In the wilderness lies the preservation of the world.
Henry David Thoreau

Day 18 – July 27, 2017 – Arrival

Not much happened on the last couple of days except that we paddled 180 kilometers. As we arrive in Taco Bar, we receive the news that the Gwich’in could not pick us up there with their boats because the water level of the Peel River was too low. They are afraid of running aground on the sand bank, and permanently damaging the motor. We are told to meet them on the Trail River. But where is that? Nobody knows…. our Gwich’in team members’ estimates range between 30 and 130 kilometers. This will be exciting. The headwind thwarts our plans: after about 7 hours we have only covered 30 kilometers. It will be a long night. We paddle further and further. Every stroke becomes harder and harder. The faces of the team members become more and more tired. A shot rings out. Tobi jumps up. Another shot. All of a sudden it is very quiet. But then – screams of joy! At the edge are the boats that are there to pick us up. People who are waving. We dock and hug each other. We made it. We have arrived. The pickup is successful. Everyone is overjoyed and relieved. We will stay the night here, because it’s already after 8pm and we will leave for Fort McPherson early the next morning. For dinner the Gwich’in brought with them all the things that we have been dreaming of in the past couple of days: fruit, vegetables, sweets and especially two things: grilled swan and fresh caribou meat, slaughtered yesterday. We are so happy and soon we make new friends. We speak about the expedition and the mission and everyone thanks each other: The Gwich’in thank us for the fact that we are helping to protect this unique and largest mountain wilderness in the world and we thank them that they permitted us to travel through their homeland. As we fall asleep after eating, drinking and lots of discussion and laughing, we are all just overjoyed. What it means for us, but more for the Gwich’in to protect this jewel of nature cannot be expressed in words. But one thing is clear. We must protect it.

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