Back

Deception Mountain

Taiga Forest
Taiga forest stretched to the horizon. Facing East the landscape would change little between us and Nova Scotia 3000 miles away with no habitations to speak of. To the West, aside from a short hop across the Bering Straits, the same kind of forest stretches across Northern Siberia all the way back to Sweden and Norway. The little patch we looked over to now, the North-West Territories Taiga forest is a mere 133,500 square miles. The same size as the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, or if you prefer the same size as Hungary! The vastness of this land was hard to comprehend and day to day we were too absorbed in our little bubble of activity to fully take it in. 

The Lower Wind River
We stood, bracing ourselves against the wind about 500 metres up. We had hiked up the side of Deception Mountain. A grand name but a hill really. A hill though with a commanding position looking up and down the Wind River. 

Niall pointing towards the Richardson Mountains
 To the Gwich'in this is a sacred place. Known to them as Vinidiinlaii, meaning where the water hits the mountain, it remains significant within the Gwich'in culture. Read more about this interesting history here.

The Middle Wind River
They reckon not far from where we now stood was the location of "Wind City". A temporary settlement of 70 prospectors caught out by the winter of 1898. Sadly it was also here that the "Lost Patrol" of the North West Mounted Police past by in the doomed final days of their attempted ranging to Dawson. More on the Patrol later.

For us this was a real turning point. We could see, despite the threatening clouds, the complex river channels we had already paddled and the wide chaos we would continue on to the Peel Canyon. This was our opportunity to prepare ourselves to leave behind the mountain river of the Wind and brace ourselves for the potentially more mentally and physically challenging slower waters of the Peel.

The Indecisive Course of the Wind River
Such a beautiful landscape. Awe inspiring actually. Sadly this pristine wilderness is under threat. Something like 18,000 mining claims are held over the Peel water-shed and the Yukon Government intends to turn over 70-80% of the land to mineral exploitation. I would implore anyone reading this to take a look at the excellent work the Protect the Peel movement and Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society are doing to fight this. It is estimated that 600 million tonnes of coal sits beneath the lower Wind river. One can see the appeal to the Yukon Government! Perhaps even more concerning is the search for Uranium. Some of the old trappers winter roads have received approval to be developed to reach these distance lodes of radioactive material. It is truly horrific to think of the wild spaces we traveled through being bulldozed, and hard to believe that the natural environment and the Native American heritage wouldn't be adversely effected by Uranium mining! I'm a realist, I get that mining is how we have the things we all use daily. I get that there will be ever increasing pressure to tap these resources. The cost in my opinion is too high. To live in a world that has electricity but no wild space, to me, would be an abomination.

"The frog does not drink up the pond in which he lives"
Native American Proverb

Symbolic Offerings at Deception Mountain