A Short, Hot, Windless Day Produces a Special 'Moose' Moment!

The Yukon Blind..... Canoeing the 'Big River'
Team "Imtiaz and Howard"
Mon 27 Jun 2011 23:57
A Short, Hot, Windless Day Produces a Special ‘Moose’ Moment!
62:48.527N, 138:08.676W

Thanks for the email responses, encouragement, and great to get the questions the questions to Imi, which are responded to at the end of this posting

A late start to our paddling day (see the technology section below), so a short day of 40 river kilometres, some 4 and a half hours on the river, in real hot, windless conditions. The river was the widest it's ever been, flow was slow, and there were the most islands we had experienced. The familiar, steep sand cliff river banks have been largely replaced by basalt rock, almost crash barrier like features, signally the transition from the ice age glacial domination to the volcanic lava overlay. This river bank terrain change been abruptly impressive.

The colour of the river water has changed from green to brown, being heavily silt laden to the point that we often hear the grinding noise of the silt as it scours the canoe hull.

We passed our first significant settlement since Carmacks, the riverside village of Fort Selkirk, which consisted of a few farm houses, a church and wilderness cottages, with a recreational boat ramp. It all seemed out of place out here, and made Imi's questions of the previous blog posting all the more relevant.

Each day we have seen two kayakers on the river, an Oregon, USA, husband and wife team we met in Carmacks, who like us are heading for Dawson City. While they do go slightly faster than us, we still seem to see each other each day. I always head down a side channel to protect our wilderness solitude.

With the intense heat of the day, we felt a repeat of the day before's thunderstorm building. This one seemed more extensive driving our decision to end the day's paddling early and set up camp before the deluge. As it turned out the broader extent of this grey, cumulus, cloud build up, was the demise of the storm, as the extensive cloud, put an end to the oppressive heat that was fueling the storm build up. So we were spared just a few droplets that keep us in our tents for only a short time.

Before having to take refuge, as I enjoyed our campsite's river vista, in the distant upstream I saw what appeared to be a moose head coming down the river. As it got closer, I confirmed it was an adult female, seemingly happily swimming with the flow travelling downstream in the middle of the second major channel of the river. She passed right by my tent, turning her head from left to right in an apparently very content exploring way. She stayed midstream, once moving towards one bank to have a closer look, but then heading back to the faster midstream. She had travelled two kilometres by the time I lost sight of her, leaving me surprisingly emotional and overwhelmed. In the new rain enforced solitude of my tent, the reason for this reaction unfolded. This moose took me back to 2004 in my life, the year I sold up everything and left Sydney on the hugest adventure of my life, in search of 'another life'. This moose was doing the very same, but much more radically. In jumping into the river much higher upstream, she had decided to embark on a one way, solo adventure, cutting ties with all the familiarities, belonging, freedoms and constraints of her territory in search of a new life, in a yet to be discovered new place, where she would initially have no belonging, and no familiarities. As I thought back to her exploring attitude, head moving side to side enjoying the passing scenery, as a 'fellow wanderer', I couldn't help but relate to her huge sense of freedom, excitement, yet apprehension, and how so vibrantly alive she must feel.

Had she walked away from a partner, maybe even her offsprings, would she ever land in a place where she would meet another partner, would she find something better than she had? It wasn't about these things; it was about the adventure journey, and the sense of freedom and exploring the unknown. The unknown lies ahead, but in that unknown lies such richness of experience, and in the solo journey down the river ones identity with only oneself and one's sense of purpose and self worth are paramount. With the journey and its inevitable challenges these inner anchors will increase in stature as the adventure takes its course. I may have read too far into this moose's mission, but I honestly doubt it, she just had all the mannerisms of the wandering adventurer I so intimately know.

Unlike me in 2004, she had left without a laptop, sat phone, she had truly cut ties with her previous world, and was truly solo....maybe an even richer experience than I'll never get to have. For many it would seem like a lonely mission of defeat, but is a mission that delivers huge personal power, uncomparative freedom, with no expense or harm to others, a mission of defeat? I sense it's a mission of triumph.

Today, we ARE implementing our through the night paddle. Enabling us to avoid the camp problems of the previous attempt, I found an apparently good site on our map, some 18 kilometres from here. A short paddle there, we'll sleep the afternoon, and set off paddling around 10 or 11 pm, through sunset and sunrise to 7am. It should be fun...!

Imi's Reflection Insights

"The Rewilding Amendment.....Should we go for it?

What I call the Rewilding Amendment could take us back to the Earth in its ancient glory. It has three elements:

1. The rural / urban bill: Dense, fully developed urban centres with vast tracts of undeveloped wilderness surrounding them, without roads, electricity and other infrastructure connecting it,

2. Conservation measures: Very light, battery powered, personal motor vehicles that can't exceed 50 km/h, and other such measures.

3. The Land Act: Elimination of traditional industrial farming. Use of modern technology for hydroponic vegetables. Meats cultured in multistoried greenhouse laboratories, replacing farms which go back to wilderness.

Would you reject the Rewilding Amendment on the basis that it restricts civil liberties and imposes harsh measures on all of us, or do you think some such amendments will be necessary in the foreseeable future?"

These big questions aside, I had a 'now' development conflict to deal with yesterday:

Technology, technology, technology...Hmm, I do really struggle with the dilemma: I'm here in the wilderness, and through, fairly basic yet amazing technology, we are able to 'talk'' live everyday to you... Well it's not as easy out here in the wilds as it is in 'normal land', and sometimes one's 'normal land' expectations make one impatient, frustrated and unappreciative of how lucky 'we' are to be able to even email you from here. Yesterday, our 'start paddle' time was delayed by two hours because of technology! Fortunately, unlike normal ‘land' life, time is almost free out here, no deadlines, no alarms, no norms, no routines, just deal with the immediacies of the now and how we feel. Well, this brings us face to face with our very selves and our responses free of external moldings. Yesterday, after 1 hour of typing up the blog on my PDA, I was half way through typing Imi's dictation to me and the PDA screen froze, and yes, I hadn't saved it. A necessary reboot revealed I'd lost all the content, and to add to the pain, I'd wasted the scarce AA battery power that fueled those almost two hours of typing! I was angry at the wasted effort, but agreed with Imi we would have breakfast and see how 'we' feel. Reflecting on our adventure goals, and time availability, in the serenity of our 'island breakfast', renewed resolve took me back to the PDA to recreate the blog which is now on the blog. This time however, I did save the content every minute! Sending the email can also be trying: It generally takes 5 minutes of sat phone time to send a 'typical' blog email, and one has to wait, biting my nails, hoping I don't lose satellite connection at minute 4 or so, and have to start all over again. Not whining, just hope you feel truly appreciative of the 'fast, instant world, of normal land, that we mostly take for granted and even becoming of better. Imi and I often have heated discussions about wants, demands and needs. He believes wants are the source of human discontent, and I tell him wants are the basis of five star hotel business, and he has a right to want anything I can provide for him....It's only my pleasure and adds to his richer experience. He does agree but in his humble, simple needs way he has an understandable conflict! I think this is healthy.

Two reader questions for Imi:

1. How did he feel going through Five Fingers rapids?

Imi's response: "The rapids were not as scary as I thought they would be, but....

Before the main rapid we hit pretty rough water where there was lots of splashing and shaking of the canoe, and I had no visual clues as to how long this would last or whether it would get worse? I was in constant terror that the shaking would considerably increase and I would be toppled. I was mentally preparing myself for that eventuality. However to my intense relief nothing of the sort happened. Essentially, terror gets enhanced by lack of visual certification. All in all a fun experience....on reflection!"

2. How has this adventure as a blind man been different to the same route you did many years ago but as a sighted person?

Imi acknowledges the significance and interest of this question, knowing that it is one of the huge personal explorations of this trip, and he would like to share his reflections and conclusions with all, on this blog at the end of the trip from Dawson City. This should be really special....

Time to move on again...short paddle, sleep and then a long exciting night ahead...

H + I