Carriere paddles to victory
by Jillian Rogers - News reporter
A Yukon News Archive story originally published June 26, 2000
Saskatchewan paddler Solomon Carriere and his paddling partner Dan Solie, of Alaska, won the second-annual Yukon River Quest in 53 hours and 35 minutes.
This year's Quest ... which saw 17 teams of canoeists and kayakers battle the cold, turbulent waters of the Yukon River from Whitehorse to Dawson ... was Carriere's second win in as many years.
He and Solie blasted last year's record out of the water by over two and a half hours.
"I feel kind of tired," a red-eyed Carriere said in Dawson City on Friday.
It was a smooth ride down the 735-kilometre river, added Carriere, who is from Cumberland House.
"Of course, the water was a little rough in some spots, but it was fine," said the former world-champion canoeist.
"When we were out in the water, I was getting pretty sore but I'll be sorer yet. The worst is yet to come."
"I feel strange," said Solie, the other half of the team. "I'm pretty wobbly, the ground seems to be moving."
The team managed to grab a couple hours of sleep at the mandatory six-hour layover in Minto.
Though he's thrilled to have won his first Quest, Solie doesn't know if he'll return next year.
"After paddling this last 80 miles, from White River on, that's a long, hard section, so I'll wait and see. It's a great race though, and an honor paddling with Solomon."
The winning pair sprinted out of Minto, looking over their shoulder all the way.
They were worried about Washington State's Tom Feil and Jeff Mettler, who dogged them all the way to Dawson.
Before the race, that team vowed to be the first Washintonians across the finish line.
And they were.
Never mind the fact that they were the only team from Washington. They happily accepted second place with a time of 54 hours and 35 minutes.
"Today was great until about the last eight miles," said Feil a few minutes after arriving in Dawson Friday.
"My wrist got a little tendinitis, but it feels better today. We were both really hurting in Carmacks."
However, Mettler suffered a lot more.
In the wee hours Thursday morning, he simply couldn't stay awake. But a few power naps and he was ready to continue paddling.
Then came the rain.
"We didn't want to stop to put on our rain gear. I was OK, but he started to get a little hypothermic as it got colder. Then we stopped to put our stuff on," said Feil.
"About 4 a.m. I was falling asleep while we were paddling," said Mettler who looked drunk from sleeplessness.
"I finally just settled down and slept a few times while Tom kept paddling."
Along the way, the paddlers got a taste of the Yukon's wildlife and amazing scenery.
"Yeah we saw some moose and a fox," said Feil, laughing. "Two moose, well, one for sure. I guess some might have been imaginary moose."
After 40 hours of strenuous paddling and no sleep, your mind starts to play tricks, he added.
For Solie, it wasn't moose or imaginary finish lines, it was Flipper.
"Oh, I saw a dolphin leap out of the water," he said.
"I did," he insisted.
"And we almost got charged by a martin today, and that was for real.
"This martin was swimming across the river and our canoe passed him and he flared up and looked like he going to charge us, but then he just went the other way."
All but one of the teams arrived at the finish line Friday or Saturday.
All paddlers were exhausted and scruffy, but happy to have completed the longest river marathon in the world.
1) Dan Solie and Solomon Carriere
2) Jeff Mettler and Tom Feil
3) Bob Vincent and Gwyn Hayman
4) Wayne Gregory and Michael Gregory
5) Yvonne Harris and Brian Horton
6) William Kleedehn and Gerry Willomitzer
7) Bob Hanley Melissa O'Brien
8) Larry Seethaler and Brenda Forsyth
9) Wes Sheward and Jon Orban
10) Heather Birchard and Tara Wardle
11) David Mitchell and Cameron Mitchell
1) Yannick Bedard
2) James Tousignant
3) Ingrid Wilcox
1) Greg Tibbetts and Jane Tibbetts