It's the great, big, broad land 'way up yonder,
It's the forests where silence has lease;
It's the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
It's the stillness that fills me with peace.
Robert W. Service The Spell of the Yukon 1907

early morning
Early Morning on the Teslin River.

Up North Adventures UpNorth Adventures. books Good books for the Teslin. Two big thumbs up to all the staff at Up North Adventures in Whitehorse. They were really friendly yet very professional, great to get along with and quite accommodating with my request for a solo canoe and transportation changes. They're the best. I've used their services before, will use them again and highly recommend them to anyone heading up that way.

The Teslin River, Johnston's Crossing to Carmacks
This booklet by Mike and Gillian Rourke is a must-have. Their hand-drawn maps are the only decent maps of the river as they show physical features, campsites, mileage and even the occasion lat/long reference. I would have been lost - physically and metaphorically - without correlating 1:50,000 topo maps to this book.
The Teslin River, Johnston's Crossing to Hootalinqua
Gus Karpes booklet is a great reference on the history of the places along the Teslin River and the personal stories of the pioneers who lived and worked there. When walking around the various river sites, reading the relevant sections of the booklet provides a much more intimate assocation with the site - history comes alive.

Day One August 02, 2013

morning light A beautiful day for canoeing. the river Banks cut from the swift river current. After a short two hour drive from Whitehorse to Johnston's Crossing, it took the better part of an hour to get my gear sorted and the solo canoe properly packed. I eventually started paddling around noon. The current was rather slack for the first while so I finally made camp at Dave Creek five hours and thirty-three kilometres down-stream.The weather was sunny and the scenery stunning. A great beginning to a great trip. The water was so clear that on the odd gravel bar I thought that I might bottom out. I used my paddle to check the depth and, to my surprise, I couldn't touch bottom with an almost meter and a half long paddle. With the water being so clear, it's a good thing I didn't try to step out to walk on the gravel bar! Lots of bald eagles today - omens for a great trip.

Day Two August 03, 2013

bald eagleOne of many bald eagles on this river sand swallow nestsSand swallow colonies were everywhere. On the water by 07:00 this morning, a bit late for me but I'm still in shake-down mode - old muscles had nothing to do with it! I stopped at Hundred Mile in an attempt to find some of the long forgotten log buildings. I didn't find them but a bald eagle decided to stop and say hello. What a beautiful majestic looking bird! The river is very winding, probably tripling the distance. Erosion turned most of the hard corners into cut banks. Sand swallow colonies made their burrowing nests into many of them. More eagles showing me the way today.

cutbankA larger cut bank. volcano ashlineThe White River ash line. Some of the larger cut banks were dumping gravel and the odd tree into the water so steering clear of them was a good idea. Twelve-hundred years ago, Mount Churchill, a stratovolcano, blanketed 340,000 km2 of White River ash over Alaska, the Yukon and the N.W.T. The ash line from this eruption is still evident along many of the river banks. At one spot, the layer was over sixty centimeters deep when I measured it.

The book lists today's campsite as "good" which it was. The camp doesn't have a name but it's on river right a few kilometres above Little River. Fifty-two kilometres of great scenery today — my neck is getting sore from looking around so much.

Day Three August 04, 2013

Up and about quite early and as usual, just coffee and granola for breakfast. I'm enjoying getting up just after sunrise, doing my stretches, and being on the water between 06:00 and 07:00.

log homeThe log home at Boswell. cabin sod roofRemnants of the sod roof. The morning started with an easy two hour and twenty kilometre paddle to the old Baker homestead at Boswell Creek. It's a good place to stop, stretch the legs and enjoy the history. I love the way the bunk-beds are, for at least a while, holding up part of the old sod roof. Most log cabins used poles for the roof covered with tar paper and then simply nearby sod, including grass, laid on top of it all. Note the saddle-hitch notches for joining the logs. These notches were quick to cut and easy for the novice to make.

engineThe old engine used to run the sluice box. cabinRemnants of a cabin. Another six hours and sixty kilometres later, I made camp at O'Brien's Bar which is a great high-water campsite with some good history to enjoy. Lots of abandoned gold mining machinery and even a few log cabins rotting away. Notice the trees now growing in the middle of, what was, a cabin.

Day Four August 05, 2013

mooseA cow moose having breakfast. turbulent waterTurbulent water On the water by 06:00 this morning and what a beautiful morning to paddle in. The water for most of the trip was quite turbulent - funny water. My guess is that the speed of the current over a very rocky river bed are causing all of this bubbling and turmoil. Saw a wolf this morning but due to river current speed, I did not have a chance to photograph.
log officeThe main office. cabinNote the sapling growing out of the sod roof of the cabin. Another great stop (for lunch in my case) and highwater campsite is Mason's Landing. Mason's was the furthest upstream that the larger paddle wheelers could travel and so became a major hub for unloading gear for the Livingstone gold fields and homesteaders upstream.
signThe Hootalinqua Community. cabinA cabin and tool shop. After a nice eight hours and eighty kilometres of great paddling and great scenery, I arrived at Hootalinqua where the Teslin flows into the Yukon River. (One-hundred-ninety kilometres done, another two days and one-hundred-sixty kilometres to go.) Hootalinqua was an N.W.M.P detatchment, a telegraph station and a paddle-wheeler repair depot.
rainbowsDouble rainbows after a quick storm. cabinWhat was Captain Hoggan's family home. Captain John Hoggan and his family lived in this home from 1900 until 1916. Capt. Hoggan looked after Hootalinqua in the winter and captained a stern wheeler in the summer.

Shipyard Island

steamwheelerThe steamwheeler Evelyn/Norcon. mapShipyard map. Shipyard Island, slightly downstream from Hootalinqua was a bustling repair depot for several years. The 40 metre long stern-wheeler, Evelyn/Norcon, due to its super shallow draft of only 1.28 metres, was used in the spring when the river was low and quite dangerous. In 1922 she was hauled up, put on ways, stripped for parts and used as the main repair shop.

The horse-drawn capstans and slipways were a real treat to see as was the steaming box. This box was used to steam wood so that it could be bent into shapes that would normally cause wood to break.

capstan steambox slipway
One of four capstans. A very large steambox used to bend wood. One of five slipways

Day Five August 06, 2013

fogMorning fog - time to be alert. fogSun's up and starting to burn off the fog. Into the morning fog at about 06:15. Definitely time to keep alert and wonder where the river banks and islands are. A truly enchanting morning of paddling. The fish were jumping everywhere, and, of course, my gear is packed away in the back bag.

bull mooseA bull moose. fireweedAn old forest fire with fireweed regrowth. The fog slowly cleared just in time to see a large bull moose that wasn't anxious for me to get close. After that it was many miles of burned forest. It takes several generations for the forest to regenerate. Until then pink-red fireweed is everywhere. Hinterland fires are usually caused by lightning and left to burn out by themselves.

abandoned villageThe old village of Big Salmon. cemetaryLong abandoned Spirit Houses. The First Nations village of Big Salmon was wiped out during the great influenza epidemic of 1918. There are no decendants to look after the Spirit Houses in the adjacent cemetary. Spirit Houses are built over graves so that the spirits of the deceased have a home.
gold dredgeThe abandoned Cyr-Gordon gold dredge. dredgeMore of the abandoned Cyr-Gordon gold dredge. During three weeks of actual dredging, this environmentally destructive dredge took about $2,300.00 in gold when, in 1940, gold was $32.00 an ounce. As it had cost its two owners over $10,00.00 to build, this dredge was abandoned, never to be used again.

Erickson's Woodyard

log officeErickson Woodyard Office. small cabinA little cabin for two workers. I pulled into Erickson's Woodyard relatively early and spent the afternoon exploring and taking photos. The paddle wheelers that plied the Yukon needed tremdous amounts of wood to get upstream against the six to ten kilometres per hour current. Woodyards were stationed roughly 16 kilometres apart. The wood, usually one thousand cubic meters, was cut and sleded down to the woodyard during the winter. As can be seen in the right-hand photo, worker accommodations were very basic. In the winter, they were warmed with make-shift stoves.

stove sled pen
A well-used cooking stove. Remnants of a logging sled. An animal pen of some sort.

Day Six August 07, 2013

forest fireRemains of a forest fire. my canoeI'm going to miss this canoe. She performed very well for me. I wonder how many years it will take for that burned area to regenerate. Now that all of the soil has been washed away, I wonder if the trees can ever take root again. I don't have a photo of the Coal Mine Campsite as it's around a sharp corner on river right. I, of course, was on river left when rounding said corner. What a ignominious finish to my trip – paddling like hell against a fast current trying to get across to the take-out before being swept downstream to Carmacks!
The campsite has hot water showers for only 3 loonies and even a hamburger stand. The coffee is quite good when compared to my camp coffee. I'm glad this trip is over. I have two more trips this month including the Nesutlin.

Colour-coded Route and Campsites

Navigation and zoom in/zoom out tools are on the top left of the map
Using a Google Aerial Map