Fort Chipewyan

Outlining Our Journey

Dispatch by Delano Lavigne

Flying into Fort Chipewyan gave us our first glimpse at the amazingly abundant waters that make up the Athabascan Delta, and only magnified the already brimming anticipation we’ve been filled with since we began preparing for this trip.

Our pilot and the eight other passengers on the plane are incredibly patient with us—endear themselves to us—as we strain to look through every window, hoping not to miss a thing. There are sand dunes to the right and the Athabascan River just below, while Fort Chipewyan sits just ahead. Too much to take in during our short 50-minute flight between Fort McMurray and Chipewyan.

Once Chipewyan comes into view, I search frantically for a glimpse of Rivière des Rochers, the starting point of our journey that will take us approximately 150 kilometres north by SUP to Fort Fitzgerald.

Beginning in Fort Chip (as they say here) we will make our way up the Rivière des Rochers, one of two possible routes that meander northward towards Great Slave Lake. From Rochers we will pass along large and small islands alike, improvising our campsites on whatever rocky and hopefully dry outcroppings we can find. We will eventually head west along Revillon Coupé, a somewhat short tributary that leads to the Peace River, allowing me to fulfill a lifelong dream of exploring the waterways of this region.

Wood Buffalo Map Dispatch
The beginning of our course towards Wood Buffalo National Park

Following the Coupe toward the Peace will take us deeper into Wood Buffalo National Park and hopefully give us a chance to see bison, wolves, beavers and bears, all of which are in abundance in this pristine Canadian wilderness.

Once we hit the Peace River we will follow its flow towards the Slave River, which will carry us the rest of the way toward Fort Fitzgerald and finally back to civilization.

It is going to be a great journey filled with unknown obstacles and topographical gems, all of which are exactly why we’re here. And once we come off the river, regardless of the journey we’ve had, there is no doubt that our lives will have been made better—cleansed in some respects, by the amazing waters of this spectacular northern region of Alberta. 

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