By Jörgen Johansson
The food box contained all I needed and after a brief but very nice swim in the lake, getting rid of the top-soil that had accumulated on my skin, I went back to the river, where the camp-site was. I unpacked my food and took the opportunity to rinse and was my dirty clothing in the river. This camp I also shared with my Limey friends, which further dented their supplies of distilled nutrients.
In the morning me and the Brits all returned to Rabbitkettle Lake, to take part of a guided tour by Parks Canada. They had experienced some bear action during the night and had been out firing some bangers at an inquisitive black bear snooping around. None off this had penetrated to us at the regular campground by the river.
One of the features around Rabbitkettle is this beautiful little lake. It is a pseudokarst feature known as a piping sinkhole. Now exactly what this is is not that easy to understand for us mere mortals, but it certainly has a marvelous color.
The really unique features at Rabbitkettle are the tufa mounds, which is the giant pastries admired by Dan Spry and Mark Gittoes above. A disappointment for me was that the mounds were no longer open to visitors, something I found out a month before leaving home. Up to this summer they have only been accessible to the public in company with someone from Parks Canada. You have not been allowed to walk on them except barefoot. Now this was no longer allowed.
Tufa mounds are in fact hotsprings containing dissolved calcium. Most hotsprings smell of rotten eggs, since the water contains quite a bit of sulphur. The sulphur keeps the calcium in solution, but in this case the sulpur content is low. This enables this particular hotspring to form this magnificent open-air stalagmite by thousands of years of sedimented calcium.
After the walk to the mounds and another swim in Rabittkettle Lake where the camp had been visited by a black bear during our tour, I returned to the Nahanni. While inflating my packraft and getting everything ready to go, I met a young guide, David Lichty, from Nahanni Wilderness Adventures. He was taking three clients down to Virgina Falls in canoes and got really interested when he heard about my hike into the Moose Ponds and packrafting down the Nahanni.
Paddling down the slow-moving river it was definitely brought home to me that in slack water like this the packraft could not keep up with canoes. It does not track very well, and of course you are only one person paddling. This led to me running into Dave and his party several times in the next couple of days. They took longer breaks, but paddled faster than I did. Since Dave knew the river very well I took the opportunity of interviewing him about the whitewater stretches waiting down stream.
A long stretch of wide river, almost a lake, and a headwind made the last couple of kilometers to Virgina Falls a bit of a struggle.
To spare the vegetation around the Virgina Falls campground there are a number of boardwalks as well as platforms for the tents. Camping on planks was a new experience, and I had brought no nails. David tipped me off about using dry sticks from the ground of suitable dimensions. These you could wedge in an pound down between the planks and use in a simile of ordinary tent pegs.
With the tarp pitched over the nearby table I lacked no modern conveniences.
http://www.nfb.ca/ site. Whitewater solo is a good example.