Canada - Upper Thelon River - Touched by the Far North

Canada - Upper Thelon River - Touched by the Far North

Date sent: Mon, 16 Dec 96 01:27 PST
There are special places in this world that are sheer magic. Circles where the timeless powers of the land and waters mingle with mystical energies of the ancient spirits that always drift about in deep wilderness. Once together, these intangible forces dictate a chemical and spiritual presence that every person who might wander through these wilderness realms couldn't possibly ignore. In these rare instances, explorers are often overwhelmed by unexplainable feelings; perhaps overcome with deep passion for the wild, for its ghosts, and for the wonderful living creatures that inhabit it's secret hollows and hills. There is no closer union with nature than this. The inner self is nakedly exposed and surely vulnerable, yet remains unviolated and without persecution in the pure, innocent eye of nature's sacred shadow.

The circle in which I now sit to write is indeed such a special place, although here on this breezy hillside I must huddle over my notebook to prevent the snowflakes and winds from tearing my written thoughts away. Surrounding me on all sides are the sunken stones of an ancient Dene' tent-ring, erected here in the tomb of a winter thousands of years past. Lying about the perimeter are white flakes of quartzite where centuries ago a native hunter once sat and chipped a stone spear-point needed to feed and clothe his nomadic family. As my thoughts drift into this distant past, just for an instant I can sense his ghost sitting alongside me, working away, staring to the distant hills for 'Etthen'. Caribou.

Before me, stretching out past the long esker to the distant horizon lies the crystal waters of a huge lake, now frothing up dangerously with autumn's northwest winds. The churning waters are surrounded by lonely tundra hills speckled here and there with tiny dots which I recognize as grazing caribou. Even this late in the season they have hesitated to meander southward, probably due to the forest fires that raged through the tree-line earlier in the summer. This morning, when Lloyd and I arose from the tent, we discovered a group of musk-oxen grazing in the 'backyard'. As we prepared breakfast, they just stood and stared at us solemnly, as if knowing that we are leaving tomorrow in the float-plane; and that after we, and later the caribou finally head south, they would be the only creatures left to face the oncoming cold; lonely black sentinels on a winter-white and ravaged landscape.

Embarking now on my twenty-first year of bush flying, organizing and leading expeditions to the most remote regions of Canada, I envision my job sharing the special places that I have discovered in the northern wilds. This has grown from my personal passion to become my life's work. As a reflect back on this summer , I am pleased by the many wonderful successes, most notably having located and stalked a white musk-ox near the arctic seacoast. Yet as a look out at the incredible landscape before me, I realize that the Thelon country is deepest in my heart... So although I am now sad to leave the tundra for another winter, I am already anticipating the coming journeys of next season, when I will return again to penetrate the heart of this last wilderness, stalk it's rare wildlife and mingle with it's spirits...

Tundra Tom
Upper Thelon River, NWT

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