This summer, the local traveler will become the youngest documented woman to canoe the Yukon River

By Lauren “Lolo” Sherwood

Fingers and toes crossed that by May 24, 2021, I’ll be in the middle of the Klondike, dropped off by a floatplane. The drop-off marks the start of an epic expedition known as Yukon 2020ne™. It’s a record-setting, 60-day, self-supported canoe adventure along all 2,000 miles of the Yukon River from the Canadian Rockies to the Bering Sea in Alaska.

Though I wasn’t born in Prescott, I am very much “Everybody’s Hometown Lolo,” and quite possibly the local adventurer you haven’t seen yet. I am a firm believer that a price cannot be put on an experience, and because of that motto, I’ll give just about anything a whirl once!

Yukon 2020ne™ found me at the perfect time: during my quarter-life crisis.

Having traveled solo in Mexico for six months during 2017, I started to wonder what my next major trip would be. Then, in February 2019, Art “Karts” Huseonica put on an international search for a travel partner for Yukon 2020ne™. In typical Lolo fashion, I applied for the challenge before I had ever set foot in a canoe! He selected me, and we quickly realized that I would be the youngest documented female to canoe the Yukon River (I’ll celebrate my 27th birthday on the river with a historical Whiskey Toe Sour in Dawson City, Yukon Territory), and Karts at 70 (but only in numbers) would be the oldest male.

In addition to my age and the fact that we’re canoeing the entire length of the Yukon River, the watercraft itself sets the expedition apart. With no modifications for wind power or splash guards to protect us from freezing meltwater, we will paddle the 2,000 miles in an open, 18-foot, traditional Canadian-style Nova Craft canoe.

After a year of cross-training including rock climbing, canoeing, yoga, and endurance exercises, we’re as prepared as we ever will be to encounter massive grizzly bears, harsh environmental elements, isolated villages, and a multitude of communication barriers. Yukon 2020ne™ is exposed, raw, and real.

Due to COVID, we were unable to achieve this feat last year in 2020 as we’d originally planned. With the border of Canada closed last summer to non-essential travel, we delayed until it was too late in the season, and ultimately postponed until this year.

We have since playfully renamed the expedition Yukon 2020ne™, instead of Yukon 2020. Unfortunately, due to the ever-changing nature of COVID, our knowledge about whether or not we’ll be able to attempt the challenge this year changes with it.

Currently, local governments and adventure-driven companies in the Yukon, like our floatplane company, have been rallying together to see what they can do about providing safe travel for people looking to recreate in the Yukon this summer.

Karts and I don’t think some of those companies can last another summer without tourism, and we’re antsy to get up there and support them! These companies have come up with a few ideas but nothing is set in stone.

Throughout the process, Karts and I have remained positive and are holding out for the good news that we can go with ease and flow. Our custom canoe has been waiting for us in the Yukon all summer, winter, and spring. COVID put a real dampener on our fundraising efforts.

At the moment, Canada is requiring a mandatory 3-day/$2,000 hotel stay as part of a quarantine process. That price drives up the already-expensive price of the expedition.

Anyone interested in sponsoring our expedition can visit our website. We have multiple levels of sponsorship. Perhaps the most practical option is for someone to become a Paddle Pal and help sponsor us by miles! Our expedition roughly costs us $10 every mile and as you can imagine, 2,000 miles add up!

I have high hopes for this trip: to be successful, discover further opportunities for adventure, and most of all, to inspire others.

Visit our website at https://www.yukon2020.com/ for ways to support the trip and find a publicly accessible GPS track starting May 24, 2021. This GPS track is one part of our “trilogy of proof,” a system to document our adventure. The other two consist of documented eyewitnesses and location selfies and video. If you’d like to support the trip I’d love for you to connect with me on all my adventures, and I look forward to publishing Part Two of this story when I return.

For more information, follow Lolo on Instagram @lolosherhood, on Facebook at Lauren Sherwood, or at www.yukon2020.com. Email her at laurensherwood622@gmail.com.