In August last year we visited our friends Aisling and Steve in the Yukon together with Jen and Jon. We had convinced all of them that we should go canoeing, because that is what you do in the Yukon. We ended up being four families with a total of four toddlers between the ages of 18 months and 2 years old. We decided to on a 5 day paddle down the Nisutlin river. It is a purely class 1 river, and the full stretch ended up being around 150km. We rented canoes from a company in Whitehourse and the also shuttles us to and from the river in a little bus. The even stored all our car seats while we were paddling. We asked them what they would have said if we wanted a fully guided trip and they responded that there would be no way they would take us. We wondered if we might have gotten in over our head... after all the toddlers had only spend 1-3 days in canoes. After the first day, I was basically convinced that we had gotten in over our head. One toddler was very upset, the weather was bad, and I realized how committing the trip actually was. Once you start paddling there is only one exit and it is at the end of the 150km of paddling. Fortunately the toddlers quickly fell into some sort of rhythm. They learned to sleep and eat in the canoe, they enjoyed throwing rocks and sticks in the water and they mostly slept terribly at night. I enjoyed the paddling, when F allowed me to do any, but mostly I just enjoyed seeing the toddlers together in the great outdoors. I had really hoped to see some wildlife (not bears), but the only animal we ever saw was a porcupine. It was pretty cool though since I had never seen one before. We never really had must time for socializing - there always seems to be something you need to do, when you are camping with kids.
Our daily routine looked something like this:
7-8am Wake up.
Spend around 3 hours packing up the tent, eating breakfast and getting everything in the canoe. It always seemed like we were basically ready to go after 2 hours, but all those last minute things like putting the toddlers in life jackets and getting sunscreened always taking up more time than expected.
11ish Leave camp
We usually paddle for around 2 hours in the morning. Depending on the day the toddlers might sleep, eat snacks, read books or play in the canoe. The front person looking after the toddler usually only managed to paddle if the toddlers were sleeping. Sleeping arrangements varied from canoe to canoe - I will write a separate post about this at some point.
1-2pm Lunch Time
After a couple of hours of paddling we would pull over for lunch. Luckily the river had lots of nice pull out spots - mostly sandy river banks. Lunch was usually the most relaxing time of day as there were little stuff that needed to get done.
3pm Back in the canoe
After a long lunch we would get in the canoe for another couple of hours of paddling. Our shortest day we paddled 2.5 hours and the longest day probably around 5.5 hours total.
5pm Pull over for camp
After setting up camp, cooking dinner, eating and playing we would put the toddlers to bed. Most of the time one of the adults would end up staying in the tent. The rest would get a little bit of adult time. Sean on one occasion even managed to catch a fish that we roasted on the fire.
All in all it was a wonderful trip. Canoeing is definitely something you need to do in Yukon. I do find canoeing more repetitive than hiking, but it is a great way to experience the outdoors in a slightly more casual way. We will definitely be doing more canoeing in the future... especially if we ever find ourselves with more than one child.
Have you been on any overnight canoe trips with children that you would recommend?