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YUKON

2000 miles Canada & Alaska

The myth of Yukon. Hardly any other river in the world is so famous for its wildness, and the adventures it inspires, as the Yukon, which meanders 2000 miles across the Nordic tundra. Over one hundred years ago prospectors followed its course up to the Klondike searching for gold. In Alaska, the Yukon River is the main artery for the Indian villages with no access to roads. It flows through almost deserted pristine wilderness, which is home not only to bears, salmon and eagles, but also to adventurers and downshifters, who try to survive far from civilisation, like the heroes of Jack London’s novels.

Dirk Rohrbach, medical doctor, author and National Geographic photographer, wants to explore this myth all on his own. In the woods of Ontario, he builts himself a traditional birch bark canoe. He then hikes up the steep Chillkoot pass in Alaska’s South East to the mountain lakes that later form the Yukon River. Dirk follows the tracks of the goldrush. In the late 19th Century, thousands of prospectors headed for the harsh north to seek their fortune, and often lost everything in the process. Ghostly wrecks of gargantuan paddle steamers and abandoned logging camps still bear witness to the time of the biggest gold rush in history.

In Alaska, the Yukon changes from being a raging river into a mile-wide stream meandering through the marshes. Along its banks live moose and wolves, as well as descendants of Native Americans dwelling in remote fishing villages. For generations now, they have obtained their livelihood fishing for salmon and hunting caribou and moose. Their settlements can be reached only by bush plane or boat. How do these people live there in isolation? How do they manage to preserve their traditions? How do they cope with the hungry bears and swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes that can make life hell in the summertime?

Dirk Rohrbach encounters hunters, fishermen and free spirits, who may no longer be looking for gold, but are still seeking their fortune nonetheless. He speaks with chiefs and trappers, eats caribou, moose and freshly caught salmon with the locals. He becomes acquainted with a harsh and merciless, yet breathtaking and majestic world. And he gets to know himself again on this epic journey through the infinite vastness of the north.