On the Road Adventures

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18 - Skagway to Whitehorse

It was 5 years ago when Gerry and I went on our Alaska cruise. We were on the White Pass and Yukon train out of Skagway, going up the pass and one stretch of the railroad is on the opposite side of the gorge from the road going to Skagway. We saw campers and RVs driving that road, and said, “That’s what we want to do.” So today that wish came true.

There were 4 big cruise ships in port this morning, so the town was packed with people. There were ladies of dubious virtue hanging out of upstairs windows, luring customers into the Gold Rush show, and horse drawn carriages just waiting to give the cruisers a ride. We walked up to the Post Office, weaving in and out among the horde of shoppers. There were even people in some of the multitude of jewelry stores. Gypsy added to her fans, especially among the dog owners who were missing their puppies during their vacation.

Then we headed out of town up the White Pass road. We could see the railroad on the other side of the gorge although we didn’t see any trains during our trip. We did see bicycle tours that were bused up to the summit and then they coasted down the whole road. Gerry thinks that would be fun. I, personally, would just hang out at the bottom of the road and wait for him.

As we went higher, the vegetation got more dwarfed and gnarled and the glacier-scrubbed rocks were covered with lichen. We drove into the clouds, so we actually didn’t see much of the summit of Chilkoot Pass, just dense fog. The Stampeders of the Yukon gold rush who came through Chilkoot Pass called the land at the top of the summit the Tormented Lands. I wonder if they were referring to the barren, scoured nature of the land, or their own torment from having to cross it again and again as they relayed their year’s supplies weighing a total of a ton across that rugged land 75 lbs at a time.

We finally started down the other side of the pass and as we descended we came out of the clouds and wind and into sunshine. The landscape started looking a lot more like Colorado with tall pines and spruce and large, deep blue lakes.

We got to Whitehorse late in the afternoon, got set up and went to check out the town. We went to the fish ladder where we saw enormous Chinook salmon that had made their way all the long way from the Bering Sea up the Yukon to the fish ladder here. Groups had decorated salmon shapes to form a new sculpture at the ladder to honor the salmon.

The sky is clearing and it will be dark tonight, so we are hoping to catch a glimpse of northern lights.

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