At 14, at the suggestion of my mother*, I spent the Summer of Love hitchhiking across Canada to Alaska. In Whitehorse, Yukon Territory I met the guy shown next to me in this picture (who had fled San Francisco’s craziness) and after a short discussion (and a phone call to my mother in NJ) we decided to go in together to rent a canoe and join a fleet of vessels called the Yukon River Flotilla traveling 460mi (740km) from Whitehorse to Dawson City.
Derek W Irons, who I believe is the son of the Flotilla’s safety officer wrote this about us: “It should be mentioned that one canoe did make the passage and this was crewed by Jon Salistrom and Kevin Kearney [my real name] who had been completely without canoe experience one week prior to the departure of the Flotilla. They practiced constantly under the tutelage of Cpl W. Hall and were, in the end, the only canoe to go the whole trip completely -under paddle and without any assistance. It was due to their efforts up to Carmacks – including [the 32 mi.] passage of Lake Lebarge by paddle – that they were permitted to go through Five Fingers, and they had no trouble at all.”
Alas, I have no idea what happened to that paddle that had been autographed by many of my fellow Flotilla travelers.
*As I was regularly hitching all over the Jersey Shore and up to New York City regularly, she figured (correctly) that I would be safer doing it in Canada than New Jersey. That may or may not have been true.
On my journey I learned to roll cigarettes (for the driver, not me), to hop a freight (between Jasper, Alberta and Prince George, BC), to use publicity at local TV stations to get rides, and managed to shed my virginity.