The Horton River is the most northerly flowing river in mainland Canada. The floatplane lands at Whaleman River which is located exactly at the half-way point of this 600km long river. Some members of the Upper Horton group may join at this point to paddle to the coast. The open tundra is dotted with dwarfed black spruce trees. Three limestone canyons with technical whitewater present a challenge to novice to intermediate canoeists. Herds of muskoxen and caribou are often seen in this region along with arctic wolf-packs and lone grizzly bears.
Beach or tundra campsites afford sprawling panoramic views across the ancient tundra. Evening hikes on the firm tundra allow you to feel the sun on your face at midnight! In the swirling eddies, deep pools and side-streams, fly-fisherman will enjoy the world-class fishing for arctic grayling, lake trout and arctic char. As we enter the Mackenzie Lowlands, a range of ancient mountains hems us in on the coastal side of the river. The underlying limestone rock formation is part of a vast sedimentary arctic coastal plain.
Immense serpentine oxbows wind across this open plain as we leave the tree line for the last time entering the Badland Region of the Smoking Hills. These hills contain deposits of magnesium and low-grade coal seams called lignite. As the landscape erodes the coal seams are exposed and combust spontaneously emitting steady plumes of smoke from smoldering vents. This mysterious burned landscape is striated with earth streaked with ochre, red and orange colours. At our last camp on the river we hike to the arctic coast and gaze out over Franklin Bay at the northern edge of the continent – those brave or crazy enough make a quick plunge into the icy arctic waters – a memory for life indeed!