A day before I went on the helicopter adventure around Wood Buffalo National Park I had the opportunity to go up in the air with John, a photographer and one of the Ecosystem Support Technicians with Parks Canada. We would be flying over the legendary Slave River Rapids. In 2011 the pelican count ranged about 2000 birds, including young. We journeyed by plane over the rapids and collected many images, circling around for an hour or so. The color of the feet of these birds give hint to their age.

In the 18th and 19th century a "cassette" was a light, waterproof box in which fur traders' pay was stored. A canoe capasized here carrying the Hudson Bay Company's men's weekly payroll. Thereafter it was known as Cassette Rapids. Traditionally before that it was known as Portage of The Little Rock, Portage d'Embarass and Dog Rapids. Right on the edge of these rapids is the small community of Fort Fitzgerald - originally the main stopping point for the traders coming up the Slave River from the south. ©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

In the 18th and 19th century a “cassette” was a light, waterproof box in which fur traders’ pay was stored. A canoe capasized here carrying the Hudson Bay Company’s men’s weekly payroll. Thereafter it was known as Cassette Rapids. Traditionally before that it was known as Portage of The Little Rock, Portage d’Embarass and Dog Rapids. Right on the edge of these rapids is the small community of Fort Fitzgerald – originally the main stopping point for the traders coming up the Slave River from the south.
©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

Far below you can see pelicans on the rocks of Mountain Portage Rapids -  it is here they nest during the summer months. These rapids are known as "Mountain Portage" because of the steep portage - approximately 500 yards long and 175 feet high! ©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

Far below you can see pelicans on the rocks of Mountain Portage Rapids – it is here they nest during the summer months. These rapids are known as “Mountain Portage” because of the steep portage – approximately 500 yards long and 175 feet high!
©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

In 1786 one of the main trading companies known as the Northwest Company had a guide who was leading them through the rapids of the drowned. The rest of the party waited upstream until the guide identified if the rapids were safe. A man in the party shot at a duck, forgetting that the shot would signal the rest of the party. Unfortunately it did exactly that and the canoeists though it would be safe to go ahead. Two of the canoes capsized and the men drowned as a result of the error. The rapids of the drowned are impassable, but are also known as the roaring rapids due to the ability to hear them at night all around Fort Smith.  ©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

In 1786 one of the main trading companies known as the Northwest Company had a guide who was leading them through the rapids of the drowned. The rest of the party waited upstream until the guide identified if the rapids were safe. A man in the party shot at a duck, forgetting that the shot would signal the rest of the party. Unfortunately it did exactly that and the canoeists though it would be safe to go ahead. Two of the canoes capsized and the men drowned as a result of the error. The rapids of the drowned are impassable, but are also known as the roaring rapids due to the ability to hear them at night all around Fort Smith.
©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

In some areas the Slave River can be as wide as 3 kilometers, it cuts through the edge of the Interior Plains and runs along the eastern side of Wood Buffalo National Park. It follows a fault in the Canadian Shield known as the Rutherford Fault and some of the red-tinted rocks in this region are over 400 million years old! ©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

In some areas the Slave River can be as wide as 3 kilometers, it cuts through the edge of the Interior Plains and runs along the eastern side of Wood Buffalo National Park. It follows a fault in the Canadian Shield known as the Rutherford Fault and some of the red-tinted rocks in this region are over 400 million years old!
©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

There are many hidden places all along the route which only the most seasoned of paddlers can reach. An annual event - which happens around the end of July - known as Paddlefest unites paddlers from all over to celebrate the beauty of this magnificent class IV rapids range. ©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

There are many hidden places all along the route which only the most seasoned of paddlers can reach. An annual event – which happens around the end of July – known as Paddlefest unites paddlers from all over to celebrate the beauty of this magnificent class IV rapids range.
©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada - Photo by Karl Johnston

©Parks Canada – Photo by Karl Johnston

3 Responses

  1. Susan

    So interesting . . . I would not be able to resist straightening the horizon line. You pushed pilot (and passenger) comfort boundaries with a Dutch tilt effect on a calm landing. I like the effect.
    Susan, Calgary

    Reply

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