Hiking the Chilkoot Trail (46 photos)

I love the quote below. There are so many possible approaches to sharing our experiences on the Chilkoot Trail. I will keep this post simple – the quote below and some photos with captions.

“The Chilkoot Trail is a teacher. The long days of a Northern summer obscure the passage of time, while the thick rain forest, sinuous windings and steep descents and climbs of the trail make a mockery of any measured distance. Hikers can begin on a warm summer day in the Alaska rain forest and end up on the summit ploughing through thigh deep snow with icy sleet blowing in their faces. From there they walk through spring near Deep Lake and back to summer at Bennett. Time becomes distance. Distance becomes seasons. In June and July, there is no night at all. This delightful absence of regular order encourages the exploration of new ways of experiencing the world around us. The Chilkoot is a meeting place. For thousands of years, the trail joined coastal and interior people in trade, marriage and travel.”

From “Importance of the Site”, Chilkoot Trail National Historic Site of Canada Management Plan, page 3, date unknown (but after 2005), Parks Canada.

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At the Trailhead, near Dyea, Alaska. Happy and excited that we can start as the National Park Service nearly closed the trail due to flooding  and high waters of the Taiya River the previous day.

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Lots of mud, lots of up and down on our first hiking day

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High spirits, high waters… this suspension bridge seems to bounce when you walk on it!

You can see how high the Taiya River is here. While it made things wet we never had to wade in water any deeper than our ankle. The previous day, hikers had been up their knees and even thighs.

You can see how high the Taiya River is here. While it made things wet we never had to wade in water any deeper than our ankle. The previous day, hikers had been up their knees and even thighs.

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such beautiful roots at our first stop

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"The land is the best medicine." Breathing in the earthy smell of moss.

“The land is the best medicine.” Breathing in the earthy smell of moss.

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The beautiful moss

Up and down.

Up and down.

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My aching feet! Yes! Stopping to take boots off!

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A mud bath rinsed in glacial waters helps!

There were platforms for tents (thank heavens) and the sleeping area were kept away from the eating area due to the possible presence of grizzly and black bears. We saw neither.

There were platforms for tents (thank heavens) and the sleeping area were kept away from the eating area due to the possible presence of grizzly and black bears. We saw neither.

Finding my way across a stream. there streams and small waterfalls everywhere.

Finding my way across a stream. There  are  glacial streams and small waterfalls everywhere.

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The warden’s very scary talk the night before climbing the summit at Sheep Camp. Attending the talk is mandatory.

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The previous night’s talk scared me so much we were up at 4 a.m. and on the trail at 6 a.m. Honestly, I hardly slept.

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I found the terrain the most challenging part of the hike. This smooth bit of trail was rare. Usually we were picking our careful way over and around roots and rocks or loose rocks.

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Getting closer to the summit

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Shane liked to remind me how waterfalls give off positive ions, so we would try to soak this up! Waterfalls in abundance on this trail.

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The “Golden Stairs” are notorious – basically large boulders that you climb up just before the summit. Lots of fog as you can see. I had been dreading this the night before and surprised myself by loving it.

Another view of the Golden Stairs - you have to look closely to see all the people

Another view of the Golden Stairs – you have to look closely to see all the people

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We are so happy to have made the summit.! Sudden temperature change, but my partner stayed in his sorts for the whole hike!

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Sky is clearing!!

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After the summit, the sky did clear. Those who climbed the summit the next day enjoyed a rare clear view.

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I was so grateful for our walking poles.

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The summit is hidden in the mist behind us.

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This sub alpine part of the hike was my favourite. The wildflowers were breathtaking.

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You can see the roof of the cook shack at Happy Camp on the right below the hill. We were indeed happy to have arrived.

At Happy Camp with our buddy Noami ,age 9 (the youngest hiker we met)

At Happy Camp with our buddy Noami ,age 9 (the youngest hiker we met)

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Sometimes Shane and I hiked alone. At other times we spent a few hours with a group. We were happy to hike twice with Steph and her 9 year old daughter Noami.

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My heart burst, again and again, at such beauty!!

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Shane’s pack weighed over 40 pounds. Mine was about 35 pounds at the beginning. Our packs got lighter each day as we ate our food supply up!

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The camp kitchen at deep lake. Bear proof food lockers are around the corner.

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To me it looks like Shane is going to topple into the rushing river below. I am thankful that he did not.

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At Lindemann City ( a tent city at the height of the Gold Rush), there is a great interpretation centre inside this tent.

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This catches the beautiful aqua water of the lakes and streams.

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I like this photo because you can see the trail wind its way along.

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This is us starting out on our last day. We were lucky – this was the only day that it rained.

The rain made the rocks on the trail very slippery at times.

The rain made the rocks on the trail very slippery at times.

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A trapper’s cabin

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with a note

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Just before the end, there is a desert. Sand proved more difficult to walk on than the snow of the glaciers.

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Yaaaay! We made it!!!

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Andrea Nelson, one of 3 artists-in-residence on the Chilkoot Trail the summer of 2016. We had a good visit and were lucky enough to attend her artist talk in Whitehorse a few days later.

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From Lake Bennet t o Whitehorse by float plane.

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The view from the float plane, reminding me of the Qu’Appelle River’s meandering ways

 

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About sbland

Sue Bland (aka Poached Egg Woman) is a visual artist who lives on a farm in rural Saskatchewan. A chicken farm, to be exact, hence she eats a lot of poached eggs! Sue works primarily in paper collage and watercolours, and offers heART & SOUL PLAYshops to anyone interested in exploring their creative side and having fun.