Mike's Yukon Trip
United States Georgia White
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Mike’s Yukon Trip officially began on May 28th, but there was much that happened before then to make it come about. He read about the Yukon River in a book “Great Rivers of the World” published by the National Geographic Society, and decided he would one day canoe the entire length of the river, from its source at <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />MarshLake to the Bering Sea. He began to read all he could about the river, studied river maps, and decided to make his own wooden cedar strip canoe for the journey. Canoe making involved more reading about how to, getting the wood, making the strips and forms, and many hours of work.
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His companion for the trip is his mother, Barbara. She took on the task of being in charge of the food for the trip. She ordered some foods, as well as dehydrated and sealed others. The food packs are quite heavy, and they probably will not need to buy much along the way.
The canoe and gear was dropped off with an outfitter in Whitehorse, Up North Adventures, who was quite willing to work with Mike. The Suburban and camper were driven to Anchorage and put into storage for the summer. Mike and Barbara caught a bus back to Whitehorse, and then Up North Adventures took them, the canoe and gear to MarshLake on May 27th. After camping there that evening. Mike and Barbara set off on May 28th.
At Whitehorse, on May 29th, he called me and left a message on the answering machine. They had met some folks from New Zealand, Mark & Clare Stratton, who he said helped with the half-mile portage around Schwatka Dam. A few days later, I received an email from them with several photos. It’s clear from the photos that Mike is very happy, and Barbara too. Mark and Clare have graciously given me permission to post the pictures.
One of the photos shows some people standing around at the water’s edge. Mike said this was a whitewater training class, and that one of the canoes in the class had just wiped out where he and Barbara where about to paddle. He said there was turbulence in the water, but they went through it just fine.
Mike called me again on June 7th from Carmacks. Everything was going fine, they were having a great time. My next call from him was on June 13, he was in Dawson. He said they had paddled through an area with a forest fire, that the fire was on one side of the river, and on the other side of the river the buildings were being sprayed with water. That was at Minto, Yukon Territory. He said they had seen 3 foxes at/near their campground, and had set up their bear fence around the food when they came into town to deter the foxes from tearing into their packs. They’ve only seen one grizzly bear, and it was very skittish and ran away.
Mike called again on June 17th. They are back in the U.S., now in Alaska at Eagle. The customs officer was waiting for them, as he had been alerted by the Yukon Queen, a boat that runs from Eagle to Dawson, that a canoe was heading downriver. He said Fortymile was interesting, that they walked around looking at the old buildings and mining equipment. They came upon a grouse, who kept about 15 feet in front of them for about 150 feet. The grouse was doing the “broken wing” distraction to lead them away from her chicks.
He also told me that he had sent an email from Dawson, but it never came through. Checking his email account, it failed to send. He said there were photos attached, so maybe he’ll get another opportunity to send them again.