Clinic Stories

The End of the Earth - Part 7

Advice Ignored and Lessons Learned

The Last Part on Dr. Morris's Yukon River Trip

ADVICE I WAS GIVEN BUT IGNORED

If it is stormy, wait until it clears – To do otherwise is dangerous and potentially deadly. It was foolish of me to head onto the lake in a storm.

Take extra food and reading material in case it storms – I took extra food and reading material but just kept going instead of using them. They just added weight and bother.

ADVICE I SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN DID BUT WAS NOT

How to use the skirt on the kayak - I never did figure it out and it would have helped me stay dry.

There are detailed maps of the river - This would have saved me two days and reduced stress and effort immensely. I would also have known where the campsites were; some of them have cabins.

Take a GPS - I would have known where I was and could have estimated my rate of speed.

Get out of the kayak to walk around – Who knew that the combination of lower body inactivity, cold, wet, exhaustion, sleep deprivation and stress could cause peripheral neuropathy?

BAD ADVICE I WAS GIVEN

You do not need any paddling experience – In the strictest sense this is true. There are no real rapids on the route and how much training does it take to paddle along? Where experience would help: knowing how to attach the skirt to keep dry, being able to judge distances and speed knowing how best to get out of the kayak without getting wet, knowing to move your legs along the way, realizing that it is important to take breaks to walk around and knowing how to land when the current wants to turn you out, and knowing how to pack to fit in the compartments, using dry bags. Most importantly experience would have given me an idea of how many hours on the river in a day is reasonable to recover for the next day.

Traveling alone is fine – This is a risky adventure with few plan B options. Having a partner is essential for safety. I did not see anyone else traveling alone. If you have a problem and are on the far side of the general path, on the slow side of an island or on a side channel and get injured, no one will be passing to help and no one will be looking for you.

This is a popular trip, you will see a lot of other people on the water. - In 470 miles I saw 5 canoes, two were traveling together. Maybe that is a crowd in the Yukon. On top of that you do not talk to someone else unless both of you stop, so I only talked to two of those. From Fort Selkirk to just shy of Dawson I traveled almost 200 miles and three days without seeing a person or building.

A rain suit is adequate – I should have worn a dry suit. I was soaked for the first five days.

Having 24 hours of light allows you to paddle when the water is smoothest – For me was a reason to exert too much and rest too little.

CONCLUSION

The best part of this trip is that for two weeks I did not hear what passes today as news. Very peaceful. I'm recovered and ready to plan another trip, if good judgment prevails (doubtful) with a guide or partner. I have not brought myself to look at my pictures yet but I'm getting close.

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