My dad and I flew all the way from Florida to the great mighty Yukon Territory in Canada. That was my first time there and I didn’t know what to expect. My dad told me that it was going to be a vast wilderness with mysterious forests and mighty mountains. Also, he said that we were going to be with nature, with wild animals freely roaming around. We would stay there for three weeks. I could tell that it was going to be quite a journey!
It was the middle of July and my dad and I arrived at Whitehorse, Yukon at seven at night. When I stepped out of the airport, it was bone-chilling cold. Even though it was summer, the temperature was near freezing. I was standing in shorts and a t-shirt. People stared at me like I was insane.
The next day, we went to a campground. My dad and I would stay there for one week preparing for the journey 400 miles down the Yukon River. On the first day at the camp, my dad and I went into the little town of Whitehorse to gather the necessary supplies for the journey that lay ahead. First, we went grocery shopping. My dad and I bought an ample quantity of imperishable food. It was mostly rice, canned foods, and seasoning. Apparently, we would plan to survive on fish from the river and we would collect water from creeks and streams that ran down from the mountains.
The next stop was at a canoe rental place. When we arrived, there were people loading huge aluminum canoes onto trucks. My dad arranged plans and a bus would take us and our rental canoe to the starting point of our river quest in two days.
We finished preparing and packing and the two days flew by before we knew it. My dad and I were off, and were heading down the Yukon River. It was just my dad, me, a barrel of dry food, and two waterproof duffel bags stuffed with clothes and camping gear.
I had never seen so much natural beauty in my life. There were enormous mountains reigning like kings with snow on their peeks as crowns. Also, there were never ending forests of green and rocky canyon walls that bordered the river. Around dusk we stopped on an island and explored it. It appeared barren and deserted, or so we thought. As we continued our exploration, my dad spotted animal tracks in the mud. My father told me they were moose tracks, but trailing it were massive bear tracks, and behind that there were wolf footprints. By the time we got back to the canoe, it was too dark to continue so we were forced to set up camp. And so that was how my dad and I spent our first night. It was spooky.
In the morning, we were back on the river and we took out our fishing rods, attached a shiny, dazzling, white-feathered lure to our lines, and trolled it 20 yards behind our canoe. One after another, we just kept catching graylings, a type of freshwater fish. They ranged from about one to two feet in length. They were excellent to eat and they were so plentiful because no one ever fished here. It was so remote. It honestly was the middle of nowhere. Anyways, we ate those grayling so much during my time there that I swore I would never eat another of those fish again in my life.
When we weren’t pulling up fish, we were paddling. It was a long and exhausting day so we decided to call it a day. We paddled our canoe up the river bank and set up camp. While my dad prepared the fish, I collected wood for the fire. My dad wrapped the fish in aluminum foil and placed it on the scorching embers to cook. We ate the scrumptious fish for dinner. That night, I had just realized that the sun set around midnight. My dad told me that it was because we were so far up north. Then I spotted a luminescent beam of shimmering light swaying in the air. It was the northern lights also called the aurora. It was the most brilliant light show I had ever seen. Rays of blue, green, purple, and pink lit up the sky.
When I awoke at dawn, I looked around, and what I saw was peace. The water like a mirror, untouched, undisturbed, and unbroken. The forest was still and not an animal stirred. And I could feel the fresh, crisp, pine air flow through my lungs. I let my body, mind, and soul absorb the surrounding serenity.
The next day, we were on the river and the weather began to turn nasty. The sky became dark and gloomy. The river became choppy and rough. The wind picked up and made it extremely difficult to steer the canoe. Then as I thought it couldn’t possibly get any worse, we were barraged by a driving frigid rain. My dad and I threw on our rain gear, trying to stay dry. We had experienced the almighty wrath of Mother Nature unleashing its rage on us.
Coming up was a bend in the river. I could just tell that there was going to be trouble. When we finally reached the violently churning waters, the canoe almost flipped. My dad and I paddled for our lives, with the boat fiercely rocking side to side. The canoe was being tossed around like a rag doll. Unbelievably we managed to stay right side up. Although it was only thirty devastating minutes, it seemed like an eternity. The nasty weather cleared up, the waters calmed down, and the golden sun filled the sky with happiness.
On the river, the next day, unexpectedly and out of nowhere, we heard a thunderous “boom.” It sounded like a gunshot. Then, my dad noticed an immense pile of wood afloat the water. It was a dam. Suddenly we saw a fury, brown animals swimming. They were beavers. Later on, we figured out that the beavers smacked the water with their flat, iron-like tails to warn the other beavers of danger.
It was late in the afternoon, and dusk was approaching. My dad spotted a cove hidden behind a little island in the river. It was grassy and shallow. The water was still, too still. We silently took our rods and cast our silver lures into the grassy water. It was the first cast and already my dad’s spool went screaming. The enormous fish ripped line out of his rod like nothing. My dad reeled it in and as soon as he thought he had it, the fish took off like a missile. This happened for the next fifteen minutes. Once it was tired, or so we thought, we pulled it up towards our canoe, and I scooped it up in our nylon fishing net. The fish did not like that at all and it gave one thrash and broke the net. It got away.
My dad told me that that was a northern pike. It was at least three and a half feet long and easily 30 pounds. This fish was long, slick, and torpedo shaped. Its power and strength was unbelievable. It moved so stealthily through the shallow, grassy water stalking and ambushing its prey. All of this made it an apex predator.
I cast my rod back out and slowly retrieved my artificial bait. All of a sudden, my rod bent 180 degrees. I knew it was the one that got away. I fought it for about fifteen minutes seeming like a never-ending battle of tug-o-war. I finally brought the fish into the canoe. My dad measured it. The pike was an incredible 42 inches long.
Later that evening, we set up camp. My dad seasoned our prized fish and I started a fire. In no time, the fish was on the scorching embers. That night, we ate like kings. My dad and I had an exhausting day and we were soon fast asleep in our cozy sleeping bags.
In the early morning, we wasted no time and we were soon back on the river. Then, my dad and I saw a bald eagle soaring majestically in the sky like a king reigning over his throne. Shortly after, I spotted a grizzly bear. It was just prowling the riverbank, in search of its next meal.
It was getting dark, and my dad and I were about to call it a day, when all of a sudden we saw a massive, brown figure swimming. It was on the other side of the river, but it was still far away. We observed it through our pair of binoculars. The mysterious creature turned out to be a moose swimming across the river. I was astonished at all the wild animals we saw that day.
That night, my dad and I built our camp near an old, spooky, abandoned cabin. I had difficulty sleeping, because it was freezing cold. In the morning, when I stepped out of the tent, a thick blanket of frost covered the ground. As the sun radiated its beaming morning rays, the ground scintillated around me.
That morning my dad and I drank a soothing, hot cup of tea trying our best to stay warm. Then we started off, down the river yet again for another day of adventure.
Around noon, my dad and I decided to stop canoeing. We just wanted to enjoy the rest of the day, since tomorrow was our last. In our spare time, my father and I made an enormous bonfire. We built it in a open, large dirt clearing so the forest wouldn’t burn down. The flames easily reached 15 feet high. It was a true work of art. Anywhere else in the world we would have been probably thrown in jail if we built a fire that big. But here there was no one to tell us what to do. That was the beauty of it. No worries. No stress. Just ultimate peace and relaxation that one can truly only find in this place. That evening, my dad and I sat by the glowing fire sipping hot chocolate and reminiscing about our adventures we encountered in this place.
We awoke at daybreak, and were quickly back on the river. A few hours later, we arrived at our destination. A bus picked us up and took us back to the city. Afterward, a taxi took us to the tiny airport. There was only one plane. My dad and I got on our plane and said goodbye to the Yukon. Finally we arrived back at our house on the beach in good old hot humid Florida. The Yukon was an unforgettable journey that gave me a new perspective on life. It was natural beauty. This Yukon quest was an experience of a lifetime.