Whitehorse May 2015
Once I landed in Whitehorse, it was time to purchase supplies, kayaks and talk to the locals. No one knows the river better than the locals and what I need to be afraid of. My biggest nightmare is Grizly bears and the strong underwater currents that can pull me down in a cold river.
It was the end of May and the ice has just disappeared but the river flowed quickly and was quite wild with all the melting water from the Whitehorse Glacier. When I first stand by the river I get a little worried. The river rumbles and flows fast.
How fast is the Yukon River? Are there any rapids I should worry about?
The Yukon is Class 1 most of the way. Current varies from 10-12 km/h near Whitehorse and in the 30-mile section to 10-11 km/h (6-7 mph) after major tributaries like the Teslin, Big Salmon, Pelly and White rivers join up.
There are two rapids about 4 hours downriver from Carmacks that require spray skirts to stay on. The first, Five Finger Rapids, is normally Class 2, and can approach Class 3 when the river is high; at low flows it can be no more than a big riffle. It must be run in the FAR RIGHT CHANNEL, and takes just a few seconds. "MIDDLE OR LEFT CHANNELS – VERY DANGEROUS".
After running the right rapid, i must be cautious, as the most unpredictable waves are usually where water from the three fingers meets beyond the rapid. The second set of rapids, Rink Rapids, is about a half hour downriver and can be easily avoided by staying river right.
What should I wear? How do I keep from getting hypothermic?
Anser! “Under the Midnight Sun” it gets cool enough at night and in the early morning hours until sunrise, or if it’s rainy and windy, it´s easy to catch hypothermia if i am not prepared.
What about mosquitoes, bears and other possible Yukon wildlife encounters?
On the river mozzies won’t bother me. I may encounter them if I stop beside the river for any purpose.
Bears are a different matter. I will travel in bear and moose country.Hopefully I will see many – and none too close.
I must not stopp near streams; if so, i must call out to give animals proper warning that a human presence is near. Most bears and moose will
dart back into the woods at my site or sound. I must no´t not paddle close to either on shore unless I foolishly desire an encounter.
Bear spray is certainly an option to take with me. If I feel a need to stop and rest, or visit the woods for other needs, I must carry it with me.
My thoughts are many and all tips circulate in my head. Would it go as planned or ....?