A few weeks ago, we enjoyed a short break in our busy summer calendar to go on our own adventure. This time we didn’t go on a trek but on a canoe trip! We paddle 240km on the Big Salmon River, its headwater is at Quiet Lake and its known to be wild and great for wildlife viewing.
From Whitehorse to Quiet Lake along the South Canol Road
Organisation wise we couldn’t leave Whitehorse before the end of the day. Simon who was dropping us of 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!
A great Yukon wildlife experience with a grizzly bear!
Since we got to the Yukon we’ve seen many bears but last summer we got to experience our first real close encounter while backpacking in the Ogilvie mountains, close to Tombstone territorial park. We spotted the bear from far away, but it was right where we were supposed to go, so we took the time to observe it before deciding to let it know that we were here too. We started shouting at it and it took a couple tries to get it to stop foraging and get its attention. Our expectations were that it would turn around and run the other way… It stopped and starred right at us and started running towards us, jumping into the lake between us, swimming for a bit and then realizing that it was not the fastest way to get to us, got out of the water again. That’s when we realized that it was (fortunately) not that big, but our hearts were still pumping. We started getting our bear sprays and bear bangers ready because it was still coming straight at us. We were yelling and shouting as hard as we could but it didn’t seem to mind at all, that’s why we decided to give a try with a bear banger but that didn’t work either, it just sat down and looked back as it heard the echo in the valley behind it and then just kept on walking! We were just on a pass and the bear was where we wanted to go and that made us realized that maybe it was curious but that may be it was just trying to go where we came from. We decided to move away from the pass, to leave it enough room to get by and that’s what it did! He slowly walked by us probably 25 m away but didn’t show any signs of hostility. An experience that will stay with us for a long time!
Having the chance to witness a wolf and bear interaction, trying to get to a fresh sheep kill was one of the highlight of our last hiking trip to the Donjek glacier in the heart of Kluane National Park. Seeing a bear in the wild is not a common thing even in the Yukon and seeing a wolf is even rarer. So when you check out a wolf in the distance in the binoculars and then you realized that there is a bear around the next rock you get really excited! Seeing those two, fake charging at each other to win the carcass back and force was intense! In the end the bear left, followed by the wolf and it’s a second wolf that we didn’t even spotted at the time that got to the carcass! (we noticed the second wolf when watching the video again, that night in camp!)
Of course, when you get to the North in the middle of winter the one thing you can’t wait to see is the aurora borealis… This physical phenomenon due to solar eruption and their particles released to the atmosphere is really exceptionnal! It’s a magical and beautiful sight that you will never get tired of. Different colors, different speed and sometimes all around you! We never saw them before we got to Canada and we still love getting out when it's a cold crispy night chasing aroung these beautiful aurora borealis.
This memory is more Milena’s as she was a beginner skier when she got to the Yukon. From Whitehorse, it only takes a couple hours to be in the mountains, backcountry skiing. So, of course we had to give it a try, it’s one of the local winter activity! We had very experimenced friends that were willing to take us on our first backcountry skiing trip! Milena had tried skiing only once near Whitehorse... let’s say that she was new to it but had a rough idea of what to expect ! But their are so many slopes to choose from, we picked the easy ones! we rode our snowmachines up and let them "ghost ride" back down, on their own. The engine and the deep snow eventually stop them! The sun wasn't really with us that day but skiing in from of all these never-ending views made for a great day and great memories!