Tuesday 8 September 2020

Into the Arctic and the Winter: The Final Stage of My Yukon Walk, September 1- September 8, 1990


When I left the Eagle Plains Hotel (see my last Yukon post) I knew I was on the last part of the walk but I didn't know exactly where I would finish or how long it would take me to get there, wherever it was, so I set off with two weeks supplies and the heaviest pack of the trip. I was pretty fit of course and the load was not the burden it would have been at the start of the walk.

My plan was to follow the remote Richardson Mountains north at least as far as the pass where the Dempster Highway crossed them into the Northwest Territories. Autumn colours and cold temperatures showed that summer was over. Chilly rain fell frequently and I was glad of the tarp I'd brought as a cooking shelter.

After crossing the Arctic Circle I climbed up into the Richardson Mountains. These are built of sedimentary rocks and form long undulating ridges that make for superb walking and I had one of the best days of the whole trip striding along the crest.

The weather however did not let me stay on the crest for long. Snow began to fall and soon a blizzard was raging. I was blown off my feet once and could then only progress by almost crawling. This, I realised, was crazy so I descended cautiously down steep and slippery moss and boulders to easier terrain. I camped in heavy rain and strong winds on open ground with little shelter. The storm battered the tent, easing towards dawn as the rain turned to snow.

I left that camp in a white-out and slogged through soft deep snow to a final camp. Somewhere during the day I left the Yukon Territory. Another desperate day in driving snow and hail staggering through ankle- to thigh-deep snow led to the Dempster Highway. A truck slowed and stopped. The walk was over.

The walk had taken 83 days and I reckoned I'd walked well over 1,000 miles, though as I couldn't trace some of my route exactly on the map I didn't know for certain. The distance didn't matter though. It had been a great adventure.

I wrote a book about the walk. It’s long out of print but I expect there are second-hand copies around.

Photographic Note: I carried two SLRs, the Nikon F801 and FM2, with Nikkor 35-70, Nikkor 24mm,and Sigma 70-210 lenses, plus a Cullman tripod. Films were Fujichrome 50 and 100 slide ones. The total weight with padded cases was 4kg. To digitise the slides I photographed them on a lightbox with my Sony a6000 with a Sony E 30mm macro lens.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Chris. I've enjoyed following along.

  2. What an amazing adventure! Thank you for sharing, I really enjoyed the photos.