Alaska and the Yukon: The Next Adventure

Kelsey Breseman
6 min readJul 12, 2018

I’m leaving tomorrow for two months in Alaska and the Yukon– a Klondike adventure.

Back in the 1890s, fortune-seekers took over a year getting to the Klondike: a boat voyage from Seattle, an arduous mountain trek, winter building a boat in the Yukon, and a final paddle downriver to the gold fields.

The full Klondike Gold Rush route from Seattle (with a small detour to the ancestral lands)

If you were to copy that passage in 2018, you would have tradeoffs:

  • The bad news: no gold at the end.
  • The good news: a modern adventurer can pull off that distance in about a month. Two months, if you count the time it takes to build a simple boat.

My trip is not explicitly a recreation of the Klondike route. In fact, the parity is incidental, and I’m not making the Inside Passage boat voyage this year (we did that in 2014). But it’s a handy framing to tie together this messy, rugged, family-and-friends summer trip.

We’re taking elements– navigation, trekking and water routes, boat building– and scrambling them up to make our own adventure.

Here’s our plan:

  • Sunnyside, Alaska (mid-July to mid-August): Kelsey builds a boat, Rick tears down an old cabin, Dana cooks things, further adventures ensue
  • Chilkoot Trail (mid-August): A four-day hike from Alaska into the Yukon Territory over the Chilkoot Pass
  • Whitehorse, Yukon (late August): Navigation footracing in the North American Orienteering Championships
  • Yukon River (late August into September): Two-week canoe paddle from Whitehorse to Dawson City

The Homestead and Building a Boat: 1 Month in Sunnyside, Alaska

Rick grew up on the shores of Chichagof Island– in what was the Alaska Territory when he was born. We go to Sunnyside, a little non-town on the beach down the shore from 100-person Pelican.

Every summer since my 17th birthday, my family has returned to that land. It echoes of a traditional Tlingit summer fish camp, except for us, we mostly build stuff.

This summer, my personal mission is to build a sailboat, a bit like this one: