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The upper north fork of the Ipewik River was 50 cfs. Marginal. Still, compared to walking under a heavy pack, floating is almost always better. We launched, scraping over gravel bars and occasionally hoisting our boats to deeper channels while walking alongside.
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For an hour and a half it was slow progress down the uppermost Ipewik, and then came the much anticipated south fork. It tripled our flow, and brought a moment of elation. Now we knew that the Ipewik, unknown and unrun, speculated to be too low, would go. This was a runnable river. Our walking was over. So many unknowns vanished at that moment, our relief produced a burst of shouts and high-fives. We still had a hundred and something miles of Arctic wilderness ahead, but it would be a river trip from this point forward. We can do this!

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