Saturday, August 29, 2015

Yukon Trip - Day 5 - Haines Junction, YT

We awoke at 8 am to find a breakfast basket once again hanging on the pulley outside our cabin door. Today’s delicious breakfast consisted of warm fruit and nut muffins, creamy yogurt with homemade granola and rhubarb from the garden, and Crag Lake blend coffee.
After breakfast we packed up the car and set out towards Carcross on Tagish Road. Not five minutes later we were stopped again – bear sighting!! In the ditch on the opposite side of the narrow road were two foraging grizzlies. One promptly retreated into the bushes, but we watched the second for a few minutes until it too disappeared. It was both unnerving and fantastic to be just ten metres away from such a beautiful and powerful creature!
ignoring us
Just past Carcross we pulled into a viewpoint overlooking Emerald Lake, apparently the most photographed lake in the Yukon. Its crystal clear blue-green water perfectly reflected the surroundings.
We continued north on the Klondike Highway, towards Whitehorse, and stopped next at the Robinson Roadhouse, a collection of derelict buildings along an old rail line, used in the first part of the 20th Century as a rest stop for travellers. After crossing the narrow-gauge rail line, now overgrown with conifers, we walked around a vast meadow, checking out half a dozen wooden buildings, in varying stages of decay. Several have been stabilized to slow their collapse, but as of yet there have not been funds available for restoration. With a view of the mountains, we appreciated that this would a century ago have been a pleasant site to stop at for a rest and meal.
After skirting around Whitehorse, we continued west along the Alaska Highway, stopping for a picnic lunch in the Takhini Valley.
In the mid afternoon we arrived at Haines Junction, a town of 840 on the eastern border of Kluane National Park and Reserve. Our first stop was the Haines Junction Visitors' Centre, which both in scale and design was not what we had expected in such a tiny town. We spent about an hour in the beautiful Centre, checking out the interactive displays, tracing our journey on a room-sized Yukon floor map, and watching a fantastic Parks Canada film on Kluane. Kluane National Park contains Canada’s highest mountains, the tallest being Mount Logan, and is a stunning and wild landscape of mountains, glaciers, lakes, and forests, where grizzly bears, moose, Dall sheep, and golden eagles can be found. We won’t get a chance to properly experience the Park; that would be a whole trip in itself, for better outdoorspeople than ourselves!
Haines Junction Visitors' Centre
I weigh 14.41 golden eagles.
a great Yukon floor map
We next checked into Parkside Inn, which, despite appearing quite modest with its five rooms, turned out to be really lovely. Only three years old, it is spotless and well-designed, with a kitchenette in each room and an unbelievable view of Kluane’s easternmost jagged snow-covered peaks.
Taking advantage of a break in the rain, we headed out on the two-hour 5.5-km Dezadeash River Trail from a trailhead just a block from our hotel. “River” is a bit of a misnomer as the loop trail is primarily inland, passing through wetlands, aspen groves, and meadows. At points we caught views across the marshy river valley, towards the towering snow-capped Auriols mountain range, the peaks of which unfortunately remained shrouded by clouds. Although we saw a few birds and squirrels, there were fortunately no further bear encounters.
banana break
We returned to Parkside Inn and appreciated having running water again to prepare a dinner of pasta, tuna, baked beans, and coleslaw. After the sun finally emerged around 9 pm we sat outdoors for a bit on the patio to enjoy the mountain view. The northern sky looks like it may be clearing up, so perhaps we’ll finally have a chance to see some northern lights – or at least stars!

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