I've made some lasting relationships with people I've met in a wilderness context. When I travel through the bush, meeting other humans is significant. A chance meeting on Shipyard Island at the junction of the Yukon and Teslin Rivers brought me to Denmark, led to my canoe trip on the Big Salmon River and inspired the song 'The Danes Have Landed' from my 2019 album Taken by Surprise.
I paddled the Teslin River with friends in the summer of 2014. The conversation one afternoon was about my Danish ancestry and my desire to go to Denmark. Later that same day we were camped on Shipyard Island and saw a canoe pull up to shore. Out stepped two men in matching plaid shirts, their canoe sporting the Danish flag. Sometimes life is like that: ask and ye shall receive. We camped with the Danes and leap-frogged them on the river over the next few days. In Whitehorse and they came to see our sled dogs. Kasper said that if I ever came to to Copenhagen he would take me for a tour of the city in his cargo bike. Well.... when I finished my mushing contract in Norway a couple of winters ago, I sent Kasper a note saying I wanted to come to Copenhagen and he wrote back saying he wanted to uphold his offer.
Hanging out with Nick & Kasper in Copenhagen was tonnes of fun. I have a childhood friend who has moved to Copenhagen and works as a sound engineer. I recorded 2 of my newly written songs with him and generally loved my time in the city. Kasper took me to Kronberg Castle. In the bottom of the castle sits Holger the Dane. Holger is a Danish hero who will awake when Denmark is in need. It was striking to see Holger. Looking at him with Kasper I realized that I don't feel particularly Danish and Holger does not feel like my hero. Identifying as a Canadian has always been complex for me. I thought I would take comfort in visiting the land of my ancestors, seeing people who looked like me and connecting with my Danish roots. While I was glad to see where my great-grandfather came from years ago, a big ocean of time must be crossed to know that connection more personally.
In the spring of 2018 Kasper and Nick came back to the Yukon and we paddled the Big Salmon River together. One of my best buds from childhood also came on the trip and we had an amazing time exploring this new path through the Pelly Mountains and Big Salmon Range. Its been a joy to watch one adventure spawn another, to see a chance meeting on a river turn into a lasting international friendship. Here's to going with the river's flow.