Two years ago, while climbing the Nose on El Capitan, Tom and me decided to paddle down a remote river in Alaska or Canada someday. After some time of research a decision was made: We’ll go for the Hart River in Canada’s Yukon Territory. I paddled down the Yukon from Whitehorse to Dawson and the Beaver Creek north of Fairbanks Alaska a long time ago with my parents – but nothing could prepare me for the experience at the Hart River.

Together with our „better halfs“ Claudia and Daniela we took a direct flight from Frankfurt to Whitehorse. Unfortunately there’s no real alternative to renting a car in Whitehorse and then driving to the small city of Mayo (after you bought everything you need in Whitehorse of course). You’ll park your rental car for the next 2 weeks or so in Mayo. In Mayo you get on a Float Plane, operated by Blacksheep Aviation. Since we had two inflatable boats we managed to get everything into a Beaver.

After a little bit more than half an hour you land at the northern end of Elliot Lake. We stayed there for the first night – there are some small but nice ledges on a small hill where you can place your tents.

The next day I was glad to have precise maps and a GPS receiver for the first time, because the start of Elliot Creek is really narrow. The next 2 days we spent lining, hauling and carrying our boat down to the confluence with the Hart River at KM 25. We were glad that most of the trees hanging into the water had already been cut by somebody else, but don’t take that for granted and bring a good saw!

On the second day of our journey it began to rain… and except for some breaks it was raining for the next 2 weeks as well. The rain, cold northern winds and the demanding river made it a tough undertaking. Water levels started to rise and the Hart River flew with speeds up to 18 km/h. There are only few and short sections where you can relax and not take too much care for maneuvering.

We made two hikes – the first up to Netro Mountain. There is a really good campsite on river left at the mouth of a dry creek which leads you directly to Netro Mountain. The view from the summit is amazing because you can see the most spectacular part of the whole River. Be sure to spend some time between KM 130 and KM 160!

Although the land gets flat after KM 240 the river starts to show his teeth. There are several rapids, starting at KM 251. The next bigger rapids are at KM 167,5. I decided to line our boat, which is really easy on river left. Tom and Dani enjoyed the whitewater and so we got some awesome pictures of them in the middle of the big waves.

At KM 289 you reach the confluence with the Peel River. As soon as you get there cross the Peel and enjoy a perfect gavel bar campsite just a couple of meters upstream the Peel.

The next day will lead you through the most difficult part of the whole journey. Since the water level was high I don’t think that you could have paddled all the rapids with an open canoe. There are some really serious rapids at KM 296 and most of all at KM 301. We were able toline all of the rapids on the left side of the river but many people prefer to portage. Be sure to have your eyes open for the spectacular fossils at KM 302!

Since the gravel bar at the mouth of Canyon Creek is in really bad conditions (muddy), place your last camp at the huge gravel bar in the middle of the river at KM 307. As soon as you can hear your Float plane coming jump into your boat and cross the Peel to the Pick-Up at Canyon Creek.









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