Sun City residents Art “Karts” Huseonica must be getting used to disappointment.
For nearly three years he planned a canoe expedition on the Yukon River in Canada. The trip was originaly scheduled for the summer of 2020. But that was postponed before it even got started by the COVID-19 pandemic. A second attempt in 2021 was again postponed as the pandemic continued.
But this year the adventure was on and Huseonica inserted into the river in the first week of June.
The trip did not last long. Flood waters on the river began to rise significantly a week into the trip and Huseonica was ordered out of the river due to heavy debris in the water. He waited nearly a week in the village of Carmacks before making the gut-wrenching decision to call a halt to the adventure.
“It was a fabulous expedition until I rode the crest of the flooding into Carmacks,” Huseonica stated in an email. “I was doing 50 miles, or 82kilometers, per day easily.”
The river rose every day after and that submerged the few available camps down river and making it impossible to reach streams with fresh water entering the river, according to Huseonica. The amount and size of debris was, according to local residents, the worst they’d ever seen. Carmacks officials called it a 50-plus year event, Huseonica stated.
“I had the gear, supplies and skills to navigate a flooded river, but local and regional authorities advised me from continuing on,” he stated. “This included the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the First Nations. I had to consider this because if I continued and something happened that it would come back to bite me and reflect poorly on my expedition, aka, the Kindness Expedition.”
Huseonica returned to Sun City the week of June 24 and busy volunteering with the Sun City PRIDES shortly thereafter.
But this will not be the end of the expedition. Huseonica said he plans to continue next year, starting in Carmacks where this year’s attempt was stalled.
“The First Nations hold the river sacred, and see it as a connection to all life,” Huseonica stated. “To continue on would disrespect that belief and bring discredit to me and the expedition. They’d given me the nickname ‘He who paddles on clouds.’”
In each of Huseonica’s earlier planned Yukon expeditions he had partners to accompany him. But each dropped out. For this year’s attempt, he was to be accompanies by a series of First Nations partners.
“Right now I’m totally gutted. I had this, but a very quick spring thaw sent the feeder rivers into flood stages, which poured into the Yukon River,” Huseonica stated. “I could have sat it out two more weeks until the flooding receded, but that would put me past my Aug. 15 deadline to be back up river out of the Bering Sea. The weather there gets really bad after Aug. 15. Plus, there’s very limited and costly extraction areas further into Alaska.”
Despite the disappointment of having to cut the expedition short, Huseonica remains confident and plans to stay in shape for resuming the trek next year.
“Obviously, it’s a costly decision to have to reboot the expedition next year,” he stated. “I can’t forget the experiences I had with my First Nations’ interactions and the many people I met and who I paddled with.”
Huseonica has a wealth of information, photos and videos, but most will be used in a documentary film of his expedition.
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