Yukon Canoe Trip (Bio Bill)

Personal Profile of William

All my life, my interest in woodsmanship, survival training, athletics and other outdoor venturers have been my life’s foundation. My father, Bill Sr., and Bruce my brother have set the standards of my focus.¬† Bruce presently is retired and living in the Caribbean on his sailboat. Bill Sr. was an All American and a world swimming champion at Ohio State University, an exceptional woodsman and an excellent rifle and shotgun shooter. Bruce and I had guns ( .22 single shot rifles) since I was eight years of age and had been in the woods almost at birth thanks to our Dad. When I became Boy Scouting age, I was totally committed in the effort and became an Eagle Scout the fastest one could achieve such a rank. My father in the 1920s was one of Florida’s first Eagle Scouts – typically – as an aside. Scouting focuses on any interests one can conjure up but is always enveloped with camping, woodsmanship, survival and other outdoor activities. Bruce and I spent many hours in our summer home in Epworth Heights, Ludington, Michigan in our family canoes named — – a) Tippy – which was a very small wooden canoe that rewarded any paddler error with turning over results and the b) Peterborough – which was made in Canada of wood and about 17 feet long. We spent much time on lakes Michigan and Lincoln and the rivers Pierre Marquette and Au Sable. In Naples where I spend most of my adolescent years, I paddled the local creeks and hunted in the famous Florida swamps. In my junior year of high school, I met a “new guy” who had just moved in from Indiana by the name of Charlie Wilson as he was called in high school. We soon were spending time on all the local creeks and in the woods in our area both hunting and exploring. Bill McCauley was another of the same ilk during that time. He would certainly be invited to come and welcomed if he were not working so hard as he presently is doing. When I moved to Tallahassee — Florida State University — I spent many hours in the woods and all the rivers nearby. Tallahassee was a dreamland come true for me. I dove and paddled many of the rivers and springs and mapped caves due to so many deaths that had been occurring in the area in the 1960s. Also, during this time I rediscovered an old FSU teammate, Jerry Braden — now Dr. Jerry Braden who was also living in the area. He was just as outdoors focused as I and he had soon reintroduced me to taxidermy a long ago hobby of mine. I had always wanted to learn how to tan and he was my introductory resource. I moved to Santa Cruz, California in 1970′s and became a Boy Scout Master which if one has ever been a teacher — one quickly realizes that the teacher learns more than the students due to the varied inputs and focuses of each individual. I was in heaven! The edible plants, the unbelievable and unparalleled favorable climate and the no dew and insect environment was a paradise for me. While residing in Santa Cruz, I lived in a VW bus for several years like Jack Kerouac. I would drive up on one of the cliffs overhanging the Pacific Ocean – open the back doors so the sea breezes would rush in, open a book, make a nice meal and thank God for such a gift of time, silence and privacy. Every sentence above is pithy only to my friends and me because each is filled with stories, fumblings, and experiences far too complex to cite or a book alone would have to be generated.

As the years have now flashed by- 62 years this year and high school class of 1959 – I could not have the youthful freedom and aimless energy I had during the adolescent years during the “in between” -”productive years” due to the life’s commitments and responsibilities demanded of one — building — but as I aged and neared the end of the “in between – productive years” my retirement date forming clearly ahead, I decided that as a reward for my departure from work – and the “in between years” I would celebrate by rewarding myself with one of the finest outdoor wilderness treks I could conceive of — the Yukon River voyage. It is one of the last of the mostly untampered wilderness areas in the world. It was only a cursory desire of mine, mind you, until Charlie (now Chuck) had stated that he had been to Prudhoe Bay, Ak, which took him four days to make the wilderness trip. Prudhoe Bay is one of the most northern villages in North America. It is located on the Arctic Ocean and over 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. One night (which was daylight almost all 24 hours in the summer months) he slept in his car on the gravel road towards Pruhdoe Bay and woke up due to strange noises surrounding him. Note that the woods are the “sounds of silence” to the tenderfoot. To an experienced woodsman like Chuck, the normal woods sounds at that time was filled with an abnormal cacophony of sound. Chuck looked up and as far as he could see he was engulfed in a sea of caribou! To me it was akin to the mid-American prairie in the 1800s flooded with buffalo herds! I was astounded by the observation, jealous, and green with envy. I immediately decided to do the trek myself which I actuated on August 5, 1999. Although I didn’t experience the once-in-a-lifetime herd exposure that was gifted to Chuck, I did completely fall in love with the entire Arctic and Alaskan milieu. The experience solidified my once dream consideration into an iron clad commitment — – the Yukon River venture would be my reward. Sometime during that time of my retirement planning, I told Chuck I was going and had invited him to come along on any stretch he wished. He is one of the very few that I would offer such an invitation (Jerry Braden and Bill McCauley are some others). To my amazement, Chuck after discussing the matter with his very considerate gracious and industrious wife, Betty, said he wished to go the entire River length with me!

After several meetings and two shakedown cruises we will be on the River about the first week of June when all the ice has been discharged down stream. When Chuck and I reach a village on the Yukon that has connection to the world, we will upload our new experiences to our web site to share the adventure with you our friends and acquaintances. .