Yukon River 🛶 🇨🇦 🇺🇸: Across Lake Laberge to Carmacks

🛶 this section: 300km | 🛶 total: 470km

This section on the Yukon river offered spectacular campsites especialy on lake Laberge though we saw a lot less wildlife than on the upper lakes (Yukon River 🛶 🇨🇦 🇺🇸: Battling across the lakes) and no luck witth fishing either. All very enjoyable especially on sections where the river flows faster and does a lot of the work for you (that is, until winds blow in your face interrupting your rest). Skills gained: Bakling Black Bread.

Map showing the Whitehorse-Dawson run

Whitehorse – Lake Laberge – Carmacks

Lake Labarge: Last lake on the tour

We sorted all the things in Whitehorse that were needed, most importantly supplies and transport for Harry´s bike to Dawson. After about 40km of fast flowing river we reached Lake Laberge in the afternoon after leaving Whitehorse with all our newly acquired food & drinks (including free food & drinks from a Swiss couple at the end of their journey). To our suprise, the canoe took the extra load very well and almost didn´t fel different than without its load. It was a sunny and hot day. We enjoyed the fast current of close to 10kmh and covered distance faster than at any point before. It felt good and so we enjoyed a few beers on the way.

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Once on the lake – a treacherous almost 60km part of the journey begins where winds come and go, change direction and can cause 2m high waves in seconds (stay on the right side of the lake, NEVER cross in the middle even on calm days). I later learned that two Dutch paddlers wewre the last to fal victim to the lake. We were lucky and had mostly calm water until the very end where a storm moved in and we set up camp in a heartbeat. Generally, the weather can change very quickly here. Best be prepared to stop. We took two days to cross the lake.

Notable events: We enjoyed an amazing, super-red sunset and baked the first bread. The latter turnerd out black and the yeast didnt work … so flat, very dark bread about 90% baked through was the ultimate outcome. The positive news are twofold – first Hary´s effort with the potatoes was equally bad and secondly we tried the bread again later on and it worked! Not all is lost …

Heading to Carmacks

Once we left the Lake, our pace quickened again and we made it to Carmacks in 2.5 days including two days of 85km. Scenery remained awesome. On the way, we stopped at a First Nation village (Little Salmon), which surprised with an ancient grave yard in poor condition and a (recent) huge poster of the stock market seemling part of a village foundation investment planning meeting.

We also got a taste of the nasty side of the Yukon – thunder and lightning en masse. Initially it was quite scenic, but once the lightnings drew closer we pulled out of the water. Safety first.

We arrived in Carmacks at the same time as another German team that had passed us in the morning. More on that later.

Carmacks: Little Saxony for a night

The camp ground is about 2km upriver from Carmacks village (named after one of the thre guys involved in finding the first Yukon gold in 1896) and offers great campsites and hot showers. What a feeling! After a quick lunch that included a presentation by management to a group of mainly elderly travellers, we headed to town.

As so often in the countryside, hitchhiking is a really good option and Harry managed to flag down the first car that drove past us. The driver was a older man of the First Nations and quizzed us as to where we came from and where we are headed. He dropped us of at the general village store. Thank you very much!

We didn´t need that much. Few vegetables (onion, carrots), fruit (banana, apple), some pasta, meat and snacks. We also resupplied drinks (wine, beer). After dinner in one of the restaurants, we walked home. Ahh … when shopping, dont leave through the basement door with the big label “ALARM will SOUND if you open the door” …. because an ALARM WILL SOUND.

On the way back we werent as lucky and covered most of the distance on foot until the camp owner picked us up. He pointed out that we could have bought beer at his camp site… well, CAD6.25 for a 35ml can wasn’t all that appealing.

Back at the campsite we spent the evening emptying our new supplies with the help of three fellow saxons (well, not originally but they grew up or still live in Leipzig) – a mum with her two sons. They are paddling the Teslin river and then on the Yukon to Dawson. It was her 60th birthday present and adds to a fine record of 14 years paddling all sorts of places including the Elbe several times.

It turned into a long night as each of us shared interesting stories. Be it Michael´s time in Mexico, Jochen´s time in vietnam or her paddling trips. Naturally we shared info on the remaining Yukon paddle, catching fish etc. Everyone was rather eager to share stories. Next morning was slow for all of us (bar mum).

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Jochen is the gazelle like figure in the background

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