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Teslin to Marsh Lake, YT (73 miles)

Wildlife can be a term applied to people living in remote places, like the Yukon. Today, I will relate a couple stories of how society changes with development.

Normally, I take a few short breaks during the day. Seldom are they over 15 minutes. On a cool, but sunny, day at a rest area surrounded by snowy mountains, a local older gentleman started visiting with me. Besides where are you going and coming from, he said he had visited the Dakotas when he was younger and living in Saskatchewan. He moved to the Yukon Territory in 1986. He said, “Once you get settled up here you can’t go back.”

He went on to tell me how things are changing. Although his population numbers on the Yukon capital may be underestimated, I want to relay his points.

He started explaining, “Things are changing up here. There are 35,000 people in the Yukon and 20,000 live in Whitehorse. It’s growing. People are bringing their ideas on how to change things.” He continued, “A while back, a landslide closed the road (Alaska Highway) between Teslin and Whitehorse. What do you think was the first thing the stores ran out of?”

I responded, “Likely toilet paper.”

”No,” he said, “Bottled water. Can you believe it? Bottled water!”

He went on to show me a phone-type gadget (today’s photo) he was using when I arrived. He was sending a text to a friend a couple hundred miles away. He said, “Satellite phones are expensive. You can burn up 200 minutes quickly, and it costs $300 a month. This thing costs $400 plus $70 a month and I can send a text to anybody in the world who has a cell phone with one of these (InReach Explorer, by Delorme). It works off satellite and in an emergency, you just hit this button and someone answers and sends help. My buddy had to do it and they sent a helicopter in after him. Cell phones don’t have much coverage up here, but anyone with one of these can track me wherever I go. You need this for your bicycle. That way your wife always knows where you are at.”

It was very obvious to me, this older guy found, and was using, technology very appropriate for his environment—the Yukon.

As we were finishing our visit, a fully loaded bicyclist pulled up to visit. He had made eleven trips across Canada and last year biked across Australia. He said he was heading to Whitehorse tonight (another 55 miles). I mentioned I was going there tomorrow. He said, “At least we will have good roads the rest of the way. All countries in the world have good roads into their capital. Roads are a political thing.”

It is amazing what one can learn at a Yukon rest stop in an hour about the world’s changing culture.