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We're Paddling the Yukon River!

It’s official: after a year of planning, changing plans, and changing plans again, we are finally prepped and ready to spend 19 days paddling +1400 km down the Teslin and Yukon Rivers. 

This trip will take us through the territories of the Tlingit, Tutchone, Han, Gwich'in, and Koyukon Peoples. We are grateful for their continued stewardship of the lands and waters on which we'll be traveling.

The Team

Who are we? On this trip the team is Nathan Slater, Rina Hamon, Finn Steiner, and Megan Kollman. Finn and Rina are partners, Nathan and Finn are colleagues, Megan and Finn are alums of VIU, and Nathan and Rina are ex-coworkers. The four of us met for the first time over zoom in November and have become quick friends! For more info about us, check out our bios on the trip page.

The Plan

We've been planning this expedition since last fall. Between then and now our plan has gone through several iterations: first the Keele River, then the Mackenzie, and finally the Yukon. It turns out that planning an expedition on a remote river that requires extensive shuttling is more challenging than we anticipated. And we're trying to pull it all off in the middle of the busiest section of the guiding season for Finn and Nathan. We've managed to squeeze in 26 days (door to door) for the trip so it's looking like an action-packed adventure. We've had time over the winter to meet, plan, and even paddle together on the Campbell River. Now Finn is off to Haida Gwaii for back-to-back trips leaving Megan, Nathan, and Rina to finish preparing the few remaining meals and gear.

Though we won't be paddling through Whitehorse, we will be stopping in a few times during our shuttles so we think this is an appropriate trip title and logo. (Illustrated by Rina)

On July 18th, Rina, Megan, and Nathan will be leaving from Vancouver Island in two vehicles and heading North. Each vehicle will be equipped with an extra wide rack, a canoe, and barrels of gear. We’ll be spending two days driving up to Prince Rupert and will pick up Finn as he gets off the Ferry from Haida Gwaii on the morning of the 21st. From there we’ll all drive up to Johnson’s Crossing to set up our epic post-trip shuttle. Two of us will stay in Johnson’s crossing with both canoes, the food, and most of the gear. The other two will take both vehicles and drive 1300 km to the takeout at the E. L. Patton Yukon River Bridge, drop-off one of the vehicles, and drive 1300 km back to Johnson’s Crossing.

62 hours of driving to get ourselves from home to paddling!

If all goes according to plan, we’ll depart down the Tesling River mid-day on July 23rd. This section of the Teslin and Yukon Rivers flow at roughly 8 km per hour so we hope to average around 75 km of travel downstream per day. Who knows what we might see on our way down, but we’re super excited to find out!

In the morning of August 10th, we’ll land our canoes at the E. L. Patton Bridge and start our return journey. This will be one of the more logistically complex sections of the trip since we’ll need to fit both canoes, all of our gear, and all four of us into one vehicle. On our way South, we’ll pick up the second vehicle in Johnson’s Crossing and do a bit of gear swapping. This is also where we’ll part ways - Finn and Nathan need to B-line it to Prince Rupert so Nathan can take the ferry to Haida Gwaii and Finn can make his way to the Great Bear Rainforest. Rina and Megan will take a more leisurely route South and eventually make their way to Vancouver Island and Kitamat respectively.

The Food

On this trip, we'll be totally self-sufficient. That means carrying all the meals we'll need for the 19-day journey (and a few spares) from day one. GIven the large volume of space in a canoe, we're able to be pretty generous with our food space - 2 60L barrels and an 80L barrel. We're hoping to eat well on this journey and will be carrying as much fresh food as possible - we're also planning a fancy mid-river cocktail party. We've opted to each plan 5 days (b-fast, lunch, and dinner) of food so we'll have a total of 20 days prepared once we set off on the river. Finn is already out in the field working until the trip launch day so his meals are packed, but the rest of us are still working. We'll update you all with the menu (and maybe some meal reviews) once everything is set.

The Gear

We've been working hard to get everything we'll need for this trip together and we're almost there. Finn and Rina bought a beautiful maroon 16 foot prospector Canoe in Royalex with a spray deck. We've named it "Ma' River Canoe' and are all enamored with it! We're still on the hunt for a second boat, so if you've got one you're willing to lend us please let us know.

We're also slowly building up an arsenal of paddles, canoe barrels, and portage bags. Some new, some used, and some borrowed (huge thanks to SKILS for the canoe barrels). There are a lot of pieces of equipment unique to canoeing that we're excited to use and test. Of course, this wouldn't be an 'A Little Paddle' expedition without some flashy new gear as well. We're partnering with Pacific Dominion Outdoor Designs to test some of their new tarp designs. Latitude 49N is providing some sun protection shirts and hats for us so we can put their UPF 50+ rating to the test. Finally, we're continuing to work with Orange Canoe and will be testing their new bib dry pants and anorak jacket. We're so grateful to these wonderful brands for trusting us with their new and prototype products.

Luckily, Finn and Nathan have enough other camping gear to outfit a small nation, so we'll be using their gear for camping, cooking, and the rest. Once we've sorted out all the bits and pieces, we'll publish a gear list as reference for any of your upcoming river canoe adventures.

We're super stoked to get out on the river and look forward to bringing you all along for the journey. Check out our trip page for more information and to follow our expedition with the live tracker.

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