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Splish-Splashin' Klondike-Style - As Read on 'Google Earth'
10/04/08 20:57 | Permalink

You can't get much further off the grid than the Dawson City River Hostel.

Dieter Reinmuth, an avid outdoorsman, photographer, guide book author and world traveller who settled in the Yukon 20 years ago to make his living panning for gold, built this funky off-the-grid retreat as an ode to fellow explorers who arrive from all over the globe seeking adventure and a genuine Klondike experience.

This place of rustic luxury is one of my favourite secret getaways in the far north. The bath house, pictured above, is a not-to-be-missed ritual. I make a point of arriving here good and filthy. If the Germans have arrived before you, the stove will be roaring and the water near boiling. If you're all alone, you'll have to gather wood for the pot-bellied wood stove under the large metal tub of water, light a fire, then wait half an hour for the water to heat up. A bucket of cold water sits at the ready for optimizing bathing temperature, and a wooden-handled aluminum pot serves as your ladle. The little bath house heats through like a sauna and with the first drop of hot water on your Yukon-dusted skin, you'll feel like a modern-day prospector who's hit the motherlode.

The office is run on solar power and everything else operates on fire wood scrounged from deadfall in the forest. "If you want to cook or take a bath or warm up the common cabin on a cool night," says Dieter, "you need to be able to split wood - a skill not too many people have any more - and a certain number of guest might be discouraged at first, but most soon start to enjoy this frontier-type of work-out."

Cabins and dorms built with recycled wood and reclaimed windows are scattered about this riverside property directly facing Dawson City, a 5-minute ferry ride away. Travellers share an outdoor kitchen with a woodstove and an indoor living room with well-worn furniture and a collection of well-read books. Panoramic views of the sparkling Yukon River and Dawson City's colourful heritage buildings can be had from the sundeck. Kayaks, canoes, bicycles, motorbikes, knapsacks, sleeping bags, guidebooks and maps are strewn haphazardly around the camping area during the day while their owners prepare for, or recover from, epic adventures.

At night, under the purple twilight of the midnight sun, it's United Nations around the campfire, where testosterone-spiked stories of close encounters with wolves are one-upped by stories of bear attacks and narrow escapes on mountain passes in lightning storms.

Dawson City River Hostel / Dieter Reinmuth, Box 32, Dawson City, Yukon, Y0B 1G0 Telephone 1-867-993-6823. Author and publisher of the "Yukon Travel Adventure Guide" and "Saga of the Sourtoe". More info on www.yukonhostels.com

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