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tæt på Bennett, British Columbia (Canada)
A team of four Canadian kayakers from British Columbia completed this paddle in celebration of and homage to the roughly 100,000 gold prospectors who sought their fortune by attempting this route during the Yukon Gold Rush of 1897 to 1899. Fewer than a third actually completed the route, which began with a 53 kilometer hike and climb over Chilkoot Pass from the Southeastern Alaska panhandle coast at Dyea to a high mountain lake at Bennett, British Columbia. One member of the kayak expedition had completed this four-day hike and climb several years earlier with his two sons. This journey by boat would complement and complete that first stage in the re-enactment of this historic journey: traveling from the Pacific Ocean to the Yukon Gold Fields.
An early morning wake-up in Whitehorse on Day One saw the final assembly of our travel gear and the stowing of a few post-trip items in our car before it was parked at the Robert Service Campground for use on Day 4 as a portage aid around the Whitehorse Dam. We had to be sure all of our gear (food for 14 days, and personal and group gear) would fit into the kayaks when we arrived at Bennett Lake. 'Up North Adventures' (a river guide service along the Yukon) helped to transport us and our boats an hour south to Carcross where we met the train to Bennett.
In Carcross we strapped the kayaks to a flatbed car that was coupled behind the engine of a heritage train that was scheduled to travel that day from Carcross (Yukon Territories, Canada) through a portion of British Columbia and then on to Skagway (Alaska, US). We were to disembark about half-way to Skagway at the old town site of Bennett and in front of the Bennett Lake Hotel (no longer in operation). The start point of this paddle was where historically tens of thousands of prospectors built their own boats or found water passage connecting the end of the 53-kilometer Chilkoot Trail to a river journey of 855 kilometers that ended in Dawson City.
We arrived at Bennett at 3:30 in the afternoon and were on the water by 5:00 for a short two-hour paddle to the north side of an island in the lake that had been pointed out to us by the train conductor as a safe place to land and camp. We had a stiff 15-knot tailwind and heavy surf that propelled us (and often spun us around) on the way to our first camp. We arrived at 7:15 to make dinner and set up our tents in the lee of this island. It was a great calm landing and camping spot and thanks to that railway conductor for pointing it out.
On our first evening out, we paddled 19 kilometers/12 statute miles/10 nautical miles.