For members of the “Yukon Journey” charity paddle and expedition, traveling north to canoe and kayak North America’s third-longest river is the start of a bucket-list adventure. It’s the same for Chelsea Mayer, a 29-year-old resident of Clinton, Iowa.
But this trip is also something of a homecoming for Chelsea – she was born in Fairbanks, Alaska.
“I’m an Army brat,” Chelsea says, “so I lived in Fairbanks till I was four years old and then moved around after that. I’ve always wanted to go back and visit, to see it as an adult.”
Chelsea’s wish will come true this summer, when the group takes a short detour from the river to visit her hometown at the midpoint of the journey. (They’ll replenish their supplies there, as well as do media interviews and share photos and videos with Yukon Journey donors.)
Spending her formative years in “The Last Frontier” definitely inspired the young Chelsea’s love of nature. It wasn’t her only path to the great outdoors, though. Her father’s family owned and operated a cabin resort near Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, for over 50 years.
“Regardless of what state we lived in, we spent every summer there on Big Lake,” she says. “I’ve always said that I grew up in the northwoods at the resort.”
Given these two influences, it’s not surprising that Chelsea has been camping, hiking and fishing since she was a child, and canoeing since age 12. As an adult, she took up kayaking about five years ago.
Chelsea, who is part of the Mississippi River Angels network to help passing kayakers and canoeists, says that her favorite paddling to date has been on the Mississippi River. She was planning a trip down the length of the Wisconsin River when the opportunity arose to join the Yukon Journey expedition.
“It’s been my dream to travel and explore Alaska, and the Yukon Journey expedition will help me do that,” Chelsea says. “The trip also will be beneficial so that I can learn more and prepare for my solo kayaking trip down the Wisconsin.”
Chelsea, whose occupational life has included a four-year stint as a Park Ranger for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, returned to school to recently complete a bachelor of science degree in Environmental Studies from Ashford University.
Editor’s Note: Chelsea is one of six team members that will take part in the expedition, and one of several members from the United States. Read the other team members’ bios to learn more about this unique group.