In every tribal dialect spoken was a thousand years of history passed and in every unseen turn of the river were fear, uncertainty, discovery and learning. Sitting here, near that inevitable finish line, warn and cracked fingers scribble these words with a blunt yellow pencil.
Canoeing & Kayaking
Looking back at these words from my crushed and dog-eared journal, written 67 days into a day canoe expedition, I could never have fathomed the personal impact that such a journey would have. Hard physical experience and remote regions have a habit of teaching you fast but the real lessons came from the intricate conversations with tribal elders and understanding their connection to the world they live in.
Directly from my expedition journal here are four of the valuable lessons taken from Source to Sea. The Power of Generosity I believe one of the most beautiful facets of the human spirit, in any culture, is generosity.
Yukon River | river, North America | ijokesygym.tk
Unbeknown to me traditional customs in the tribal communities along the Yukon dictate that when a visitor is welcomed into a home, regardless of ethnic background or religion, they are treated with a distinct warm friendship and kindness. Also as a mark of respect it is custom to offer the best food available, even when in short supply. What makes this generosity unique is the food and from where it is sourced nearby forests and rivers and so precious the message in offering it.
To them, this selfless act of giving takes on a spiritual meaning. From community to community, day after day, we experienced this same level of generosity, which only deepened my perception of this special human quality. Ultimately, I found the act of true generosity was in giving time, love and friendship and asking for nothing in return. Wilderness - A Space For Wonder The Yukon is a powerful place and the river itself is only one part of an immense living ecosystem. The landmass covers over four hundred and eighty two thousand square kilometers with much of the southern region sitting rugged and untamed.
Those basic facts alone focus the attention and open the minds door for a wondrous curiosity.
The lessons of immersion in such a remote environment ran deeper than the tangible grandeur, vastness and solitude of the wilderness. Such prolonged exposure afforded the time and inspiration to question the inner vastness of our spirit on a human level. Some moments opened my eyes to the immense and cyclical forces around me, yet other occasions showed the delicate intricacies of nature and the passive turning of the seasons.
Not only is the wilderness a space for wonder it regularly demonstrates on a grand and micro scale the often beautiful and harsh balancing act of the natural world. This alone is magical. Our Connection to Environment and Landscape All of my expeditions, long or short, involve the story thread of native cultures. Within this there is my search for simplicity, wisdom and a way of life.
Not only does this sacred relationship govern their way of life, it holds the key to the people and their culture. From conversations with native elders, subsistence fisherman and tribal chiefs I learnt how we as humans still require a living dynamic relationship to the landscape in order to feel connected to something greater than ourselves.
A paddler's playground
Dwarf shrub lichen peatland was the most extensive community in the lowlands. Vast stretches of flat to gently rolling peat plateaus covered with dwarf shrub lichen extend southward from the floodplain of the Yukon River toward the coast and from the western slopes of the Nulato Hills to the coast. Dwarf shrub peatland communities tended to occur in areas less favorable to the growth of lichen, such as in young floodplain basins, adjacent to drainages, or in river bends near the coastal plain — all areas prone to occasional flooding.
Dwarf shrub peatland was also found on large hummocks or plateaus raised up out of wetland bog areas by thermokarst action. Coastal dwarf shrub was observed in the brackish zone of the coastal meadows above the tidal marshes. This community was common in drained lake basins and other depressions on saturated peat soils in the lowlands and floodplains.
Sphagnum moss cover was often continuous. Wet graminoid communities occurred throughout the lowlands in wet areas around the edges of lakes, in drained basins, in water tracks, and on floodplains where wetlands form in wet depressions, oxbows, and abandoned channels.
This community made up 6. The dominant sedges were Carex aquatilis and Eriophorum angustifolium with other sedges present.
Marsh species may be present, but not dominant. Freshwater emergent marsh was mapped throughout the lowlands in small patches in and around lakes and in wet areas of floodplains. This class included graminoid-dominated marshes as well as forb-dominated marshes and made up 5. Carex utriculata and Arctophila fulva were dominant in the marsh communities of the Y-K Delta. Fehinger, Ducks Unlimited.
Geology On the Yukon River
The Yukon and Kuskokwim have viable salmon runs for five species of salmon. Villages along the Delta have historically dried, smoked, and frozen fish for both human and sled dog consumption. The wetlands provide unique habitat for waterbirds. Historically one to two million ducks breed in the Delta.
Nearly the entire population of emperor Chen canagica and cackling Branta hutchinsii geese nest in a narrow zone of coastal habitat and half of the continental population of black brant Branta bernicla nigricans King and Lensink A large proportion of the Pacific flyway white-fronted goose Anser albifrons and tundra swan Cygnus columbianus populations also nest and stage on the Delta. Wrangle Island lesser snow geese Chen caerulescens migrate through the Delta on route to Russia. Dramatic declines in breeding sea ducks, as well as brant and cackling geese, may be related to warmer winter conditions, less snow cover, and greater survival of predatory red fox Vulpes vulpes.
The Delta provides breeding habitat for approximately 14 million shorebirds. Dominant shorebird species include bar-tailed godwits Limosa lapponica , dunlins Calidris alpina , western sandpipers C. Lesser sandhill crane Grus canadensis and arctic Gavia arctica and red-throated loons Gavia stellata are dominant nesting species. Coastal habitats provide staging area for bristle-thighed curlews and whimbrels during late summer and in migration King and Lensink Riparian habitats support some of the only North American populations of primarily Eurasian breeding landbirds like yellow wagtail Motacilla tschutschensis , bluethroat Luscinia svecica , and northern wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe , as well as high-priority North American breeding landbirds like gray-cheeked thrush Catharus minimus , rusty blackbird Euphagus carolinus , blackpoll warbler Setophaga striata , and golden-crowned sparrow Zonotrichia atricapilla Harwood This refuge is the second largest in the United States, only slightly smaller in size than Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Extraction industries are not compatible with refuge objectives and are excluded. The Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council , a cooperative joint venture with over 70 bands of First Nations from Yukon and Alaska, oversees water quality and water rights in their traditional lands. Association of Village Council Presidents and the Tanana Chiefs Conference promote viable hunting and fishing for the health of the people and lands.
Subsistence fishing, hunting, and gathering are a traditional way of life that continues. Historically both rivers have minor pollution from placer gold and silver mining and waste water and debris from human settlements along the river. The Yukon River was one of the principal means of travel for gold prospectors during the — Klondike Gold Rush. Because of the refuge status under the Fish and Wildlife Service, extraction industries are excluded. Potential oil spills exist on coastal areas from deepwater platform accidents or shipping accidents.
Transport of barge material up the rivers also is a possible means of pollution. Arctic Peatlands. Copper River Delta. Lena Delta. Skip to main content Skip to sections. Advertisement Hide. Authors Authors and affiliations F. Reid D. Download reference work entry PDF.
Open image in new window. Coastal herbaceous communities Fig.