By Peter Jickling
On Sunday I watched as our house was turned into a hubbub of activity. My roommates and a huge group of friends were in the final stages of packing for a canoe trip on the Yukon River which will end in Dawson, just in time for the music festival. I was unable to go on the trip this year, but participated in a similar journey a few years ago. It was an awful lot of fun.
The Yukon’s not a technical river, but the water does move along at a pretty good clip, which means that it boasts ideal conditions for “rafting up.” Rafting up is simple: when you’re no longer in the mood to paddle, you persuade the other boats in your navy that they don’t feel like paddling either (usually not too difficult), then you cluster the canoes together and bind them with available rope. Voila: rafted up.
Once rafted, crew members are free to engage in interboat sun-tanning, crib-playing, name-calling, and dinner-cooking. Meanwhile the river propels you downstream where festival tents are being assembled and sound checks are being performed.
There is no better way to arrive at a music festival than by canoe: Hailed as an adventurer, you strut around the beer garden with a Ferrari-red sunburn and a million inside jokes that you share slyly with the other members of your crew. Not a bad reward for a week spent rafting up – lazily listening to the silt scrape off the gunnels as the Mighty Yukon carries you downstream to the heart of the Klondike.