For the month of June my husband, Mark Klein and I lived, worked and played in the Yukon. It was full of wonderful experiences with people, on and off the water. We did staff training, on water consumer demos, spent a day Pike fishing with fellow industry professionals, paddled 715 km down the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson City and supported Kokatat Global Ambassador Norm Hann as he completed the iconic distance race, the Yukon River Quest.
One highlight of the Yukon that everyone should experience is the light, and by that I mean the lack of darkness. They call it the Land of the Midnight Sun. Imagine not worrying about getting off the water to cook supper or set up camp, no need for headlamps and no fear of getting out of your tent in the dark to pee. The fact that the sun never really sets at this time of year is amazing. This trip has been on my mind for as long as I have been coming up to visit dealers in the Yukon, and it didn’t disappoint. The challenge of Lake Laberge - made famous by the poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee by Robert Service - was one I was excited for. So when folks mentioned avoiding it all together by putting-in on the Teslin River, I was thinking ‘forget it’! Laberge for me, was an important part of the journey and it was either going to rear its ugly head or have mercy on us. We were fortunate it was the later, up until the last 5 km or so before it flowed into the stunning Thirty Mile section of the river.
The Thirty Mile section was designated a Canadian Heritage River in 1991 for its crystal clear waters, scenic bluffs and rich history. Here we had the pleasure of standing on top of the S.S. Klondike, a stern-wheeler that moved freight and people between Whitehorse and Dawson during the Gold Rush. It ran aground in June 1936 and lays in the relatively narrow section of the river to this day.
We had a sudden squall, scattered thunderstorms, warm sunny days, vicious headwinds, and at times we rafting up, allowing the current to take us where it wanted. Big mileage days of 90km, and the opportunity to stay at one camping spot for 2 nights in a row gave us all kinds of great experiences on the river.
The Yukon River introduces paddlers to remote Canadian wilderness and everything that comes with that, including wildlife. We were fortunate to see numerous moose, beavers, eagles, peregrine falcons, and the fresh tracks of a grizzly bear.
The Yukon is a great approachable first if you have never done an extended wilderness paddling trip. It’s mostly a class 1 river with one class 2 rapid, dependent on water levels, so spend some time on moving water, read up on your Gold Rush history and load up the car. The Yukon is worthy of being on your adventure ‘to do’ list. And the bugs were nowhere near as bad as we had imagined! Admittedly I only wore my The Original Bug Shirt once during our two week paddling trip. Don’t be afraid of the bugs, it’s just the Yukoners way of keeping this place all to themselves.
HUGE THANKS to Kokatat dealer Kanoe People for their business and support during our time in the Yukon.