Adventurers take a river canoe trip from Fairbanks to Bethel

Thomas Dyment and Luke Wenger paddled their way back to Bethel all the way from Fairbanks and were welcomed home last Thursday. photo by Greg Lincoln

by Greg Lincoln

Two Bethel men made an epic journey from Fairbanks to Bethel on a single canoe, traveling approximately 850 miles while paddling their way down the Tanana, Yukon, and Kuskokwim Rivers.

Thomas Dyment and Luke Wenger have been friends for years, working together as EMTs at the Bethel Fire Department. Their journey began late April when they traveled to Fairbanks. They started their canoeing expedition on May 13 padding from Fairbanks to the Tanana River.

Hugh Dyment, Thomas’ dad got them a BioLite camp stove that charges electronics for the trip.

“It’s good as long as there’s wood to burn,” he wrote in an online post.

They passed through Ruby, Galena, Kaltag, Koyukuk, Nulato, Kaltag, Grayling, and Anvik. Folks could follow their progress online, their trip was tracked with a Garmin GPS program. Thomas’ mom Isabelle breathed a sigh of relief when the duo made it to Bethel and home.

“Now I’ll be able to sleep well and not worry about them,” she said.

The two portaged across from the Yukon River to the Kuskokwim using the old Paimute Portage. They found three dried lakes and ended up packing their canoe and gear until they reached the fourth lake – Arhymot Lake, which was traversable. It took them four and half hours to make it over the 1 ½ miles.

Other backcountry paddling enthusiasts from around the state took notice of their excursion and cheered them on.

On the final day of their journey on the Kuskokwim, the paddlers made a last-day paddle of 90 miles – more than twice their daily average – arriving into homeport on Thursday, June 9th, 2022.

A crowd of family and friends were there to greet the adventurers on Lomack Beach. They were given burritos which they ate right up. They hugged everyone and posed for historic photos. Welcome home boys, we’re glad you’re safe and sound.