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Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with pics
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Author:  marcjboudreau [ February 3rd, 2011, 4:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with pics

DISCLAIMER: At least one, and maybe even two of the events described in the narrative below, may or may not have happened exactly as they are described. Readers are advised to ensure their sense of humour is engaged, and that they left any sense of writing critique at the door.

Day 1 - Johnsons Crossing - Henry's Island

This trip had been over a year in the planning, but at last all of the gear was in the back of the shuttle van, one canoe on top, and the trailer with the other two canoes hooked up to the back, we began our commute to Johnsons Crossing.
We had contracted with Kanoe People in Whitehorse to provide us with a shuttle to the beginning of the run, and we were now being driven to our put-in point by our driver, Mike (hereafter known as the Grumpy Old Bastard, or "GOB"). He was definitely the most unfriendly person we'd met up to this point, but thankfully once we hit the put-in spot a few hours later we had no one along that was too grumpy.
We loaded the canoes, while Mushy Dave headed up to buy us some cinnamon buns at the bakery in Johnsons Crossing. We'd heard they were the best around, and they were certainly the best ones to be had in Johnsons Crossing. Our sweet teeth fed for a final time, we launched out into the Teslin River to begin our 9 days of paddling.

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A word of note if launching from here, immediately cross the river to river right, as the whole central and left side of the river is really shallow. So much so, that I got out and walked our fully laden canoe back across to the proper channel so that we could continue down the river.
The first day is much like being on a narrow lake, no current to speak of and we were only averaging about 6kms/hr, but the paddling was enjoyable and we were feeling no hurry. We only had 20kms to go today, so a mere 3.5 hours later we beached the canoes and started trying to figure out where the camping spots were.
The map we were using comes from the book, "Teslin River (Johnson's - Carmacks) by Mike Rourke". It was generally a good book to get you into the general vicinity of where you were going, but it contains hand drawn maps that came out in 1995. Handy because it lets you know that there is stuff around, but you do need to cast about a bit to find it sometimes.
The river is really low this time of year, so while we were looking for Henry's Island, in reality it's not really an island this time of year when the river is low. We find the campsites, drag our gear and boats up through the muck, and set up for our first night.

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Unfortunately for my paddling mates, the first night's meal was my responsibility so they got ground mice, between old McDonald's cheeseburger buns. Those buns never go bad, so even after a year sitting in the back of my closet they still looked just fine. They went well with the mice that had died attempting to eat them. After having them ground at the butcher they made a nice lean substitute for beef, and my companions seemed to be enjoying them.


Day 2 - Henry's Island - Good Camping Spot on a Plateau

Slowly we climbed out of bed and began our day. My companions seemed to be showing no ill affects from last night's meal, but they were looking at me strangely and often would break off and go whisper silently together. No doubt planning their revenge, I smile sweetly in their direction and know that if it comes down to it, I'll be forced to go it alone. There is no way that I'm going to allow them to re-enact The Cremation of Sam McGee, with yours truly playing the still living, unwilling Sam. I wasn't that cold, but their stares certainly were. Strange how a little mouse in your diet can completely unhinge some people.
As we move down river each day the average speed of the current increases. We make good time to our campsite, and are sitting on the beach, and relaxing by around 4pm. The weather has changed from the rain we were dealing with the first day, and earlier in the morning to sunshine. Lots of animal tracks all around our campsite, bear, wolf, moose, bird, etc. Obviously we were fairly close to a wildlife corridor here, but though we did hear a mighty splash of something in the river, not long after dark, we did not see anything.

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We relaxed in the sun, and I kept a steely eye on Dave and Dianne as they prepared tonight's repast. It was too early in the trip, with wounds still too fresh to relax my guard. I never noticed anything happening but I was surprised how different my steak looked from the rest of theirs and the way they would all rub their hands and cackle maniacally anytime I took a bite. Thankfully the regimen I'd adopted 15 years ago of ingesting a variety of poisons* first thing in the day and again just before bed, seemed to be insulating me from whatever evil they had plotted. Soon they went from laughter to a general dejected look, and not long after that we were off to bed.

* Mainly a regimen of caffeine/alcohol use, but as "They" say, it's "Name your Poison", for a reason.


Day 3 - Plateau Camp - Sheldon Creek

I awake and like most mornings wrestle with Christine to get the pillow off of my face. It has been a daily ritual for awhile now. I can already feel a change in her upper body strength due to the paddling, so today I make a point of getting her to take more pictures in the hope that she'll not put on any more muscle. In the battle that ranges through our married life, I'm barely holding my own, I can't allow her to gain anymore of an edge.
It's a beautiful day on the water, but since the river is so low, we're doing a lot of "switchbacking" to get around all of the various water bars.
Another fairly early day off of the river, and by 3pm, we roll into camp and frantically stand around in the rain trying to get tarps up. Thankfully, the tarps worked because just after we managed to get totally drenched setting them up, the rain moved off and never returned.


I had begun to work on my fishing skills the night before and this night they paid off. I caught the first of many Arctic Grayling which were to be my main sustenance for this trip. I continued to "eat" with my cohorts but I could see that their attempts to do me in, were becoming ever more complicated and subtle. I slowly dug out a hole with my heel and surreptitiously deposited my dinner there. After the meal of Grayling "sashimi" on the beach, along with the lint encrusted trail mix I found at the bottom of my drysack, I was able to feel comfortably fed and re-fuelled and easily denied the temptation of eating whatever it is the Death (aka Sue, aka Blucruisin) herself had slid on to my plate

Day 4 - Sheldon Creek - Good High Water Camp (after no luck finding the mythical Spectacular Low Water Sandy Camp)

Yesteday's plan of having Christine paddle less seemed to have paid off. I easily removed the pillow this morning, and scurried quickly from the tent. I had already taken to sleeping with my mummy bag completely unzipped, I had learned that the restricted movement caused when zipping it up could be quite costly, so was able to quickly move out of arms reach. On Day 2 of our Honeymoon, 3 years before, I gave into the cold and zipped my bag all the way up. I almost didn't wrestle free in time before my oxygen ran out and I still have trouble with compound words to this day from that momentary slip.
Today was supposed to be our most "technical" day. Ahead were the Roaring Bull rapids, which were more like Boring Bull rapids. We wouldn't have even known they were there if it weren't for the fact that we'd marked them on the gps and were looking at the map. We did however get our first view of a moose in this area, so it wasn't a totally uneventful moment. The water does have a reasonable current through here, but there is nothing that anyone needs to worry about, saying all this, considering how low the water was is definitely saying something.
Since, I was becoming even more sure of my travelling companion's evil intentions towards me, I began the first of my many attacks using psychological warfare techniques. I began to sing to them. I had taken voice weapon lessons with a legendary group of Austrian Yodeling monks, in their secret monastery in Garibaldi Park. Already I could see the others paddling like mad to escape the range of this most deadly of weapons. Christine unfortunately was trapped in the boat with me, so in a moment of unselfish dedication she tried to kill us both by running us aground in the middle of the river. Our canoe made from the finest Kevlar, is not only bullet proof, it was also all that saved us from certain death, though we did have to bear the discomfort of wet feet. We joined the rest of our group, on the shore of a small island to enjoy our lunch and bask in the sun for a bit, before continuing down the river. We made a stop in at O'Brien's Bar, which to my dismay was the location of an old mining camp. I was set for a cold beer, and a nice glass of scotch but instead found myself wandering around looking at the remains of old cabins, and mining equipment. It was interesting but hard to get over my disappointment at the lack of a liquor emporium.

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The hand-drawn map scrawled by the Mad Yukoner Mike Rourke (also the author of the legendary, The Yukonomicon, that ancient northern book of evil), indicated the existence of a mythical place, "Spectacular Low Water Sandy Camp", but after much fruitless searching we finally gave up, and continued down river to, "Good High Water Camp". While this sandy camp spot may have existed on the river 15 years ago, there is definitely no evidence of it now.
I am once again providing dinner for my colleagues and am now introducing them to yet another culinary experience. We're having "Hot Dogs" tonight and the naming of this food has never been more accurate. I had been using a motion sensitive flame thrower, to take care of the packs of wild dogs that have begun to roam the alleys of the Downtown Eastside. They had become particularly troublesome, and the city was paying me well to do something about the problem. The butcher who assisted me with the mouse burgers, was more than willing to deal with these hot dogs as well. Thankfully, I had caught more fish, and with the plentiful amount of wild cranberries and rose hips around, I didn't have to worry about the gastrointestinal disaster that this meal would no doubt inflict. Everyone did comment on how fresh and smoky they tasted, so it does prove that the further and longer you are away from civilization the quicker your taste buds mutate into ones that convince you that anything/everything tastes better.


Day 5 - Good High Water Camp to Hootalinqua

We 're on the water the earliest we've been paddling yet, by around 930am. Today we move from the clearer, slower moving waters of the Teslin River and will be joining up with the Yukon River. We have a few stops of interest on our route today. We pull in at Mason's Landing, and examine the decaying cabins and find, much to the joy of the female members of our party, the first outhouse we were to see on this trip.

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Back on the Teslin, we make our way to 17 Mile Camp where we stop for some more exploration and have our lunch. There is much to see here, and a nice short hike to do, up to a viewpoint for those who are interested.
I have been forced to sleep with one eye open for the last few nights, as I've been noticing that now that we're approaching the half way point of our trip, the group seems more concerned about my continuing amongst the living. I know that if I can survive until Hootalinqua that I'll be safe for a night. They'll be too many witnesses camped there, so the risk of discovery will keep everyone nice and polite until we move off again in the days to come.
Hootalinqua was a gathering place and trading village for the peoples that lived in this area, and in the late part of the 1800s/early part of the 1900s two RCMP officers were dropped off here with the orders to build a detachment. At the time this was the only route between Whitehorse and Dawson City, so with the steamships going back and forth someone needed to keep an eye on the shipping and trade in the area. Eventually a telegraph office went in as well and for a great many years, Hootalinqua flourished as a little village at the joining of the Yukon and Teslin Rivers. After the road and the railway went in, this little village became a ghost town pretty quickly.
I was right that Hootalinqua would have more travelers at it than any previous spot we'd stopped, it was to be the only place where we shared a campsite and saw other people for the whole trip.
It was indeed a restful night, and with another catch of Grayling last night, I do believe I'll have the strength and perserverance to last this trip, and outwit those who are attempting to do me in.

Day 6 - Hootalinqua to Big Salmon Village campsite

Lots more stuff to see on this leg of the trip. Not far from where we camped is Shipyard Island. In the days when the steamships used to ply their trade up and down the river, there would come a time as winter approached that the ships could no longer navigate the waters. It is on Shipyard Island that these boats would be beached for the winter and any necessary repairs would be done.
In 1922 the sternwheel paddler Evelyn (Norcom), was beached here, her engines removed and she was left to deteriorate in the forest. It was the coolest thing I had seen on this trip so far, this old steamship, sitting on blocks in the middle of an island, in the middle of nowhere.


Head here for a big pano of the Evelyn -

The Yukon River is definitely deeper and faster than the Teslin, so in order to make your campsites, lunch spots, stops for the points of interest, you need to be aware of where they are, and to make sure you're on the right side of the river. This means that some of make it to the sandbar where the wreck of the SS Klondike can be seen, and some of us don't. It's not much of a big deal, not a lot left to see of. Though I did miss an opportunity to "thin the herd", when Dave became stuck in the mud, I guess the rest of the night before and the beauty of our surroundings had taken the edge of me. There'd been a time, not even 5 days ago when I wouldn't have missed such a chance.
We make another stop at Big Salmon Village, and explore the remains of the fishing village that was here, and we make a quick hike over to look at the cemetary as well. We do not linger long though, as we can see the rain clouds starting to stack up, so lining our canoes a short distance down the beach, we stop at the campsite for another night.

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Sue, obviously not willing to stare at my grinning mug for yet another night, immediately retreated to her tent. No doubt trying to come up with a better strategy before she would have to accept I'll be returning from yet another trip with her. My wiliness and cunningness, trained to such an advanced degree were defeating their nefarious schemes once again.

Day 7 - Big Salmon Village Campsite - Twin Creeks Campsite

Another moose spotted today, Christine and I paddled a little closer for a better look at the young bull. Close enough to see, but not close enough that either of us felt threatened. The last thing I needed was to put Christine back on guard. I'd been building my upper body strength by paddling furiously over the last couple of days, while encouraging her to take more pictures, and smiling idiotically at her. I think I've begun to lure her into a false sense of security, and was planning an abrupt turn of the tables in our daily calisthenics. Soon, I'd be the one holding the pillow, then we'll see what we will see.
More things to see on our run today, Cyr's Dredge. In 1940, these 2 guys built a small dredge it Whitehorse, and then floated it down river to do some gold mining. It was built from a stripped down tractor, a car motor and few parts they made themselves. The Yukon certainly breeds them a little crazy, but in 20 days they mined 72 ounces of "flour" gold. They never did come back after that and the dredge has just been sitting here ever since.

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Another 40kms done today, we arrive at camp, get set-up and since I was denied any fish the night before, hunger drove me to the river in the hopes that I could catch tonight's dinner. The group has begun to realize that I'm not eating the food they've been providing, so they've begun to try and find more direct ways then the subtle art of the poisoner to finish me off.
Since the meal was chili tonight, and everyone was eating from the same communal pot, I grabbed a bowl and snagged some chili before anyone was aware it was going to happen. I feel safe and smug at my success, and start shoveling the chili down, that's when I notice they're all smiling strangely at me, and no one else is eating after all. Good God, what have I done?
The colour begins to drain from everything, and it's all flashing back and forth between black & white, and sepia colouring. Those around me flash from their poly pro, neoprene, and schoeller, to flannel, wool, and boots. As these images flash back and forth, I realize that somehow, whatever it is I've ingested is causing me to see two different time streams, then and now. I see the ancestors of my current companions as well as their distant offspring. The chilling part is that in both time streams, I'm being plotted against.

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Soon everything goes dark, I notice I'm having trouble breathing, and that's when I realize that my friggin' mummy bag is zipped up and there is a pillow over my face! I'm out of the tent as quick as possible, shaking off the dream of the night before. What did Sue put in that chili? I can't tell if I want to find out what was in it, or if I just want another bowl for breakfast.


Day 8 - Twin Creeks Campsite - McCauley Bar

Another early start to the morning, and now the group is giving Christine funny looks. Obviously they feel that she missed out on a golden opportunity. I make sure I pay her a lot of attention and compliment her often. This bit of psychological warfare, now makes them unsure of where her true loyalties lie. I mean how else could she explain that I'm still wandering around, singing odd, out of tune songs at them. Not realizing that the songs themselves are part of my arsenal.


We take a little rest at Little Salmon Village. This is still being used seasonally, so not as much history, as much as a now-story.

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Strong headwinds for part of the paddle today, but now we are paralleling the highway. For the first time in 8 days we begin to slide back into civilization.
I know that all I need to do is survive the night, and I'll be safe from the machinations of the unwashed (well, at least unshowered at any rate), for another season. I began to drink the last of my coffee, the plan is simple, stay awake until morning, paddle the remaining 20kms, and my getaway driver, and re-enforcements will be waiting. I'd received coded instructions, in the flashing headlights of the cars along the highway. If I can make The Coal Mine Campground, I'll have run the gauntlet and survived.

Day 9 - McCauley Bar - The Coal Mine Campground

By morning I'd consumed all of the coffee, I'd even gone so far as to eat all of the coffee grounds. Due to the added vibrations this caused, I was now moving at a slightly faster time synchronization than the rest. This new ability gave me edge I needed, coupled with my new found upper body strength I was now too much for them all to handle. As this was to be our last big trip for the season, I knew that I was now safe at least until winter stares down at us with his chilly regard.
We arrived at The Coal Mine, where Tim and Jenn are waiting. Friends, and re-enforcements all in one vehicle. I'm feeling relieved and comforted by their arrival, and then I notice that they've both moved off with the others and none of them are looking happy to see me........Looks like it's going to be a long drive back to Vancouver after all.


Author:  Ralph [ February 4th, 2011, 9:45 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories!

Very enjoyable! Thanks for posting.

Author:  erich [ February 21st, 2012, 6:05 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Nice report. It takes me back to my trip on the Teslin. The Boswell River confluence was my favorite camp, spent two days there. If you have notes on camps that have disappeared or the river has changed, let me know. I know Mike Rourke and Scott and Joanne MacDougall at Kanoe People and it is good to have updated info so the guide books can be changed. In 2007 on the Pelly, the river had changed course dramatically in several places and when I visited Mike in Houston BC that fall, we updated his Pelly guidebook to reflect the changes.

Author:  sk8r [ February 22nd, 2012, 7:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

I thoroughly enjoyed that. :D

Thanks for sharing. :)

Author:  pknoerr [ February 22nd, 2012, 8:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Wow, thanks for resurrecting this thread from a few weeks back, Erich. Even more, thanks Marc for posting it. I missed it when it was originally posted. Man, I just counted and realized it's been over 24 years since I was to the Yukon in that area. Spent some time in the Tagish and Atlin areas. Sure would love to visit that area again, but 4 days of driving each way will likely preclude that. Thanks again for taking me there virtually.


Author:  erich [ February 22nd, 2012, 11:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Hey PK, you can always fly. I'm still looking for a couple of crew for a Yukon trip this summer. It'll most likely be in the Peel drainage. I have always driven. From Seattle, it usually takes me 4 days though I've done it in 3 days to WH.

Author:  Barbara [ February 22nd, 2012, 11:18 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Many thanks to erich for resurrecting this thread.

I know I read it when it was originally posted, and I swore I had commented back then.


Thanks, Marc, for posting such an entertaining trip report. The photos are amazing and your narrative is hilarious.

Author:  erich [ February 22nd, 2012, 11:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Those JC cinnamon rolls are good, but the ones at Braeburn are even better!

Author:  Paddle Power [ February 23rd, 2012, 2:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

A wonderful write up and photos.

Author:  marcjboudreau [ February 27th, 2012, 1:55 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Funny to see this come up again after so long.
Glad you all enjoyed the trip report. Was as fun to write as it was to do the

Author:  Hugh [ February 28th, 2012, 3:50 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

erich wrote:
Those JC cinnamon rolls are good, but the ones at Braeburn are even better!

Yeah, they can feed a small country!

Author:  nessmuk [ February 28th, 2012, 7:31 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Hugh wrote:
erich wrote:
Those JC cinnamon rolls are good, but the ones at Braeburn are even better!

Yeah, they can feed a small country!
Sorry to say I had a bad experience at Braeburn. The rolls are indeed large, but that's all I can say positive about them. I think the day we stopped the owner was having a bad day. He was downright mean when we tried to engage him in simple conversation. Told us to keep our nose out of the kitchen (we were only at the door). And truthfully after we left with the rolls we bought they turned out to be tough as if they were old, and not very tasty (certainly not when compared to my wife's rolls). We certainly will not stop there again.

Not too far away, Mom's Bakery's pies on the road to the Laberge campground are a much better and friendly option.

Author:  littleredcanoe [ February 28th, 2012, 8:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Thanks for the TR. Now we have to decide between the Teslin/Yukon route and staying on the Yukon and paddling the length of Lake Laberge. We are going this summer in August.

Author:  erich [ February 29th, 2012, 12:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

Nessmuk, sorry you had a bad experience at Braeburn. As with most places, the tourist season can create some frayed nerves, especially late summer when the tenth tourist bus passes through with folks referring to the Yukon as part of Alaska. Believe me, they can be good, and some others can be downright fantastic...but those are very little places which I'm keeping to myself!

Kim, I'll be in the YT in July and August this year. Perhaps we can meet up. You have a difficult choice between the two options. Let me know if you would like some tips.



Author:  Kanoe [ February 29th, 2012, 6:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Teslin River - A Paddle in the Terror-tories! -Now with

LRC - We will also be in Yukon once again this summer, July and August. Paddling the Yukon River from the Thirty Mile section to Dawson City. Put-in will be around July 26th . We'll have 1 yellow Evergreen Starburst, 1 bluish Bluehole and 1 rental boat. We're all old - there'll be a lot of grey hair in camp. Look for us, stop by if you see us.

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