Saturday, August 13, 2016

Man Swims 2,000 Miles Down the Yukon River

[ed. This is insane.]

A few days ago, at the end of a summerlong journey in which he navigated nearly the entire Yukon River without a boat, Denis Morin was overcome by all he was and all he had been through.

The French-Canadian traveled the river from Whitehorse, Yukon, to the mouth in Alaska by riverboard. The bright blue board is a little more than half his height in length, and looks something like a boogie board with sides. He kicked and sometimes stroked for almost 2,000 miles. He encountered big rain and hail, headwinds and whitecaps, two grizzly bears and an errant salmon.

And he did it alone.

Morin, 54, calls himself a swimmer. More precisely, he is a riverboarder, an athlete in an emerging sport of swimming aided by a floatation board and fins. Thousands of people around the world do it, said Morin, who is part of the World Riverboarding Association. Most are thrill-seekers in whitewater with extra protective gear. The Yukon was for distance.

After 75 days and almost 2,000 miles, on Tuesday he rose out of a slough at his destination: the Southwest Alaska fishing village of Emmonak, near the Bering Sea at one of the Yukon's mouths.

There, local salmon roe man Jim Friedman heard that a stranger had just arrived. He went to the dock by the fish plant to see if the man needed help.

"Where's your canoe?" Friedman asked.

Don't have one, Morin answered.

"Where's your kayak then?"

Morin didn't have one of those, either.

"Then how'd ya get here?" Friedman wondered.

"I swam," Morin told him.

by Lisa Demer, Alaska Dispatch |  Read more:
Image: Denis Morin