Karen Walker and Rob Holm take the first strokes of their 1,403-mile journey from Skagway to Kaktovik Monday, June 4. Jeff Brady photos

Adventurers start Three Rivers Traverse Expedition in Skagway

By CASEY DEAN
They made it. From Seattle, to La Paz, Bolivia on bikes. From Glacier Bay to the Washington San Juan Islands by handmade kayak. From Puerto Montt to Puerto Torro, Chile in folding kayaks.
From the Skagway Inn on Broadway to the mouth of the Skagway River adjacent to State Street by foot.
After toting their 70-pound backpacks across town, Karen Holm and Rob Walker discussed their plan to canoe to Dyea, hike the Chilkoot trail, canoe 1,000 miles down the Yukon River and up the East Fork of the Chandalar River to its source, traverse the Romanzof Mountains in the Brooks Range and follow the Okpilak River across the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to Kaktovik.
“That’s the plan,” Walker said before they put in. “The packs were plenty heavy coming down from the Skagway Inn, though.”
Monday, June 4, the pair from Bend, Ore., assembled their Ally pack canoe, loaded their equipment and embarked on a three-month, 1,403-mile adventure.
Awaiting them in Carcross, Yukon, are two canoe seats. Walker said the seats add six pounds to their already heavy packs, and they didn’t mind kneeling on the first segment of the voyage to save any little bit for the climb up the Chilkoot Trail. They will pick up their seats and restock in Carcross as well as in two villages along the Chandalar River.
It all started with a mountain biking trip from Seattle to Bolivia in 1998 or 1999, Holm said. The experience was enough to hook them, and they’ve continued making long journeys since.
“Having the experience of seeing the world at a slower pace and getting into a routine where the most important thing is to eat and sleep and move your stuff from one place to another,” said Holm, is what it’s all about.

Walker and Holm stretch a portion of the frame into the folding canoe they will use for the next three months.

In 2000, they constructed two wooden sea kayaks in Glacier Bay and paddled 1,500 miles to the Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington. In 2004 Holm and Walker traversed the 1,850 miles of the Chilean Patagonia.
The pair noted solitude and intimacy with the wilderness keep them coming back for more.
This summer, they’re tackling their fourth human-powered expedition, which started with that hike from Seventh Avenue and Broadway.
For more information about their adventures, and pictures of this trek upon their return, see www.mountainminded.com.