A night on the Top of the World Highway, and back to Dawson

It’s taken me a while to get back to finish off this pair of posts – I had an antiques-and-collectibles yard sale to get ready for, and that took all the energy I had. Spitty rain caused me to leave the sale after only an hour, but it was a productive hour. The way I felt after that hour, it’s not likely I could have lasted 4 hours anyway.

Anyway, back to Dawson!

We left the Yukon River Campground at about 2:00 pm on Wednesday (August 19th). A sign as soon as we turned on to the Top of the World Highway reminded us that the highway is closed until further notice at the Canada/USA border just past the summit.

Top of the World Highway - closed due to COVID-19
The weather was erratic on the way up. A sign and blockage of half the road just past the Sixtymile Road prompted Cathy to say “if the road is closed, we’re not going.” Yeah we are. 🙂

Top of the World Highway - closed due to COVID-19

By 3:30 we were set up at the large parking lot right at the summit of the highway, 104 km from the campground at Dawson.

Freedom! for the pups up top. With no people within miles and unlimited visibility, this is about as safe and as much fun as a dog can have.


A little climb up to the summit cairn resulted in this view of the Customs posts to the west. The Canadian post was given the community name Little Gold Creek, and the American post is called Poker Creek.

The view to the west from the summit of the Top of the World Highway

The Canadian and American Customs pasts just west of the summit of the Top of the World Highway

Fall is very close, and colours have just started to change, but the particularly hardy Mountain hare bell (Campanula lasiocarpa) still looked great. A very strong wind across the open ridge made flower photography a challenge.

Mountain hare bell (Campanula lasiocarpa)
Berries are abundant. We saw a family picking blueberries in what looked like a commercial way about halfway up the highway.

Berries at the summit of the Top of the World Highway
The weather was threatening all around us but our sky remained clear. Just after 7:00 pm I shot this particularly impressive storm to the south. The forecast for clear skies and very warm certainly isn’t what we got.

Storm at the summit of the Top of the World Highway

At about 8 pm, the light was gorgeous and I took the kids for a final walk. Went about a km, was about done when I got back. Bella took off after ptarmigan, which were already white. She was great about coming when I called after spotting her far below me. Back in the rig, every time I looked out, I half expected to see a herd of caribou. Right behind Customs are trails that look like they’ve been well travelled for hundreds of years.

I was up a couple of times during the night checking for a forecast aurora display, but had no luck. At 02:20 we had clear skies, and strong winds. At 05:30, it was mostly cloudy. At 08:00 when I shot the next photo, we had heavy fog, rain, a strong wind, and 6°C. I let Bella and Tucker out for their morning pee by themselves, and they didn’t dawdle 🙂

My dogs in fog and rain at the summit of the Top of the World Highway
We had a lazy morning, napping and reading and waiting for better weather. At 09:30 it cleared quite suddenly but the measured wind speed was 35 mph, gusting to 52, and it was still only 8°C. Not at all pleasant for getting out.

Lazy dogs in the RV, waiting out bad weather
Just before noon, we packed up and started back down the highway towards Dawson, with no real plan for the day.

Looking towards Dawson from the summit of the Top of the World Highway
Back at the Yukon River Campground at 1:00, we got site #46 this time, right on the river.

Yukon River Campground, site #46

Thursday was a very quiet day. All we did was go into Dawson for a fabulous meal at The Drunken Goat Taverna. We bought waaay too much food so there would be plenty of leftovers.

Back from The Goat, I started a campfire, but our snuggle didn’t last very long – the bugs were too bad. Some little things that don’t bite but are very annoying. “Smoke bugs,” some say.

Snuggling with my little dog in front of the campfire
Friday noonish – Bella and Cathy have an understanding that picnic tables are perfect for grooming. Bella loves being fussed over and is a wonderful “client.” 🙂

My dog Bella geting groomed on a picnic table.
With Bella all cleaned up, we went for a drive with the dogs – back across thew ferry and up the Midnight Dome. The next photo looks over the industrial area from halfway up.


The view down the Yukon River from the summit of the Dome.

The view down the Yukon River from the summit of the Midnight Dome.
Back at the campground, I threw a big steak on the barbecue to add to our leftovers from The Goat.

Barbecuing a steak at the Yukon River Campground
How’s that for a “roughing it” camping meal? Yuuuum!

A deluxe RV dinner the Yukon River Campground

RV life at the Yukon River Campground

We had decided to leave Dawson at around noon on Saturday to allow 2 days to get home. Before leaving I got a few photos of some changes at the campground, notably this very expensive-looking new playground equipment.

Very expensive-looking new playground equipment at the Yukon River Campground
The photo wander went further than I’d planned, over to the ferry landing. This heritage sign about West Dawson s one of the remaining ones from a series installed in the 1960s and early ’70s. “West Dawson was settled c.1899 by people wanting to avoid overcrowding and typhoid outbreaks in Dawson. Farms also became established and later as mining in the Sixtymile area increased, a link with Dawson became necessary. In 1902 a ferry guided by a cable began operating. This cable was supported by a 37 metre tower which provided clearance for the riverboats.”

Heritage sign about West Dawson, Yukon
As the river level goes up and down, the ferry landing has to be modified, using this Cat on the west side.

Cat at the West Dawson ferry landing.
Waiting for the ferry just after noon. Cathy drove the Tracker so we could do a bit of running around in Dawson, including picking up some gear to take back to Whitehorse for a friend there.

RV waiting for the ferry at West Dawson.
Below is a compilation of 5 videos of the ferry George Black that I shot on August 21 and 22. The first half is hand-held as we were in the ferry lineup and loading/unloading, the second half is tripod mounted at the West Dawson side. Clicking on te image below will open its Youtube page in a new window.

Ferry George Black at Dawson City, Yukon
We went to the Farmers’ Market and picked up some eggs and jams.

Farmers' Market in Dawson City, Yukon

Farmers' Market in Dawson City, Yukon

On the way down from The Dome the previous day, I spotted this modified crosswalk sign at the cemeteries but hadn’t gotten a photo. I drove back up to rectify that.

A modified crosswalk sign at Dawson, Yukon
On the road by about 1:30, I only drove as far as Moose Creek. Our first stop was at the historic Moose Creek Lodge to pick up some of Maja’s wonderful pastries for the rest of the road trip.

Historic Moose Creek Lodge, Yukon
Moose Creek Campground was pretty much empty (as usual), and I got my favourite site, #20, at the furthest end of the campground from the highway.

Moose Creek Campground, site #20
On Sunday morning, the high bush cranberry jelly we bought at the Farmers’ Market was excellent on my home-made bread.

High bush cranberry jelly from the Yukon
I went for a bit of a wander into the forest above our campsite, looking for Fall colours or mushrooms or whatever, and found this lovely little grove of poplar.


I had thought that another overnight stop might be needed, but I pushed through, though the last hour sucked. We were home by about 5:00 pm.



An RV getaway to Dawson City

Cathy and I finally got away for a few days, and chose Dawson as the destination. We’ve had awful weather this summer, and I’m not feeling particularly well – when you add COVID-19 concerns, the thought of travelling just hasn’t been as exciting as it usually is.

Getting the rig ready took much longer than expected, and we didn’t get away from home until 2 pm on Monday (August 17th).

We had a 15-minute delay waiting for a pilot car to guide us through 5 km of construction near Braeburn. Southbound traffic was very heavy – the Discovery Day long weekend had obviously been a busy one in Dawson.

Construction on the North Klondike Highway

We stopped for excellent burgers at the Coal Mine Campground at Carmacks. We had originally planned to go to Kluane Lake, but a much better weather forecast for Dawson changed that plan at the last minute. At Carmacks, we got messages from 3 friends telling us that the Alaska Highway was closed due to mud slides just before Kluane Lake. Dodged that bullet! 🙂

I didn’t have any real plans for a destination, but as we neared the Tatchun Creek Campground, I knew I was too sick to go any further. That’s only 220 km from home – a very disappointing first day.

After getting set up in drive-through site #11, I laid on the couch for a short nap at 6:00. An hour later, though, I moved to the bed, and woke up at 08:00 – it took 14 hours sleep to recover from the previous day.

Tatchun Creek Campground only has 12 sites, and doesn’t seem to get much use. There was only one other camper that night, a couple from BC.

Tatchun Creek Campground, Yukon
These COVID-19 warnings are at the entrance to every Yukon campground this year. They say “Non-residents who are required by law to travel through Yukon within 24 hours cannot stay or stop in government-run campgrounds. No one may self-isolate in a territorial park or campground.”

COVID-19 warning at Tatchun Creek Campground, Yukon
I was surprised to see that new bear-proof caches have been installed. That’s a great amenity for people tenting with no vehicle to lock food and other attractants in.

Bear-proof caches at Tatchun Creek Campground, Yukon
Tatchun Creek was very high, but the morning sun and mist kept me there taking photos for a few minutes.

Morning mist at Tatchun Creek Campground, Yukon
I’m seeing many mushrooms this year that I’ve never seen before, including these ones along the campground ring road.

Mushrooms at Tatchun Creek Campground, Yukon
We pulled away from Tatchun Creek Campground at 10:10 Tuesday morning – it looked like a beautiful day was ahead. We made a brief stop at the viewpoint at Pelly Crossing. One of my Yukon History and Abandoned Places group members had posted a few days earlier that the plaque on the monument there was gone. It is indeed. It said: “Pelly River. Named in 1840 by the explorer Robert Campbell for a governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, the Pelly River later became the final stage of an overland route from Edmonton to the Klondike charted by Inspector John Moodie of the Mounted Police in 1897-98. In 1898, the Yukon Field Force marched 500 miles to the Pelly from Glenora, B.C. to reinforce the police in the Yukon.”


At noon we stopped at Stewart Crossing for lunch, a dog walk, and a 1-hour nap for me.

RV at Stewart Crossing, Yukon
At the north end of the bridge at Stewart Crossing, travellers turn left to go to Dawson, right to go to Mayo and/or Keno. The sign on the right in the next photo indicates that there is a COVID-19 checkpoint on the highway just before Mayo, set up by the Nacho Nyak Dun First Nation.

At the north end of the bridge at Stewart Crossing, travellers turn left to go to Dawson, right to go to Mayo and/or Keno.
An hour north of Stewart Crossing, we reached another stretch of construction with a wait for a pilot car. This one is 8 km long, and was much rougher than the first one had been. The next photo was shot a couple of minutes before 3:00 pm.

Construction on the North Klondike Highway
Our next stop was at the Tintina Trench Rest Area. I took another half-hour nap there.

Tintina Trench viewpoint, Yukon
There was a COVID-19 checkpoint on the highway just before reaching Dawson. They noted our names and asked what our plans were, and we were on our way again in 3-4 minutes.

Welcome to Dawson City, Yukon
At 5:30, we were crossing the Yukon River on the ferry George Black. Almost “home” 🙂

Crossing the Yukon River on the ferry George Black
The best of the riverfront campsites at the Yukon River Campground were taken, but site #50 is good as well. This is the largest campground in the Yukon, with 102 campsites. There were perhaps 15 of them used that night.

Yukon River Campground, Dawson
At 09:30 Thursday morning, I walked down the Yukon River to the “Sternwheeler Graveyard“.

Walking along the Yukon River to the Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon
The Sternwheeler Graveyard is the former Canadian Development Company shipyard, where there were 4 sets of ways for repairing and wintering steamboats and barges close to Dawson.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon
On the second set of ways, which is the one clearly seen from the river, are (from the river) the Julia B., Seattle No. 3, and Schwatka.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon
The aft interior of the Seattle No. 3.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon
The deterioration of the boats in the 30 years I’ve been visiting the site is sad to see. More and more I photograph details, as the broad views turn into a jumble of scrap steel and lumber.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon

The boat name on the starboard bow of the Seattle No. 3.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon
The name of the Julia B. is just barely legible now, and perhaps only then if you know what the name is.

Sternwheeler Graveyard - Dawson City, Yukon

We had a very lazy day, finally pulling away, headed up the Top of the World Highway, at 2:00 pm.



Aurora Borealis season has begun in Whitehorse

Unable to get comfortable, I was up extra early this morning – 02:00. As usual, the first thing I did was step out onto the deck to check out the weather and sky. It was 7°C (45°F) and hmmmm – there was a sort of mist across the sky right overhead. Aurora? Perhaps. I got my camera and took a test shot, as cameras “see” the aurora better than the human eye does.

Yes, it was a faint aurora, so I went back in and got my proper gear together. I shoot with a Canon EOS 7D, and mounted my special night-sky lens, a 10mm f2.8 full-manual Rokinon, then mounted the camera on my lighter tripod. Before going back out, I posted a note on my Yukon Aurora Alert group on Facebook.

The first good photo of the faint aurora (with all the proper equipment) was shot on my deck at 02:08. All the photos this morning were shot at f2.8 and ISO 800 with 6-second exposures.

A  faint aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon
Out in the yard shooting north, the sky was beautifully lit up at 02:17.

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon, in August

I thought briefly about driving to a better location (away from trees and my neighbour’s “security” lights), but decided not to. That turned out to be a very good choice.

At 02:20 I was out on the street in front of my home, still dressed in just my pyjamas 🙂

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon, in August
At 02:22 a plane was passing overhead – its lights can be seen at the upper left.

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon, in August
02:23 – the aurora faded quickly after that.

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon, in August
At 02:26 I took one final shot from my upper deck, looking northeast. The aurora could still be seen faintly for another half hour or so, then the dawn light overwhelmed what was left.

Aurora borealis in Whitehorse, Yukon, in August

For a show this early (August 3rd), I was very pleased with that half-hour – a fine, warm start to the season. Fingers crossed for many more good nights.



Another 24 hours in the White Pass

I have a niece visiting for a week, so I took her to the White Pass with the RV last Thursday, intending to do some hiking. The weather didn’t cooperate so we didn’t stay long, but some cool things happened so here’s another post about the White Pass – there are only 12 photos and a video this time, though.

We left home at 10:00 am on Thursday, and after getting the camp set up, drove a bit further south with the Tracker, and started up the route I call Border Ridge. We’ve never been sure about Bella’s background, but she went off to the side of the route and seemed to be trying to let me know that she’s half husky and half mountain goat 🙂

My dog Bella on the cliffs in the White Pass
This route starts off going up a very steep rockslide that’s mostly grown over with white heather. It’s so beautiful, and both the kids were loving it.

My dog Bella in the White Pass

My dog Tucker in the White Pass

The wind got cold, and I took off my backpack to get a jacket out. When Bobbie and I were near the top of the initial climb, I realized my camera was gone! By the time I got back down and found it, then back up to the top, I wasn’t feeling well. We decided to quit. By the time we got back to the car, that had obviously been the right decision.

Back at the RV, while I went to bed to recover, Bobbie took the dogs down to the beach where Summit Creek flows into Summit Lake. When I got up just before 4 pm, I took them down again. The water level of the lake was down probably 4-5 inches from last week, so there was more room to play.

The beach where Summit Creek flows into Summit Lake
Bobbie had found one of the largest wolf paw prints I’ve ever seen on the beach at Summit Lake. It’s a full 7 inches long – exactly twice the size of Bella’s. That should put the wolf at 120+ lbs. There were also caribou tracks there.

Wolf print on the beach at Summit Lake
The next photo shows a pair of Bella’s paw prints for comparison with the wolf’s.

My dog Bella's paw prints
Tucker with some of the caribou tracks. There had been probably only one, but perhaps two, caribou on the beach. A single caribou had fairly recently walked down the shoulder of the highway where I parked the RV.

My dog Tucker with caribou tracks on the beach at Summit Lake.

Just after 7:00 pm Thursday night, we decided to go back to the International Falls trail and hike a bit of it, in case the weather Friday wasn’t good, as it appeared could well happen. Sunset wouldn’t be until a few minutes after 11 pm, so we had lots of time.

The meadow at the bottom of the initial drop off the highway was loaded with wildflowers, probably at about its peak for colour. I think the pink/purple flower is one of the 200 varieties of Indian paintbrush, genus Castilleja.

One of the 200 varieties of Indian paintbrush, genus Castilleja
Finally, at the request of one of my regular readers, I shot a waterfall video so you can enjoy the sound. This is a 4-minute compilation of 7 videos I shot along the trail that night. Click on the image below to open the video at Youtube in a new page.

International Falls, BC-Alaska border
By 8:15 pm we were climbing back up to the highway. The next photo looks pretty much straight down on Bobbie. Her right hand is holding one of the ropes installed to make descents and ascents a bit easier and safer.

A rope-assisted ascent on the International Falls trail
The view to the south out the RV window at 9:03 pm, enhanced by processing it as an HDR image.

The view out the RV window in the White Pass at 9:03 pm
Friday morning dawned cold, wet, and windy. By 09:00 when I shot the next photo of Taiya Peak pretty much hidden by clouds it had eased off a bit so we drove back to the International Falls trailhead for a look.


With most of the waterfalls hidden in the clouds, we decided to head home. We went back to the RV, broke camp, and by 10:00 were driving north.


It was a shorter trip than I’d hoped by, but any visit to the White Pass is a good one.



Return to Summit Creek and International Falls

This is Part 2 of the journal from a wonderful 4-day trip to the White Pass with the motorhome last week, camping at Summit Creek. The trip was so varied that I had to break it into 2 blog posts to accommodate a selection of the 381 photos remaining in the folder after editing.

Thursday, July 2nd, was gorgeous right from the start, though still windy. The first photo looking south across Summit Lake was shot at at 08:18 – I slept in pretty late after being out with my camera until midnight:30.


I’ve thought a few times that a particular spot along the trail down to the beach at Summit Lake looked like an old Cat trail. I finally decided to investigate that idea, and it is indeed an old Cat road. I followed it for about half a kilometer from Summit Creek north – it averages only about 100 meters east of the highway, and no doubt dates from an early survey (1950s?).

Old Cat road in the White Pass
The trail marker found along the Cat road is made of bamboo, about 20 inches long.

Trail marker on an old Cat road in the White Pass
It’s not all fun and games. On Wednesday night I noticed that a tire on the Tracker was disintegrating. It was still holding air but there were steel cords hanging out all over a section of it. So I put the spare tire on.

Repairing a flat tire on our Chevy Tracker toad

Repairing a flat tire on our Chevy Tracker toad

Just before 09:30, I went for a short drive to the south looking for photos. I have lots of photos of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign but I don’t think I’ve shot this angle before.

Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
In a normal summer when there’s a lot of traffic, stopping on the narrow shoulder to have a close look at this lovely little waterfall north of the summit isn’t reasonable.

A little waterfall in the White Pass along the South Klondike Highway
Back at the RV, this young raven (Corvus corax) stopped by for a chat for a few minutes. I love ravens. I guess most Yukoners do – by popular vote, it became the territory’s official bird in 1985.

Yukon raven (Corvus corax)
Just after noon, I took the dogs back down to the beach.

Walking down to Summit Lake with the dogs
On the beach, looking up Summit Creek to Taiya Peak. The wind was too strong to be enjoyable, so we didn’t stay long.

Looking up Summit Creek to Taiya Peak in the White Pass
I decided that a hike up Summit Creek might get us out of the wind. That hike began in a lovely area of wildflowers.

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass

Wildflowers along Summit Creek in the White Pass
The pups seem to all agree that beaches are great but it’s tough to beat July snow to play in!

Dogs playing in snow along on the trail to Summit Creek in the White Pass - in July

Dogs playing in snow along on the trail to Summit Creek in the White Pass - in July

The trail up Summit Creek is seldom used and isn’t easy to follow as it wanders up and down across the alpine. There are excellent views along most of it. The next photo looks to the north over Summit Lake.

A view from the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
And this one looks to the south over Summit Lake. It was now 2:30 and we were pretty much out of the wind.

A view from the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
That’s the snow patch the kids were playing in a few minutes earlier.

July snow along the trail up Summit Creek in the White Pass
Granite seemed to be enjoying himself 🙂

My dog playing in the alpine
The snow-play pooped out Bella, but as soon as I started moving, she was back in the game.

My dog Bella tired after a play in the snow in July
At 2:40 we had dropped down to the accessible part of Summit Creek between the main canyons. I thought about continuing, but decided not to push it – this was my longest hike in many months.

The accessible part of Summit Creek between the main canyons
There were patches of flowers everywhere. These tiny beauties are Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), made Alaska’s state flower in 1917.

These tiny beauties are Alpine forget-me-not (Myosotis alpestris), made Alaska's state flower in 1917.
Back at the highway, I decided I wasn’t ready to quit yet, so drove south along the highway until I found a spot we’d never explored before. The route started at this little lake beside the highway.

A lake and snow patch (in July) beside the South Klondike Highway
We climbed a ridge just over 100 feet high, walked along the top of it, and dropped down the other side. Bella was getting warm, and was into the first pond we came to, to cool off.

My shelty/husky cross Bella cooling off in a pond
After a short play in this snow on the shore of Summit Lake, which we reached at 3:40, we headed back to the motorhome.

Snow on the shore of Summit Lake in July
At 7:30 pm the light was beautiful, and we went for a short drive to the north with this specific photo in mind. This is at Km 34.3 of the highway. I love watching trains go across that bridge over the Thompson River.

The Thompson River near Fraser, BC
I had missed the moon rising the night before, but was determined to catch it this night. I slept for a couple of hours, then got up just after 10:00 pm. I went for a drive to the south, to be in roughly the position where it would rise over the peaks I wanted. The light was wonderful, and I took quite a few photos along the way. The next photo was shot at 10:23.

Sunset light on the peaks of the White Pass, at 10:23 pm
I first spotted a sliver of the moon at 10:48, then spent half an hour racing back and forth between Summit Creek and Outhouse Hill to get 36 images at various locations as it rose. This was the first in the series, at 11:01, with the last of the sunlight still hitting the peaks.

Moonrise in the White Pass
The next photo was shot at 11:22. Five minutes later, I took my final shot and headed back to the RV.

Moonrise in the White Pass
I had brought “Glass Monty” with me on this trip, and early on Friday morning, I took him to an area filled with granite and flowers for a portrait session.


At that same location, I shot this portrait of Taiya Peak.

Taiya Peak in the White Pass
Back at the motorhome, it was time for breakfast, first for the fur-kids, then for me.

Breakfast in the RV
At 08:08, the first semis of the day began going by – the border opens at 08:00 and there are usually 4-6 trucks waiting for that. North 60 is the main fuel hauler from the fuel barges that dock at Skagway – they have their own stations throughout the Yukon.

North 60 B train semi headed for Skagway for a load of fuel

Although the day started off to be beautiful and I had big plans for the day, clouds quickly blew in, with a very cold wind. That happened in the few minutes it took me to drive to the International Falls trailhead, where I planned a short hike without the dogs for some specific photos of the first waterfall. I almost went back to the rig for a jacket, but decided I would only be a half-hour or so, so kept going.

The trail starts with an extremely steep drop off the highway. Ropes were installed by a Skagway tour company, but anyone who trusts ropes that aren’t inspected regularly, probably shouldn’t be there. Then you have to wade across a creek – this was the deepest I’ve seen that crossing, and the water is very cold. This was shot at 08:56.

Creek crossing on the International Falls trail
The waterfall was in full flow. It can be seen from the highway, and it was that heavy flow that prompted this hike.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail
I played around at this waterfall for half an hour, trying various settings and locations. Keeping the lens dry from the waterfall’s spray was a challenge. The next photo was shot with a ½-second exposure, f20 and ISO 100 to silken the water.

The first waterfall on the International Falls trail
At 09:30, I started back towards the highway. Although the steep drop/climb discourages many people, the International Falls trail really is a great hike, whether you just go for an hour or all day. These cliffs just south of the trailhead are unique.

Dramatic cliffs along the International Falls trail
The next photo shows the climb back up to the highway.


I had had enough of cold and wind, so when I got back to the motorhome, I broke camp, got the rig set up, and we headed for home.

The border crossing was very simple. Two new questions have been added to the usual list – did you meet anyone from Skagway, and were any goods exchanged? Nope and nope, and away we went. The final photo was shot on the climb up to Log Cabin, at 10:30.


Going through the photos makes me want to go back to Summit Creek right now, but no, I’m home for a few days. Take care, and stay safe, my friends.



Back to the White Pass for a few days

With my health improving, I’ve worked my way slowly up to a normal outing with the motorhome, and the White Pass, 90 minutes south, has been my location each time. First a single day with the car 3 weeks ago, then 2 days with the motorhome, and I’ve just returned from a wonderful 4-day trip with it. The trip was so varied that I’ve had to break it into 2 blog posts to accommodate a selection of the 381 photos remaining in the folder after editing.

The first photo was shot on Tuesday, June 30, at 10:45, as we were driving down the South Klondike Highway. At this point I didn’t know how long we’d be gone – a few days was all I had in mind. The length would depend partly on the weather – the forecast was quite erratic.

Driving south on the South Klondike Highway
At 11:35 we reached the Highways and Customs camp at Fraser, BC. Some construction, likely new services to the Customs post, necessitated a little detour through the Highways yard.

The Highways and Customs camp at Fraser, BC
The spot I chose the last time down, on the north side of Summit Creek, worked out well, but this time I parked the rig 90 degrees to the highway instead of parallel to it, so it would serve as a wind break. By 10 minutes after noon I was almost finished setting up camp, with the solar panels set up to keep the batteries charged.

Setting up solar panels at our RV boondocking site
We went for a short nap, but by 1:30 were out for a short walk. It was extremely windy.

Dogs out for a windy walk in the White Pass
Clouds were trying to sneak in from the coast, but a fairly strong high pressure area was keeping them at bay.

Clouds trying to move in to the White Pass from the coast
My wind meter was showing sustained winds of about 25 mph at 7 pm, but in the next photo I had caught a gust of 52 mph, and a minute later, there was one that hit 68 mph! The White Pass is often windy, but’s pretty extreme even for here.

Wind meter showing 52 mph in the White Pass
Wednesday, July 1, Canada Day, dawned with some blue sky but clouds both to the south and north, and the wind was still screaming. By 09:00, a nasty-looking storm with heavy rain was moving in from the Yukon.

A nasty-looking storm with heavy rain moving in to the White Pass from the Yukon
Bella doesn’t mind storm days! 🙂

Bella, my shelty/husky cross, asleep on the RV couch
The storm moved through fairly quickly, and about 11:30, we went for a short drive to the south. The waterfalls along the International Falls trail were roaring – this series of cascades was shot from the highway with a 400mm lens.

Waterfalls along the International Falls trail on the BC/Alaska border
In a normal year this pullout at the “Welcome to Alaska” sign would be jammed with cars and buses.

Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
I drove down to the largest waterfall along the highway, at Mile 10. It’s often called Bridal Veil Falls, but Bridal Veil is actually much larger, out of sight below the highway – the railway offers a great view of it. Sometimes it’s the details of the cascading water rather than the big picture that I enjoy.

Waterfall along the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass

Waterfall along the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass

The wind is normally from the south in the White Pass during the summer, but for much of this day it was from the north so my camp setup to shield us from the wind didn’t work as well as I’d planned, and we spent much of the afternoon inside the rig looking out.

Just before 5 pm, I decided to make another try for the beach, which all the fur-kids love. The trail down to it is lovely, now lined with flowers in a few places.

Flower-lined trail to Summit Lake in the White Pass
The kids all went nuts on the beach! When Granite, jumps, he doesn’t mess around – he can get some serious elevation in his flights 🙂

Dogs playing on the beach at Summit Lake, BC
A flock of Canada geese was cruising around near the beach, and when they came fairly close to us, Bella decided she could get to them, and Tucker and Granite decided that was a good idea. The geese were clearly teasing the dogs, and I was a bit nervous that it would convince Bella to go out further than her ability to get back. I’d be very unhappy about having to swim out in that icy water to rescue her!

Dogs playing on the beach at Summit Lake, BC
Bella didn’t get her goose, but sure had fun trying 🙂

Dogs playing on the beach at Summit Lake, BC
They played and they played and they played!

Dogs playing on the beach at Summit Lake, BC
I could only deal with the wind for about half an hour, and we headed back to the RV for dinner. On the walk back, I spotted a particularly beautiful little bonsai. Mother Nature’s unique creations up here never cease to amaze me.

Mother Nature's bonsai
At 7:30 that evening, we took a short walk on the opposite side of the very quiet highway – during the entire day there had been perhaps 15 semis and half a dozen cars. The next photo looks back at our camp during that walk. In a normal year, this is a very popular spot for tourists to stop and take pictures, so we camp half a k further south – this spot is much nicer.

RV boondocking in the White Pass
Looking down Summit Creek from the highway bridge. I processed this image as an HDR to bring out the details in the shadows.

Looking down Summit Creek from the South Klondike Highway bridge
We went to bed fairly early, but something woke me up just after 11 pm, and it was so beautiful I went for a walk with my camera equipment and no dogs. This was the view to the north from right in front of the motorhome, at 11:20.

11:20 pm in the White Pass
At 11:40 pm, I shot the view down Summit Creek again. This, however, is a 25-second exposure due to a neutral density filter (ND8) used, with ISO 100 and f20.

Looking down Summit Creek from the highway bridge.
This image of Taiya Peak and Summit Creek from the opposite side of the highway bridge was shot 10 minutes before midnight. This is a 20-second exposure, also with ISO 100 and f20.

Taiya Peak and Summit Creek in the White Pass just before midnight
I tried many locations and camera settings to get a shot of me walking down the highway into the White Pass at midnight. By the time I got this one, it was 13 minutes after midnight. While I could do anything I want with the lighting, this light level is what it actually looked like.

Walking on the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass at midnight
Midnight:23 – every time I look at this photo, I want to pack up and go back down there. It is so powerful, yet so serene.

My RV boondocking in the White Pass at midnight
Going back to bed at “zero dark 30”, I spotted this scene through the RV window, and grabbed this shot. It’s grainy because it was shot at ISO 6400 and 1/2 second, because I didn’t feel like setting all my gear up to do it properly. Good night. 🙂

Moonlight on Summit Lake in the White Pass

The story continues tomorrow…



Disconnecting in the wilderness is good for your head

My day with Bella and Tucker in the White Pass two weeks ago convinced me that I really needed to get down with the motorhome. Last Wednesday and Thursday, I got the rig ready, and Friday morning, the dogs and I headed down. Cathy would join us when she got off work Friday night. It had to be a short trip, as I had an appointment with one of my therapists Sunday afternoon, but it would be a good start, and a good test of my progress recovering from my injury last August.

We got away just after 10:00 a.m. The first photo shows that removal of the old Carcross bridge is almost complete. While it had character, it was a wreck, and I really like the look of the new one – the decorative lights make a huge difference to what could have been just a concrete slab.

Removal of the old Carcross bridge is almost complete
We encountered some road construction along Windy Arm. It’s particularly nice to have pretty much no traffic on the road at times like this, so there are no rocks flying at me. The windshields are both broken anyway, one side very badly, but I’m not in the mood to spend another $5,000 to replace them (windshield insurance isn’t available here).

Construction on the South Klondike Highway
On the pass between Windy Arm and Tutshi Lake, we got stopped by more construction for about 15 minutes.

Construction on the South Klondike Highway
Tucker rarely rides shotgun like this, but I’m always pleased to have my little buddy there.

My little dog Tucker riding shotgun in the RV
We all had a long nap after getting set up at Summit Creek, and didn’t get out for a play until 3:00.


While the kids played and explored, I spent some time foraging with my camera. The contrast of the witches’ broom on this very healthy little tree struck me.

witches' broom
Mother Nature really does some lovely landscaping.


A closer look at the White Mountain Heather (Cassiope mertensiana) seen in the photo above.

White Mountain Heather (Cassiope mertensiana) in the White Pass, BC
Cathy arrived at 7:45 Friday night, and it was already cold – 8°C/46°F. While Cathy and I played Scrabble after she got settled, the kids went to bed.

My husky/shelty Bella asleep on the RV couch
When I got up at 05:30 on Saturday, the weather was cold (6°C) and dreary.

A chilly, dreary morning in the White Pass
By 07:30, it was looking like the day might have potential, as a wall of cloud moved off to the east.

A storm moving out of the White Pass
Time for a cookie before breakfast? Mr. Granite is as polite as he is handsome. He first came into our lives as a rescued puppy named Raspberry, and we dog-sit him occasionally now – he’s a perfect fit into our pack. He was one of the puppies we almost didn’t let go.


I couldn’t figure out from the clouds what the weather might do. There were some really unusual cumulus buildups off to the northwest. I shot these “clouds with rocks in them” just after 08:00 – a flashback to my flying years. Every mountain pilot quickly learns to know that term and respect it – or doesn’t live long.

Clouds with rocks in them
By 08:30 as the clouds keept moving away, some wonderful layers of cloud and light developed over Summit Lake.

Layers of cloud and light over Summit Lake, BC
At 08:45, I drove to the summit – on the way, I shot this photo of the storm drifting beyond the White Pass & Yukon Route railway summit.

A storm drifting beyond the White Pass & Yukon Route railway summit
A look at what is, in a normal year, the busiest tourist highway in the highway, as I drove back to the motorhome. There’s a marmot sitting on the shoulder of the road in the break between the two sections of guardrail.

The South Klondike Highway near the White Pass summit
The marmot wasn’t very happy about being disturbed, and this grab shot missed the focus a bit. Marmots are one of my favourite animals – they are such characters.

A marmot on he tSouth Klondike Highway near the White Pass summit
After lunch, I made a couple of attempts to get a family portrait, but all I could get was dog bums.

Cathy and Murray with their dogs ad RV in the White Pass
At 12:35, this storm was moving in from the northwest.

A storm moving into the White Pass
Although I didn’t see any lightning, there was lots of thunder coming from the Bryant Lake area just 3-4 miles away.

A storm moving into the White Pass
Enjoying a last bit of sunshine at 12:44. Rain started just a couple of minutes later – we stashed our chairs and moved inside.

Sunshine and storm in the White Pass
I shot this series of videos starting at 12:50. Click on the image to open the video page at Youtube.

Sunshine and storm in the White Pass
Waiting out the storm in comfort while some hikers were out there in it.

Waiting out the storm in comfort in the RV
Looking south across Summit Lake at 1:35, with the rain now gone from our spot.

Storm at Summit Lake in the White Pass

It was a quiet day. Even after the storm blew through, there was a very cold wind so we had to be well bundled up to spend time outside.

After dinner, we drove south to the William Moore Bridges (old and new) – Cathy hadn’t yet seen the new one. It was a lovely evening.

The William Moore Bridges wayside
The Captain William Henry Moore Bridge looks more like a concrete dam with a culvert at the bottom. I don’t understand how this could be earthquake-proof as the old bridge was – I guess we’ll see.

Captain William Henry Moore Bridge
As we got back to the RV just before 7 p.m., there was a wonderful rainbow that lasted for a few minutes.

Rainbow at Summit Lake in the White Pass
Looking to the southeast across Summit Lake at 7:08.

Storm at Summit Lake in the White Pass
Sunday morning was cold and misty, but by 07:30 when I shot the next photo of Summit Lake and the Sawtooth Range it was gorgeous – though the cold wind still required a layer of fleece to be outside.

The Sawtooth Range and Summit Lake
From any angle, Mount Cleveland and the Cleveland Glacier is impressive. At the bottom right you can see our nearest neighbour, about half a kilometer away on the opposite side of the Summit Creek bridge.

Mount Cleveland and the Cleveland Glacier
Breakfast prep time in the White Pass, at 08:30. We sometimes laughingly call this “camping” 🙂

Breakfast prep time in our RV in the White Pass
Just before 10:00, we took the dogs down to the wonderful beach where Summit Creek flows into Summit Lake. I had a couple of balls for the dogs in my pocket, and Tucker kept bugging me until I let him carry one. He’s become a great little trail dog – always right behind me. This was a very different walk for me than 2 weeks ago – I didn’t need my cane.

Walking down to Summit Lake
As always, Bella was the first one into the water! The water is very cold, right off the snowfields!


The water level is very high, but had dropped enough since we arrived that we could walk through shallow water to what was currently an island. I climbed up it to get the next photo.


Looking south across the lake. The wind was nasty, and cut down the enjoyment of this outing.

Looking south across Summit Lake
At about 11:00 we started the short walk back to the rig to pack up so I could get back to Whitehorse for my appointment with my therapist. Bella found a patch of berries along the way, and Cathy gave her a hand to get some that were a bit hidden. Bella is very adept at picking berries.

My dog Bella picking berries

Unlike 2 weeks ago when I had to walk with a cane, and had to stop several times to rest during what’s normally a 10-minute walk back up the the highway, I had no trouble. This sort of rapid, dramatic improvement happened in February as well, before my osteopath got shut down by COVID-19 requirements. I’m being very careful not to do anything that might set me back again.

I thought about leaving the RV and just driving the Tracker back for more supplies to return the next day, but decided against that – the final straw in that decision was discovering that I was low on propane. The final photo was shot at 12:40 as we started out.


Monday was a busy day. I decided to start taking care of some of the things the motorhome needs, beginning with tires on the steering axle. Two new 19.5-inch BF Goodrich Route Control tires, $1,040. Ouch, but there’s no more wobble from the crap tires that came with it, one of which was such crap my shop couldn’t even balance it. With gassing up the RV and Tracker, filling the propane tank, meeting Cathy for lunch, and buying groceries, the day disappeared quickly

As I finish writing this, it’s a few minutes after 05:00 on Tuesday. The motorhome is packed and ready to go back down to the White Pass today, for a longer stay. Cathy will drive down tonight to spend Canada Day with the dogs and I. The weather forecast changed dramatically overnight, and it’s now looking like a spectacular few days. ttyl… 🙂



I really needed a Mountain Day

Life isn’t easy for most of us these days, and it had been a very long time since I spent time in the mountains with my dogs, Bella and Tucker. Yesterday, I borrowed Cathy’s Jeep for the kids’ comfort, and we went down to the White Pass. The weather forecast was okay, though not great, and there’s no weather in sight that encourages me to take the motorhome down for a multi-day stay. But though we had some rain, we also had lots of sun, and it was a really wonderful day, punctuated with lots of wildlife.

At 06:48, this was the view across my back yard to Golden Horn. Not great, but good enough to continue with the plan.

My view of the mountain called Golden Horn, in Whitehorse, Yukon
At 08:50 we were on the Alaska Highway, heading towards Whitehorse to fuel up. Now things were looking much better 🙂

The Alaska Highway near Whitehorse, Yukon
The next photo stop was south of Carcross, at the avalanche gates at Km 98.3 of the South Klondike Highway. The electronic COVID-19 warning sign says “CAN/US BORDER CLOSED” – the next display reads “VITAL TRAFFIC ONLY”. Because of the way the Customs posts are located, though, it’s the US border that’s closed, and the 11.8 km of “no-man’s land” between the Canadian and American posts is still accessible. At this point I wasn’t 100% sure that was the case, but it turned out to be true.

COVID-19 warning sign on the South Klondike Highway
I read a Facebook post a while ago that said there were guards at the Yukon/BC border at Km 80.3, prohibiting entry to British Columbia – there aren’t.

Yukon/BC border on the South Klondike Highway
Along Tutshi Lake, at Km 70.3. Normally I stop at a beach on Tutshi to let the kids play, but didn’t today.

The South Klondike Highway along Tutshi Lake, BC
Although most people call them dandelions, I don’t think they actually are. Whatever they are, big fields of them sure brighten up the roadsides.

Dandelions along the South Klondike Highway, BC

Dandelions along the South Klondike Highway, BC

The Parks Canada parking lot at Log Cabin (Km 43.9) is still closed due to the pandemic. I suppose it doesn’t really matter – there are no activities like hiking that start from here anyway.

The Parks Canada parking lot at Log Cabin, BC, is still closed due to the pandemic.
There was a particularly fine display of lupine at Log Cabin. I believe this is Lupinus arcticus, but I didn’t look close enough to see if it might be Lupinus kuschei.

Lupine at Log Cabin, BC
I have many photos shot from Km 40.3 – on a morning with reflections like this, how can a photographer not stop? You can greatly enlarge this one (in a new window) by clicking on the photo.

A spectacular view at Km 40.3 on the South Klondike Highway, BC
Turning a bit to the left at the same location, this was the view. That’s the White Pass & Yukon Route railway at the bottom – to see this from a train, you need to take their Carcross excursion, called the Bennett Scenic Journey.


Nearing my planned stop at Summit Lake at 10:40, there was a caribou on the road! In 30 years driving that road, I’d never seen a caribou at the summit before.

A caribou on the South Klondike Highway, BC
I pulled over to the left as far as I could to get by her, but she ran down the road instead of stepping off it. I felt really bad about making her run, but she had 100 miles of wilderness available, and semis are still running on this road so it might be a valuable lesson.

A caribou on the South Klondike Highway, BC
At 11:00, I packed up way too much stuff and started down the trail to the Summit Lake beach we like to play at. The world is a rather scary place for me now – my brain is messed up from my injury to the point that things like comprehension, decision-making, coordination, etc, are all affected. Last week I was so overwhelmed walking down Main Street in Whitehorse that I had to hold onto a lightpole and close my eyes until the chaos in my head subsided. If I lived in a big city, I have no idea how I could function.

Walking down to Summit Lake in the White Pass
Even walking with a cane, it’s only a 10-minute walk down to the beach. Bella and Tucker were SO happy to be back on their beach! In this photo, Bella is exploring at the mouth of Summit Creek.

My husky/shelty cross Bella exploring at Summit Lake, BC
I mostly just sat in the chair I’d hauled down and enjoyed the sun. Clouds covered it occasionally, but not enough to be an issue in my enjoyment of the place. The broad views are spectacular, but sometimes the patterns in little puddles are interesting as well.

Leaves in a tiny puddle in backcountry BC
We got almost 2 great hours on the beach, but at 12:50 the building storm to the north was encroaching and I decided to pack up.

An encroaching summer storm on Summit Lake, BC
At 1:00 we were back to the rocky climb back to the car, and I knew it would give me trouble.

The trail from Summit Lake back to the highway
Departure time is always the cue for one more hard play! 🙂

My dogs Bella and Tucker playing in the BC wilderness
In the high country of the White Pass, Spring is just getting started – the carpet of wildflowers that happens is a few weeks away yet.

Spring buds in the White Pass
I had to stop 3 or 4 times to rest on the short walk to the Jeep, and it started to rain lightly just before we reached it. It was sunny to the south, though, so I decided to go down to the William Moore Bridge to see if everything was completed. The next photo is a distant view, right at 1:30.

William Moore Bridge, South Klondike Highway
This is the best spot to get a good look at both the old bridge and the new one, which was just completed last fall. In August, I drove down to do a proper documentation of its almost-complete status, before crews arrived for the day and made that impossible. You can see the blog post that resulted (with a few of the dozens of photos I shot) here.

William Moore Bridge, South Klondike Highway
The new Captain William Henry Moore Wayside at the bridges is about 95% complete, and I’m very impressed. After initial plans to demolish it, the old bridge is now managed by the National Park Service as a historic site.

The new Captain William Henry Moore Wayside, South Klondike Highway
Last fall, I was really upset that somebody had stolen the plaque marking the opening of the South Klondike Highway from its rock at the summit. But I discovered that it’s been refurbished and is in place at the new wayside.

Plaque marking the opening of the South Klondike Highway
There was a lot of blasting required to clear an approach to the new bridge on the south side. It exposed a particularly impressive dike of darker rock in the granite. At 1:50, we started a slow drive towards home.

Rock cut at the new William Moore Bridge on the South Klondike Highway
Back up just north of the summit, it was looking like Winter was making a bit of a return to the peaks to the east.

Storm in the peaks of the White Pass
When I spotted a fairly level patch of snow, I stopped to give the kids another play. Snow is always fun to play in, but especially in June 🙂

My dogs Bella and Tucker playing in June snow

The official part of passing back through the Customs post was quick and simple – the pleasant chat with the officer took much longer 🙂

At 2:20 I pulled into large pullout, with two little waterfalls across the road. I couldn’t continue without having a nap, and the music of the waterfalls, uninterrupted by traffic, was perfect for that. I slept for about 45 minutes and then was ready to get back on the road.

A little waterfall along the South Klondike Highway

At 3:20, I made a U-turn to go back to see a particularly handsome young black bear just north of the Yukon Suspension Bridge. I couldn’t get Tucker to stop screaming, though, so that planned visit didn’t work out.

A mile further north, another U-turn got me to a spot where I sometimes walk to a particularly scenic stretch of the Tutshi River (pronounced Too-shy), at Km 49.4 of the highway. It was a short stop so the kids stayed in the Jeep.

Tutshi River, BC
The next view of the road ahead was shot right at the Km 52 milepost.

Km 52 of the South Klondike Highway
Yet another U-turn to get some photos of this very luxurious patch of flowers on the shoulder of the highway.

Flowers along the South Klondike Highway
Km 57 – you see why I never get tired of this drive 🙂

Km 57 of the South Klondike Highway
At 3:50, we met two 2-year-old sibling bears who I’ve been watching since they were babies. One is the usual black, the other is called a cinnamon bear. Tucker was very impressed! I’m not sure whether he’s forgotten his wildlife viewing manners, though, or whether he’s realized he’s a Bear Dog and his role in the world is to scare bears away (he’s very good at it – OMG what a scream he has!). Okay, no more bear stops when Tucker is along 🙁

Cinnamon bear on the South Klondike Highway

Black bear on the South Klondike Highway

At Km 77.9, Dail Peak dominates the world ahead. The BC/Yukon border angles across just this side of the peak.

Dail Peak, Yukon
Looking to the right at Km 79, down Windy Arm of Tagish Lake.

Windy Arm of Tagish Lake
I think there are 13 mountain goats up near the head of Pooley Canyon in this photo. Shimmering heat waves made good shots impossible at that distance (400mm). It was now 4:10.

13 mountain goats up near the head of Pooley Canyon, Yukon
I pulled over at Carcross to send Cathy a text that we were safe and almost home. Looking back, a couple of fellows were still at work doing some final touches on the new Nares River bridge there.

Final touches on the new Nares River bridge at Carcross

The day couldn’t have gone much better. It’ll serve as an incentive to get the motorhome ready for a trip back down there.



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Getting out: a drive to Tagish

I haven’t been getting out much, but last Wednesday (May 20th) I got a call from a fellow in Tagish, offering me a collection of aerial photos, maps, and other material that he had acquired. That was all the reason I needed for a drive. And Bella and Tucker were very happy when I asked if they wanted to go in the car :)(

Prairie crocuses have started to bloom on my property, and I took a few photos of them while I waited for the time we’d agreed upon.

Prairie crocuses in the Yukon
At 12:15 we were well down the South Klondike Highway, with Montana Mountain, which towers over Carcross, ahead.

The South Klondike Highway, with Montana Mountain, which towers over Carcross, ahead
I made a quick stop at Emerald Lake. Calm mornings produce the best photos, but this was okay.

Emerald Lake, Yukon
There had been fresh snow that morning on Montana Mountain, down to about 5,500 feet elevation.

Fresh snow on Montana Mountain in late May
I drove past the Carcross Desert, then made a U-turn to see what this sign said. All the small Yukon communities have made it very clear that visitors are not welcome during this COVID-19 situation. We have, though, had no active cases in the Yukon for about a month now.

Visitors are not welcome at the Carcross Desert
Heading east on the Tagish Road, with Caribou Mountain filling my view. Caribou Mountain was also the dominant element in the view from my cabin at Carcross.

Heading east on the Tagish Road, with Caribou Mountain filling my view.
I don’t recall seeing this “Welcome to Tagish” sign before. I really like it – but I’d probably like pretty much anything with a swan on it 🙂

Welcome to Tagish sign

I had a very nice visit in Tagish, and left with 3 boxes full of photos, maps, and documents. By the time I left, I wasn’t feeling very good, and expected to have to take a nap somewere along the way home.

I made a short stop at the Tagish Cemetery, which I have barely started documenting. I took enough photos to serve as a prompt that I need to get down and do it properly when I’m able.

Tagish Cemetery
This grave marker is pretty cool. I don’t know what the significance of the shape is, but Edward Cooper died in 1992 at the age of 50: “He loved the Yukon. Resting in the land he loved.”

Tagish Cemetery: Edward Cooper died in 1992 at the age of 50
I decided to make the entire loop, so continued east on the Tagish Road. As I got near the intersection with the Alaska Highway at Jake’s Corner, the light got very nice, and I made 3 brief stops.

Along the Tagish Road, Yukon


Along the Tagish Road, Yukon

I made it home without having to stop for a nap, but there were no more photo stops. I was great to get out, and I’ve had a wonderful reaction to the first of the aerial photos I posted in my Yukon History and Abandoned Places group.



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A day trip to the Takhini River and Kusawa Lake, Yukon

On Monday, I got a call from a friend asking if I’d like to go to Kusawa Lake. Yes, I certainly would! We usually take our dogs but decided not to today.

We didn’t get away until 1:00, but I wasn’t feeling up to a long day anyway. It was wonderful to see lots of leaves coming out on the trees out Mendenhall way, half an hour west of Whitehorse.

The green of Spring along the Alaska Highway west of Whitehorse.
It’s always wonderful to see the wild horses along the highway. However, Karla and I had seen photos of a new foal with a mare who has markings just like this one. Where was her baby?? It wasn’t until I got home that I could check the photos of the mare and foal and saw that it was a mare with very similar markings. What a relief that was! There are a few stories about where these horses came from but nobody knows for sure.

Wild horses along the Alaska Highway west of Whitehorse
Ahead on the left in the next photo is the Takhini Valley Rest Area at Km 1487 – 2 km past that, we turned onto the gravel Kusawa Lake Road and headed south.

Approaching the Takhini Valley Rest Area at Km 1487 of the Alaska Highway
At 2:10, we stopped across the road from the Takhini River Campground to photograph some Prairie crocuses. All Yukon campgrounds are still closed as a COVID-19 precaution.

Prairie crocuses along the Takhini River
Fun with crocuses and my lensball 🙂 I’m back to needing a cane to walk, complicating photography somewhat.


This was a 10/10 day, and there were a few people out enjoying it, most just on day trips, but some campers as well.

Spring along the Takhini River, Yukon
At 2:30 we found a good spot for a picnic, above the foot of still-frozen Kusawa Lake and the head of the Takhini River.

The foot of still-frozen Kusawa Lake and the head of the Takhini River
The water was so clear! It looked shallow enough to be able to walk across to the beautiful big beach on the far side.

The Takhini River
This was an absolutely superb spot to spend some mental-health time.

Reflections in Kusawa Lake, Yukon
There is clearly some awesome hiking on top of one of the mountains to the east, and we figured out a way to get there, for some future very long day.

Awesome hiking on top of a mountain to the east of the Takhini River
This was precisely what the doctor ordered. Nature is medicine.

Murray chilling along the Takhini River, Yukon
By 3:30 I couldn’t stand it any more – that water just looked too inviting. Karla wasn’t as convinced as I was that I could get back up once we got down to the river but agreed to go with me.

A sandy trail down to the Takhini River, Yukon
Yes, this was even better 🙂

Takhini River, Yukon

Takhini River, Yukon

I was too unsteady to prove my theory that the river was shallow enough to walk across, but I got far enough to be convinced of it. With the frozen lake only 100 meters/yards away, the water was quite chilly 🙂 (Karla shot this photo and the one above of me sitting)

Murray wading in the Takhini River, Yukon
By 4:00 I was getting very tired, and it was time to go. Here’s one last photo looking south to the head of Kusawa Lake. I had seen a trail that might be easier than the one we came down. The climb, barefoot on a soft, sandy trail, turned out to be not as tough as I thought it might be.

Frozen Kusawa Lake
Signs of Spring back up top.

Signs of Spring at Kusawa Lake
At 4:20 we were almost back to the truck.

Access to the Takhini River and Kusawa Lake

The day was simply perfect.

Although my osteopath’s office isn’t open yet, she saw me on an emergency basis 2 days after this outing. When I got home from seeing her, I slept for over 4 hours and was useless the rest of the day. I felt clearer the next day and even better the next day then sort of stabilized. I’m back on the right path, but I have no idea yet how to deal with this long term, when it takes very little activity to put me back in a very bad place. I really need to get back into the mountains, but for now, outings like this will be pretty much it.

Everything right now – the virus and my injury – would be infinitely more difficult if I lived in a city hit hard by the virus. I’m always thankful to live in the Yukon, but especially now. We have no active cases, and none of the 11 cases has been sick enough to even be hospitalized. Yesterday, our Chief Medical Officer announced plans to start opening everything back up – it will be a very slow, very cautious process, and it seems to be supported by the vast majority of Yukoners. We certainly have every reason to keep believing that Dr. Hanley and his team know what they’re doing.

Stay well, stay safe, my friends 🙂



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