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Thread: Yukon River - Full Source to Sea Descent

  1. #1

    Default Yukon River - Full Source to Sea Descent

    Hi everyone. I've been lurking on here for almost three years, and this is my first post.
    Some buddies and I are planning a full descent of the Yukon River from source to sea.

    Most people who have run the Yukon River start 160 miles downriver at Whitehorse, YT and paddle from there to the mouth just west of Emmonak. I assume they start at Whitehorse, and paddle rather than motor down due to logistical issues. Does anyone know if a full descent has ever been documented using a motorized canoe or boat starting at the Llewellyn Glacier in British Columbia?

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    A couple of tears ago one person did a yak trip all the way to Anchorage I think could be wrong , he did a video along the way, I think
    did a real good job on it , SID

  3. #3

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    Hi Sid, thanks for the reply. I believe you may be referring to Beav's adventure posted over on the Boundary Waters forum. That was truly an epic trip. Hereís a link; https://bwca.com/index.cfm?fuseactio...ID=12&confID=1
    Iíve gotta warn you though. Once you start watching, itís hard to stop. I binge watched all 14 episodes. In my book, nothing on cable TV comes even close to being as good.

    But, Beavís trip doesnít fit the criteria of what Iím asking because;
    A. He portaged over the Chilkoot (an amazing feat) and put in at Lake Bennett, but that is not the furthest upstream source of the Yukon River.
    B. Beav also paddled the whole trip.

    I have also seen a few instances of other paddlers documenting full descents from the Llewellyn Glacier, but nothing motorized.

    Back in 2017 there were two guys in a motorized pontoon boat who ran from Whitehorse to the Bering Sea, but they started 160 miles downriver from the source. Hereís a link to their trip; https://www.yukonarctic.com/

    Why do I want to do a motorized full descent of the Yukon? Because I can find no evidence online or in books of anyone ever doing it. A motorized descent would not only likely be a first; it would also be the fastest full descent ever recorded (because it wouldnít be hard to beat the speed of the few paddlers whoíve done it).

  4. #4
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    I don't know of anyone that has gone from the glacier on Atlin Lake to the Bering Sea and documented it but there are certainly numerous documentations of Yukon River journeys. The prospectors started on Lake Bennett after crossing the Chilkoot Pass over a century ago and many of those exited The Yukon and Alaska by eventually going down stream.

    I've just returned from The Southern Lakes Region [Atlin, Tagish, Bennett, Tutshi, Marsh Lakes] where I've canoed and traveled for decades. This is by far my favorite part of the Yukon drainage. Leaving Whitehorse on the Yukon/Lewes River will give you a nice canoe trip with many other canoeists. A couple weeks will get you to Circle, Alaska from where the river becomes quite Ho Hum IMO.

    Good luck in your venture!

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the input VernAK.
    I passed through Tagish and Carcross a few years back. I never got on the water around there, but it definitely put the itch in me to go back. After seeing it, I understand how one could reach the conclusion that the headwaters of the Yukon drainage are the most beautiful.
    Iíve spent a little time on the water in the middle section, but have never seen the lower parts. I do look forward to visiting the villages of the lower section. One thing is certain, itís a big river, with lots of varying terrain and peoples, so it will be a trip to remember.
    Iím leaving this Saturday with boats and gear on the 8000 mike round trip from Florida to Atlin. Itís gonna be a long haul!

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    Let us know how the Atlin River went for you.

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    Swamp Runner a person was going to do a trip like yours a few years back , but decided not to do it for his safety down there, crossing the gulf
    to many people want your stuff , as he put it , I think he changed his mine an went to Texas an called it quits , could be wrong but that is what I remember , Sid

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    Let us know how the Atlin River went for you.
    Yes, the Atlin River is a concern.
    After driving for nines days and over 4000 miles, I arrived in Atlin a few days ago, and several locals were skeptical that we can pull off running the Atlin River.
    Iím at the airport in Whitehorse now awaiting the arrival of the rest of the crew.
    Weíll see.

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    A group of Carcross First Nations folks just came across the lakes from Atlin in three of their native style canoes. They may be able to update you.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    A group of Carcross First Nations folks just came across the lakes from Atlin in three of their native style canoes. They may be able to update you.
    I was in Carcross at the potluck day before yesterday and spoke with them.
    They said the water is high and swift.

    Our crew flew into Whitehorse today. Weíre in Atlin now.

    DACE0819-ADB2-4139-B090-B4DC8F8E021B.jpg

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    Suggestions:
    Alcatraz island in Graham inlet is OK spot for camping.
    There's a good camp spot on island in back of Deep Bay.
    Both have rudimentary outhouses.
    Watch for dall sheep on Table Mountain in Graham Inlet.

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    They did the Atlin river fine, and are making their way to Whitehorse.

  13. #13

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    Just prior to running the Atlin River we learned that the First Nations group portaged their canoes for two miles down the old railway bed.

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    Good option to have! Two miles.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    Suggestions:
    Alcatraz island in Graham inlet is OK spot for camping.
    There's a good camp spot on island in back of Deep Bay.
    Both have rudimentary outhouses.
    Watch for dall sheep on Table Mountain in Graham Inlet.
    Thank you very much for all the tips VernAK.
    You seem to know this country well.
    I wish I had seen your post prior to reaching Graham Inlet, but I didn’t have internet access til now.
    After getting down the Atlin River the wind kicked up in our face blowing from the west down Graham Inlet, so we ended up camping at Taku.
    The grayling fishing at the mouth of the Atlin River was phenomenal.
    One cast, one grayling.
    We were also told to look for the bears on the mountainside, but didn’t see any bears or the Dall sheep you mentioned.
    We did see plenty of mountain goats on the left mountainside going into Llewellyn Inlet.

  16. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    Good option to have! Two miles.
    After running the Atlin, I would agree. One section of class 4 rapids made it interesting.

  17. #17

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    After breaking camp at Taku, we headed down to Ben My Chree.
    Calm waters and majestic peaks.

    Attachment 98193 Attachment 98194

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    Not all that often can you buck the wind on that home stretch into Ben My Chree.

    The alluvial fan of Atlin River is also excellent for lake trout......the drop-off is great.

    Attachments didn't work.

  19. #19

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    After leaving Ben-My-Chree, we ran back up the Taku Arm, through Tagish Lake, stopping along the way to see the Engineer Gold Mine, Hale, Racine Falls and set up camp at Tutshi River. Not sure why the pictures didnít load.
    Iíll give it another shot.

    99B3D361-7795-4AE0-B65E-A521EC463980.jpg
    97A0310F-DD73-4AAF-B232-243AFE0D6530.jpg

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    There's a book called "Kings of the Yukon" in which he paddles from the source to the sea looking at what's happening with king salmon. Not a lot of detail, but some, and it's a good read.
    Mushing Tech: squeezing the romance out of dog mushing one post at a time

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