Tagged with " chilkoot"
Feb 5, 2009 -

Touching a Dream

Who says that you should only fulfill one dream at a time? Sometimes living one dream can help you make another come true.

I acted on impulse tonight, did something without thinking it through at all. It might seem to some that this is how I make all my decisions, but that’s only an impression, because I don’t share all the behind-the-scenes planning. But this thing I did, I did without any reasoning. It was foolish and brave and on this second February 5th without my father, it was just the sort of thing my wounded heart needed. I truly think he had a hand at it.

Let’s start at the beginning.

For years, I have dreamt of visiting the Canadian north. I looked for jobs in Dawson City, Whitehorse, Inuvik, Yellowknife… Applied for positions in such far off places as Hay River and Paulatuk… Yearned especially to to take a ferry up the inside passage to Skagway and hike the Chilkoot pass to the Yukon…

Jobs were hard to find from the Outside and I didn’t have the means to get up there on my own. I did come very close to a summer job in Dawson City, but I didn’t have my degree yet, so the job slipped through my fingers. Then a friend and I were going to max out our credit and savings and go spend three weeks hiking in the Yukon. Several financial crises came up that spring and I had to cancel the trip. My father’s one final wish for his life was to take an Alaskan cruise. When we realised that he didn’t have much time left, I scrambled to find the necessary money to take him on such a trip. But it was too late; his doctor would not allow him to go.

Finally, I decided that the north was a dream I had to abandon. I never had any intention of settling there permanently and my financial situation wasn’t stable enough to give up everything to relocate there for a year or two and then come back. I also didn’t really want to see the north in winter. Been there, done that, after spending almost a full month in arctic Quebec in my youth.

So, there was no doubt in my mind, when I set off on my great big adventure last fall, that I would find my way to the Yukon. I dreamt of the Chilkoot, but felt that was still beyond my grasp. It’s just not something a smart solo hiker would do and the logistics of joining an organized group were daunting. I still researched options last June, to convince myself that even if I got as far as Whitehorse, the Chilkoot would not be doable, and ended up finding a tour group that departs from Whitehorse and returns you to Whitehorse. It offered the best itinerary, bang for the buck, and an easier(ish) seven day tour schedule. That’s the tour I would have done, if doing such a tour was possible.

I think my dad was speaking to me tonight because without any sort of prompting, I found myself on Google typing in “Chilkoot Pass”, and one of the first links that came up was for that tour company. They were still offering the hike, including one in mid-July, the date I wanted, and there was space for just one more person….

A lot can happen between now and mid-July, I have to figure out what to do with Miranda and the cats for a week, I need to come up with 1,500$ by the beginning of May, and I have to whip my ass back into shape, but I just put a non-refundable 500$ deposit on a dream.

All I can say is that fulfilling dreams is addictive.

How then am I so different from
The first men through this way?
Like them I left a settled life,
I threw it all away,
To seek a northwest passage
At the call of many men,
To find there but the road back home again.
(Stan Rogers, ‘Northwest Passage’)

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Alaska, British Columbia, Canada, Musings, Personal, Travel, USA, Yukon    7 Comments
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