YUKON TESLIN RIVER ITINERARIES

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Wilderness Adventures in British Columbia & Yukon since 1988

Backgrounder
In 1896 the discovery of gold near Dawson City altered the history of the Yukon River forever. It became the main route for 30,000 gold rushers as they floated in an armada of over 6,000 boats to their dreams of adventure and wealth in the Klondike gold fields.yukon river

Over the next fifty years towns and villages sprang up along its shore and paddle wheelers carried people and supplies up and down its waters. When modern highways were introduced into the region the river became redundant. Homes and entire villages moved to locations closer to the roads and the Yukon River was allowed to return to its natural state.

Getting to Whitehorse, Yukon
Air Canada [www.aircanada.ca], WestJet [www.westjet.com] and Air North [www.flyairnorth.com] have scheduled flights to Whitehorse.  Please check with them or your travel agent for details.

Terrain
We will paddle through a landscape forged by volcanic and glacial activity. Old mountains have been worn down into rolling hills and rocky promontories.  Spruce covered forests, high sandy cliffs and basalt walls, gravel bars, small islands, and various tributaries dominate the paddle. Along the way, reminders of the Yukon’s glorious human and geological history dot the landscape.

Weather
Weather conditions in northern environments range widely between extremes. The only fact you can bet on with the weather is that it can change instantly. This means that although we may enjoy fine weather, we must also be prepared for changes. On any given day you may experience sunny, hot, dry weather that is interrupted by periods of rain or, on rare occasions – even snow. In general, the weather is moderate with average temperatures of 16oC (62F) in July, and 14oC (56F) in August. When packing, please be prepared for heat waves and cold spells.

Travel Distance
With a favourable current of between 6-15 kph, we will cover, on average, 50 km per day. There are no portages. On most days we begin paddling at 9am, take breaks, lazy lunches (weather permitting), and look to get into camp around 4-5 in the afternoon. To protect the environment, we practice No Trace Camping.

Level of Difficulty
The rivers have little serious water. most of which can be avoided. Beginners will soon feel comfortable on the water with expert instruction from our guides and experienced paddlers will find the trip to be satisfying on many levels. The trip is open to people of all abilities; however, it requires physical endurance to paddle.  Participants should prepare by executing an exercise program coupled with some walking or running or cycling. 

If at all possible, it is worthwhile to take a moving water canoe course from a local canoe club. At least, visit Youtube and watch paddling skills episodes to gain a fundamental understanding of technique and principles of paddling. Regardless, our guides are expert at teaching the skills you will require. 

Group Size
The maximum group size is 12, two of which are guides. Guides are licensed by the Yukon Government and carry Wilderness First Aid credentials. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities. People come by themselves or with family/friends. The youngest can be 13 (between 13-18 must be accompanied by adult family member) and the oldest in their 70s.

Accommodations
This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a top of the line tent. Typically, tenting is double occupancy and partners are arranged by gender. You are welcome to bring your own tent but you should contact our office to ascertain the suitability of your tent to this environment.  Bathroom facilities will range from outhouses to wilderness sanitation practices. While in Dawson City we will stay at a local hotel or B&B. This cost is included in the cost.

Meals
Canoeing affords us the opportunity to be far more creative with our menu. The food we bring is plentiful, nutritious, and primarily vegetarian (because this keeps better than meat). You can expect meals to be varied and delicious: burritos, rice, pasta, and vegetable stir-fry for dinner; bagels and sandwiches for lunch; pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, fruit, and granola for breakfast. Beverages include herbal and regular tea, coffee, hot chocolate, cider. We can handle most dietary restrictions or preferences.

yr4

Equipment and Clothing
We will supply you with a list of outdoor clothing and articles you will need. We supply large and small dry bags to store personal gear during the trip. We also take care of all the group equipment including tents, kitchen and weather cover.  All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag/pad. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. We do rent packs, sleeping bags/pads for a nominal charge (cleaning).

We use 17’ Clipper expedition canoes for our expeditions. They are light and easy to handle. Molded and low positioned seats are ideal for comfort and paddling.

Fishing
The river is abundant with Arctic Grayling. There is salmon and other species. A fishing license is required.

Mosquitoes
Mosquito populations vary according to temperature, rainfall, and wind. Be prepared with mosquito repellent and a head net if mosquitoes annoy you.

ITINERARY TESLIN RIVER – JOHNSON’S CROSSING to CARMACKS
  • Food: All meals while on the river, including snacks and beverages.yr-map2
  • Arrival in Departure City: You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
  • Distance Paddled: 375 km – 235 mi

It is not practical to give a day by day itinerary for the river as each group produces its own pace. We have highlighted significant points along our paddle.

Days 1-6 / Johnsons Crossing — Hootalinqua
Put-in at Johnsons Crossing. The river, in its initial stage, is wide and the current slow. At 100 Mile Creek [km 161] the river narrows and the current increases.

100 Mile Creek: So named for its distance from Hootalinqua. It is believed that it was a supply base for the isolated community of Livingstone, site of the turn of century Livingstone Goldfields.Tributary rivers result in more gravel bars and islands appearing. The river valley widens and large clay banks with distinctive eroded features called hoodoos become more frequent.

Mason’s Landing: Head of navigation for sternwheelers from Whitehorse that were carrying supplies for the community of Livingstone Creek.

Hootalinqua: Teslin meets the Yukon River. Due to its important position at the junction of the main stampede route to the Klondike, the NWMP built a post here in 1898. Although the permanent population was never more than about a dozen, a telegraph station was built in 1900, and Taylor & Drury had a store in 1901-1902.

yr10Days 7 – 9 / Hootalinqua → Little Salmon
As the river widens out at Hootalinqua, it takes on a completely different character – calmer. At Shipyard Island we will stop to see the remains of the 130-foot Evelyn. She supplied the trading posts along the tributaries of the lower Yukon River until 1913.

At the confluence of the Yukon and Big Salmon rivers is Big Salmon Village. It is the site of an ancient fishing village. During the gold rush a NWMP post, telegraph station, riverboat stop, and trading post was located here.

Just down river from Big Salmon are two small gold dredges which were used in the 1940s.

Our paddle will continue to the confluence of Little Salmon and Yukon rivers. Little Salmon village is believed to be the oldest permanent Indian settlement on the upper Yukon. There is an unique cemetery here which we will stop to visit. Those ending their journey here will be transported back to Whitehorse and should arrive in the late afternoon or early evening.

ITINERARY YUKON RIVER – CARMACKS to DAWSON CITY
  • Food: All meals while on the river, including snacks and beverages.yr-map2
  • Arrival in Departure City: You should be here at least one day before Day 1.
  • Distance Paddled: 370 km – 230 mi

It is not practical to give a day by day itinerary for the river as each group produces its own pace. We have highlighted significant points along our paddle.

Day 1
Leave Whitehorse and drive to our put-in near Carmacks. First day paddle to Fort Selkirk.The Hudson’s Bay Company established it in 1848. Only accessible by water, Fort Selkirk includes a campsite with well water, tent sites, kitchen shelter with cook stove, bear-proof garbage containers, and a warming cabin.

Day 2
We plan to spend a second day at Fort Selkirk. The area has some hiking trails and plenty of history to explore. It will also give tired first day muscles a little time to adjust.

Fort Selkirk has long been a gathering place for First Nation peoples. Stone tools discovered near this site have been dated to 10,000 years old. In 1848, John Campbell descended the Pelly River to establish a Hudson Bay Company trading post at the junction of the Yukon and Pelly River. With the opening of the Klondike Highway, and the subsequent demise of riverboat traffic, Fort Selkirk was abandoned in the 1950. Today the Canadian Heritage Branch has restored the settlement with the Taylor & Drury store, Mounted Police building, Protestant and Catholic Churches, and schoolhouse among the more than 30 buildings that are open to the public.

dscn1175Days 3 – 7
Once past Fort Selkirk, the surrounding country is at least as impressive as ever. Certainly there is no shortage of historic sites along the banks.

The White River (120 km from Dawson) sees a dramatic difference in the colour (and the sound) of the Yukon River. The colour is the result of a combination of glacial silt, and ash from a volcanic eruption about 1,250 years ago.

As we get closer to Dawson, a number of old woodcamps and homesteads have been taken over by new owners and new cabins have been built to replace the old ones. The relatively fertile islands were particularly popular spots for combined wood-cutting/farming operations. Little or nothing remains at most of these sites. Some have been lost to river erosion, or were moved to new locations when the original site was no longer viable.

The anticipation heightens with each bend in the river as we near Dawson City. This same thrill and anticipation must have been present 100_5232with the Klondike gold rushers after their long journey. Finally the Dome, Dawson’s well-known landmark, can be seen in the distance. One more bend and we have arrived.

Days 8 – 9 / Dawson City
We should arrive in Dawson City in the late morning/early afternoon. We will stay at a Dawson City hotel. We will take a short tour of the town on Day 8. On Day 9 we will drive to the original goldfields and the lookout [Dome]. There still will be plenty of time set aside for you to select an itinerary that meets your interests in Dawson.

Day 10
Leave Dawson after breakfast on the last day and return to Whitehorse, arriving late afternoon. Along the way we will stop at Braeburn Lodge, a.k.a. Cinnamon Bun Airstrip, for the largest, and best, cinnamon bun around.

What is included in the Cost
  • Canoe, paddles, PFDs [life jacket]
  • Special large & small dry bag for clothing and equipment
  • Transportation to put-ins and take-outs
  • Camping fees and equipment
  • Two person tents
  • Our guides do meal preparation
  • All food while camping including snacks/beverages
  • Major first aid supplies
  • Satellite phone
  • Two-night accommodation in Dawson (Carmacks-Dawson City only)
  • Tour to the Dome (hill overlooking Dawson), original goldfields (Carmacks-Dawson City only) and return by van to Whitehorse from Dawson City
What is excluded in the Cost
  • Transportation to Whitehorse
  • Airport or other transfers
  • Any Accommodation in Whitehorse (Special rate available)
  • Admissions to museums or tours
  • Food other than included in the itinerary
  • Gratuities

“First and foremost I have to say a massive Thank You to the team for providing an absolutely fantastic trip down the Teslin/Yukon Rivers, which was safe, fun, entertaining and educational. Mark and Laura made their job look easy, which I think (and they proved over & over again) means that they are extremely good at what they do, always smiling, supportive and patient, regardless of how many times they have explained the same thing, and, what a pair of cooks, the food was great.
Mick Willingale, UK

“The canoeing trip on the Yukon River was definitely a highlight of my vacation in Canada and I feel lucky that I could share the experience with such a wonderful group of people. Thanks again for making the canoeing trip such a success!”
Pascale LeManquet, Belgium

“The two trips I did with Sea to Sky [Chilkoot Trail and Yukon River] were both absolutely excellent in every way, and I am grateful to you and your leaders for all you did to make them such a positive experience.
Jane Vincent-Havelka, London, Ontario