Update: Canoeists Complete Mackenzie River

Adventure travellers Jason Rowland and Chad Robertson arrived in Inuvik this week after completing an 1,800km paddle down the Mackenzie River in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

The pair set out by bicycle from Jasper, Alberta in late May, towing their canoe 1,200km north to Hay River. They overcame the theft of their food in Fort Simpson and a dangerous crossing at the confluence of the Liard and Mackenzie Rivers.

Rowland and Robertson. Photo: Jason Rowland

The pair were also able to rescue a man they found suffering from hypothermia on the river.

“People really underestimate the river,” Rowland explained. “You don’t try to paddle on headwind days. It throws you around, and you can capsize quite quickly. It can be a pretty deadly river.”

Rowland has no plans for any more canoeing: “Arriving into Inuvik, it only took me two hours to find a buyer for the canoe and the trailer,” he said.

After a small celebration in Inuvik, Rowland and Robertson headed a further 130km to the coastal Inuvialuit community of Tuktoyaktuk, for a swim in the Arctic Ocean.

“Actually it wasn’t as cold as some rivers I’ve jumped in,” Rowland explained. “The Athabasca, now that’s cold.”

Rowland (right) and Robertson warm up after their dip in the Arctic Ocean. Photo: Jason Rowland

Robertson will now return home to Ontario to look for work, while Rowland will enjoy some R and R in the mountain town of Jasper before returning to Australia in November.

“I’ve definitely got more adventures up my sleeve,” said Robertson, but added the adventurer’s eternal lament: “It’s just finding the time and the money to be able to do them.”