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Day 257-259 - June 15-17

Dawson City, Yukon

It took me just three days to paddle down the Teslin and join the Yukon at Hootalinqa. I spent 20 hours on the water one day, it was so nice. Arrivedat Carmacks at about 6:30 pm on Sunday the 11th and stopped at Coal Mine Campground. The next day I biked into town to make a phone call to let Jeff Brady know I was there and he pulls up at the gas pump. We decided to stay the night and head out early the next morning.

Checked emails at the Rec Centre and Jeff told me that AP&T was thinking about letting me use one of their satellite phones. I called Stan and Dave at AP&T and they said the phone had already arrived and they were getting it ready to go to Whitehorse to be relayed up later in the week via Harry Kern to Dawson. OWWWWWW!

I also got a GPS from Trevor at Sport Yukon! Wow man, great stuff!!!! Dale and Samantha at the campground were great hosts and they saw us off at about 9:35 a.m. on Tuesday the 13th. It was a little cooler than the day before, but still in the 80s. We bobbed through Five Finger Rapids fine. As promised I got Brady soaked but it was so warm he didn't mind it at all. We stopped for lunch at Yukon Crossing and were welcomed by an otter. Got my first taste of Brady's famous Potato Goop, which I would consume at every meal until it was gone or starting to ferment in the cooler. Saw a moose calf but no momma as we made our way to Fort Selkirk, arriving about 10 p.m.

There were two other tents up in the camping area. Didn't pay them much attention as we were tired, ate quick and hit our tents. In the morning, we were just finishing up our Steak and Goop, trying to listen to see if the other campers spoke English. One walked over with a Tlingit design on his shirt. We asked him where he was from and he said "Haines, Alaska," and we said we were from Skagway. And then the rest came over and they said, almost in unison, "It's Buckwheat!!!!" Bill..... Su Liberman, Sean .... and Maggie?????? Sue said she had looked over at me the night before and said to her friends, "That German guy sure looks like Buckwheat." We had a great time that morning and got a later start. They had put in at Minto and were taking their time on to Dawson. We were on more of a schedule. It was clear and hot by the time we left at 10:30 a.m. and hot all day. The few clouds never seemed to go in front of the sun. Jeff was in the stern so I could rest some, but my energy was gone after a while and we had to stop and eat to get my blood sugar right. We made Kirkman Creek fine about 9:30 that night.

Linda Taylor and daughter Rachel were still up, and pointed us to the cookies from their bakery. The thermometer there had hit 44 Celsius in the sun that day. Well over 100 F!!! Most of the goop was gone so we switched to enchiladas and hit the hay. Three dogs, Buddy, Taz, and Houston kept the camp bear away all night, but something got into Jeff's gorp bag in the canoe. Might have been the Whiskey Jack bird that woke me up. We had a long day ahead of us to make Dawson that evening, so got out of there just after 8 a.m.

Much cooler day, and some rain spit on us near the White River confluence. River the whole time has been high with lots of debris. But usually you never hear the sizzle on the bottom of the canoe until you hit the White. This year the sizzle from silt in the water started up around the Teslin, and really got loud after the White. We weren't a mile from the White when a power boat approached with two conservation officers and we instantly recognized our friend Gerard Cruchon, Dyea to Dawson racer in '97 and boat support in '98. We talked for about a half hour drifting down river. They were going up river to check guide permits. The chief officer, Tory Hunter, upon hearing about my journey, gave us $20!!! We said we'd see them in Dawson.

Rest of the river was pretty boring until we got withing about five miles of Dawson and we saw a storm coming with a nasty head wind kicking up sand off the beaches up ahead. I asked Jeff if we should go for it, and we did, until the chop got heavier and I started getting some waves lapping into the bow. We pulled off and slept about 45 minutes until the wind died. Sky still fairly dark and some lightning in the distance. Then the rain hit us hard, with a tail wind. Well, we liked that, and even though there was thunder and lightning all around us, we paddled like hell to the City of Gold. As we rounded the bend and saw the Moosehide Scar on the mountain and the buildings of Dawson in the distance, the rain quit and we let out a big howl.

We put ashore at 10:08 p.m. on Thursday the 15th. Kim from Bombay Peggy's came down in her truck to carry our gear over there. Tis the finest place in the north, but we weren't much for partying after 14 hours on the river. The next morning we caught up with Wendy Cairns, another Dyea to Dawson padler who now co-owns the inn. She was away when I walked into Dawson two winters ago and I told her the story that's in Alaska Magazine about how good I smelled after a bath, so much that the guy across from me said, "You stink." We stayed there one night and then moved over to the Downtown Hotel, which was full of bikers for the Dust to Dawson games, hosted by Downtown Dick Nostrand, who comped our room!!!

We met up with lots of old friends in Dawson. Harry arrived that night and we had a great dinner at Kate's. Met up with Dan Cook of Salidas, Colorado, who is rowing a wooden dory down the river to the ocean. Others out there from Iowa, England and Germany. Best bit of news came via the phone from Jesse Naiman of TEMSCO Helicopters who is based this summer in Fairbanks. He said there were TEMSCO pilots on fire alert in villages on the river all the way down to Ruby! Jesse is meeting me in Eagle Sunday night and we'll go over the details then. His wife Nicki will be meeting me in Circle with him too. I'm feeling a lot better about the journey downriver now. Setting out about 1:30 on Saturday. Will miss my paddling partner, but prepared to go solo to the end of the river. Learning how to use that GPS.

Next report Monday morning from Eagle, where AP&T has an office. Wheat.

For photos click here.

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