Too extreme. Too crazy. Too expensive. There’s a misconception that Canada’s frozen north is beyond reach. But not all adventures in the Yukon need to be massive, says travel writer Mike MacEacheran.

Somewhere out on the lake, the snowmobile swerves and we’re suddenly on the ice proper: A medley of hard-packed crystals and frost which glimmers in the midwinter sun, hiding a murky abyss below. It is on this water, hunched on upturned bait buckets, that we’ll catch our lunch. Or soon we’ll go hungry.

“The trick with ice fishing is to stay warm and keep your lure moving,” says ice fishing pro Patrick Beille, jigging his line and peering into the auger-cut ice hole. “The cold water means the lake char (a type of Arctic fish) slow down in winter, making them harder to catch. And I should know: Sometimes it’s taken me three days to get one.”

It’s chilly out on the ice, by any measure. With the mercury hovering around -20°Celsius (-4° Fahrenheit) on Caribou Lake, a natural rink south of territorial capital Whitehorse, we’re dressed head-to-toe in padded jackets and trousers. On our feet are thick, insulated boots suitable for nothing less than moon walking. Gloves are doubled up, so too are neck-warmers and thermal undies. Below us, land and ice mix like watercolor.