Explorer Tom Seager shares his experience of British Exploring’s Canadian Yukon Expedition

Aug 21

Written by:
21 August 2017 11:12  RssIcon

I first heard about British Exploring from two friends who went to the Peruvian Amazon with the charity in 2015. They had an incredible time, and gushed about the experience for months. I’d kept this in mind when looking for something to do after my A Level exams during the summer of 2017: I wanted to do something a bit different, which would push me, and allow me to embrace my love of the outdoors and adventure. This resulted in me browsing British Exploring's website in May 2016, where I saw a new expedition to canoe in the Yukon in Canada being advertised. I’d always had an image in my head of me paddling down a river somewhere in North America, and despite having no canoeing and limited kayaking experience, I signed up within hours of learning of the expedition.

Image credit - Edward Morgan, Canadian Yukon Explorer 

What followed was fifteen months of fundraising, sourcing kit, and learning more about the amazing place I was going to. I worked on Friday and Saturday evenings to raise the money, and applied to a number of local and national charities and trusts for funding – this resulted in me receiving over £1500 of sponsorship. If I was going to raise the money again, I would also take advantage of British Exploring's Explorer Miles scheme, to get up to £1000 off the cost of the trip. By the time the 24th July arrived, I was excited, and slightly apprehensive, about one of my dreams finally being realised.

The three weeks I spent on expedition with British Exploring were inspiring and life changing, two phrases which seemed clichéd and over-used, but are so true of my experience. Both the people I went with, leaders and young explorers alike, and the landscapes and nature I saw were awe-inspiring, and there wasn’t a single moment that I didn’t feel privileged to be there. I’ve come back having revaluated my own morals and priorities, and with a different set of life goals to what I had before.

I very quickly got used to expedition life, and collectively we became much more efficient at setting up, running, and then breaking camp each day. There wasn’t any point that I didn’t enjoy, and I think that by throwing myself into the whole experience (helping out as much as possible around camp, trying to be eager and willing to learn new skills) I was able to get a huge amount out of my time on expedition. Every leader I met was interesting, helpful and fun to be around, and I learned something new off every one of them. Importantly for me, it didn’t matter at all that I had limited canoeing knowledge: by the end of the time on the water I was confident and (if I say so myself) relatively proficient at controlling the boats – a point I would stress to anyone considering the canoeing expedition, but thinks they’ll be held back by a lack of experience.

Image credit - Edward Morgan, Canadian Yukon Explorer

There are so many stand-out moments for me, but I’ll try to give a flavour of some of them: being woken up at 1am to see the Northern Lights; coming round a meander bend to see an adult male moose drinking at the side of the water; washing in the river, in 40-degree golden sunlight; eating pike for lunch, having seen it be caught an hour earlier, and having gutted it myself; lighting a fire using one strike of a flint and steel. And all of these experiences only being enhanced by the location, of luscious pine forests, crisp, clear river water and rocky, rolling mountains, and by the people, the amazing Salmon Fire, all like-minded and eager to live and breathe every amazing moment. All of these things, and so many more, made it an unforgettably amazing expedition.

Personally, I would encourage anyone even vaguely considering a British Exploring expedition, either to the Yukon, or to one of the many other incredible places they offer expeditions to, to sign up immediately. It will open your eyes to new possibilities, and give you vital world knowledge, as well as amazing memories, which will help you achieve what you want in life. I came back from expedition a few days before my A Level results – I’m now going off to a top, Russell Group university to study Geography. I do not know what I want to do with the eventual degree, but I know that I want to go back to Canada, and to the Yukon, and spend time guiding out there. BE has inspired me to push myself, and to try and give other young people the same experiences I’ve had. I want to thank everyone who’s involved with British Exploring, especially Salmon Fire’s leaders, Mark, Ben and Becca, and I hope anyone considering an expedition has been convinced to just go for it – you definitely won’t regret it.

To find out about our 2018 expedition to the Canadian Yukon, visit the webpage here.

<November 2019>