"Have ever you stood where the silences brood, And vast the horizons begin, At the dawn of the day to behold far away The goal you would strive for and win? Yet ah! in the night when you gain to the height, With the vast pool of heaven star-spawned, Afar and agleam, like a valley of dream, Still mocks you the Land of Beyond."
Having reached Canada and the Yukon Territory, famed for untamed wild space, the team will then fly by light aircraft into extremely remote Mackenzie mountain range with their canoe lashed to the wing. When the float plane takes off and leaves them they will be on their own for the next 3-4 weeks! Their very survival depends on making the right decisions.
Stage 1: The Wind River
Initially the boat will have to be hauled from the small lake where the plane landed to the head waters barely wide enough to fit the Canadian Canoe. This will be their home for the coming weeks. The small creek gives way to faster and wider water twisting its way through the Great Mackenzie Mountains. This is where canoeing skills will start to get tested. The stakes are high as a bad capsize could not only mean injury hundreds of miles from the nearest medical facility but also, should the food be compromised, there is little hope of a successful resupply. Cooking over fires and trying to fish and trap as much as possible will help to meet the massive calorific demands of 5500 to 6000 calories a day. Paddling in the shadow of the mountains with the likelihood of seeing elk, caribou, eagles and bears, possibly even mammoth tusks left over from the last ice age, our team will be left in no doubt that they have entered the "Land of Beyond".
Stage 2: The Peel River
The Wind River gives way to the Peel, presenting some significant challenges, including very hard white water rapids and sections so dangerous that the boat and all the gear will have to be carried around just like the early fur traders would have done. The Peel takes our team into the Arctic circle and the mountains begin to give way to frozen tundra as they complete their epic journey at Fort McPherson. Taking on supplies at this tiny remote outpost and meeting with the children of the local school to share the experience, the change in season of tree colours blazing in browns and reds, will indicate it is time to starting heading back South.
The Dempster Highway links the far north with the more established trading towns of Whitehorse and Dawson. The roads very existence is ambitious, surviving due to a cushion of gravel beneath the road that insulates the permafrost ground to stop it slumping. It will take nearly a week to carefully return to Whitehorse stopping at the small communities and national park along the way.