2008-07-12 to 30, Yukon trip.
* Air: Pearson-Vancouver-Whitehorse
* Sidetrips: Carcross, Skagway
* Dawson with Miriam and Adoni
* Teslin-Yukon River canoe trip
* Miriam and Adonis, Chilkoot Pass
* Side trips: Kluane Park, Atlin, B.C.
2008-07-12 - Departure for Yukon.
N41 notebook 08-07-10 to 10-05-00
Backup camera pics. Does the Olympus D40 still work? 2008-07-12, Saturday We arrive in Whitehorse mid-afternoon, pick up our rental car and register at the Best Western hotel. Plenty of time left for a walk around the town. Heading towards the Yukon River we end up at the Klondike, a restored stern-wheeler. The town is large, has every kind of shopping and commercial facility, even its own transit system. Whitehorse caters to tourists but clearly has a life of its own after the tourists go home.
2008-07-12 - Walkabout, Whitehorse,
08-07-12 - The pails are to hold water for fire-dousing. Since the roof of the cabin is waterproofed with painted canvas, sparks from the ships boilers could have been a problem.
08-07-12 - 2008-07-13, Sunday We drive to Skagway, Alaska, via Carcross. This town is the present day northern terminus of the Yukon and White Pass Railroad. The tracks continue on to Whitehorse but haven't been maintained recently. For us the most interesting thing is the Carcross Desert, a large area of sand dunes on the Whitehorse side of the town. This was formed out of wind-blown sand in pre-historic times and today is still mobile enough to inhibit tree growth. The surrounding peaks are higher towards the Canada-US border but still the view is spread wide across lakes, rocky uplands and foothills. Near the border and the White Pass, clouds and mists roll in and the view becomes squeezed between steep valley walls. The descent to Skagway is a long downhill roller-coaster ride. Skagway itself is a sort of NOTL of the north Pacific coast. A kind of theme park made up of souvenir and jewellery stores catering to the tour boats tied up in the harbour. We get tickets on the White Pass excursion train along with a few thousand tour boat passengers. We head back up the pass we've just come down in the car. Up hair-raising embankments, past ruined trestles, over high, spindly bridges, we grind up the narrow gauge line to the border near the head of the pass. There we wait for an earlier train to pass us going down. In Skagway again we continue our walk, checking out shop windows and interesting buildings, then begin the drive back to Whitehorse. By the time we get back to the hotel, Miriam and Adonis have arrived.
2008-07-13 - Drive to Skagway.
The Carcross desert.
On the road to Skagway.
08-07-13 - Bove Island.
08-07-13 - Over the White Pass. Less visibility. On the rainy side of the coastal range.
08-07-13 - Skagway harbour.
Excursion, Yukon and White Pass RR.
08-07-13 - US-Canadian border.
08-07-13 - NWMP post.
Skagway-bound excursion train.
Return trip to Skagway.
08-07-13 - Lynn Canal visible on the right. Skagway is situated on Lynn Canal, an arm of the Pacific.
08-07-13 - Passengers were allowed to linger between the coaches to breathe the diesel-scented mountain air, and take pictures.
08-07-13 - Picking up a group of hikers. These had completed their climb up to a nearby glacier and were now heading back to Skagway.
Back in Skagway.
08-07-13 - Portal.
Driving toward Whitehorse.
08-07-13 - Looking Canada-wards.
08-07-13 - The weather improves.
08-07-13 - 2008-07-14, Monday We meet Miriam and Adonis for breakfast. We all go on another walk downtown, visit Starbuck's, then, in the afternoon, go on a longer walk along the airport perimeter fence. The airport is built on an ancient river bank high above the town. The walk along the edge of this bank gives fine views of Whitehorse and the Yukon River. We make plans to head north to Dawson tomorrow.
2008-07-14 - Walkabout, Whitehorse.
08-07-14 - At Starbuck's.
08-07-14 - Backstreet bike shop.
Whitehorse walk with Miriam and Adoni.
We find a trail above the town,
on top of an ancient river bank,
along the airport perimeter fence.
08-07-14 - North, downriver toward Dawson.
08-07-14 - Our hotel (Best Western, grey).
08-07-14 - Klondike stern-wheeler visible.
08-07-14 - South, toward the power station.
08-07-14 - The Robert W. Service Parkway.
08-07-14 - Showers chasing (not catching) us.
08-07-14 - Heading for the Bering Strait.
08-07-14 - Wild roses, Yukon's emblem.
08-07-14 - Now, where was that coffee shop? 2008-07-15, Tuesday On the road to Dawson, we first stop at Braeburn lodge, a roadside watering place where the danish buns are the size of dinner plates. We make an extended stop at Five Fingers Rapids to venture down a trail to the water overlooking this famous navigation hazard. Steamboats had to winch themselves past this obstacle a yard at a time. Today a few canoes dart through the rapids going downstream, but keeping to the more tranquil middle of the white-water channels. At Dawson we visit the travel bureau and ask them to find us the cheapest hotel with the most character. They oblige and we are soon lodged in fairly basic accommodation within a mere bottle's throw of one of Dawson's rowdier saloons. Notwithstanding, we set off on our usual walkabout, threading unpaved streets with wooden sidewalks. The buildings are startlingly colourful, some in course of restoration, some decrepit, some active businesses. We end up at the Palace Grand theatre where a musical pageant is playing. Children have come in from all over the region to perform in a fiddle opera about children from pioneer days who have magically come back from the dead to tell present day kids what's life back then was all about. Quite a nice dinner that evening in a back street gourmet resto.
On the road to Dawson.
08-07-15 - Braeburn Lodge, home of giant danish.
08-07-15 - Five Fingers Rapids, Yukon R. Steamers winched themselves upstream here, using steel cables.
08-07-15 - Yukon embankment.
08-07-15 - Masonic Temple.
08-07-15 - Our hotel.
08-07-15 - Not a PhotoShop trick.
08-07-15 - Robert W. Service once worked here.
Theatre performance, Dawson.
08-07-15 - She plays a mean piano.
08-07-15 - Friends and family of the performers.
V10-11-10 - Phantom staircase
08-07-15 - Half full or half empty? How should I know? Am I a philosopher? ... Well, YES, actually.
08-07-15 - Dinner after the theatre.
08-07-15 - Show me the way to go home. I'm tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago, and it's gone right to my head.
08-07-15 - 2008-07-16, Wednesday In the morning we drive to the top of Midnight Dome, a viewpoint above the town. The view, for me, is quintessentially Yukon Territory. A huge river, the Yukon, stretches from horizon to horizon, hurrying to the Bering Strait. Mountains are on all sides, but these are the rounded mountains of a geologically old landscape. We also see history, in glimpses of the tailings left from goldrush days up Bonanza Creek. That afternoon we drive up Bonanza Creek to the old gold workings. Parks Canada has restored a huge dredge, but this is not open today. We content ourselves with a walk upstream. From the sound of machinery, off to the side of the road, small-scale mining operations are still carried on. In the evening, Merle and I visit the Robert Service cabin on a back street where a young man gives readings and tells the author's story. This Parks Canada animateur confesses that he had come up here temporarily a few years back, to check things out, but hasn't gotten around to going back south yet. In the evening all four of us drop-in to Diamond Tooth Gertie's Gambling Saloon for the show. Half the audience are gamblers who take no notice of the performance, the rest of us concentrate on the dancers and our drinks.
2008-07-16 - Drive up Midnight Dome.
Bonanza Creek dredge.
08-07-16 - Claim jumper.
A walk up Bonanza Creek.
08-07-16 - Dredge tailings.
08-07-16 - Small-scale mining still acive.
Back in Dawson.
Robert Service cabin.
08-07-16 - Animator gives Service readings.
08-07-16 - Service liked his comforts.
Diamond Tooth Gertie's gambling saloon.
Backstreet walkabout, Dawson.
08-07-16 - Not horticulturally challenged. Dawson is only about 250km south of the arctic circle. A mere drive from St. Catharines to Toronto and back.
Day 0, Teslin R. canoe trip.
* Back from Dawson.
* Briefing by outfitter.
* Sea-to-Sky Expeditions.
* We get paddles, PFDs and wet bags.
- 2008-07-17, Thursday We drive back to Whitehorse from Dawson. Merle and I have a conference with Sea-to-Sky outfitters this evening, to meet the other trippers and to pick up canoe gear. Miriam and Adonis prepare for their own jaunt on the Chilkoot Pass hike. We'll seem them again to compare notes after we've all finished both trips.
08-07-17 - Back of our hotel. Unloading the car.
Day 1, Start of canoe trip.
* Wet weather, used Olympus D40 camera.
* Put-in, Johnson's Crossing, Teslin R.
* On the Trans Canada highway.
* Trucked to launch site by outfitter.
* Eight campers, two guides.
* A modest day's paddle, about 30km? 2008-07-18, Friday, day 1 We're picked up at our hotel by the outfitter and taken with the other canoe trippers to our put in point on the Teslin River. This is where the Alaska Higway crosses. Here the river is wide and opens out into a series of narrow lakes. The current at the start is fairly sedate. With the weather threatening rain, we have a good day's paddle of about 30km. I now remember why I prefer the kayak to the canoe for extended trips. No back rest in the canoe, and with the knees pushed up in front, only my abdominal muscles keep me upright. Nevertheless, the canoes are fast and carry an incredible amount of gear in the two middle compartments. Here, the equipment has been tied down in a kind of daisy chain instead of being fastened tightly to the thwarts. This is to keep everything attached to the canoe in the event of a capsize, but to allow a swamped boat to be more easily righted and emptied without the extra weight of the equipment to contend with. Under way we raft together to get more instruction on safety procedure and canoe handling.
Day 1, Start of canoe trip.
08-07-18 - Johnson's crossing, Teslin R. Preparations for launching. TCH bridge overhead.
08-07-18 - Merle and Derek play catch-up.
08-07-18 - Rafting together for instructions. Instructions in general safety procedure and paddling techniques.
08-07-18 - Damp lunch stop.
08-07-18 - This fishing camp is still in use.
08-07-18 - I think that mountain is following us.
08-07-18 - Evening camp. All the comforts. Later, I really began to long for a comfortable chair to sit in.
Day 2 - Slightly better weather
* Cloudy, but we live in hope.
* Septemberish weather, cold.
* No rain. Canon A640 camera again. 2008-07-19, Saturday, day 2 Rains and rains and never stops. Forty days and spoils the crops. Well, perhaps it was only drizzle. We press on through a few brighter patches. According to the old Yukon hands, the weather is distinctly Septemberish. About 50km today, we are picking up speed.
Day 2, Slightly better weather.
08-07-19 - A ray of hope?
08-07-19 - The clouds begin to lift. But only a bit.
08-07-19 - Snow on the highest peaks.
08-07-19 - Group shoulder massage.
08-07-19 - Those pesky clouds are back.
08-07-19 - Hoodoos. Eroded riverbanks of compacted silt and gravel.
08-07-19 - Cliff swallow nests.
08-07-19 - Recent snow on the peak.
08-07-19 - Cutbank. "Cutbank" is the local name for these steep, cut away river banks.
08-07-19 - Camp.
08-07-19 - Comfort. I really, really, begin to long for something comfortable to sit on. Something with back support.
08-07-19 - Evening cloud FX.
Day 3 - Real sunshine.
* Dawns cold but promising. Then sunny.
* Great views, cutbanks, mountains.
* Rafting. Story reading, guide Kelly.
* Good camsite in a spruce park.
* Incredible growth of spagnum moss. 2008-07-20, Sunday, day 3 A cold dawn but promising. Sunny later on. Great views today: cutbanks, hoodoos, mountains on the horizon. We raft the canoes together for rest and recreation. Guides Len Webster and Kelly Kurtz read us stories about the north by Robert Service and others. We've brought along an entire waterproof duffel bag filled with the camp library. This evening we find a good campsite in a park of spruce trees with incredible growths of spongy sphagnum moss in the woods.
Day 3, Real sunshine.
08-07-20 - Loading the canoes. We had a calm eddy to load in this morning.
08-07-20 - A potential "strainer". We keep a watch for trees dipping down into the water. To brush against them with the current moving this fast might be dangerous. The canoe could become trapped, turn sideways and roll over.
08-07-20 - That mountain is STILL followng us. Our moring break after a few hours of paddling.
08-07-20 - Len Webster, guide.
08-07-20 - Rafting. Merle on the right.
08-07-20 - Derek, you're way out of the picture.
08-07-20 - Kelly reads Robert Service.
08-07-20 - That's an eagle, believe me.
08-07-20 - More cut-banks.
08-07-20 - Very difficult to land on this kind of riverbank. Danger of landslides. Very narrow shelf to step onto. Rapid current right up against the shore.
08-07-20 - Lunch stop.
08-07-20 - Afternoon of the cutbank.
08-07-20 - Traffic jam on the Teslin.
08-07-20 - Merle, camping. She has on her mosqito-net headdress.
08-07-20 - B> Kelly studies maps. Judy tends the fire.
Day 4, Maximum distance.
* Rain and drizzle last night.
* Pattering on tent fly. Dry inside.
* Up at 6:30, away by 8:30.
* Drizzle 20km, then cloud FX.
* Lunch on gravel bar. Fast current.
* Camp at Hootalinqua, 75km today. 2008-07-21, Monday, day 4 Rains and drizzles all night. Up at 6:30am for breakfast and away by 8:30. Gloomy and wet for 20km, then the overcast breaks up into statuesque cumuli. More good views of cutbanks and the surrounding mountains. Lunch on a gravel bar that practically invites "Life is a beach" pictures. More rafting to relax. Miss a few possible campsites by overshooting. Terrific current. Difficult to land without risk of capsizing. We're instructed in a new canoe stroke. I call it the "cut". You paddle along close to the shore, whizzing along at 10 to 15km an hour. At a command from the stern, the bowperson thrusts the paddle in, but diagonally forward, holding it against the gunwale. The opposite hand holds the head of the paddle on the outside of the chin to avoid a broken jaw if it strikes something in the water at that speed. Meanwhile the sternperson has angled their paddle diagonally backward. The combined effect of the manoever is to quickly pivot the canoe almost 180 degrees so that you are now facing upstream and headed diagonally shoreward. Vigorous forward paddling against the current ferries the canoe more gently sideways to a landing on shore. With likely campsites already taken we press on downriver to Hootalinqua. This is on a modest lake at the junction of the Yukon and Teslin Rivers and surrounded by hills and mountains. Here the Yukon adds an almost emerald green colour to the Teslin's browner hue. Hootalinqua is an old townsite with the ruins of several cabins and a telegraph station. We make camp and have dinner at a picnic table overlooking the river. 75km today. Looks like we may have a rest day in camp tomorrow.
Day 4, maximum distance.
08-07-21 - A drizzly start. Canon A640
08-07-21 - More hoodoos.
08-07-21 - Hoodoos, Teslin R. At the top of the bank, about 2 or 3 feet below the surface is a light layer. This is believed to be ash from a volcanic eruption in pre-historic times. The effect is noticeable for many kilometers along the river.
08-07-21 - A day of cloud FX.
08-07-21 - Lunch stop on a gravel bar.
08-07-21 - Our guides, Kelly and Len. Lunch on a beach that probably was under water last week.
08-07-21 - Life is a ... you know.
08-07-21 - Moose tracks.
08-07-21 - Get ready for a group shot.
08-07-21 - Back in the saddle again.
08-07-21 - Out where a friend is a friend.
08-07-21 - And the longhorn cattle feed ...
08-07-21 - On the lowly Jimson weed ... ... Sorry, I'm in the wrong movie. This is a sub-artic saga, not a wild-west adventure.
Back to top