16-Apr-2003 -- Here we go again! On the morning of April 16, 2003, Fishery Officer Carl Bradley and myself(Calvin Poole), departed our headquarters at St. Lewis, Labrador, heading north to the South Feeder on Paradise River in our Blazer patrol vehicle with our two Yamaha Enticer 410 snowmobiles in tow. At Port Hope Simpson we were joined by Labrador Metis Nation Fishery Guardian Trent Parr with his Yamaha VK0540 in the back of his truck. We patrolled north on the Labrador Coastal Highway to the bridge at Mishwop Turn on South Feeder for a distance of 140 km from St. Lewis. At about 1100 hrs, the three snowmobiles were offloaded and we commenced our patrol up the river in a NE direction. The temperature was -10 degrees Celsius with a Northwest wind of 25 km per hour giving a wind chill of -25 with some very low drifting snow. This was unusually cold for April month in this area. However, there was not a cloud in the sky and the powerful April sun did provide some warmth when we were in the lee of the trees and out of the wind. This was turning out to be what local people often refer to as “A large day in the Big Land”!
After patrolling upriver for about 5 km, several snowmobile tracks were observed and a sign was spotted stating that this area was being trapped by a resident of Cartwright. The river was heavily snow covered and wooded on all sides, providing some shelter from the cold winds and drifting snow. It was like driving up a wide paved highway! After travelling upriver for about 20 km. we realized from the GPS that we were only about 6 km from confluence 52N57W and decided that we would try and reach this point, despite the hilly and heavily wooded country to the Southwest. After consulting our maps we figured out a possible route to the site by way of several small brooks and valleys. We started off and had good travelling which took us across several marshy areas and through some fairly heavy timber with open spaces just wide enough for a snowmobile to fit! We made it to the brooks without any great difficulty, despite a couple of minor spills!
At 1230 hr. Officer Bradley was in the lead with the Garmin 12 GPS mounted on his snowmobile, and after crossing a small clearing said that we were within 20 meters of the confluence. We then drove on up a hill until the GPS registered very close. We stopped our snowmobiles and walked through the trees until the GPS registered 53.00.00N and 57.00.00W. This location brought us within one metre of a dead spruce tree to which I attached a small plastic disk with 53N57W written on it. We congratulated ourselves on reaching another confluence, took a few photos, and then departed across the valley to a sunny location out of the wind to have our lunch. After eating, we packed up and proceed on back to the river via the trail we had come in on and resumed our river patrol. On the return patrol to our vehicles, we startled a covey of about twenty willow ptarmigan sunning themselves on the lee side of a willow-covered hill. We were surprised that that was the only sign of wildlife that we observed in this pristine wilderness, with the exception of the occasional fox track. Usually terrain such as this is abundant with snowshoe hare, or rabbits as they are called in these parts.
I took several pictures of the spectacular views from the hilltops, looking out across the hills and wooded valleys, with the green spruce trees and the snow cover against a very blue sky.