Yukon’s ‘embarrassment of riches’ fuels Kalin Pallett’s passion for the outdoors
Almost two decades ago, Kalin Pallett wanted to change his life. The Mississauga-born paddler loved his hometown but was keen to embark on an adventure that would support his career goals, allow him to contribute to a vibrant community and, equally importantly, offered easy access to water and wilderness to explore. The life he discovered in Whitehorse, Yukon not only met these criteria, but exceeded his expectations. “In many ways, the Yukon is an embarrassment of riches.”
Kalin thought he’d relish in Yukon life for a year or two and then reassess, but the territory immediately captured his heart, and the love affair continues to burn bright into his eighteenth year as a Yukon resident.
Kalin got his feet wet in the tourism sector taking on several roles, from trip guide and retail worker to consultant and President of the Wilderness Tourism Association of the Yukon. He loves sharing his passion for the outdoors with others, typically with a paddle in their hands and wonder in their eyes.
“I never get tired of seeing visitors respond to this place. It really fills my bucket,”
He says of his role as trip leader for tourists from Canada, North America and across the globe. “The Yukon is bigger than Germany, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands combined.” He says that tourists accustomed to these densely populated spaces are astonished when they discover the peace and space of the Yukon. “When tourists launch here in Whitehorse and we start floating down the river and wave goodbye to the city and the cell phones don’t work anymore and the houses disappear, it’s a very special thing.”
But experiencing the Yukon doesn’t mean you have to go off grid or completely rough it. Kalin says the Yukon has options for all kinds of interests, “from mild to wild.” Diverse landscapes, and a wide selection of operations and outfitters means that the options for discovery are as unique as the groups that come to explore the territory. “There is a whole spectrum of emotion that comes from experiencing the Yukon for the first time too. Some people simply feel incredibly relaxed, others are completely energized and just going a-mile-a-minute because they’ve had this incredible injection of nature and excitement. I’ve seen people cry after a trip because they just don’t want to leave.”
This breadth of emotions inspired by the landscape isn’t just for tourists. “One of the amazing things about paddling is that whatever headspace you’re in, there is a type of paddling here suited to it. It’s my mental health reset. Whether I’m feeling quiet and contemplative, or gregarious and social, or in the mood for some adrenaline and adventure there’s a place in the Yukon and a paddling option that suits me.”
And while Kalin may live and breathe paddling – he’s on the water between 75 and 80 days a year – with world-class wilderness at every turn, immersed in a population of outdoor enthusiasts, the Yukon has been fertile ground to expand his adventuring. “When I arrived, I raced white-water slalom canoe. But because everything is so accessible, I’ve broadened my horizons. Rafting is huge here. I also teach canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding. I got back into mountain biking. I have a gravel bike too. Some days, the hardest decision to make is choosing what activity to do! The skiing –from cross country to backcountry – is amazing. Mount Logan is a feather in any mountaineer’s cap. Truly, I would put the Yukon up against anywhere else in the world for whatever activity excites or inspires you.”