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by Diane Spicer
Ready for some South Nahanni photos?
Here's a glimpse of the fantastic opportunities for exploring we enjoyed on a 2009 helihiking trip with Solitude Excursions.
All photos are copyrighted and credited to David Midkiff, my husband.
Once you arrive in Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories, your next step toward helihiking is a Wolverine Air flight to base camp.
Here's a view of the Mackenzie River, from the bush plane.
You know you're in a special place already!
Check out that sheer vertical as you leave the river behind!
After a lot of time gawking out the windows of the bush plane at the fantastic mountains and rivers, you arrive in base camp.
Sunny & Werner are there to welcome you.
We came in late in the afternoon, just in time for dinner.
Our chariot has safely arrived!
The next day, it's helicopter time!
Here's the aerial view on our way to the Ragged Range....
Look at these gorgeous banded cliffs!
All of the peaks are unnamed and inhabited only by birds and animals.
While the helicopter pilot is busy navigating, you will be busy trying to capture the immensity of the Ragged Range.
Be sure your camera has plenty of battery power, you don't want to waste a minute of your air time.
You'll want the full complement of South Nahanni photos to take home.
Eventually, all good helicopter flights have to come to an end, and you will touch down in what I think of as a "mountain bowl":
In short, heaven.
Your only dilemma: which way to hike and explore first!
Here's another gorgeous area of the South Nahanni: the Ram Plateau.
A few highlights:
We ran into a bull moose up here - both of us greatly surprised.
We also found ourselves hiking at 10 PM, and not even feeling tired, because there was so much to drink in and absorb.
The ground was boggy and buggy, but hid delicate wild flowers I had never seen before.
Our guide carried a field guide and binoculars, making long distance viewing of a mountain goat in an impossibly sheer spot just as easy as identifying unknown flowers and shrubs.
I think you can see the plateau part quite easily!
Closer to base camp, you'll have plenty of opportunities for more South Nahanni photos and memories.
For instance, you have Fossil Canyon to explore.
And yes, this hike delivers on its name.
The helicopter spares you an arduous vertical climb.
All day long, it's smooth sailing, working your way downward as you pick up fossils and enjoy the companionable sound of the creek.
And let's not forget wildlife.
I had never seen caribou before, and wanted lots of South Nahanni photos of these animals with strongly built bodies on spindly legs, with beautifully marked faces.
They are very quirky animals - fidgety, shy, but super curious.
We were able to stand still and watch a small group come near us: not quite afraid, probably because we didn't look or smell like wolves, but not entirely comfortable around us, either.
I got some great video of this young female wanting desperately to come close while obeying her instincts about staying a certain distance from us.
A family group:
There were sheep and goats to observe, too.
And I do mean observe.
And then there were the animals we DIDN'T see, but remained aware of their presence through tracks and signs: grizzly and wolf.
Picking and choosing photos for this mini gallery was a bittersweet process: so many great days of hiking captured on film, such a far away place.
Feel free to contact me if you are considering this type of trip.
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