Canadian Canoe Routes

Teslin vs Big Salmon
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Author:  CanoeClaire [ October 28th, 2016, 10:02 am ]
Post subject:  Teslin vs Big Salmon

We're considering a Yukon trip next summer and we're debating between the Teslin and the Big Salmon.

Our biggest concern is whether or not we have the skills for the Big Salmon. All 4 of us are confident flat water paddlers. We've all been canoeing for 10+ years each and do several Ontario backcountry paddling trips every year in places like Algonquin, Killarney and Kawartha Highlands. But most of our experience is on flat lake water. Can we handle the Big Salmon?

I see conflicting information about the difficulty of this river. Any first hand experience would be appreciated. We're leaning towards the Teslin to be on the safe side.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ October 28th, 2016, 4:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin vs Big Salmon

From what I have seen of the Big Salmon and heard, log jams are common so you have to be able to avoid getting in strainers..
I have not done that river

In 2012 we did the Teslin from Johnsons Crossing to the confluence with the Yukon and down that river to Dawson City.. Carmacks from Johnsons is a mere five days.

The Teslin is wide with one rapid that I worried more about than I should have. It's merely a gravel bar chute with ( at the time ) some three foot tall wave trains at the bottom. The trees tend to get swept to the side.

Here is a trip report ... eport.html

Mike Rourke wrote a guidebook. I cant verify if its any good or not ... uctid=2228

The Teslin was interesting for old logging camps and hoodoos and we saw some salmon wheels.. But it was only three days of camping on it.

Author:  Ted [ October 28th, 2016, 11:27 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin vs Big Salmon

I did the Teslin solo 3 summers ago. To me, it was all about the history. LRC's mention of Mike and Gillian Rourke's book is a good reference. Here's a note on the booklet that I wrote for my log (it's on my website).

The Teslin River, Johnston's Crossing to Carmacks
This booklet by Mike and Gillian Rourke is a must-have. Their hand-drawn maps are the only decent maps of the river as they show physical features, campsites, mileage and even the occasion lat/long reference. I would have been lost - physically and metaphorically - without correlating 1:50,000 topo maps to this book.

I'd asked my outfitter about the Big Salmon for another trip. He said that the Big Salmon had a some log jams and pileups on the banks of some of the tighter corners but nothing that blocked the river. As I'd just come off the Nisutlin, he said they were similar. With the Nisutlin, the log jams were piled up against the outside corners leaving almost all of the river clear. If you're OK with relatively quick corners in fast but not pushy water, shouldn't be a problem.

cheers, Ted

Author:  erich [ December 19th, 2016, 3:07 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin vs Big Salmon

I paddled the Big Salmon in 2013 and the Teslin in 2003. While Kim is correct in that there is a single log jam and often a lift over or two on the upper Big Salmon. However, there are none below that. Primarily, there is a large one near the beginning of the river a few km downstream from Big Salmon Lake. The difficulty depends a lot on river levels. If you have only flat water experience, I would advise that you get some moving water experience before attempting either river. You should be able to do eddy turns and front and back ferries easily with a loaded canoe. Neither river has much in the way of whitewater. The Teslin has Roaring Bull rapid just downstream from the confluence of the Boswell River. It is more of lamb than a bull. The Big Salmon has a few riffles. the Big Salmon is less traveled and you are more likely to see wildlife. There is a cabin on Quiet Lake that is available. As well, there is a rather old cabin above the log jam. Big Salmon Village(abandoned) has a nice new building that is good for keeping out of the rain. The Teslin has some nice history. The main log jam on the Big Salmon, and the sweepers that begin just after the trapper's cabin, can be quite dangerous. In 2013, we encountered a party that had flipped on two sweepers. One couple had limited experience, the other couple from Austria, had apparently done it before. Water level is critical. Besides the above incident, I have known of other parties that bailed and went back after wrapping and encountering difficulties at the start of the river. With experience on a swift river, it isn't a problem. But you need to be able to stop your boat at any time to avoid a log. I should mention that there is a lake and trappers cabin about half way down RL. There are often tundra swans there. As well, we saw a lynx sunning itself in the same area. There is definitely more wildlife on the Big Salmon than the Teslin. On the latter, a ferry is important to visit the shipyard and telegraph station at the confluence of the Yukon. The latter is swift and getting across before you are downstream can be hard for inexperienced river paddlers.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ December 20th, 2016, 12:16 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin vs Big Salmon


On the Teslin.. It seems like wilderness so I was surprised at the collar and ear tag.

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