An Alaska life: He paddled here on the Yukon in 1973 and hasn’t looked back


That is an installment of Cautionary Tales, an ongoing collection about classes discovered the onerous means within the Alaska outdoor.

Jim Dore resolved to get to Alaska, a method or one other.

He was sitting in a fourth-grade classroom within the suburbs of Chicago again in 1960, a yr after Alaska turned a state. Whereas analyzing a map of america, the 9-yr-previous Dore spoke up.

“They forgot to place roads on this map,” he stated, taking a look at Alaska.

His instructor’s response: “No, they did not.”

Dore was surprised. The farthest he’d gone from house was Michigan and Indiana. The considered such an enormous state ripe for exploration set his creativeness ablaze. And that was when he made an unshakeable vow: Man, if I ever make sufficient cash to get to Alaska, that is the place I need to go.

13 years later, at age 22, Dore crafted his plan. He might research mining and engineering on the College of Alaska Fairbanks. All he needed to do was get there.

A enterprise employed him to ship a van from Illinois to Seattle. After his cross-nation drive, he would fly to Juneau, catch a ferry to Skagway, experience a practice to Bennett Lake close to the Canadian border, then paddle a six-individual rubber raft — which he purchased from Sears for $89 — by means of one hundred miles of interconnected lakes to the Yukon River. After floating the Yukon, he would get out at Circle, then hitchhike to Fairbanks.

His plan was formidable, maybe much more so when you think about that his brother Bob, who simply turned thirteen and was recent out of seventh grade, got here alongside for the experience.

What did his mother and father assume?

“I do know that they had considerations,” Dore stated. However, he figured, there was no means he was doing this alone.

The actual journey began at Bennett Lake, the place Dore and his brother tried to bend to their will a raft loaded down with sufficient meals for 3 months. They paddled solely a few mile earlier than deciding to arrange camp and safe their raft. At the moment the breeze was blowing off the shoreline, which stored their raft in deeper waters and gave them sufficient confidence to go away it loaded with their provisions — a transfer Dore described as “stupidity on show.”

The wind shifted as they slept, pushing the raft towards the shore and all its pointy hazards.

“We went by way of a number of patch kits,” Dore stated, including that they needed to restock on patches in Whitehorse. “It is sort of a primary-day-on-the-job” expertise.

Their raft was so heavy, he stated, that six miles was the farthest they obtained on the lake…



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