Big Salmon River

Well, we left the potatoes and carrots to fend for themselves, turned on the electric fence and set off for a canoe trip on the Big Salmon River. I pretty much could have worn my toasty outfit motorboat for the first week on the river as well because it was that cold:

So here's my confession: while I'm an experienced flatwater kayaker, whitewater strikes fear in my heart. Especially when sitting in a canoe instead of a kayak, and even more especially with our nervous ninny of a dog in the canoe. I have had no whitewater experience before this trip, and the most difficult section of the Big Salmon (a class II river) happens to be right at the beginning - a logjam that somebody had cut an opening through with a chainsaw, making for a keyhole chute flanked by pointy branches. We got stuck for interminable seconds on a submerged log, zigzagged our way past the sprinkling of more pointy branches (all the while shouting at the dog to lie down), and I was almost ready to quit. But after repeated assurances by my boyfriend that this was the worst part, I got back into the boat. And - he was right!

The rest was more like this:

The landscape was different every day, and so was the always translucent river, serving up riffles and waves over boulders, sandbanks, almost stagnant sleepy stretches and parts where you can see the water actually flows downhill.

As the weather warmed, out came the horseflies in numbers that not only drove our dog wild, but us as well. We ended up sweating many an afternoon away in the tent, out of reach of the flies.

A more pleasant sight was this lynx, stalking a couple of birds along shore:

Even though our dog was thoroughly fed up with canoeing by the time we reached the Yukon River and hanging half his body over the gunwale every 30 seconds, we managed to make it to Carmacks without getting wet.

We got home just in time to save the potatoes and carrots from shrivelling up and are now gearing up for winter: it's almost moose hunting time.
And, having landed a book deal with a large German publisher, I have a novel to write! 


  1. I like kayaking on flat water too. I've never tried a canoe so I can't say what that would feel like in rapids. We are away for a short trips as well, but not as exciting as yours. Ours is to the city to get some things done that needed doing in person. Have our friend John watering for us since my potatoes, carrots and all the rest of the garden wouldn't make it through more than three days without water. - Margy

    1. It always amazes me how much TLC garden plants need while weeds flourish without any water whatsoever :)
      Have a great fall season!

  2. LOVE your posts...all of them and your photographs are spectacular! Thank you for sharing your part of the beautiful north

    1. Thanks, Jo-Anne! I'm happy when my posts can transfer a bit of my love of the north to people :)

  3. Holy snap! Congrats on your book deal.

    Sounds and looks like a beautiful trip. Sympathies on the nervous ninny dog and the whitewater anxiety - I punched a small hole in my freight canoe this summer doing slightly reckless things in rocky rapids on the north fork of the Chandalar. Worth it, and it seems to have stopped leaking, so there's that, but it still puts your heart in your throat every time you slam into something in moving water. That spiky keyhole thing sounds horrifying.

    I had a good one packrafting on this year: I came around a bend and nearly t-boned a cow moose and her calf just coming out of the trees on a set of riffles. She was just as startled as I was, I think. I was dragging on the bottom and headed right for her, and she was furious, maybe forty feet downriver and dead ahead. I stuck a foot over the side to stop myself and then tried to hold perfectly still while she snorted and postured and rolled her eyes. Thank goodness that calf moved on because I thought I was toast. That may be the scariest thing that's ever happened to me.

    Usually the engine noises keep the critters at bay or I'm not moving fast enough to startle anything. This was the perfect storm of swift and silent travel and it nearly cost me a good trampling. Lesson learned, I think: learn to yodel before rounding riverbeds at speed in noiseless watercraft.

    1. You turned into a real arctic badass, Keely :) Moose can be so terrifying and I realized on this trip how at the mery of the current one is on a river in a paddle boat. I much prefer lakes and my kayak :)
      We've been ogling packrafts too, but couldn't bring ourselve to buy one. Yet!


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