Issue: 2016-11-30, PHOTO: Yvonne Mueller
Pan, one of the host family’s friendly dogs, was closely watching us roasting smokies
Do you sometimes forget that Whitehorse is a wilderness city? I do! Coming home to a heated apartment after a busy day, taking a shower and then turning on the TV. Every now and then I feel I have to reconnect myself to nature. That’s why my partner and I booked an off-the-grid cabin at the Wheaton River Wilderness Retreat on Annie Lake Road for a weekend in late October.
Carmen and Robert have operated the Wheaton River Adventure business since 2008. They enjoy living off-the-grid with their three kids, offering hiking and canoe tours in the summer and renting two cabins and two guest rooms year round. The family gave us a warm welcome when we arrived on a Friday evening after a one hour drive from Whitehorse.
Walking towards the secluded cabin on the bank of the Wheaton River we immediately realized why it looked so familiar to us: it was the setting of last year’s Travel Yukon promotion video "Come to my Yukon." In the real world, the cabin looks as magical as it did in the commercial!
The wood stove was already burning when Carmen showed us the cabin. It was toasty warm inside and we immediately felt at home in the cozy, delightfully decorated cabin. The cabin sleeps up to four people and is a perfect place to spend a weekend as a couple, with kids or with friends.
Soon after arriving, we started playing a board game that was provided in the cabin. Propane lights and lots of candles lit the table. We enjoyed not being distracted by phone calls ("no service") or the noise of the city. The crackling of the wood stove was the only sound we heard.
Being surrounded by total darkness also helped us to have an amazing, 360 degree viewing experience of the northern lights. This was paradise for us as we always have a hard time finding spots that are dark enough to see the lights in Whitehorse. I must definitely tell my aurora hunter friends about this place, I thought that night.
Saturday we spent relaxing in the sauna, reading, playing games and exploring the surrounding areas of the cabin. On Sunday we lit a fire outside and roasted smokies for lunch. The view of the mountains is spectacular from the fireplace right by the river.
We also enjoyed petting the many friendly animals that live with the host family. Eight dogs, a horse, a donkey and several chickens can keep adults and kids busy during their stay.
Looking inside the guestbook we realized just how many guests have already had a great time in this cabin since 2008. Phrases like "peaceful, relaxing, inspiring place with great scenery and super friendly hosts" can be found throughout the book.
When we left on Sunday afternoon we were energized and ready to conquer the upcoming challenges of the week. Whenever we feel like we are losing our connection to the wilderness again we will be back for a winter weekend. We look forward to enjoying more snowshoeing and cross country ski adventures.
To all Yukoners who want to experience peaceful simplicity out of town: try out the Wheaton River Wilderness Retreat for your local off-the-grid getaway. It is exactly what it says: A real retreat. For more information go to www.wheatonriver.net