Dream boat journey
Friends fulfil quest to sail down Mackenzie River

Malcolm Gorrill
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Aug 04/00) - Some dreams won't die.

About 35 years ago two friends thought it would be cool to boat down the Mackenzie River. Late last month they succeeded.

It all began decades ago when Ken Graham of Austin, Texas and Jim Moser of Danville, Pennsylvania met while attending Pennsylvania State University. They did some white-water canoeing together and thought up the Mackenzie adventure.

But, Graham explained, "We got busy with families and careers and that sort of thing. About six years ago, we resurfaced this idea."

The pair reached Inuvik July 24 after having left Fort Providence about 12 days before. Graham and Moser made the journey on a 14-foot aluminum boat equipped with a 15-horsepower engine. Their boat was the Entropy I.

"Entropy, for physics, meaning disorder," said Graham, explaining with a laugh that their trip was sometimes like that.

They encountered heavy rain below Fort Simpson and had to pitch their tent and stay put for more than a day.

They stayed each night in their tent and picked islands to shelter on. One time they were looking for a spot to camp when Moser found grizzly bear tracks.

"Big tracks," Moser confirmed.

Needless to say, they picked another island.

What will they remember from their trek?

"Beautiful eagles, lots of them," Moser said. "There was a biologist doing falcon research, and they had discovered a nest of falcons high up on a cliff and invited us up to take pictures of the falcons."

Graham said, "We were pleasantly surprised it played out the way they show on the map, that you really can see the mountains from many parts of the river.

"And in some parts they're especially impressive," he said.

"The beautiful days are just spectacular, like clear sky days," Graham said.

"One of the memorable sights for me was taking the boat around the corner in Tulita and entering the Great Bear River. And it's sparkling clean and very deep. And of course the Mackenzie carries all this silt down here. So it was a contrast between the two."

Both men said everybody they met along the way was really friendly, and that their families had been very understanding.

"My wife's very tolerant," Moser said. "I promised her I'd take her to the beach next summer to try to make it up to her."

Graham said his mother, who turned 85 on July 25, was especially interested, as she had travelled in the NWT with Graham's father years ago.