By the time you read this, Dr. Dirk Rohrbach, from Munich, Germany, should be wrestling with the strong winds on the Yukon River system in his hand-made birch bark canoe.
Rohrbach met with churchgoers in Skagway’s Presbyterian Fellowship Hall on Sunday, June 13, before departing on his solo three-month hike and paddle to reach the distant Bering Sea.
This outdoor-loving medical doctor got his inspiration for this epic adventure from reading Jack London’s stories based on his participation in the Klondike Gold Rush of 1897.
Rohrbach insists that he is well-prepared with all of the latest high-tech gear, food and clothing. However, in complete contrast, he will be piloting a traditional birch bark canoe that he built with a Native in Ontario. Together, they have constructed a hand-carved cedar paddle.
The canoe is 15 feet long. The outer coating is untreated birch bark, lashed at the bow and stern with jack pine roots and sealed with spruce gum. The interior braces and struts are made of ash and cedar.
It is a faithful replica of the traditional form of transportation used in the rivers and lakes of North America.
Rohrbach began his adventure by hiking the Chilkoot Trail to spend the first night at Sheep Camp.
Friends Dyea Dave and Meridith had the canoe taken by train to Lake Bennett to begin the inland water portion, following the Gold Rush route from Dyea to Dawson City. After a brief stop at Whitehorse and Dawson City to reprovision, he plans to finish paddling the 2,000-mile Yukon River to reach the Bering Sea by late August.
Rohrbach’s previous big canoe trip was with a friend on their Lapland adventure. This was to the Savek National Park in Lapland, Northern Sweden, above the Arctic Circle. It is heralded as the ” Last European Wilderness” an environment similar to Alaska and the Yukon.
Rohrbach’s website is www.weltgeschichten.com and his e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.