Summer is more than half over, and while you may have survived music festival season, Yukoners know better than to let the precious weeks of August slip by.
If there’s anything left on that summer bucket list, now’s your chance, while the light still holds and the days are still warm…ish. Out of inspiration? Fear not – here are seven ideas of how to take advantage of some of the top outdoor opportunities Canada has to offer – right in the Yukon’s own backyard.
Mountain bike your legs off
Most Yukoners are already aware of the world-class network of trails available out the door and down the road. Lung-busting, brake-burning trails like those on Montana Mountain get a lot of press, but the Yukon is also home to a vast collection of pine strewn, flowy, single track that cyclists of all skill levels can enjoy.
For those unfamiliar with the vast spiderweb of trails check out the Whitehorse Recreational Trail Guide app. This smartphone app ($9.99) details roughly 700 kilometres of trails in Whitehorse. The best part is, it can use your mobile’s GPS to show you exactly where you are – a vital thing for those of us left scratching our heads (or helmets) when faced with tricky triple-trail intersections.
If you’re an intermediate rider looking for inspiration, try putting together rides that will eventually cover every trail in the network by the end of summer. If you’re new to cycling in the Yukon, try a new trail that takes you near what you thought was familiar territory. Riders will be amazed by the hidden features found in the in-between spaces bike trails cover. Thought you knew Grey Mountain or the Mount McIntyre trail system? Think again. I guarantee you’ll find fireweed patches and abandoned cabins you never knew existed.
Hike with local biologists
Whether you’re looking for an immersive educational experience or simply want a group to hike with, Environment Yukon’s Wildlife Viewing Hikes are sure to keep you on your toes. With events that range from weekend hikes up the King’s Throne in Kluane, to walks around Chadburn Lake with local biologists and mushroom experts, you’ll come out of these experiences fitter and more bush savvy than the day before. Side effects may include the bar being raised in your mushroom omelette- making game.
Let’s face it, one of the biggest perks of living in a place as remote as the Yukon is the immediate access to healthy, delicious fish. In 2012, 9,242 Yukoners carried fishing licences – the highest participation rate anywhere in Canada.
As most recreational anglers know, fishing is a great excuse to head to a nearby lake and feed the mosquitoes while trying to feed yourself. An annual fishing licence will cost Yukoners about as much as a plate of fish and chips ($15). A day pass only costs $10 for any Canadian resident.
The Yukon Fishing Regulation Book will provide fishermen and women with great descriptions of local fish species as well as maps of several popular and accessible fishing destinations.
With August comes the changing colors and the crisp, frost-bitten promise of winter. What better way to prepare for the long dark nights than by enjoying summer afternoons collecting stores of delicious Yukon berries? Prize berry patches scattered throughout the Yukon are closely-guarded secrets (I wouldn’t dare mention the Fraser Pass), but everything from wild raspberries to low-bush cranberries can be found roadside throughout much of the territory. If you find yourself free on a sunny afternoon grab a bucket, a few friends, and for heaven’s sake keep your head up and watch for the bears!
Get out on the water
Whether you’re out there to cool off, to look for fish, or simply to escape the bugs, getting out on the water is a quick escape into a quiet peace of mind.
Chadburn and Schwatka lakes both present attractive weeknight paddling opportunities for Whitehorse residents. The crystal clear, fast-flowing water of the Takhini River is another great picnicking day trip everyone from novice to experienced paddlers will enjoy.
If it’s your first time on the Takhini however, beware the infamous Jaws of Death, also known as the Gums of Worry. These haystacks are generally a fairly mellow set of rapids but they can swamp your boat.
New paddlers can approach this section Ontario-style and portage around. For those Yukoners further abreast, most Yukon communities are well within reach of excellent day trip paddle opportunities.
Get educated – bush style
Let’s face it, if you’re going to live in a place where wildlife outnumbers people, you should probably consider learning about safe, sustainable ways to enjoy the wilderness.
The Hunter Education and Ethics Development course is a free, four-week course that covers a range of topics every Yukoner should know such as wilderness survival, outdoor ethics, wildlife identification and the Canadian Firearms Safety Course. Whether you’re planning on taking advantage of the Yukon’s big game hunting season (which starts August 1), or simply want to be more prepared the next time you head out on an expedition, this course is great opportunity for Yukoners to hone or simply dust off those sometimes life-saving bush skills.
Play in the Yukon’s croquet tournament
Do you long for the antiquated sophistication of Downton Abbey? Do you find yourself wishing for better access to niche sporting events? Consider your appetite sated. On August 2, Whitehorse will host an inaugural croquet tournament.
With awards for best period costume and best team spirit, this event is sure to be filled with giggles and good times. Put on by the Yukon Historical and Museums Association, the tournament will play golf croquet rules, which the association promises are easy to learn.
The event, held on the lawn of the S.S. Klondike from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be followed by a soiree as part of the Yukon Culinary Festival. The event will include a dress code (all-white on-court apparel), and a cash bar. If you’re nervous about participating, spectators are welcome. Tickets to the soiree are sold separately. For more information go to www.heritageyukon.ca.
There are an abundance of other weird, wacky and wonderful activities constantly going on in the Yukon. To take advantage of more adventures that suit your style, take a glance at your local community notice board. Whether it’s the “outdoorsy singles meeting” Andy is hosting out on the Annie Lake Road, the Horticulture Exhibition in Dawson City or the Stewart Valley Community Market in Mayo, Yukoners have no excuse when it comes to wringing the last drops of sweetness out of summer.
Pavlina Sudrich is an intrepid adventurer always in search of the weird and wacky.