Paul Baal is from the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, and prides himself as being a ‘professional volunteer’. This is his third year as a volunteer for the Yukon Quest. Paul was talked into coming north by a friend, who hounded him to visit the Yukon for 30 years. When he finally made the trip,10 years ago, he essentially fell in love with the Yukon, a common theme amongst most of the people we’ve spoken to. Paul has the same two jobs each year, one of them ensuring that the vets, like Emily, are kept warm in the ‘vet shack’ located across the Yukon River at the dog yard. “Keeping them as happy as they make me happy, is what’s important,” he said, as he was busy stoking the big wood stove. Paul’s other job as a volunteer, is checking in the mushers as they come into the Dawson checkpoint.
When Paul isn’t volunteering for the Quest, he’s giving his time to four other groups at home, as well as running a small home maintenance business. Paul says he will continue to take part in the Quest as long as he’s able. “ I’ve got to remember that I’m not quite as young as I was when I first came here, but I’m sure going to try to come up next year, he added.
Paul says his time in the Yukon is also very special because of the friendliness he experiences each time he comes here. “It’s a northern thing,” he said. “It’s like Manitoba where they say ‘friendly Manitoba’. It’s the same in the Yukon; everyone is very friendly.” Finally, Paul says simply, “you just have a very good time.”