the Peace River. Once the Rivieres des Rochers meets the Peace River, they become the Slave River.
The shortest of the 3 Rivers we travel along, the Slave River nevertheless makes its mark with the section of rapids which is the largest white-water section in all North America. 20km of large rapids which have claimed their share of lives and are considered un-navigable in an open canoe. We are undecided as of yet to follow an old portage route canoeing between then portaging the rapids or to take the 20km portage route between Fort Fitzgerald and Fort Smith. We may not know until we get there.
We do plan a little distraction from the day-to-day paddle and river travel at Fort Smith in some kayaks playing on the rapids – people travel from all over the world to play here – how could we miss such an opportunity?
Supplies are to be sent up to Fort Smith in advance and awaiting our arrival so that we do not have to carry all of our food from the beginning. We plan this so that the portaging we have to do here (either around each rapid or the long 20km) will be of as small a weight as possible. Our rations from Jasper will be at their end and we shall just have a few days’ worth of food in addition to our equipment to carry.
From beyond these rapids, the river is graded a Class I all the way to Great Slave Lake and Fort Resolution. We complete this stage at Fort Providence at the beginning of the Mackenzie River.