We haven’t been on the river two hours and things are already borderline unmanageable.
With the high level, maybe 20,000 cfs, eddies have disappeared and the rapids flow one straight into the next. Austin Rathman, my good friend and sole partner in this adventure, and I somehow make it to camp one, over-adrenalized but safe for the time being. We pitch our tent just as torrential rains begin that will dump through the night.
The next morning we face a tough decision: Continue downstream on one of the continent’s hardest rivers at a level that is already too high and surely rising fast, or attempt a three-day hike out through northern Canada’s remote, grizzly-infested wilderness, where we may get lost, frozen or eaten.