The wilderness of the Northwest Territories is an unusual honeymoon destination, but that’s where my new husband and I headed when we were married 21 years ago. Our courtship had included a wilderness river canoe trip on the Beaulieu River and we returned there after the wedding. The 7 day trip was a major feat of planning, requiring a float plane to get us in and another to get us out. Packing required military discipline…nothing extraneous, nothing heavy. This was important as our first day had something like 13 portages (oh bliss).
Bug spray was the top of the list as far as liquids in our luggage; we carried a small flask of Grand Marnier and a 6 pack of beer to begin the trip. After it was gone, we were drinking river water. Period. Our wedding was early July, and even in Canada’s north the days get pretty hot… after those river chilled beer were emptied and the cans crushed and packed…. well, you can imagine how good they tasted in retrospect.
We were paddling down a fairly narrow stretch of river, about the width of a secondary highway. In the middle of the river about a kilometre away was a small island, preceded by a few large rocks -each about the size of a small car, emerging from the water. The nearest of these large rocks was taller than it was wide; pointing up at the sky from the icy river with a small, flat ledge on top.
And now, picture us for a moment… sun baked, about the 4th day of our trip, hot and paddling in our swimsuits.
As we approached the first rock…. we both blinked, shook our heads, looked at each other and back at the rock. Incredulous, eyes bugging in disbelief, a giggle bubbled out of first me, then him. Not a word of a lie… perched as if waiting for us atop the rock… a six pack of Labatts Blue. How the hell?! Was it a mirage? Were we hallucinating? Was it beaver fever?! As we got closer we could see it was indeed a six pack of beer, and amazingly it still had the plastic rings holding it together. What?!!
We paddled a lot faster, suddenly… pulling up alongside this rock; Tim leaped from the canoe and scrambled up to the shimmering, gleaming prize balanced at its pinnacle. He looked at it and hollered OH MAN! The cans aren’t even OPENED!!!
This was heaven…this was manna from heaven! He reached out, grabbed the six pack and lifted it triumphantly overhead, letting out a loud bark of surprised laughter. I laughed along with him… even more when water started pouring from the thousands of tiny puncture holes all over each of the cans.
Unopened, they had obviously gone overboard when some previous paddlers dumped. Battered by the rocks their golden contents had long since been replaced by… river water.
Although unsure who had placed the trophy on its perch to tempt and torment us, we were not about to mess with success. When we stopped laughing, Tim carefully replaced the cans where he had found them, high above the water, ready to glint in the sunlight and play siren to the next paddlers to come down river.
I mean really…. wouldn’t you have done the same?