We survived the Yukon River.
This was my third canoe trip on the Yukon and Tim’s first. The water level was very low. I’ve never seen it this low. Dried up channels, shallow water, rocks, all made for an “interesting” trip.
It was a real bugger this time getting the canoe to Eagle. It took two days and the help of my friends Christine and Bill. Lots of rain, fog and oh my gosh the mud!
The next few photos and video are by Christine Burr.
Packing the canoe in Eagle.
We finally get on the river and paddle the several miles down to overnight at my friends’ Wayne and Scarlet’s of Bush Alaska Expedition.
It was raining and the wind was blowing. It wasn’t blowing enough to scare me but the rain would stick with us unfortunately.
Wayne and Scarlet’s fishwheel.
As Wayne says, thousands of pictures have been taken from this spot at their place over looking the Yukon River. I believe it too. It’s hard to describe the feelings of peace and well being one gets from this view alone. Even on a clouded, rain soaked day, this is a view I’d choose any time!
We started off the next day and I immediately noticed how low the river was. This would be the theme throughout our trip. Dried up channels and slow moving water, exposed rocks which are scary.
We did see several bald eagles though. That is always a really nice bonus.
Calico Bluff is an important geological site.
It rained pretty much all day. It wasn’t too bad though. We had good rain gear and it wasn’t cold. Dreary and mesmerizing at the same time.
Yay, a break from the rain in order to pull over for a break from the canoe!
Aaaannnd back to the dreary rain. I do say dreary but it was also entrancing. We paddled and floated for hours with barely a word spoken between us. I don’t think either of us wanted to break the absolute silence that engulfed us. It reminded me a lot of coming home to my nice warm cabin after the first heavy snowfall of winter. Being snugly tucked inside somewhere comfortable with the magnitude of the immense wilderness blocked from view.
Second full day on the river. We had a few dryish moments.
We came upon exposed rocks that we couldn’t paddle around as the current was too strong. These were only the first ones we had to cross. We got stuck on the rocks a few times. Since the rocks were so jagged and sharp, we “lined” the canoe over them. It was actually pretty scary. I DID help him after I took video. Water moving that fast, even if shallow, can knock you off your feet. I used my paddle to stabilize myself when getting in to lift the boat off the rocks.
View from our tent on second night.
It was still raining so we decided to cook in the tent. Yes, it worked really well.
I believe this was the third day.
This is the song that kept going through my head. I thought this is THE picture for that song.
We found one of the public use cabins to stay the night in. It was great as we were able to dry out ourselves and our gear. These cabins are maintained by the National Park Service and some of them are more rustic then others. Some have propane cook stoves even and most have some wood ready to burn. This one only had a few pieces of wood chopped but we made do.
We even had desert that night. Experiment with a cheap box of Jiffy cranberry muffin mix. The bottom layer was a bit inedible but the rest was yummy.
Really, how many selfies can one girl take?
Apparently a lot.
Hard to take a pano when you are in motion.
Drying out my first pair of gloves.
One thing about rainy weather, it made for some fabulous skies.
See the heart?
Yes I’m still buying gum in bulk, not cigarettes.
5 gallon jug of water.
We saw a lot of fires and fire damage. There are several active fires still burning. It was weird because at the first sniff of wood smoke I thought we were coming up to others camping on the river as we were.
But it made for some great sunsets.
It doesn’t get all the way dark yet but the overcast made it seem “almost night”.
We finally make it to Slaven’s Cabin, a historical roadhouse frequented by river travelers, hunters, and Yukon Quest mushers in the winter. Along with the big, main cabin, is a smaller, more private, public us cabin. We lucked out and got it all to ourselves.
Slaven’s overlooks the river from a small bluff. It really put our large, 17′ freighter canoe into perspective. It’s hard to show just how large the Yukon River is. This gives you a bit of an idea.
They use rain barrels to collect water which is then filtered a bit for drinking. After reading the signs to please not bath in the rain barrels, we thought of this fun photo to try. Worked out pretty well huh?
Our day bag exploded onto the table.
We decided to stay an extra day at Slaven’s. Of course, these are the only days it didn’t rain or the wind blow!
We hiked up to the dredge and then followed the creek back looking for gold.
Wedding Waters. The meeting of the clear, tannin stained waters of the creek entering the silt laden waters of the Yukon.
Our cabin was farther up the hill and in the woods. We still had a great view of the river even through the trees.
Several river travelers have been on the river for a month by the time they arrive at Slaven’s. This means they have been living mostly on dehydrated meals. The National Park Service Ranger that is stationed there planted several varieties of lettuce for any one to pick and enjoy some fresh greens. We picked a bowl full and poured the olive oil from our kalamata olives over it. The fresh food, even after only a matter of days, was very appreciated.
And guess what? We got engaged! These were his mother’s rings so they were soldered together. We have since had them separated, for a short while, so I could wear the engagement ring alone. They will be rejoined sometime next August!
I never thought I would get married again, and really, for the most part, was ok with that. Next month it will be seven years since Justin died. I learned how to be my own person, raised my children, bought my own house, etc. all by myself. But Tim and I have been dating for almost a year and I know that we are meant to be together. He accepts me and my kids as we are. The Universe has shown me multiple times now that this is the man I am supposed to spend the rest of my life with. Like how I hid this in here? Hahha. Guess we’ll see who reads it all. No really, we just wanted to tell our families first before publishing it to the public.
We stopped at one more public use cabin (it’s fun trying to find them) for a break on the 5th day. We were actually running a bit low on food since we stayed an extra day at Slaven’s so partook of a bit of the stock left there for that purpose. The day had a strong headwind and strong paddling was required.
We paddled 15 miles in the first 3 hours of our second to the last day, day 5. It was beautiful. Then the wind picked up and it was on! Normally the river runs between 8-11 mph. We went 40 miles that day making it a super long day. We were paddling our asses off for several hours only averaging 1.5 mph. We finally just stopped. It’s not worth paddling in that kind of head wind.
That night the cold set in! I don’t know how cold it was only that we were fully dressed, our two sleeping bags zipped together, another warm, fuzzy blanket in there with us, and it was still shivering cold. I think the only way we were able to sleep at all that night was because we were just so exhausted from the previous windy day. Still, we wanted to get an early start the next morning, our last day on the river. Tim got up, started the fire, and made me coffee all before I woke up. It was a beautiful morning with the fog coming off the comparably warm waters.
Then the skies cleared and the sun came out. This would be our shortest day of course, paddling only about 4 hours into Circle and the weather was beautiful.
Someone’s fish camp with the fish wheel in operation.
We got to Circle about 11:30. The store opens at noon. We were sitting there waiting for it to open (and for our ride out) when a plan pulled up to the gas pump for fueling. I love small towns lol.
Yes it’s hard to get him with a straight face. And really, I don’t want to.
So that’s it. 6 days on the mighty Yukon and a new life in our future. Have a great day and please feel free to leave us a comment.