Tagged with " chilkoot"
Jul 10, 2009 -

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait

I will be leaving for Whitehorse within the next couple of hours. Monday is the big day when I meet up with the tour group and head for Skagway. I can’t wait!!!

My assumption is that I will not have access to the ‘net in Whitehorse. So, my next post might not be for another two weeks.

(Packing sucks; I’d forgotten what it’s like to not have all my personal effects with me at all times! 😀 )

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Alaska, British Columbia, Canada, Travel, USA    2 Comments
Jun 13, 2009 -

Countdown to the Chilkoot

This time and day next month, I will be camped out at the Chilkoot trailhead in Dyea, Alaska.

I have cranked up my training and am now hiking several hours a day. My job keeps me on my feet and moving all day, so the length of my shift determines the length of my hike and how strenuous it will be. Tonight was the first time I added a proper pack, weighing in at 25lbs, half of what I was told to prepare for on the Chilkoot. I spent two hours hiking about eight kilometres, including getting halfway up to Crocus Bluff, which is some pretty darn steep terrain!

An average day on the trail will be 10.6 kilometres, with the longest and most difficult day being that of the summit climb. My goal for the next four weeks is to keep climbing the dome with a progressively heavier pack. A few days before I’m set to leave for Whitehorse, the hiking group will be going all the way to the top and I was invited to do the climb with my full Chilkoot pack. The guide as well as a gal at the visitors’ centre who have done the Chilkoot before, say that if I can get to the top of the dome with my pack I will be able to deem myself ready.

Right now, my pack is filled with nonsense–sheets, towels, a 4L jug of water, and cans of food. When I increase to 30lbs, I will start to add my proper Chilkoot gear. My goal is to leave here with full supplies and a pack weighing no more than 20lbs seeing as I will need to add a tent, sleeping pad, cooking gear, and food when I meet up with the group in July. I won’t be able to control how heavy that stuff is, so the only way I can ensure myself a pack weighing less than 50lbs is to bring as little myself. We’ll see how realistic that 20lbs goal is. I backpacked around Scotland for a month in ’98 (um, the more recent ’98, not the ’98 of the Gold Rush! 😀 ) with a pack weighing 30lbs and I was ready for all weather.

Speaking of packs, I’ve gone back and forth over which one to bring with me and have decided that although it is a bit small, I’m going to aim for the same pack I took to Scotland. It’s moulded to my body by this point, sturdy, and lightweight. It was suggested we bring packs with an internal frame so that all our gear could be packed into the bag, but I cannot get used to the weight distribution of such a pack. So, a dry run at getting the pack filled is necessary in case I have to go emergency pack shopping in Whitehorse.

Looking at our itinerary tonight, it does not send shivers down my spine the way that it did back in February, so I’d say I’m making progress!

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Alaska, British Columbia, Canada, Travel, USA    4 Comments
May 15, 2009 -

Fort Nelson to Just Shy of Liard Hotsprings

Oh, Thursday finally brought what I’d been dreaming of, a land of barren snowy peaks, spruce-covered mountains, frozen lakes, turquoise streams, miles of wilderness between services, and encounters with wildlife.

First stop on Thursday was Fort Nelson. I filled up and then stopped at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum. There is not much RV parking at the museum. When entering, do not make the mistake I did and turn right into the paved area. First of all, it is a dump and water fill up station, so you don’t want to block it, and second, there is very little room to turn around. With Miranda and the toad, I literally did not have an inch to spare. Instead, just follow the dirt driveway as it loops around and park where there is space on the side.

The museum is full of wonderful artifacts about Fort Nelson’s history and that of the Alaska highway. The staff is friendly and full of interesting trivia. I particularly enjoyed the tales of the gentleman who maintains the antique cars on display. They all run. One of the cars turn 100 last year so, to celebrate its birthday, he and his wife drove it to Whitehorse and back! Cars today just don’t last! Upon first glance, the museum and grounds seem very ‘junky’, but there is method and order to the chaos. A visit is definitely a ‘must’!

giant crayon at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

giant crayon at the Fort Nelson Heritage Museum

Coming out of Fort Nelson, there is a sign announcing that there are no services for 250km or so. The ‘real’ Alaska Highway begins!

30km from Fort Nelson, I had to make a choice that I had been agonizing over for weeks. I was about 130km from the border of the Northwest Territories. It was very tempting to turn, go to the border, have lunch at the rest stop there (very convenient), come back, and spend the night in Fort Nelson. But most of the road to to Fort Liard, NWT, is gravel and there was a forecast of snow.  So, I knew I’d be encountering mud and potholes and potentially vehicle-damaging conditions. I decided not to make the detour.

I stopped for lunch at Steamboat Mountain (apparently the mountain looks like a Steamboat, but I couldn’t see it). It was very cold and wet up there, but the views were fantastic!

view from Steamboat Mountain rest area

view from Steamboat Mountain rest area

I passed a herd of caribou a short while down the road:

herd of caribou

herd of caribou

I stopped again at Summit Lake, the highest point on the Alaska highway:

Summit Lake

Summit Lake

I continued on past one breathtaking peak after another only to be stopped by the last thing I expected to stop me in the middle of the wilderness:

the wilderness red light district?

the wilderness red light district?

The gal at the Fort Nelson Museum told me that I had to stop and take in the view at Muncho Lake, so I did:

Muncho Lake

Muncho Lake

The lake was frozen, but there was enough thaw near shore for me to realise that Muncho Lake is bright blue-green in summer.  So, this might seem like a picture of any other lake, I have a feeling the ice is hiding a real jewel.

The Alaska Highway follows the curve of the lake, so RVers, be prepared to take things slow and to stay as far right in your lane as possible!

I then began to look for a place to spend the night and was suddenly besieged with the sight of something I had never thought I would see in the wild. Let me add a sidebar here that my favourite movie of all time is ‘Dances With Wolves.’ The main character, Lieutenant John J. Dunbar, is heading out into the frontier to see it before it’s gone and there is one animal he is anxious to see, the mighty ‘tatanka’:

Yes, folks, that's a buffalo. There was a herd of them, but this picture came out best.

Yes, folks, that's a buffalo. There was a herd of them, but this picture came out best.

Thank you to the folks in the car behind me for stopping and therefore, giving me permission to stop too.

I was seriously running out of steam by this point and it was already 4PM (which surprised me!). I was faced with another decision: continue to Liard Hotsprings and spend the night at the campground there (17$ and no hookups) or stop before the springs (free) and pay the day use fee Friday (5$). I chose the latter, stopping at a gravel turnoff with great views just 9km from the springs.

view from my livingroom on Thursday night

view from my livingroom on Thursday night

I knew that Friday night would have to be on hookups, so it just didn’t make sense budget-wise, to pay for a non-hookup site. Two days is just about as long as I can go on my battery. What about the generator, you say. Well, let’s just say that my genset was working just fine when it was tested in Vancouver and was very useful at the Chasm, but it will no longer start. I really don’t think I’m meant to boondock. 🙁

That downer aside, Thursday was a nice , quiet evening. I had bought a book about the Chilkoot Pass history at the Fort Nelson Museum, so I read until the book was done. It was 9:30 and still bright day light out. Thankfully, the loft area is fairly dark, so I was able to conk out in short order.

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Batteries, Boondocking/Dry camping, British Columbia, Canada, Electricity, Generator, Technical, Travel    3 Comments