Not Content with Watching the River Flow

Some people are just not content to watch the river flow.They have to get in it and, as Ratty said to Mole in The Wind in the Willows, “mess about in boats.”It can be contagious. Our current Berton House writer-in-residence is Anik See. See is a freelance writer, radio producer, and translator from the Netherlands, who was so enthused when she saw the Yukon River Quest, that she bundled her family into a boat up-stream and spent two weeks doing the same route. I like boat travel.Even the water-logged short trips back and forth to the Moosehide Gathering in late July were fun in their way. I enjoyed annual runs on the much-maligned Yukon Queen and Yukon Queen II, back when Holland America offered free year-end excursions to the border and back.But I have no interest in wilderness camping, so until someone comes up with a slightly cheaper version of the package that the River Journeys outfit marketed a few years ago, I’ll probably never travel the Yukon River. I regret not being free to take them up on the press-run offer they made me during their short lifespan.Some people really do like to do it the hard way. Last year, Americans Mike Manrosh and Eric Toole spent the summer in Dawson collecting parts and putting together a most eccentric raft out of oil barrels, and all manner of stuff they liberated from the Quigley landfill. The finished design had a tent/cabin for weather, and for sleeping while anchored at night.The aim of “Team Vaykayshyun”, as they were known, was to float to the sea, but they thought it might take them a couple of seasons. I heard later that they did make it as far as Circle City last fall, but haven’t heard anything since.This year’s odd couple was Joachim Kreuzer and Manfred Schroter of Germany, in their second year of trying to sail a scaled-down York Boat — the type the Northwest Company traders used — from Whitehorse to the ocean. Once again, they weren’t going to make it in one season, because they both needed to be back home by late August. But they were tenacious; last year they got swamped on Lake Laberge in weather even worse than this year’s River Quest, and had to abandon their effort. They stored their boat and gear in Whitehorse for the winter. This year, they started again on June 27, and were happily tied up at the riverbank in Dawson when I met them on July 13.They weren’t setting any speed records, but they were having fun in their period costumes, and enjoying every minute of the trip.They were happy to talk to anyone and they lots of opportunity because every other boat on the river pulled alongside to look them over and find out what they were up to.

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