Timewise we couldn’t leave Whitehorse before the end of the day. Simon picked us up at around 5pm but driving to Quiet Lake was not the only plan for the rest of the day. Indeed, Simon was taking us because we wanted to explore the South Canol Road for a project we are working on together.
After driving for three hours and exploring for three hours we got to the shore of Quiet Lake, almost 12:30am and we still planning on crossing the lake tonight. 8km to get to the camp at the end of the lake to be ready to start our canoe trip the next day bright and early (?)!
Of course, Simon is really motivated as he just bought a new electric motor, but on our side, we have to be ready for a 2-hour paddle across the lake in the middle of the night. The good news is that the lake is really calm, so it will be easy to cross and we’re in the land of the midnight sun, so the lights are amazing at that time of the night!
We finally got to our campsite at around 3 am, we found a flat spot in the dim light and set up camp. Ready to go to sleep and dream about our soon to be starting canoe trip!
Of course, getting in bed at 3am we didn’t leave the camp before noon the next day. But who cares days are long in the Yukon and we don’t have much paddling for today!
After getting ready, we leave our camp leaving Simon behind ho will be fishing the whole day before getting back to Whitehorse. Right from the start we are surprised by the size of the river, it’s really small and way easier to look for wildlife than when paddling the Yukon River!
Let’s face it the weather is not that great, but we are so excited to start our little adventure that we don’t care that much. The only thing we’re hoping is that the lakes are easy to cross… Sandy lake is small, and we cross it without problem, Big Salmon lake is a bit bigger and rain is all over us, wind is blowing lucky us quite in the right direction! After passing a tip we end up with the wind on the side, the waves are big, and the water is getting in! That’s when we decide to stop for a lunch on the shore, finding on old tree to protect us for the rain and the wind before crossing the end of the lake.
After lunch, the weather is getting better and we can finally cross the end of the lake and get to the Big Salmon. It’s not easy to find the start of the river it is small and the high grass around it makes it hard to see it. But we finally found it!
We now have 6 days to get to Little Salmon Village on the shore of the Yukon River. Rapids, wildlife watching, beautiful camping spot and good food are part of the plans!
Our first day on the river is mostly spent avoiding log jams and sweepers which are numerous at the start of the river. It has been a while since we used our canoe skills and it’s quite fun to be reusing them on such a sweet little river! We stopped twice along the way to check out our way through dead trees and lucky us we didn’t have any portage to do! With all the stuff we took with us it would have been a lot of work to take everything out and put everything back in!
We get lucky with wildlife as well. The first moose we see is right in the middle of the river (which is 20m wide at that point), as soon as he sees us he freezes and watches us going down the river which carries us right his way… Great observation until he realizes that we’re getting closes and closer and run away in the forest when we get 20m away from him. This first young male will be the first of eight moose that we will be seeing along the river.
Of course, when you leave on river trip knowing that is supposed to be great for wildlife your expectations are high, but we were not disappointed! On top of the moose, we also saw four lynxes, a black bear, stone sheep, beavers and a bunch of ducks often with their ducklings!
After we got out of the messy upper part of the river, the river become a mix of fast water crossing pebbles banks, offering great views on the mountains around and slower parts with large meanders which take us through the boreal forest with beautiful undergrowth.
Every night we pick our perfect camp spot, with river view of course, and cook gourmet meals, as usual! Even without customers we like to treat ourselves!
Overall, this paddling trip was a great experience and a Yukon adventure as we enjoy them, beautiful and simple!