We decided to go to Mass in Fort Smith before returning to Hay River. It is actually a cathedral, indicating that Fort Smith is the seat of the Diocese, which at first seems odd, considering that Yellowknife is much bigger and the Territorial capital, but then we realized that Fort Smith was founded many years before Yellowknife. There were about 40 people in attendance, although the cathedral can probably accommodate 10 times that number. The Nigerian priest gave an enthusiastic homily, but we both felt that 45 minutes was a bit too long. “Mass is ended” – well, not quite. Since this was his 20th anniversary of Ordination, we were treated to a detailed summary of his calling, starting with his birth and ending with his current posting to Fort Smith, careful not to miss a detail along the way. When Mass finally ended, we were invited downstairs to a brunch.
On the road back to Hay River, we stopped to have a look at the Angus Sinkhole, some 60 feet deep, caused by the erosion and collapse of the overlying limestone into an underground river below. This kind of sinkhole occurs all over the park.
We were also treated to the sight of another bison standing in the middle of the road:
After a quick stop in Hay River for a few groceries and a burger at the Doghouse Pub, we arrived at the campground at about 7:00 and checked in. When we arrived at the site, it was occupied by a tent. When we went back to the office, we found out that the occupants (who were not there), had apparently paid for Friday night, but had decided to stay on without paying. The Park Manager had left several phone messages, which went unanswered. While we were there, she left one more message saying that she was going to remove their stuff from the site. We followed her to the site and helped her throw everything (expensive tent, air mattress, hatchet, clothing and suitcases) into her truck. We were a little concerned that they might show up later and make a fuss, so I got a couple of emergency contact numbers from her. As it turned out, they eventually contacted her and weren’t happy, claiming they had only received one message and that some things had been damaged, but the Park Manager thinks that they were saving a bit of face because the grandmother had come along with them and had ripped a strip off them because of their stupid behaviour.
After cleaning up the van a bit and doing some laundry, we spent the rest of the afternoon down at the beach, enjoying a sunny but breezy day, capped off by a nice evening around a campfire, serenaded by an enthusiastic native drum circle from two campsites over. All part of the authentic Hay River experience, I guess.
We are headed for Saamba Deh Territorial Park tomorrow for 3 nights. Looking forward to seeing some new sights, including some waterfalls.