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The Pelly River in the Yukon Territories is a relatively well known and famous paddling river, most people though only ever paddle the lower river. Only a handful ever venture into the inaccessible upper watershed to paddle the higher reaches of the river.
This year we will be one of these rare groups. We’ll start high in the Selwyn mountains right at the Yukon/NWT border on Summit Lake. This is only 20km from the famous Little Nahanni. It is truly spectacular country. Summit Lake sits at 3600ft elevation with the surrounding mountains rising another 2500ft to 6000. We’ll spend a couple days at this stunning location before beginning our descent. Over the next two weeks we’ll paddle the small creek tributary of the Pelly, the Upper Pelly, and the Middle Pelly, travelling rapidly downstream with only a minimum of portaging as we make our way 280+km through the mountains down to the community of Ross River on the Pelly River. An Alternate ending if we find the upper river slow going would be on the Robert Campbell Hwy, 60km upriver. Rapids in the upper river will be class 2 & 3. In the lower river class 1 & 2.
Note: this is a suggested itinerary only, conditions on each trip may vary.
June 25, 2020, Meet: (Day 0-1) We suggest you arrive in Whitehose Yukon, June 25
June 26: Whitehorse Day, safety day in case of lost baggage. We’ll all meet up for lunch and welcome.
June 27: We will shuttle early in the morning from Whitehorse 500km to the Francis Lake Air Base. In the afternoon, weather permitting we will be flown by charter float plane to Summit Lake.
Hike, Relax, Fish at Summit Lake. Stunning Alpine Lake surrounded by steep mountains.
Descend the creek from Summit Lake to the Upper Pelly (40km). This is a small and at times steep ck, alternating between sections of steep descent and meandering sections thru the alpine valley. In the steep sections going will be relatively slow as we will have to scout often to make sure the way is clear. It will take between 2 and 3 days to reach the Pelly itself.
Descend Upper Pelly (75km) including one day off to hike. Fast current. Class 1, 2 & some class 3 rapids. One Canyon, (possible portage). Likely 3 days of paddling and 1 day off for hike, fish, relax.
Descend Middle Pelly from Fortin Lake to Hoole Ck Bridge. 110km. Hoole Ck Bridge. Fast current, class 1 & 2 rapids. (note: Hoole Ck Bridge is an alternate pull out spot if weather or river conditions slow us down on the trip.
Hoole Ck Bridge to Ross River. Fast current, class 1 & 2 rapids. 1 portage around canyon. Around noon day 15, we will be met in the community of Ross River and transported the 400km back to Whitehorse.
.Flights home or on to Other adventures.
Note: Participants responsible for their own flights to and from Whitehorse, plus accommodations & meals in Whitehorse.
* Please note: It’s the nature of remote northern travel that uncontrollable factors like poor weather, pilot judgment, forest fires, and mechanical problems can affect our schedules and cause delays. We regret these situations but cannot accept responsibility for hotels, flight rebookings, and other costs you may incur.
Merrilyn Lindsay business owner
David Wilkie, DVM professor and veterinarian
Peter Milliken, PC lawyer and politician
Didier Maclaine Pont invester/paddler
James Gardner vp – marketing
Chris Cunningham author