We were very excited to finally be on the river in our rafts. It was a beautiful day with the colourful Backbone Mountains on our right, and the Bonnet Plume Range on our left. In between, the Snake River of the Yukon ran broad and blue.
It was not long before we began to see Dall Sheep. First there were several large rams resting on a black rocky slope, and then a number of groups that were walking purposefully on high mountain trails. They were an amazing sight.
We had lunch on a gravel bar, and here, as we were gathering firewood for the evening, we came upon a sad reminder that we were indeed in the wilds. The found the remains of an unfortunate lamb that had likely been carried off by eagles and largely eaten.
Even though it was July, we encountered a large bank of ice and snow on the riverbank in one location. Then it was time to set up camp on the shore. As we began to set up camp, we experienced unexpected adversity, but more about that in my next post!
The days this far north are very long. After we reached the campsite with our canoes and had dinner, there was still time for a late evening hike. We had not gone far before we came across a very interesting purple flower. It was the hairy butterwort (Pinguicula villosa). Like its larger relative, the common butterwort, it is carnivorous. It leaves are sticky and secrete enzymes which digest any insect or pollen that become trapped on their surface. With the millions of mosquitoes in the Yukon, this plant is not likely to go hungry. It is often found on relatively dry hummocks in muskegs.
It was 11 PM when we got back into camp, but it was still broad daylight, and remained so even after we finally got into our sleeping bags.
Our rafts could not go through the upper Snake River Canyon, so the rafts were taken to a starting point below the canyon. We had a choice of taking a helicopter to join the rafts, or to portage on foot from Duo Lake to the Snake River above the canyon. If we portaged, we would then take canoes through the upper canyon to join the other rafters.
My grandson and I chose the portage, while my wife and granddaughter chose the helicopter.
Max and I joined the guides and another couple and walked a few kilometres to the Snake where the canoes were. Then, an exhilarating canoe trip along the upper Snake and its canyon brought us to the rest of our group.
Part of the portage is shown in the picture below, along with three of the portagers.
In 2021, we rafted the Snake River in the northern Yukon. It was a tremendous trip. I am currently working to publish that trip as well. If you are interested in the Snake, watch this blog for updates.
It was a hard river to get to, especially with Covid-19 still active. We flew from Calgary to Whitehorse, and were whisked away by van to the Fox Bay Resort on Historic Lac Laberge. The next day we were bussed up to Mayo, all the while being kept away from the local communities we passed through. Then we flew by float plane to Duo Lakes, which is near the Snake River.
We were close, but still not there. Next time I will tell you how we got from Duo Lake to the Snake itself. We had a choice of an ultra modern form of transportation, or a much older more historical form.
Above: Duo Lake in the Yukon, very close to the Snake River
The world has many wild wilderness areas, and it is important that we preserve as many of these as possible. Why?
I have described my first three rafting trips in the book Rafting the Great Northern Rivers: The Nahanni, Firth, and Tatshenshini.