Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jake & Susan Are Back on Dry Land!: Day 19 of the Yukon River Trip

     Jake & I are happy to announce that we have finished our Yukon River Trip adventure!  We pulled into Carmacks on the evening of our 12th anniversary, covering 202 miles of the mighty Yukon River.  Early on in our quest, we decided to forego our original destination of Dawson City for a number of reasons.  Though we definitely could have made the 460 miles to Dawson City, it became quite clear that we were losing sight of some of our original trip goals.
     Our venture quickly took on the feel of all work and no play.  Yes, we knew we had our work cut out for us, but even before we left town, we began to feel as though the planning of this trip was a second job.  Then when it was finally time to depart, the six-day drive wore us down even more (we only stopped at three motels--the rest of the nights we drove on through to cover the 3,300 miles to Whitehorse.  The weight and aerodynamics of the trailer and boat slowed us down much more than we anticipated.
     Once arriving in Whitehorse (finally!), we took two nights at the Yukon Inn to recover...or so we thought we would.  We quickly found ourselves running here and there--getting fishing licenses, last-minute gear, checking the river and launching sites, reorganizing our gear from the drive, making arrangements for storing our truck and trailer (thank you Sports North!), etc.  When we finally hit the river on the afternoon of July 3rd, we were still exhausted from the months of planning, the 3,300 miles of driving, and the preparations once reaching Whitehorse.
     As we got a handle on how the Sundowner maneuvered on the Yukon River, a river so different from any back home, we soon discovered that the wind was going to be our biggest challenge.  Lake Laberge, the 30-mile lake we had to cross early in our route, surprised us by how calm she appeared to be as we entered her waters.  At first, the glass-like surface and windless skies deceived us, as we later found ourselves battling the horrific winds and waves that Laberge is known to produce without notice.  The structure of the Sundowner took quite a beating from Lake Laberge (and so did we).
     After sneaking out of Laberge late in the evening and rowing through the night because her winds seemed to be the calmest then (thankgoodness for the almost 20-hours of sunlight), we found ourselves taking on the wind during the next stretch of Yukon River, known as the Thirty Mile River.  It was apparent that we would most likely continue to battle the wind--not the river--the whole way.  Jake & I found that we had not had any time to explore, play, recover, or even feed ourselves properly, and I wasn't journaling--simply recording the miles of the day and basic events.  We were just too worn down.  We felt we were putting in overtime covering miles, ignoring what the real purpose of our trip was.
     So, we decided to take a couple of days off to rest up, reorganize the cabin, and play.  Panning for gold and fishing were the highlights of this break; they were the first "just for fun" moments of the trip.  This made us revisit our goals and begin thinking about changing our final destination.  You see, Dawson City was not our goal; working together to live on our boat as we explored the awesome Yukon River and followed in the paddle strokes of so many before us.  We weren't exploring; we were simply covering miles and wearing ourselves out as we battled the wind with our boat, watching the canoes and kayaks zip by us.  
     We did the math daily; we could still make it to Dawson City, but with the frequent and unpredictable winds the Yukon blows, we knew we needed to readjust the final destination in order to meet our goals.  We worked hard, played a bit, and learned much during our fifteen days as we covered 202 miles of the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Carmacks.

(As we travel home we will be posting journal portions, pictures, 
and memories of our trip.  So, check back soon!)


  1. Sounds like a fantastic trip...can't wait to see more pictures!

  2. Hey, Trail Guy. Check back in the next few days...I will be posting more photos & info about our trip. :)