Adventure

A mountain of possibilities

What’s the best part of winter in the Yukon? Why, it’s sleeping in and still being up at the crack of dawn to go on an adventure, of course.

Managing avalanche terrain

Eirik Sharp, owner and operator of The Sharp End: Mountain Adventures, with his extensive avalanche background, is bringing change to how the Yukon manages avalanche terrain.

Bear Mountain – A redux

If you’ve read about our first attempt to climb (or even glimpse) Bear Mountain, you may be wondering how or why we ever returned. I wish I knew myself, with any sort of confidence. Was it the resentment of failure? Was it the undeterrable enthusiasm we had for this climb? Was it because of a …

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Percolating with ‘the guys’

I work with federal inmates at an institution in central Alberta. And of all people, you would think they would know how to make coffee in an old-style coffee percolator. You know the ones … you put your coffee grounds in a round metal filter and place it onto a spigot that sends boiling water …

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A shelter from the storm

It’s quite amazing how many people (if they admit it) have had a potentially near-death experience in the outdoors. It’s rarely a plane crash or a boat-sinking experience. Actually, these situations are often due to inadequate planning or mistakes. It’s just three years ago that four really experienced outdoorsmen went to shore in October to …

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Oh Les Filles

Yukon Backcountry Skiing’s owner, Claude Vallier, introduces his two girls, Kiona and Heidi, to the world by making a movie of skiing the wild Yukon mountains. “I didn’t really want to make a movie, but after participating in other movies and TV shows, I wanted to show more what I want,” said Vallier. “People always …

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Woodsmoke

I’ve always loved the smell of woodsmoke. I know this is not the case for everyone and that too many wood stoves in a small residential area can cause concern. I am lucky to live in a part of town where few people heat with wood. These days, my woodsmoke saga begins in late August, …

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Saskatchewan in October

Once upon a time, “back in the days” (last year, in October) when the Greyhound bus still existed, a garter snake slithered out of the way, a pronghorn bounced over a fence, and I happened to step into cactus. This is the beginning of a most auspicious tale … In the days of the Greyhound, …

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Bear Mountain: A loving tribute to a living nightmare – Part 2

Things started off great when we immediately got off trail (we wouldn’t know this till days later). We attempted to follow some GPS tracks I plucked from the internet. This involved scaling a wet, lushly vegetated and slippery mountainside. This became increasingly tiresome and ludicrous, with steep precipice falls a constant reminder of our mortality. …

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The Aussie Girl Guide to surviving Yukon winters

I first arrived in the Yukon on April 30, 2017—springtime. Throughout the summer, Yukoners would catch my accent and ask where I was from, to which I would reply, “Australia.” “Oh my, why would you move here?” they would say, as though they thought I had gotten lost on my way to Whistler. “Why would …

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International Falls

International Falls. You’ve probably seen the signs, but have you gone for the hike yet? If not, what are you waiting for? Just past the Fraser border crossing, it’s a pretty chill adventure you can easily do enroute to Skagway. Shortly after you pass Canadian customs (you will see a rest stop on the left, …

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Bear Mountain – A loving tribute to a living nightmare

In the late summer of 2016, my friend Dan and I attempted to climb Bear Mountain, a 2,400-metre tall peak situated in the North Cascades National Park, just south of British Columbia. The north buttress of this mountain offers 670 metres of superb alpine granite. Tucked away in northern Washington, the base of the climb …

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Down, down, downhill at Mount Sima – Part 5 of 5

It’s Wednesday afternoon, the sun is warm and not a cloud in the sky as avid mountain bikers unload their bikes and prepare themselves for Mount Sima downhill riding. It’s my first time riding down what is described to me as a “downhill course.” This means that instead of the usual “cross-country” riding, where you …

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Learn to fly

Alkan Air offers the chance to try flying through their Discovery Flights. Alkan Air Flight School opened three years ago and Jenna Collee, chief flight instructor, said the Discovery Flights get people interested in flying.

Learning how to ride and not die

It can be intimidating starting a new sport, especially one that is generally about riding downhill, on unpaved mountains, with perilous things like rocks and trees that don’t seem to move out of your way.

First hunting trip, with the best guides

I grew up in the traditional way in and around Pelly Crossing, learning to hunt, fish and trap from my relatives and Elders. It wasn’t until I was 16 years old, though, in 1963, that I had my first real long hunting trip.

Bike maintenance for idiots

I enjoyed hiking but wanted to explore more of the Yukon. It was a decision between a kayak for the rivers and a mountain bike for the mountains.

Fishing with children

Fishing for youngsters may be their first glimpse of ethics and responsible behaviour in relation to nature.

It’s all about the shared suffering…

Alaskans seem to embrace their long winters more than anywhere else I’ve seen in the north. Their affinity for crazy adventure races is a testament to their celebration of northern living.

Are you prepared to survive Yukon’s wilderness?

The Yukon is a pretty incredible place, but with so much wide, empty wilderness, few people and limited technology capacity in backcountry areas, it’s important to remember to prepare, plan and train before you venture out there.

Skagwegian Camping 101

Our American neighbours do things a little differently… I have not made the trip to mainland Alaska yet, but my experience of those oddballs and genuinely interesting characters that live in the tiny village of Skagway truly are one of a kind. Hiking and camping are certainly a great way to get out and explore …

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Struggling against gravity

  Race director Bobby Gillis gets ready at the start line. PHOTOS: Matt Bosford   Matt Hosford tells us about his personal experience of the Chena River to Ridge: 25 and 50 Mile Multi-Sport Endurance Race – Part 1 of 2 Start of Race I looked up at the cawing ravens flying over head, passively …

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Bridging the Divide

Author Kate Harris shucked her space dreams and, with her friend, Mel Yule, picked up the courage to embark on a different trip: to cycle the Silk Road from end to end.

Skagway shenanigans

Early morning at 7 a.m. on Saturday, December 23 I began my journey to Skagway. The brisk Whitehorse temperatures of -27ºC would be a distant memory once I got to Alaska. I arrived to a balmy -6ºC in Skagway and I started the trek up to Upper Dewey Lakes on the steep snowless tracks, regretting …

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Helping the community climb to new heights

Chris Gishler, owner and operator of Equinox Adventures, has spent the last 15 years building and developing his outdoor adventure and education company as the Yukon has continued to grow. Back in 1999, Gishler arrived to Whitehorse in preparation for a Mount Logan trip in Kluane National Park, only to discover plane issues, which led …

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Hibernation

Ed. Note: This is part seven of a seven part series. Part six can be found in the June 14, 2017 issue of What’s Up Yukon. I’m living a dream and I look forward to the next step… At the end of 2016, I made many diverse acquaintances, each promising me future days, every one …

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There and back

The Nā Pali Coast’s Kalalau Trail is a stunning 18-kilometre there-and-back hike on the north coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Often topping Greatest-Hikes-in-the-World lists, along with Most-Dangerous-Hikes-in-the-World, it promises a rugged trek along incredibly steep rain-forest mountain-sides, long side trails to massive waterfalls, deep blue water and crashing waves, and an opportunity to sleep on a …

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Go Where The Road Takes You

Many of us daydream about packing everything into a van and hitting the road at one time or another. For one Yukoner, 25-year-old Ben Barrett-Forrest, this is a dream come true, and it’s happening at this very moment. I caught up with Ben on the tail end of a brief Canadian detour, on his way from …

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A Memorable Night in a Red Caboose in the Forest

Choo-choo-choosing to camp in an old red caboose in the middle of the largest national forest in the United States was certainly very wet, but an experience I won’t forget. During a visit to Skagway over the May long weekend, I had taken the White Pass and Yukon Route train to the White Pass summit. …

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Heed the Lore When You’re on the Move

Until very recently, I had never heard the expression “hitchhiker’s thumb”. Oh sure, there was that weird guy in Grade 9 named Pete Moss, who had double-jointed thumbs. He also had a habit of turning his eyelids inside-out, a truly gory sight that the girls in the class generally found disgusting, but the boys considered …

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My Fresh Meat Trial

It’s been 20 years since I put on a pair of skates, so as I arrived at Elijah Smith Elementary School I was a little bit timid about trying roller derby for the first time. Having only seen one game back in Australia, and the movie Whip It, I began to wonder if this was …

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An Unkindness of Ravens

It is easy to laugh at the antics of ravens. They are quirky, curious and yes, funny. A well-known title they carry among First Nations people is that of Trickster, known for their pranks and intelligence. They also carry darker histories, in literature and folklore: wise, feared, revered, portents of death. wreathed in mystery. I …

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Third Time’s the Charm

My friend, Lucy (not her real name – she asked me to call her that), is no stranger to adventure. The daring Ontario expat, who has called the Yukon home for the last decade, has twice answered the call to cycle the Dempster Highway – a rugged expanse of terrain stretching from Dawson City to …

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Getting Further, Going Lighter

Even from the isolation of our north of 60 towns, one is able to equip themselves without reaching onto internet shelving any more than necessary. With so many amazing, new, big-ticket items, some of the things that have really changed the way I pack – and, subsequently, the way I hunt – are often under …

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The Week That Was…

The week began with my English friend finally making it with her CanaDream Camper – a one-month, one-woman journey from Calgary to Whitehorse. For the special occasion , to celebrate her arrival, we decided to head to Takhini Hot Springs; my first time. The boiling hot water is pleasant and it’s a pretty quiet Wednesday …

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An Epic Weekend of Hiking

The saying in Yukon is you only truly experience the Yukon when you get out in the wilderness, and those words are accurate beyond belief. From incredible hikes, to a free boat ride, to some refreshing beers and a Sunday afternoon Canadian barbecue… it was a busy, but great weekend! After a month in Whitehorse, …

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Life Lessons Through the Lens

You can learn a lot by studying animals, just ask local photographer Minnie Clarke. Her passion for capturing northern creatures was borne on a remote trapline in Johnson’s Crossing, Yukon. Clarke has been photographing Yukon’s wilderness for 20 years, but one stunning subject in particular is the focal point of many of her studies: the …

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A New Daily Routine

The quietness is however short lived, the silence broke as soon as I approached the harnesses… It was their way of showing their will to go; their desire to work. They were 50, and yet only 14 would be taken for the first round. And they knew it very well! As soon as I put …

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The Team

I fell asleep, dreaming about all these beautiful things that the next days promised. The sweet melody of my alarm clock rang. It was 7:30 a.m., time to get up. It was above all time to greet and take care of my new colleagues. Here I was, clothed in my three layers, ready to face …

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Welcome to Alayuk Adventures

Marcelle arrived shortly before 7:30 pm and I was on my way to Alayuk Adventures! My luggage loaded into the trunk, we get into the warm car and drive on the South Alaska Highway. Two strangers meeting for the first time – despite a few exchanges of emails, we knew nothing about each other. Yet …

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Adventure and Great Powder

Interest in backcountry skiing in the Yukon has taken off, especially among tourists, says backcountry ski expert and guide Claude Vallier. Vallier recently published a backcountry guide book to the Haines Pass, to accompany the guide book he produced in 2007 about the White Pass. The books, Haines Pass Backcountry Skiing and White Pass Backcountry …

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Firelighters

“It will take a few minutes.” Almost all the time, taking a few minutes to get a fire going is an acceptable part of the outdoor adventure. There are some semi-emergency or worse situations where we need the fire going right now and a few minutes is just too long. Getting warm is an immediate …

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Let Me Get to Know You. How About a Little Bicycle Trip?

When Hélène met François, she’d been dreaming of a long-distance bicycle trip for years. I think the fact that François was an experienced cyclist just maybe added to the attraction. Within 18 months, they had sold almost everything they owned, and loaded what they couldn’t or didn’t want to sell into their car, parked it …

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Taking the Kain Route

We begin the next day by eating cereal with rehydrated milk powder, gathering our things and setting out. The hike and scramble to the base of the climb involves navigating past several glacier pools, ascending a snow ramp in crampons, and scrambling up a loose low-angle rock slab. Upon reaching the saddle between Bugaboo Spire …

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Lean, Mean, Pedal Powered Bean

It’s a chilly January evening, and 20 some kilometres south of Whitehorse, the cyclic hum of a whirring metal drum comes to a climactic finale with a “snap, crackle, pop.” It may be cold outside, but 34-year-old Michael Russo, dressed in insulated overalls and a down filled jacket, is aglow as he steps off an …

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The Most Yukonic Night Ever

The Yukon boasts of many iconic landscapes/experiences/situations  and on one glorious night I experienced a few of them. Now in my Southern upbringing, I always thought “deer in the headlights” was just an expression. But, no, no, no! It’s a fact nature. The deer stood paralyzed in the same fear that prevented me from screaming. …

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Bugaboos, Part 1

Due to the geographical layout of the valley we ascend, Anniversary Peak and Hound’s Tooth remain in view for most of the way while all other peaks are generally obscured by trees and hills. The hike takes us three hours, with few breaks, and spits us out onto an incredible plateau of rock, overlooking the …

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The Lure of the Aurora Borealis

Tourists visit the Yukon to see the aurora; it’s the heart of the winter tourism industry. Visitors who have done their research will also have other activities in mind. People arrive from around the world – including Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, Japan, Korea, and of course the United States and other parts of …

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To go where few people go: I wonder if that is why we saw four wolverines playing?

On August 13, my friend Nancy Ohm and I went for a hike in my backyard. I’ve been working on a walking trail towards the mountains for 20 years. I am making slow process, using only a small ax and clippers. Lately, I have seen signs of people, probably neighbours, establishing the trail. Great! Still, …

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Heavy Metal Mountain

As Tom unpacked he took inventory: sub-Arctic self-erecting tent, sleeping bag, water/bear proof ruck sack full of high protein granola and astronaut food, zinc for the nose, GPS, selfie stick. He hadn’t been camping in years, since his last fall in the Yukon 20 years ago. But here he was, back again. Roughing it for …

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Family Vacation

As children are once again back in school — practicing their writing skills by reporting on the topic “What I did last summer,” — it is a good time to reflect on how effective the opportunities for family-related memory-making were over the past couple of months. This is also a good time to think about …

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On memory, and bears

This is a story from many years ago, about the day I was followed by four bears – a close-call bear encounter kind of story. I was on a solstice hike up Kelvin Mountain with Allison Morham and Jane Vincent. Jane and I see each other regularly, but I only run into Allison every few …

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On Simple Pleasures

There is a microwave placed awkwardly in front of the little, old fashioned split-glass window. The curtains are open and on the other side of the window freight ships move across the bay slowly, deliberately, as if the water was thick as muskeg and they had to work much harder than they expected to get …

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Final Days and Thoughts

The final week of Icelandic adventuring saw us completing the Ring Road, which encircles the whole country and has tourist spots dotted along the way. We followed it east and gradually north through glacier-domed mountains, bucolic sheep folds, thundering waterfalls and glistening black alluvial beaches that stretched along the coastline for miles at a time. …

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Journeys That Open the Heart

Whitehorse musician and adventurer Thorin Loeks is off on another journey. On June 4th, Loeks started to hitchhike from his home just outside of Whitehorse up to Dawson City where began a cycling trip. His initial plan was to bicycle south to Montana. There, he was going to switch his bike for a paddle, and …

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Bushmom

What am I doing? It is -45 C and I am starting to feel trapped. I haven’t left the house – unless you count visits to the outhouse or to grab more wood, which at these temperatures are so quick that they hardly bear mentioning. I haven’t left the house in 15 days. I haven’t …

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An Open Letter to My Dog

Dear Parka, We invited you into our family last summer because we felt a void that only man’s best friend could fill. Down south last summer, we picked you from the litter of pups and brought you up North, to which you’re probably sarcastically thinking, “Oh great, I got stuck with the one family who …

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Didee & Didoo: STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW

DON’T SHOOT CARIBOU AND MOOSE WHEN THEY’RE RUTTING. THREE RIFLE SHOTS MEANS “DISTRESS.” CHECK ICE THICKNESS BEFORE CROSSING. WEAR SUNGLASSES IN THE SPRING TIME. STAY HOME WHEN THERE’S A STORM. STAY HOME WHEN THERE’S BIG WAVES. ALWAYS CARRY MATCHES. KEEP AWAY FROM A BEAR KILL. YOUR TENT DOOR SHOULD FACE SOUTH. NEVER EAT SNOW. USE …

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Visiting the Glaciers

We always said that when the kids were old enough we would take them for an Alaskan kayaking expedition, just like the one we had gone on before the kids were born. So last summer we did just that, and what we learned is that an eight-year-old and a 13-year-old are awesome ages for such …

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Valentine’s Events for the Discerning Singleton

Sometimes I think we could skip February. I mean, January has got the cold and dark covered, and the wonderful triad of snow, sun and skiing find their fullest expression in March. Weird warm winters aside, February seems like a little more of something I’ve had enough of, and not enough of something I’m eagerly …

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Hostel Hostility, Part 2

Before coming to Nicaragua’s beach mecca of San Juan del Sur, I had undergone  a hostel scare in Granada – a polite-seeming colonial city with awe-inspiring architecture, nouveau cuisine and two sports bars. I had returned from dinner and was enjoying a rare private moment in my empty eight-person hostel room. Before long, an athletic …

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Things the Forest Hides

Talking to my friend Mary Whitley, a fellow explorer, we started discussing how many trails we had found this summer that we did not even know existed. She was finding them on her side of town around  Mount Lorne, and I was finding them on mine around the Mendenhall Subdivision. So, on one of those …

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Cooler Tips

These days the word “cooler” can mean a pre-mixed alcoholic beverage, but it’s also the name of an insulated box to keep your food and drinks cool. Coolers come in various shapes, sizes and prices. A really large one seems like a good idea until you try to lift and carry it after it has …

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Hostel Hostility, Part 1

Early in my trip to Nicaragua last spring, I lost my bank card. I had a large sum of money in the bank, but no access. After frantic calls from a phone booth as claustrophobic as a confessional, I got through to the bank. As I waited anxiously UPS to deliver a new card, two …

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Stories of the land

Museum On Nov. 19 Yukoners can grab a drink and a snack at the Yukon Transportation Museum and hunker down for a favourite Yukon pastime: telling stories of backwoods adventures. The event, called Tales of the Trails, will feature Yukon storytellers Sharon Shorty, Ruth Carroll and David Neufeld among others, as well as music by …

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A Walk in the Park

Whenever I travel to cities I seek out green space for the familiarity of trees and the relative quiet. While Day 1 in Delhi was a lesson on how it’s true, everyone is trying to scam us, and the best artists make you feel like they’ve done you a favour, on Day 2 we gamely …

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Thinking Like a Global Citizen

Many Yukoners are involved in global issues and a series of talks at the Kwanlin Dϋn Cultural Centre brings their international experiences home. The Yukon Development Education Centre is hosting the free lectures in Whitehorse called the Sustainable Global Development Speaker Series. Presented on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m., themes include climate change, gender …

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Beyond Thought

walking trails. We live not close to nature, but in nature. What is great is that so many of us are out there daily on the walking trails enjoying it. But we are also busy folks. We go to our jobs, get the kids to school and back, volunteer, coach and generally spend time being …

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Death by Camas

Yes, a new form of torture has been developed, involving an unrelenting repetition of a single passage from the Myth of Sisyphus – what? C-A-M-A-S? So, not Albert? Oh…sorry about that. Let’s begin again. I love the flowers of death-camas. I love their Dr. Seussian protuberances, like false noses in bizarre and marvelous shapes. This …

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Extraneous Bananas

When your friend blows into town, you hang onto your hat and lay on the groceries, especially the Stolichnaya Vodka, or “Stoli”, as he calls it. Your friend is a Martini drinker, and particular about his cocktail of choice. He likes a dry Martini, so the vermouth must be dispensed via a tiny spray bottle. …

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Missing the Mark

The Code is clear: what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Ditto for jury rooms and  papal conclaves. Double ditto for hunting trips. But sometimes a story demands to override the Code. There were four guys that September weekend on the Mayo River. Discretion suggests  they remain unnamed. The only one with actual moose-hunting experience, …

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Welcome to the outhouse

I’m not saying my daughter Emily is soft when it comes to roughing it.  She just happened to have spent her first three and a half years living in the total comfort of a warm bed, running water, and the ability to flush her business down a toilet anytime she wants. That all changed last …

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Write from the Soul

What’s an English teacher to do once she retires: take a trip through the Northwest Passage? Ruth Armson did that, and wrote about it. Compile an autobiography, perhaps? She did that, too. “I’d been away from home since I was 15, and I thought, ‘What’s a better way of letting my family know what my …

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A Northern Diary

Carolyn Vincent taught in the Yukon in the 1970s and also cooked for an outfitter for a few months in 1976. She typed out a diary of what her life was like during that time. We are reprinting it here with minimal editorial tampering. Last time we left her, hunting season was just starting. Here …

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Boulder On!

Do you like climbing rocks? Do you enjoy hiking in a gorgeous valley? What about making friends? Walking a tightrope suspended between two giant boulders? Do you like having fun and being happy? If you answered yes to any of these, you’re in luck. This Saturday, the local climbing community will host a revival of …

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Clothing to Keep You Safe and Warm

Time on the land can be uncomfortable and even very dangerous if you aren’t ready for the weather nature sends to greet you. On a summer day in the alpine, all four seasons can assert themselves. The hiker who is prepared with good clothing, equipment, and attitude can actually enjoy the weather experience. Ill-prepared hikers, …

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Faro Calling

The Town of Faro fascinates me because I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard stories. That is was a mining boomtown starting in 1969, and now it’s a bit of a bust town. That it’s very well groomed — in my head (and in writing, now) I call it the Pleasantville of the Yukon. It’s …

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A Northern Diary

About 11:00 p.m. I finally got a glimpse of McClure when our trail passed near the deep ravine the river made. I had been vainly looking for it for the last few hours, but it was hidden in the canyon. The lake is about three miles long and is a skinny one. It’s sort of …

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A Northern Diary

I have been in the wilderness of the Mackenzie Mountains for six weeks, and have decided to begin a diary. It’s maybe not the right time to start one, but now that I’m not quite as busy and not nearly as tired at the end of the day, I’ll begin one anyway so that I …

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The Encounter

The following story was my submission for the 1994 Yukon Young Authors’ Conference. There, I got to work with acclaimed Canadian playwright Guillermo Verdeccia, who first sparked my interest in dramatic writing. Happily, 21 years later, this important conference is still going strong. The 35th annual version is being held from April 23-24 at F.H. …

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Thoughts and feelings of a young woman hitchhiking 10,000 km across Canada and the USA

I have been called many things. Crazy. Stupid. Brave. Adventurous. Trusting. But I‘d just like to be called human. Every human is special, and among us are some I’d consider curious. For example, the ones who don’t turn down the volume, but scream at me. Or even better, the ones who ask if I like …

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Carli and Julie’s Yukon Adventure

On a cool Monday evening at the Old Crow Community Hall, up-and-coming country musicians Carli and Julie Kennedy played the last show of their first Yukon tour. The twin sisters were here courtesy of Home Routes, a Winnipeg-based company that arranges tours for folk-based musicians to venues and homes around Canada. Having spent nearly two …

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Taking Medicine to New Heights

Cambridge medical students are expected to be well-schooled in the art of social climbing, but Peter Steele, who studied medicine at the University of Cambridge, in England, chose mountain climbing instead. “There were some really excellent climbers [at Cambridge], and I got bit by the ‘climbing bug’,” Steele says in a British accent that seems …

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Looking off the beaten path

Searching for wines is a little bit like a scavenger hunt at times, and sometimes it calls for looking at the outliers of the wine world for new and exciting finds. Here in the Yukon, we’re well familiar with French, Italian, American and Australian wines. More recently Canadian, Argentinian and Chilean wines have become more …

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