Paddle the Porcupine River on this arctic canoe expedition. The Porcupine River is an arctic river that flows through Alaska and Yukon. The source of the river is located in the Olgivie Mountains, north of Dawson City and flows north for 721km (448 miles), before veering southwest. It flows through the community of Old Crow in Yukon and eventually flows into the Yukon River at Fort Yukon. It was discovered in 1842 by John Bell and the local herd of 125,000 caribou live in the river’s valley and is considered as one of the largest in the world. This tour is scheduled in September to coincide with the caribou migration and viewing of the aurora borealis (northern lights).
The Porcupine caribou herd migrates throughout northern Yukon and in the northwest of Alaska. For thousands years the herd was the only source of food, clothes, tools and houses for Gwitch’in and Inuvialuits living in this tundra region. This is still the case today. Indeed, the herd is still the major source of livelihood and the source of their cultural identity.
In the village of Old Crow, excitement is at its peak when the caribou are close, ready to cross the river. The local aboriginal residents wait and observe. Everyone knows that their clan’s livelihood depends on the quantity of meat, fish and wild fruits they can obtain to sustain them through the winter. When the caribou finally arrive, the news quickly spreads throughout the village and beyond and the tradition of the great caribou hunt begins.