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Thread: Snake River, Yukon - a canoeing paradise

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Amersfoort, Netherlands

    Default Snake River, Yukon - a canoeing paradise

    How lucky we were to be in an area this summer I will name Snake river paradise. On day 7 of our
    trip I wrote in my diary

    apart from the occassional rain storm that always blew over pretty quickly, we have only
    experienced sun and day time temperatures approaching 28 C and relatively cool pleasant
    evenings. The water level islow but after surviving the hurdle of getting down to Reptile creek
    (much lining) we can now float, paddle and be on the alert for sweepers in the bends. I cannot
    describe the beauty of this place. The surrounding mountains exhibit different colours according
    to the time of day. Mosquitos are hardly present but a few horse flies buzz around the canoe for
    a few minutes each day and then fly off again. Dall sheep graze on the mineral slicks and are
    fascinating to watch.
    The water until Milky creek was crystal clear. Downstream it is a little silty but still emerald
    We have wanted to paddle the Snake for a long time as a private trip. We started the search for
    paddling partners in 2003 and after a number of false starts, we finally got a group together
    this year. Maybe fine weather helps but the group got on extremely well together and we all had
    a fantastic time.

    We had two tandem pairs, one kayaker paddling a Klepper frame canoe, and one solo paddler using
    a Gatz Yoho 2. The kayak and the solo boat were transported from Germany. We rented the tandem
    canoes, Old Town Discovery 174's and spraydecks from an outfitter in Whitehorse. The outfitter
    took us to Mayo and collected us from Fort McPherson. We arranged our fly-in directly with
    Blacksheep Aviation.

    Before the trip, lots of emails and Skype sessions were used to get the group equipment
    arranged. I personally was responsible for food for 6 people for 22 days which was quite a
    challenge as on previous trips I have only packed for the 2 of us. We ate well and lots of it
    and had only some cheese, flour and granola left at the end.

    My husband was the only guy on the trip but he did survive!

    In total we paddled 481 km (278 km on the Snake and 203 km on the Peel) down to Fort McPherson.
    The highest daytime temperature was around 30C and sunny. The coldest morning (21 august) it
    was snowing but we were then above the Arctic circle.

    From our get out point, we had a fabulous ride on the Dempster Highway back to Whitehorse. The sun reappeared just for the one day.

    If you are inspired by the pictures and consider doing the trip yourselves, I definitely
    recommend it!
    We will be at the Welsh Canoe Symposium if you want to know more about arranging
    it yourselves.

    After arriving in Whitehorse from Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam we spend 3 nights and 2 full
    days there shopping and packing.

    The third day, the outfitter picked us up early and brought us to the small village of Mayo
    where there is a floatplane dock. On day 4, we presented ourselves at 06.45 all packed in at the
    dock, the stuff was weighed.

    At 8.30 in the morning we landed at Duo Lakes, the starting
    point for the Snake river.

    Duo Lakes

    Duo Lakes is I think the most beautiful place I have ever started a trip. We stayed here two
    nights and slowly portaged our stuff to the river. A round trip portage walk took us 1 hour 20

    First view of the river from the portage trail.

    River put in

    First few river km

    The river down to Reptile Creek is well known as being bony at the end of the summer and our
    experience was no exception. We alternated between paddling, wading and lining from the get-in
    down to the creek.

    Just before Reptile Creek there is a magnificent canyon which would be more exciting at high
    water. We had to line most of it and could only paddle and enjoy the exit rapid.

    We had a rest day at Reptile creek which gave us plenty of time for washing.

    During the whole trip I am always amazed at all the beautiful wild flowers which manage to grow
    in this hostile environment.

    After Reptile Creek, the volume of water has increased and the river is just about deep enough
    to put your paddle in.
    Further downstream, more creeks join until there is a decent sized river to paddle.

    As you can see from the photo's, except for a rainy afternoon and evening at Reptile Creek, the
    first two weeks we had fantastic warm and sunny weather.
    We had allowed plenty of time to paddle the upper river and paddled relatively short distances
    the first two weeks.
    We stopped to watch some Dall sheep. Unfortunately I did not have a big zoom lens - spot the
    white blobs.

    At least we had binoculars to view them and admire their dexterity.

    Until Milky creek, the water is beautifully clear. When the creek joins the river becomes muddy

    Further downstream, as more creeks come in, the siltiness is diluted and the river
    regains a nice blue colour but not as clear as the upper river.

    Time for another rest day. This time we set up camp with Mount MacDonald in site.

    We did not see much wild life (1 grizzly, 1 brown bear, 1 carabou, 1 moose, 2 wolves) but
    everywhere there were signs that they had passed by recently..

    In the mountain area of the Snake, there are plenty of places where you can choose to make a
    short or long hike.

    On about day 9 we met a Blackfeather group on the river. For a few days we kept on hopping
    past each other.

    Today it is time to put on the spray deck as the Snake Canyon is close by.

    As we approached the Snake canyon, they were already there and we watched the
    last two boats paddle thru (the first one we watched capsized, and the second boat captained by
    the black feather owner Wendy Grater made a perfect line).

    After inspection, except for the kayaker, we all paddled the canyon with no problem. We helped
    portage the kayak around using a good portage path.
    A short paddle down from the canyon we found a nice spot to make camp.

    The next day another glorious day with blue skies.

    A short stop off at an unnamed creek where further upstream there is a huge iron ore deposit and
    hunt around for some pretty rocks.

    We then floated down to where a narrow canyon on
    river left empties its waters into the Snake. About 50 meters upstream there is a deep chasm and

    Wendy and her Blackfeather customers had already been camped there for a night and offered that
    we could set up camp on the other side of the creek. It was a super spot and we spent two nights
    here ourselves. This gave me time to bake a birthday cake in the evening and celebrate another
    year the next morning.

    What a wonderful place to celebrate one's birthday.

    Last rapid on the Snake before the river enters the Mackenzie Lowlands.
    Entrance to the Mackenzie lowlands coincided with a weather change.

    Two days after my birthday and it is again birthday time for T - lets celebrate with a good breakfast.

    I baked another cake but this time a little burnt. The inside tasted good.

    Together with a weather change, the nature of the river has changed. Lots of braiding and
    occassionally a fallen tree to block our way.

    The camping sites are getting muddier but there is still sufficient choice of decent sites.

    Our final campsite on the Snake before we join the Peel.

    Welcome to the Peel river.

    The weather has changed. It is now cold, wet and sometimes very windy.

    Imposing sand walls on the Peel. Uncomfortable to paddle to close as every now and then mini
    avalanches start of sand and stones.

    Despite the grayness of everything, a few autumn asters growing in the mud brighten up my vista.

    We are now reduced to sleeping on sloping mud and cobble banks. As you walk on it, it squelches
    and sticks to your shoes. Everything we posess is now covered in grey Peel river mud.

    The sky is also grey.

    We made a short stop at the memorial for the Lost Patrol - a place where guys starved to death
    after getting lost on their way from Fort McPherson to Dawson.

    Can the weather get much worse? We woke up in a snow blizzard on our last morning. At least the
    snow did not settle but cooking breakfast was a little problematical with snow melting off the
    tarp and dripping into the fire.

    Our final lunch stop just before Fort McPherson

    15.30 day 21 arrival at the place where the Dempster Highway crosses the Peel.

    I could present a complete photo report of the ride down the Dempster highway. The sun came out the next morning and the road trip back to Whitehorse was incredible. We stopped in Dawson overnight and finished the trip with a farewell dinner in Whitehorse.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    kingston on thames surrey


    A wonderful blog a of fantastic looking trip. Well done for getting it organized ..It does indeed seem like canoeing paradise..

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Amsterdam, Netherlands


    really stunning.
    your great account and photos made for a nice read in the hammock on a sunday morning
    this must be the best way to celebrate one's birthday!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Nr Rochester in Kent


    Fantastic trip, and what amazing scenery. Thanks for sharing.

    Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Bala area


    Great trip. I have done the Bonnet Plume so did the same finish down the Peel always thought the Snake would be good.


    Paddling a Venture Prospector (in CoreLite X) using Downcreek Paddles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Shefford, Central Bedfordshire


    Great pictures and blog.
    i like the idea of the canoe covers.
    Simms ..

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    SE London



  8. #8


    - did you really need spray-covers?
    - the red canoe with extreme bow & back looks like a flat water canoe, what were the makes you used?
    - about lining, did you bring your own ropes?
    - flight to Duo Lakes, did you all fly with one plane/flight?
    - bears & wolves, did you see or did you have closer contact with them?
    - what was your travelling budget per person Whitehorse to Whitehorse?
    - who picked you up from Dempster highway ferry?
    - what lodgings you used in Whitehorse, Mayo ect?

    I made the same trip in July 2012. It is truly The River.
    We had a lot more water & downpour on the Snake, but the Peel was summer at its best.
    There was enough water all the way. Discharge on the Peel River was at that time between 4500 - 1500 - 1000 cu meters/s

    Link to some videos

    Link to my blog with some caption in English

    It is very good to share information. I had trouble getting any before our trip.
    Here are pictures of our campsites with coordinates



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    Excellent Trip and blogg
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2008


    Outstanding trip, very jealous! Thanks for sharing.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    SW France


    Yeah that looks the sort of place you'd not mind being too much.
    Food for 6 people for the trip is also a fair achievement in itself.

    All round excellent, thanks
    Canoe outfitting packages in the Massif Central

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Oct 2009


    Did the Snake in 1995. Thanks for bringing back memories. We did see several grizzlies and had one eat some bagels (of all things) at Duo Lakes. It might have figured out everyone lands there, even though at that time the river was still largely an experimental trip. At that time blue barrels were not quite available.

    We used the same air charter. We did not have spray covers. In retrospect I wish we had.
    "Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing." WS-prophecy about internet postings.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Downriver from the Bywell bridge over the Tyne


    Breathtaking scenery, great blogg, thanks for posting

    "Der Hirsch springt hoch,
    Der Hirsch springt weit.
    Es macht ja nichts........
    Er hat ja Zeit"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Dundee, Scotland


    What an awesome place and experience, truly inspiring

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Amersfoort, Netherlands

    Smile Answers to Iacco questions

    - did you really need spray-covers?
    - the red canoe with extreme bow & back looks like a flat water canoe, what were the makes you used?
    - about lining, did you bring your own ropes?
    - flight to Duo Lakes, did you all fly with one plane/flight?
    - bears & wolves, did you see or did you have closer contact with them?
    - what was your travelling budget per person Whitehorse to Whitehorse?
    - who picked you up from Dempster highway ferry?
    - what lodgings you used in Whitehorse, Mayo ect?
    did you really need spray-covers
    At the low water levels we experienced they were not really necessary. On the Peel, it was so cold and wet, it was a pleasure to use them to keep warm and dry.
    red canoe
    - It is a Gatz Yoho 2 made in polyester. It has a good amount of rocker.
    The rental boats were Old Town Discovery 174 which have no rocker but are good for making miles on the Peel. You can manoevre them quite enough on the moving water. Only disadvantage is they are very heavy to portage.
    - we brought our own ropes (and throw bags, paddles and crash helmets)
    - we used 2 planes. They are very strict nowadays on the payload limit. We all flew in a Single Otter. We chartered the Cessna for luggage only (cheaper rate). We had 6 people, 4 canoes and 5 tents. If you travelled lighter you could probably do it with one plane for a group of 6.
    bears and wolves
    - we saw 2 wolves in a side creek, one brown bear popped his head out of a wood on the side and our noise (women talk a lot) seemed to wake a grizzly bear on the Peel. He ran at full speed along the shore and then ran all the way up a steep river cliff - amazing sight
    travel budget Whitehorse to Whitehorse
    cost Can dollar 1453 per person (transport to Mayo, flight to Duo lakes, pick up and 2 day van trip from Fort McPherson back to Whitehorse).
    who picked us up at ferry - Yukon Wide (we first spent 1 night on the camp site about 1 km from the ferry with warm shower before the pick up)
    local guy drove us from the get out by the ferry to the camp ground in his truck for a few dollars.
    Mayo - we camped at the floatplane base as we had to be standing ready with all our gear at 06.45 in the morning, Dawson on the way back at the camp ground, Whitehorse (start in a BB/apartment with plenty of space to pack and after the trip BB (me and hubbie as we needed to clean up and prepare for a second trip! and the others camped as they were going straight home). We stayed at the Yukon Historical Guest House in Whitehorse which is a great place to prepare and pack for a trip.

    It was not my first time in Mayo or Whitehorse so that makes organising and being aware of some information a little easier!
    For river information we purchased the book Wild Rivers of the Yukon's Peel Watershed and downloaded and plastified for free 1:50000 and 1:250000 topographic maps from

    Hope this answers all your questions.

  16. #16


    Wau! Thank you very much. I copy and save your answers to my next trip.

    Thank you!

  17. #17


    nice trip and blogg .IO hope to speak to you soon again.
    Propper writing in English. How do you do that? with dyslexia, bad hand eye coordination, ect. and in a foreign language.
    Sorry for all the mistakes.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    A, A


    Great Stuff

    Good too see you get Cumbria weather also!!!!
    Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything....................

  19. #19


    Wonderful images and blog. Thanks for all the detailed logistics info, too - very helpful. One request, though - can you try and get a close-up pic of a grizzly for us next time?
    The biggest canoe hire and shuttle service in Scotland -

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Amersfoort, Netherlands

    Default Wildlife

    Boots N Paddles Mike
    Wonderful images and blog. Thanks for all the detailed logistics info, too - very helpful. One request, though - can you try and get a close-up pic of a grizzly for us next time?
    Here a picture of the grizzly on the Peel (photo credit Claudia Mößner).

    and a picture of the moose on the Snake

    We also saw some grizzlies from the safety of the van on the trip back to Whitehorse.

  21. #21


    Cool And first time I have seen a moose on a snake
    The biggest canoe hire and shuttle service in Scotland -

  22. #22
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Forres, Moray, Scotland


    Wow, completely blown away. Looks like a trip of a lifetime.

    Thank you very much for sharing.


  23. #23


    Great trip... Brought back memories of the Wind... Good energy to organise such a trip from a European base...
    Doug Dew
    "The best is yet to come" My Father

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