Yukon Bound

I have completed a 46 minute video tape of my adventure.  I will make it available to any one who is interested.  I can send it out via first class mail for $15.00.  If interested send me a email and I will get your mailing address and provide mine.

* The Journey is over.  I did not complete the trip but I did paddle some 1300 mile before getting off the river. I believe that under the adverse conditions I did quite well.

It will take several weeks to compile the photos and story that I will post on this web site.  Thanks for stopping by.  If you have any questions regarding the trip please feel free to email me.
Here I am approximately 60 miles down river from Circle AK
 

First off I would like to thank every one for your interest, concerns and Prayers.  I decided to pull off the river Monday the 28th after 31 days and 1300 miles on the river.  I am disappointed that I did not make it all the way to the Bering Sea but I knew that it might not be possible given my circumstances.

I had a great time but it was time to call it quits before I got in a situation that could get out of hand. I was paddling a large two-man kayak by myself.  In calm water with a good current that is OK but when a head wind starts to blow it became very difficult to keep the kayak heading in the right direction.  At times it got very scary with waves 3-4 feet high that are coming at you from all angles And at times driving rain in the face making it hard to see.

All of this coupled with my right shoulder getting worse, this is the shoulder that I injured in a M/C accident in the spring, is why I decide to call it quits before I got into some serious trouble.

One night another fellow and I decided to paddle all night hoping that the wind would let up, no such luck.  It was one of the worse nights that I have spent in my entire life, wind, rain, cold, and tiring.  15 Hours later we made it into Tanana, very, tired.  It was at this time that I realized that I would not be able to manage the large kayak down in the Delta where these conditions are normal.

All in all I had a very good time.  Met a lot of friendly native people, saw a lot of animals (black bears, brown bears, moose, fox, wolves, beaver, bawled eagles, and lots of birds). Had salmon, steaks, smoked, and kippered, all very good.

I think that I paddled in every condition there is except snow.  From south of Dawson City I was in rain and smoke.  Between Dawson City and Eagle AK the smoke from forest fires was so bad that I could not see either bank or the sky, every thing looked the same, even the water. I could not  tell which way the current was flowing.  I felt like Ray Charles floating down the river.

The Yukon River is a very large and unforgiving river.  It starts off big with somewhat clear water then after about 300 miles it gets silty and becomes the color of coffee with milk in it.  In an area known as the Yukon Flats it become several miles wide with hundreds of islands. Finding you way through the islands for the next 120 miles was very interesting.  I took a Garmin GPS III + which has a map in it and with a paper map navigation was made a lot easier.  I also had my ham radio station with me and was able to check into the AK net in the mornings and with the help of other hams was able to keep Leona up to date as to where I was.  That is until the top half of my antenna blew off in a wind storm about 700 miles into the trip.  Leona sent me another antenna, which I picked up in Tanana but this time the weather was so bad that I did not get on the radio much.

I was not able to get as much video as I wanted because of the bad weather conditions but hopefully I will have enough to make a short video.  I will be editing some of the pictures that I have and adding them to this site. If any one has any specific questions I will be happy to respond to them.

Lastly I would like to acknowledge the great work that my wife, Leona, did sending out the updates and taking care of every thing back in North Pole.  With out her support all of this would not have been possible.  This is just a short overview of what happened and a full story is still in the works.
 

A Journey Back Into History

By Dick Postma

As I gazed out at beautiful Lake Bennett, (Yukon Territory) I thought to myself that this trip  was not yet complete.  Just six days earlier  my wife , Leona, and I were posing for pictures at the trail head of the Chilkoot trail at Dyea Alaska.  Now 33 miles later we were exhausted  but exhilarated by the fact that we had just crossed possibly one of the most difficult trails in the United States and Canada and to say the least the most spectacular.

One can understand the fascination that gripped Jack London, Robert Service and others who wrote about the Yukon and the gold rush of 1898

Now some 100 years later, 1998, the Canadian and United States governments are celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the infamous gold rush.  It was my intention to be part of this celebration, but circumstances beyond my control forced me to reschedule the trip for the summer of 1999.

On or about July 1, 1999 I  will get into a two-man kayak at Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, and make my way down Lake Bennett to the Yukon River, Lake La Berge and some 2200 miles later emerge into the Bering Sea.

The journey will go  through the Yukon, Klondike area of Whitehorse and Dawson City then on down river crossing into the United States and Eagle, Alaska.  From there it will go north to the arctic circle then meander south west to a village called Emmonak just 10 miles from the Bering Sea.  The trip will go past many native villages that dot the banks of the Yukon River.  I am 60 years old and a retired Los Angeles Police Officer now working in the film and TV industry.  I have found the history of the 1800's, the pioneers, the gold rush of 1897,98,99 , and the folklore of that time very interesting.

My support will be my wife and several friends.  There are at least 5 locations along the route where I will be able to meet my support crew and pick up supplies.  For the last 1200 miles I will count on getting provisions from the native villages along the way and mailing supplies to the local Post Office in care of myself.

The expedition will be documented by written journal, video, and  still photography.
It is my intention to make a documentary about the history of the Yukon River and the role it played in the gold rush of 1897,98,99.

I will put together a program that I will present to school children focusing on life along the river and what it is like to grow up hundreds of miles from the many of the conveniences that we take for granted everyday.  (Only 2 of the 21 villages and towns along the river have roads leading to them.) I will also include the story of our trip showing what it is like to paddle a kayak 2200 miles down the last major American River to be discovered by white men.

I will communicate with my support and other hams via amateur radio. I am an amateur radio operator (KO6DL) holding an advanced class license (see below for frequencies and station information). Navigation will only be a problem when I get to the Yukon Delta as I approach the Bering Sea.  It is here that the river spreads out over many square miles with no clearly defined river channel.  With the aid of a GPS unit this should not be of any serious consequence.

An expedition of this nature will take approximately 40 to 50 days depending on the river current, the time taken to rest, and documenting of any gold rush artifacts. A foldable kayak will be mandatory as the only way out is via small aircraft. The rest of the camping gear will be the same as what you would take on a camping trip with the emphasis on compactness and lightweight.

Preparation is now underway. Physical training must be increased, equipment and supplies made ready, and of course the logistics must be ironed out.  With the help of my wife, friends, supporters, and sponsors (see sponsor notes below)  all will be ready by July 1, 1999


“The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice.  On top of this ice were as many feet of snow.  It was all pure white, rolling in gentle undulations where the ice jams of the freeze-up had formed.  North and south, as far as his eye could see, it was unbroken white, save for a dark hairline that curved and twisted from around the spruce-covered island to the south, and that curved and twisted away into the north, where it
disappeared behind another spruce-covered island.  This dark hairline was the trail – the main trail – that led south five hundred miles to the Chilcoot Pass, Dyea, and salt water; and that led north seventy miles to Dawson, and still on to the north a thousand miles to Nulato, and finally to St Michael, on Bering Sea, a thousand miles and half a thousand more.”
Jack London  “To Build A Fire”



The kayak that I will be using is a Feathercraft Folding Kayak, the K2 Expedition Double.  It is 19' 3" long and has a beam of 33".  The K2 has a payload of 700+ lbs which should be adequate for  such a journey.  The Hull is made out of hypalon  (rubber) and the Deck is a 1000 denier Dupont Cordura nylon. The frame work is 6061 T6 aluminum/magnesium alloy.

After kayaking down  the Yukon River through Whitehorse, and Dawson city you enter the USA. There are nearly 20 villages along the way to the Bering Sea from which we can resupply.  If specialty items are needed one can send these items to the local Post Office in care of our self.  Information on the various villages can be found on the internet via the DCRA Community Information Summaries

Emmonak a small village, pop. of 780+, located 10 miles from the mouth of the Yukon River is the final stop.  From there we will have to fly out via a small commuter air service to Anchorage.

At this time I am testing an Icom-706 MII, a Power Station gelcel batter, and various antennas ( Hamstick and Spider).  Others will be considered when I am able to get my hands on them for testing.

I will attach a vertical antenna to the sail mast and will have a dipole ready to deploy whenever possible.  I will use a solar panel to recharge the gelcel and supply power for the GPS.

Times of transmission will most likely be in the mornings and evening when we are camped.

Proposed Radio Frequencies that I will be working.                                      *** (Nets that we will attempt to
15 Meters      21.410 @ 1700 UTC (IPARC Nets, Sun. & Wed.)***                    check into on a regular basis)
                        21.412 @ 2230 UTC (Maritime Service Net, Daily) ***
20 Meters      14.240
                       14.292 @ 1730 UTC (Alaska Net, Monday - Friday) ***
40 Meters      none selected yet
80 Meters        3.850
                         3.920 @ 6 PM, AK time (Sniper Net, Daily) ***
                         3.933 @ 9 PM, AK time (Motley Net, Daily)***
 

Every effort will be made to produce a program that will be educational and entertaining for our school kids.  To do this several pieces of high quality production equipment, such as video camera, recorder, and radios will be needed. Presently, the trip is being under written by myself, but of course sponsors will be welcomed with open arms. All sponsors will be acknowledged on this web site and any other stories regarding this project.

Sponsors:
Folding Kayak Adventures, http://www.foldingkayak.com/, 1 800 586 9318, Lyle
The Ham Contact, 714 901 0573, Email n6yyo@hamcontact.com
Lancaster Harley Davison, 805 948 5959

Supporters:
Palmdale School District, Dr Judy Fish
Pearblossom School District

Interested parties wishing to support this project with product, or financially, or just moral support please contact:
Dick Postma
P.O.Box 526
Pearblossom, CA 93553
PH 661 816 4954
email: dpostma2@gmail.com
 

This page will be updated later as I gather further information.  If you have any stories or information about the Yukon River, please contact me via above listed email address.

Return to Dicks Home page.