(April 10, 2020) Exclusive Blog post for Adventure Canoe an Kayak Camping
To go or not to go, that is the question. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Planning for a major expedition such as the Yukon 2020™ is a monumental task. Although very similar in process to micro adventures, it involves more people and organizations, more monies, more planning, and certainly more patience.
I started formulating my plan for Yukon 2020™ in November 2018. I was going to solo canoe the 2,000 mile/3,200km Yukon River, but family, friends, and my long-term sponsors were unanimously insisting that I should have a teammate. Not only for safety reasons, but also because they were simply getting tired of me. After an international search, Lauren “Lolo” Sherwood, 25, percolated to the top of the list. We’ve been working together on this expedition since February 2019.
We got busy mapping out our route, schedule, and gear list. We decided to start on the west arm of Bennett Lake in the southern part of Yukon Territory of Canada. This gave us a solid 2,020 miles for the year 2020. A nice marketing hook for creating interest in our
project. In addition, we learned that we could make this a record-attempt expedition by being the oldest at 69, and the youngest at 26 to complete a documented source-to-sea run of the Yukon River in an open canoe. Lolo will celebrate her 26th birthday on the river.
Next we wrote a detailed float plan outlining critical information such as contacts, expedition insurance, and description of our canoe and associated safety gear. The float plan also has the required tentative schedule. In support of the float plan, we will use the standard trilogy-of-proof to properly document the expedition. This includes a publicly accessible GPS track, documented eye witnesses, and location selfies and videos.
This is an unassisted expedition which means we cannot use sails or motors on our 18′ open, Canadian-style canoe. Because it’s also a self-supported expedition, we cannot accept any direct help along the river once we start the expedition. Key help is being provided by our outfitters in Whitehorse Yukon and Fairbanks Alaska. They provide support at the start and end of the expedition. In addition, our Alaskan outfitter will forward along our resupply boxes via the U.S. Postal Service to key points along the Yukon River.
With everything and everyone in place, we inked a deal with a major news source to provide exclusive insider news coverage before and after the expedition. Feeling good about our training program, detailed planning, logistics, and fundraising, along comes COVID-19.
All extensive expeditions include defer plans; we have three of them. Feeling temporarily gutted, Lolo and I activated defer plan #1. At the request of government officials we adjusted our start date from May 31st to June 11th. Complicating things is the fact that many of the fishing villages in Alaska where we’d planned to resupply at might not be welcoming to strangers stopping by. Although things will probably improve by July and August when we’re in that area, we have to consider not stopping. This forced Lolo and I to increase our resupply drops in Alaska.
Where are we at right now? We’re staying positive and focused on training including canoe tipping exercises. Fundraising has taken a significant hit that we don’t anticipate recovering from. Key is remaining optimistic and forging ahead. If necessary we can go to defer plan #2 and start as late as June 18th. Defer plan #3 is to postpone until 2021.
By the time you read this, Lolo and I will have been tested for COVID-19 exposure. Twenty-four hours before departure we’ll receive a second rapid-results test.
We realize the fact that there are so many things out of our control, but we’re determined to manage what aspects of the expedition that we can. Just like we’ll manage our risks during the 60-day expedition. Taking encouragement from my friend Bear Grylls, we will never simply give up; that’s not an option.
There is always hope and we will remain hopeful through all this. Why? Because we have the courage to be hopeful.
For more information about Yukon 2020™ or to contribute, please visit www.yukon2020.com