The meanest miles didn’t give up once. The final stretch of the trail is uphill through sand. Never was I so happy to see a church steeple as I did when we reached Lake Bennett, our final campground!
We stopped just before the campground to look out over the lake. There were two floatplanes there. Flying out is another option when finishing up the Chilkoot and the one chosen by a family of 8 (including two young children) who had paralleled our trip, but pushed on to Bareloon when we stopped at Lindeman. We took a moment to wave them off as they flew into the wild blue yonder. Clichéd, I know, but the pictures will prove the cliché true.
We were met just before Bennett by another Sea to Sky guide who kindly brought in our last dinner, breakfast, and lunch so we’d have less to carry. Dinner that night at Bennett was an event, with caesar salad, mini-pizzas (assembled on site), pasta, wine, and cheesecake!
There is a lot to see in the Bennett area, so I explored a bit during the evening. What struck me the most was the amount of debris, mostly glass and rusted cans, which cover the site. They are all that remain of the hotels and saloons which covered this site during the gold rush.
Bennett is a strikingly beautiful location, a turquoise lake resting against grey mountains and rimmed with purple fireweed. Lake Louise doesn’t hold a candle to it! Mark was right when he said that hikers who take the shortcut from Bareloon miss out on something extraordinary.
We had another leisurely morning the next day and the guys made us pancakes for breakfast, a real treat after almost a full week of oatmeal and breakfast bars! We then went for a walk, sans pack, to check out the Bennett cemetery and also to look over the rapids that separate Lindeman and Bennett Lakes.
Lunch was veggie quesadillas and then it was time to start getting serious about packing up as more hikers were coming off the trail and in need of our sandy tent sites.
We left Bennett at 3PM on a train headed for Skagway that would drop us off in Fraser, where we’d left our van. It was strange to move forward without effort and I actually felt a bit queasy on the hour or so ride!
En route back to Whitehorse, we stopped briefly in Carcross to pick up our trail completion certificates and to poke around the tiny community. Our day, and our journey together, ended in Whitehorse, at the High Country Inn, where we had dinner without even changing or showering first. We ate out on the patio. 😀
My journey over the Chilkoot Pass is one I will carry in my heart forever. It was a week that blended history, ecology, and exercise; one that took me from lush Alaskan rainforest to British Columbian desert in the footsteps of men and women who shaped the modern Yukon territory. It was the trip of a lifetime and one that I revisited in greater detail in my ebook ‘Echoes of ’98: hiking the Chilkoot Trail in the 21st century.’