By , January 30, 2011 5:29 pm

“You’re from Whitehorse, cool. What’s there to do in Whitehorse anyways?” I asked the nameless girl from, of all places, Whitehorse.  I’ve chosen to protect her identity and not use her real name for two reasons.  First, I don’t have the foggiest idea on how to contact her to ask permission.  And perhaps even more importantly, I can’t remember her name for the life of me.

Continuing with the story…

“Not that much,” she replied, “but I’ve always wanted to canoe from Whitehorse to Dawson City for the Dawson City Music Festival.  The music festival is about the biggest thing that happens up there.  It takes about two weeks to make the trip, and the river is beautiful.”

From that brief conversation in 2008 with nameless girl from Whitehorse, I too wanted to canoe the Yukon River and experience the Dawson City Music Festival.

There were a few steps along the way before I eventually accomplished my goal in the summer of 2010.

Vacation Time

To do the trip, I needed time off from work.  The problem is, I was working, am working, soon will not be working for a construction company.  Summers are busy, and it’s somewhat difficult to take holidays.  I wanted 3 weeks vacation in July 2009.  What I got was 1 week.  As you can imagine, it’s near impossible to plan a 2 week canoe trip with 1 week of holidays.  We went to Yellowstone that year.

Fortunately, the stars aligned in 2010.  The way my projects were fitting together, I had an opening for a full month of holidays right when I needed them.  Hurray!

Convincing Ashley

Although I had known for a little over a year that I wanted to canoe down the Yukon River, Ashley was not so convinced.  She brought up a couple of good points.  The big ones were:

  • We’ve never been in a canoe before
  • We don’t have any real experience camping outdoors in bear country, let alone for 2 weeks

Fair enough.

Finding Some Travel Mates

I thought that I could put Ashley’s fears at ease if I could just find someone who had all the knowledge and experience that we were lacking and convince them to go with us.  So I set straight out asking everyone I knew with a bit of canoeing experience and/or bear country experience to join in the fun. One by one they all had to decline.  It seems I’m not the only one that has a hard time getting summer vacation time, and those that could had already made plans.

Realizing full well that I would have to utilize the internet, I posted an add on the MEC Trip Partners.  Within a few days I had a response.  After a brief phone conversation, I had a good vibe and put a deposit down on two canoes rentals.

The Deceit

Apparently, as I discovered about a week into our trip, my good vibe was not completely mutual.  Keep in mind that I did not maliciously set out to lie and deceive, it just happened to work out that way.

In reality, after our phone conversation, our trip partners who we jointly call Jananna were still humming and hawing over weather they wanted to go or not.  When I sent the email explaining that I had put a deposit on the canoe rentals, it was just enough to make them feel obligated to commit.

Meanwhile, I was busy telling Ashley that I had found two experienced canoeists to join us on the trip.  I probably threw in a few extra phrases like, “they sound like a couple of good looking girls” and “you don’t have to come if you don’t want to, I’ll only be alone in the woods for a couple of weeks”.  Needless to say, Ashley agreed to join the crew.

Again, I didn’t realize how I was playing everyone.  I was so blinded by excitement that I thought everyone was as gun ho as I was about the trip.

Getting In Shape

Now it was time to burn off some winter fat, and learn how to canoe.  Ashley and I both spent a fair amount of time in the gym over the next two months.  We also enrolled in a couple of canoeing classes to get the basic skills down.  It turns out that the classes were actually supervisor classes that certify you to take a group of school children on canoe trips.  It was generally expected that we already knew how to canoe, or had at least been in one before the first class.

The first class was a bit rough, and I’ll admit even I felt like maybe I was in a bit over my head.  Fortunately, our instructor was fantastic.  Eventually we both got the basic technique down, and were really having a lot of fun by the end.

That’s enough for part 1, part 2 will have some information about the actual trip… and photos.

4 Responses to “Yukon River 2010 – Part 1”

  1. Skott and Shawna says:

    Alone in the woods with good looking ladies for 14 days? I can’t believe Ashley didn’t just let you go on your own…

  2. Kate says:

    I am looking to do this same trip this summer. Do you happen to know any way to get our canoe/gear/us back to Whitehorse after landing in Dawson City? We’ve asked around, and found some answers, but the we’re trying to do it on a budget, and $950 isn’t sounding too great at the moments.
    Thanks! Kate

    • Mike Lenzen says:

      You can probably talk nicely to the people at They may be able to take you canoe back for you, or know who can. There will be a charge, but it’ll probably be less than a rental.

      As for your gear, there will be a tonne of people headed back to whitehorse after the concert. You will have no trouble meeting someone at the festival and arranging a ride back. We pre-booked plane tickets, but had a half dozen offers of rides for us and our gear before the festival was over. Northerners are very friendly.

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