Friday, August 28, 2015

Yukon Trip - Day 4 - Skagway, AK

We awoke to the patter of rain this morning and stepped out to bring in the breakfast basket that Suzanne had hauled up to our deck on a pulley. Warm freshly baked berry muffins, eggs baked with kale and tomatoes from the garden, and a special Crag Lake coffee blend made for a delicious start to the day.
After breakfast we headed down the Klondike Highway on a 2-hour drive to Skagway, Alaska via White Pass, an area with some of the nicest scenery we’ve seen this trip. The Klondike Highway runs through the bottom of a wide U-shaped alpine glacial valley, filled with barren lichen-covered rocks and turquoise lakes. It is a bit of a moonscape, with no vegetation larger than the odd stunted conifer. As we began the descent into Skagway, the scenery abruptly transitioned to rainy cloud-shrouded mountainsides, covered in thick spruce forest.
We pulled into Skagway, a little mountain-surrounded town at the end of an ocean fjord, and joined the crowd of Holland America Volendam cruise ship passengers walking through the downtown.
The wooden boardwalks and old shop facades are vestiges of the gold rush days, when hopeful young men caught by gold fever landed by steamship in Skagway to begin their journey inland, across the Chilkoot Pass or White Pass, to find riches in the goldfields. As depicted in a Skagway statue, these prospectors were often guided by local First Nations people, who knew the lay of the land.
Skagway visitors, if they are willing to drop USD 122, can get an idea of the beauty and treacherousness of the White Pass by taking a 3-hour round-trip White Pass & Yukon rail journey from Skagway to the top of the pass at Fraser. Another excursion option is to travel by train as far as Carcross (trains no longer run between Skagway and Whitehorse).
We walked into a few of the gift shops, including one featuring a bit of a museum, and looked at walrus tusk ivory carvings, hematite jewellery, and the ubiquitous Alaska souvenirs – gold-flake vials, ulu knives, bear paw salad tossers, and the like.
Visitors' Information Centre
a little museum in the back of a gift shop -- this is Captain Waddell of the Confederate Shenandoah who in 1865 fired the last shot in the American Civil War in Alaska, unaware that the war had ended 2 months prior
several old cabins
After filling up on slightly cheaper (USD 3.80 per gallon) gas, we headed back up through the White Pass into the Yukon. A rest stop overlooking a lake and mountains at the Fraser, BC Canadian border crossing made for a scenic location for a picnic lunch, during which we caught the White Pass & Yukon train pulling in on the tracks below.
Fraser, BC -- nobody lives here; it's just the Canadian border crossing
Bernard Lake, BC
White Pass & Yukon railway at Bernard Lake, BC
another scenic Klondike Highway rest stop -- Bove Island and Tagish Lake, YT
Base Mountain and Tagish Lake, YT
We returned to Dunroamin’ in the late afternoon and took advantage of the sunny weather to take a walk around the property and relax on the dock and in the greenhouse.
At 7 pm we returned to our cabin to prepare a simple dinner of Uncle Ben’s rice, tuna, baked beans, and coleslaw greens, then spent the rest of the evening cozily reading.

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