Wild. Rugged. Majestic. The first words that come to mind as our Boeing 737 Air North aircraft descends to land in Whitehorse, between huge mountain peaks, on the only stretch of tarmac visibly cleared of snow. This is “The Yukon”, a far-removed territory in Northern Canada that I’ve heard so much about. A place, I’ve been told, where people return forever changed, or not at all. Where travelers run free in the wilderness and find joy in the simple pleasures of nature in every Season. Where the local community is connected with the world around them. It’s as if being isolated in this remote place forces one to appreciate what the land provides. I can’t imagine being more drawn to a place. And here it is. Our time to experience it has just began. Today. Right now.
We pick up our hire car and drive South in search of what will soon be our wilderness cabin home for the next 7 nights, with a print-out of instructions. We would soon be living the simple life. No electricity. No running water. No phone connection, mobile reception, GPS or internet signal. We will also experience only 6.5 hours of sunlight per day and temperatures as cold as -30 degrees celsius. This could end in two ways, I think to myself. We could end up a bunch of stinky, un-showered, vitamin-d deficient travelers lost in the wilderness suffering without human or technological contact and freezing to our peril, or we could find ways to use the wild to our advantage and after some initial struggle, learn to love it. I’m hoping for the latter.
After one hour of driving further and further out of Whitehorse, the reality starts to dawn on us.. This place really is remote. And we haven’t seen the half of it! We manage to locate our driveway, and very cautiously in our standard city car, drive over a 2km stretch of heavily compacted snow. We arrive at a gate. This is it, we think to ourselves. Nope, not yet. We open the gate, and a team of barking dogs come to our car to welcome us, our hosts quickly running behind to settle them. We meet our hosts and they explain how we’ll need to walk to our cabin. We trek, with head torches on, deeper and deeper into the forest. My god, when they said wilderness they weren’t kidding. At this point, we can’t see much, but in the morning awake to this beautiful setting. Welcome to our home in the wilderness!
23 December 2014: Front view of our cabin at Wheaton River Wilderness Retreat, 61km South of Whitehorse, Yukon in the early morning
After being keen on the idea of having a large outdoor campfire under the stars, we ask our hosts and they swiftly drop off a pile of firewood for us. So, tonight our main task is sustaining a campfire for long enough to keep us warm under the Northern skies to watch Aurora Borealis.
Crossing my fingers that we see the Northern lights tonight. Though honestly, this is already dreamy enough just as it is.
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