Yukon Adventures – Days 4-6

This is part two of my blog posting on our trip down the Yukon River. The first part can be found here We awoke trepidisously in our tent wondering what the lake would bring to the days affair, yesterday’s events quickly coming to the forefront of my mind, but as we peaked out of our 4ft hole, a calm, sunlit day was in force and it looked as though it was here to stay. Indeed it was, and although we were both a little nervous clambering into our little floating world as we set off around 8am, after 20mins of paddling we were under way gently paddling northwards in and around the coves and admiring the views once again. With over an hours worth of hard paddling and not consulting the map during yesterdays storm however, exact knowledge on our location was proving hard to fathom, and we just couldn’t seem to figure out exactly how far up the lake we had travelled. We knew though that as long as we stayed with the shore on our right, we’d be going in the right direction and eventually, one day, would hit the end of the lake. Our day 3 on the water was to prove one of our longest as we were keen to make some headway and make up any potentially lost time the day before, and with an early start, a quick stop at lunch and another for a break around 3, we finally ended the day around 5 on a deserted beach having decided to carry on another km or so past the more well trod campsite-esque looking beach earlier. Please specify a Flickr ID for this gallery This was true wilderness camping; no campsite, no nicely flattened rock ridden earth for a tent, no potential fire pits or areas for storing food, but we both revelled in the fact and enjoyed overcoming all these small obstacles to make a little home-away-from-home on the rock strewn beach. As per protocol we cooked, cleaned, and stored all our food a good 30ft away from our tent. We gently watched the sun go down over another spectacular sunset with mountains, reflective lake and lapping water in our sights and lulled to bed as we both slowly dozed off to a star ridden sky. Thump, thump, thump, thump, sniff. I awoke at around 2am to some heavy footfalls outside. My brain awoke and started to process the noises. Thump, thump, thump …… sniff …… Bear! I could hear a bear and he had literally stopped metres from the tent. CRASH!!! F**K!!!!!!! The bear had just swiped the tent! “Hey are you alright” asked Han as she awoke thinking I was outside and had just fallen into the tent. “Shut the hell up, there’s a bear outside” I whispered to her, frozen, terrified, petrified in a scared rigid pose. We both stayed silent, listening. Wondering. Hoping. My mind was swarming with thoughts from where the bear spray was, to what do if it started to try to come in. After 10 seconds or so, it seemed that our vigilant food storing was paying off, and we heard the bear slowly lumber away as his footsteps died off into the distance. A minute later I moved again, we both agreed it had gone away and tried to sleep. “Whoosh” said the wind. “Shit, a bear is running towards the tent” said my brain. “Splash, ripple, splash ripple” whispered the gently lapping waves “F**k, a bear is swimming towards our tent” alarmed my synapses. An so it went for the rest of the night as I dozed in and out of sleep, perceiving every noise to be a bear-related attack just waiting to happen. At 7am we both woke up to another glorious day and played chicken to who was going to open the door to the tent first. But the bear had...

Yukon Adventures – Days 1-3

This is part one of my blog posting on our trip down the Yukon River. The second part can be found here I wake, its Christmas day, I wonder why every Christmas Eve since I discovered the wonders of beer I decide to drink unsavoury amounts of the sweet flavoured nectar the night before the big day, trudge downstairs, take some paracetamol in an attempt to shake the headache off in time to be able to gluttonise myself over the next 14-15 hours, and have the usual disapproving shake of the head from mumsy Wilkins. An hour later and I’m unwrapping my presents, slyly playing the ‘who’s going to be the person to open the last present’ game by hiding a book shaped object underneath the table to bring out an opportune moment after my dad reveals one from down the side of the sofa – his usual ploy. As I unwrap the present with a sense of satisfaction at winning the game for the 3rd year in a row, I look at the title and read ‘Journeys to take before you die’. With 38 different ideas on adventures and locations to explore in the world, I skim through it and place it to one side wondering if it’s a coffee table paper weight or a tome of knowledge and adventure. A year later and Han and I are ticking off one of the journeys as we traverse over the Atlas mountains in Morocco making our way down to the Sahara Desert. Four years on from there, and with two years of Vancouverite living under our belt, the book was once again proving to be a bible of inspiration – the ‘canoeing down the Yukon from Whitehorse to Carmacks’ trip was calling out in its geographically prevalent voice; the trip had stuck in my mind from the book those 5 Christmas’s past. Do we have the time? What about a cruise to Alaska we wanted to do? How much does it cost? What about bears? Coyotes? Cougars? When are we going to fit it in? Were all questions zooming through our minds, and then in a moment of clarity and enlightenment we realised….. “lets just book it”. Two months later and we found ourselves at Up North Adventures signing forms for bear sprays, canoes, paddles, satellite phones and an array of camping and cooking equipment from pots and pans to axes and saws. The reassuring tones of Bernie, one of the shop assistants who was helping us with all the intricacies and packing procedures, were helping us to smoothly navigate through the multitude of questions we had, but were juxtaposed with some gut feeling that this was a bigger and more dangerous adventure than we were letting ourselves face up-to. I almost felt like a cheat, out of place, somehow pretending to be someone I wasn’t, outwardly being Superman but inside feeling like Clark Kent, but I kept on reassuring myself with three base principles: This is a common trip to take, especially in summer, and lots of people undertake the expedition. We’re going down a river – we can’t get lost or go the wrong way. They’re letting us do it with minimal fuss and no background checks or delving questions. It was with this mantra that I figured that at the end of the day, its simple paddling, down a river, with some camping thrown in every night. What could possibly go wrong? We had opted to take the classic route from the fairly populous city of Whitehorse (sporting circa 27000 inhabitants, over 2/3 of the entire population of the territory), located around 60 degrees north in the Yukon Territory of Canada, to Carmacks, a small town of around 3500 people and 350 river kilometres northwards. The route and towns were made famous in the turn of the 20th century when gold was found on the Yukon River...