Zunoquad 3“Canoeing the Teslin and Yukon Rivers (3)

Day 2

Andy got the fire going before yelling “Rise and shine” at the crack of dawn.  Murray’s clarion call of “Where’s the f…ing coffee,” preceded pouring the brew which he lovingly percolated to supplement Alan’s multigrain porridge.  Grunts and groans issued from several quarters, a result of stiff joints unaccustomed to sleeping on the ground or paddling and lifting. John was coming down with the flu, but insisted he’d tough it out. Murray recited the poem he had crafted about yesterday’s events, recalling forgotten incidents and giving the whole a memorable shape. Banter and storytelling delayed departure till 9:00 AM. The red sky at morning served as warning.


On the river, the landscape grew more varied, at times opening to vistas of distant mountains pocketed with snow and carpeted with scarlet shrubs, at others unfolding high “cutbanks” of sediment carved by its meandering course into alluvial residues of sand and gravel left by receding glaciers. Distinguishing one from another and discovering the appropriate lunchstop and overnight campsite were officially delegated to the day’s navigator who carried the relevant pages of the guidebook in a ziplock bag.  But this thankless office lacked authority and its holder was subject to complaint and disobedience throughout the trip.

Within a couple of hours the temperature dropped close to freezing and it started to rain. Drybags were emptied of layers of waterproofing and insulation.  There was no choice but to paddle hard without pause–both to meet our distance quota and to keep warm–fueled by handfuls from the huge bags of gorp distributed by our food providers. Finally at 1:45, John allowed us to pull over at a small campsite for a lunchbreak. Gobbling rations of salami, cheese and cracker, men shivered around our small fire, and when it sputtered out in the increasing rain retreated under a tree.


Back on the river, the rain lightened but we resigned ourselves to spending the rest of the day in wet clothes.  It was dark by the time we found the night’s campsite, but trolling from his canoe John had caught three arctic grayling trout to contribute to Allan’s piquant dish of riso pasta and curried canned chicken.  Inspired by the cuisine, Ian our leader-elect took on the title of “Jobwaddhi” and offered deep spiritual counsel to his devotees in the accents of a maharishi, occasionally slipping into Scottish brogue.  The dialogue was enriched in dialect mastered by several members of the group who had spent time in India or were in fact students of gurus.  Substantial inroads into the rum ration and a sense of challenge overcome ended the tough day with satisfaction.

Day 3

To view a complete set of photos for this trip go here.
To view a slideshow of these photos go here.

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