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The End of the Road: Discovering the Yukon

The last weeks of Juan's pan-American bike journey – riding and paddling the Yukon, in north-west Canada…

 

My name is Juan Sisto.

A while back, I decided to take some time out, to leave home and my dream job for a couple of months. Time to think. Time to escape. Little by little, the two months became longer and longer, and when I finally stopped to check, I realised that coming home was no longer what I wanted. So, on February 22, 2013, I left Santiago (Chile) and headed to Patagonia to start my solo journey north by bike, up through the Americas. Two and a half years of riding later, and I arrived at what was to be the end point – Alaska – accompanied by a beautiful woman who joined me on my adventure. Two and a half years: more than enough time to think, escape, explore the world around us and to discover more about ourselves.

Arriving in the small town of El Chaltén in Argentina, a boy gave me a book – “The Call of the Wild” by Jack London – a book that recounts the tale of a dog called Buck from a wealthy family in California, whose life evolves once immersed in the wilds of the Yukon. I had begun my own journey only three months earlier in Santiago not knowing where exactly my final destination would be and, over some time I read that book with the passion of a child. Unknowingly, its pages became a compass for me – every turn of the pedal seemed to propel me northwards across the entirety of the Americas until I reached the setting of the story – the Yukon.

We crossed immense valleys and glaciers, climbed the snowy mountains of the north and followed in the footsteps of the gold rush pioneers, paddling along and crossing the river Yukon in a canoe. Alaska had always been the direction, but not necessarily the destination. The end of my journey was set in possibly the most virgin territory that still exists, where nature dominates over vast expanses and man is reduced to little more than a defenceless animal. We turned to our most primitive instincts in a place where rivers, fire, and the woods are the most important things one needs to be happy.

"We turned to our most primitive instincts in a place where rivers, fire, and the woods are the most important things one needs to be happy..."

 
 

More than 900 days traveling on a bicycle, through the Americas – Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico, USA, Canada – and it felt like the world had shrunk just for me. After the trip, I ended up returning to my native country, Spain, but not my city; my values and priorities had changed profoundly.

Nowadays I live in the very heart of the Pyrenees…

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