With the cool winds of fall blowing and the scent of the boreal forest changing, autumn is here in the Yukon. With the change in season the Canadian River Expeditions and Nahanni River Adventures team has wrapped up for the year. It was a big year for us; our 50th season as a family business, a season of recovery from the challenges of the pandemic and a season of the joy of spending time in wild places. But like any accomplishment of note, it was built one day and one memory at a time.
Personally, my return to the great rivers of the North filled my cup. Each expedition that I was able to join this season left me energized and excited for the next! Here are a few of my favorite memories, photos and videos from the expeditions I was able to join this season!
What makes our guides so exceptional? I would have to say their curiosity, positivity and commitment to learning are at the top of the list. For many of them 2022, was the first time they were able to return to the Nahanni since 2019 and a large, jovial staff trip was the result! Sixteen of us paddled, hiked and shared knowledge from Nailicho (Virginia Falls) to Nahanni Butte! And I have to say, the early season wildflowers were out of this world with sightings of some rare and delicate wonders!
In the years since 2019 I had been dreaming of the clear water, ancient landscapes and incredible hiking of the Firth River and when a chance came to join an expedition I jumped at it!
The upper river was filled with muskoxen, grizzly bears, arctic char, glorious ridge walks and swims in crystal clear water but an incredible discovery by guide Natalie Sands will stick with me. While walking the shores of the Arctic Ocean she came across the skull of an ancient Yukon horse! Confirmed by the team at Ivvavik National Park this find is just another reminder that the wonders of the Firth are all around and maybe even under your feet!
If you would like to learn more about the ancient megafauna of Beringia one of our amazing museums here in Whitehorse has all the information you need!
I grew up traveling the Nahanni’s waters and know the powerful memories created by family journeys. This year it was a privilege to help a multigenerational family expedition come together to celebrate their grandfather’s life, in the place he had always dreamed of, the grand canyons of the Nahanni. A culmination of a life well lived, I will carry the memories of this special trip for a long time as they shared memories as we hiked and paddled and made the most of each day!
I always head into an August trip into the Alsek and Tatshenshini watershed excited by the possibility of seeing bears! It is no secret that I am fascinated by these powerful animals and as they enter a period of hyperphagia in preparation for winter their feeding patterns often allow us excellent opportunities to watch them. The Alsek delivered in spades this season with 11 grizzly bears and four black bears observed over the course of our expedition. Through binoculars, spotting scopes and with our bare eyes we watched them feed on tubers, flowers, fish and arctic ground squirrels. We saw two young bears give up their patch of buffalo berry (Shepherdia canadensis) to a large, charging male and a shaggy solo bear patrolling the lower river gravel bars searching for salmon moving through the shallows.
As we settle into fall these memories will carry me forward and only sharpen my love for these wild places and all their wonders, I can’t wait to share them with our guests again in 2023!