A short hike on the International Falls trail

After our excellent afternoon hike on Thursday, my friend asked if I’d like to join her and her daughter for a short hike on the way to Skagway on Friday. I’d already planned to take my motorcycle to Skagway, but said that I’d meet them in the White Pass. Once there just after noon, we decided to hike a little way up the International Falls trail.

Once down the very steep but rope-assisted drop off the highway, and then across the creek, the large flower-filled meadow can keep photographers happy for quite a while.

A flower-filled meadow on the International Falls trail
There were at least a dozen species of flowers in bloom in the meadow and among the adjacent granite outcrops.

Flowers on the International Falls trail
We took a little-used side trail that took us to the bottom of the first waterfall. Few hikers come to this spot for some reason.

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail
It’s amazing where some plants can grow.

Flowers on the International Falls trail
I always really enjoy the first waterfall, and scrambled over boulders right to the base of it to do some shooting. First at slow shutter speeds – the next photo was shot at 1/30th of a second…

Waterfall on the International Falls trail
…and then some high speeds – the next photo of the lip of the waterfall was shot at 1/1,000th of a second.

Waterfall on the International Falls trail
A family joined us, and some of them went for a dip in the pool. While the water is much warmer than it was when I hiked the trail 10 days ago – the upper lakes were still frozen – it was still not conducive to long soaks 🙂

A large waterfall on the International Falls trail
We decided to hike up one more level to an area with a large expanse of almost-level granite.

Granite along the creek on the International Falls trail
This was an excellent place to just enjoy the incredible day. The temperature was probably about 25°C/77&de;F.

Small waterfalls on the International Falls trail
This was our view looking back toward the highway. Ahhhh…. 🙂

On the International Falls trail

At about 1:45 we started the short hike back to the car and bike. Total time on the trail was a bit under 2 hours.

I continued on to Skagway, picked up all the accessories for the new ensuite bathroom (towel bars, etc), then headed home. With 5 hours on the bike and 2 hours among the waterfalls, it was a great day.

Back at home, I started experimenting with my new Lensball. It’s not the the sort of thing I’ll use very often, but it is fun.

Fireweed shot with a Lensball


An afternoon hike at the Venus Mine

Last Thursday, July 19th, a friend and I decided to go for an afternoon hike at the Venus Mine with 2 of our dogs. Less than an hour from my house, it’s a wonderful place to clear your head and enjoy some incredible views.

The network of roads and trails is accessed at Km 82.2, a kilometer south of the large wooden Venus mill. The elevation there is 691 meters (2,268 feet). I was very surprised to see 2 vehicles there, but all of the people from them were coming down as we started up.

The trail starts on a good road that leads to the 1970s workings of the Venus silver mine (and some great raspberry patches in season!). Extensive work was done on that property in 2009-2010 to stabilize tailings piles that were held back with logs that were rotting – there was a serious threat that a large avalanche would result and it would have hit the highway. An old mine tunnel here has been closed with rocks and gravel – a bat monitoring station at the entrance is a new addition since the last time I was there. The elevation at this point was 830 meters (2,724 feet).

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon><br />
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From the 1970s mining levels, there are several trails and routes to go higher. I picked a trail toward the south end of the workings. The views over Windy Arm (part of Tagish Lake) just kept getting better and better.<br />
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Artifacts from the early days of mining at the Venus can still be found. The one in the next photo, looking steeply down to the highway and lake, appears to be a piece from the 1906 aerial tramway.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
There were a few sections where following the trail took some thought, and there was a bit of brush, but it was generally a good path.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon

My plan had been to go to the upper workings and aerial tramway terminus, but the trail I chose took us far above that location. At 994 meters (3,260 feet), we turned back to look for another route.

Looking straight down on the Venus mill.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
At 5:00, on the right trail now, we stopped short of the original destination for a bit of a picnic. Then it was time to head back to the car.

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon
How incredibly lucky are we to be able to take the dogs for an afternoon walk at a place like this?

Hiking at the Venus Mine, Yukon

By 7:00, I was back at home, 5 hours after leaving.



A motorcycle, history, and airplanes day

Yesterday was a great day for me. I put 240 km on my motorcycle, found a 1941 plane crash site, spent time with old friends and new, and photographed a few airplanes at YXY. I hadn’t been out on the bike since August 2016, so getting it out was a big deal to me. There’s a bit of a back story to that happening.

I very rarely enter photo contests. A few months ago, though, I happened to notice that Yamaha Canada had a “What a View” contest. Hey, I have lots of pics of my Yamaha V-Star in great locations so I sent one in. Last week I got notification that I had won the Grand Prize, $500 to spend on my choice of Yamaha gear or parts. Wow! 🙂

Yamaha Canada 2018 photo contest Grand Prize winner - V-Star in the Yukon
When I went down to Yukon Yamaha to buy something with my prize money, the only thing that got my attention was a very fine leather motorcycle jacket that fit me perfectly. It was on the clearance rack at 20% off, so instead of ringing in at $705, the final bill was $63. Now I needed to go riding!

Murray Lundberg with a new Yamaha motorcycle jacket
My bike has been dead for a while. It seemed to be a fuse, but I couldn’t find it. Finally my Clymer manual led me to a 30-amp main fuse buried under the seats and a couple of layers of electronics and plastic. It was indeed burnt out. A spare fuse was in a slot beside it, and as soon as I changed it, I had power. A half-hour later after I put it all back together, the bike was running. That felt so good!

Working on a V-Star 1100

By the the time I shopped for a better deal on insurance, it took me almost 3 hours on Monday to get the bike insured (now $187 per year) and get a new sticker on the plate. With other things to do, I didn’t get out on Monday, but on Tuesday morning, I headed north, with the main objective being the site of a 1941 plane crash beside what is now the North Klondike Highway.

I hadn’t checked the road reports, but was hoping that there would be no construction on the North Klondike – I wasn’t in the mood to fight my way through gravel. As it turned out, the only work being done was preparations for a new bridge across Fox Creek.

Preparations for a new bridge across Fox Creek on the North Klondike Highway
It was a post on my Yukon History & Abandoned Places page that led me to the plane crash site. I had a couple of photos with me to help find it, but I didn’t need to pull them out. In the grassy area to the left at Km 233.5, I could see the tubular frame wreckage.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
The following article about the crash is from The Chilliwack Progress of July 9, 1941 – the pilot who was killed, Vaughan Woods, was from the nearby community of Hope.

Pilot Vaughan Woods killed in Yukon plane cash - July 3, 1941
The crash on July 3rd destroyed White Pass Airways’ 1939 Travel Air 6-B, CF-BPV, seen at Fort Selkirk in the next photo. White Pass Airways was part of the the British Yukon Navigation Company (BYN).

White Pass Airways' 1939 Travel Air 6-B, CF-BPV
The wreckage is in the red circle in this view from the highway. In 1941, there was no road here but there was an emergency airstrip. None of the online mapping sites show this area in a high enough resolution to see where the airstrip would have been, but it would have been just to the north of the crash site (to the right in the photo).

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
In his book “Yukon Wings”, R.B. “Bob” Cameron covers this crash thoroughly, with several photos including the one below that shows an RCMP officer inspecting the wreckage. An inquiry into the crash found that a cotter pin had not been installed on a crucial nut during a recent engine overhaul – when the nut loosened and then fell off, a catastrophic power failure was the result. Three air engineers’ licences were suspended for 6 months and one was cancelled permanently.

White Pass Airways' 1939 Travelair 6000B, CF-BPV
The next photo shows me inspecting the wreckage. The mountains in the background show that the viewing angle is the same as the one in photo from “Yukon Wings”.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
Although there may be more wreckage buried in the mud after 77 years, it’s a fairly safe bet that the site was well cleaned up either by BYN or later scavengers.

1941 plane crash site along the North Klondike Highway
Fox Lake was my planned portrait location, and it worked out great. I got into a long chat there with a Swiss fellow who’s touring in a van he bought. My bike, a 2009 V-Star 1100 Classic that I bought new in 2010, now has just over 29,000 km on it. I’m excited to be back on the road with it, and hope to put a few thousand more on it this year.

Murray Lundberg and his V-Star 1100 Classic at Fox Lake, Yukon

It was time for lunch, so I continued north to Braeburn Lodge, where I had an excellent lunch as well as a good visit with 2 of the people who have been feeding me and hundreds (maybe thousands) of my bus passengers there since 1990.

As I made the turn off the Alaska Highway to go into Whitehorse for fuel, what I thought was a T-33 Shooting Star, a jet trainer that dates back to 1948, was on final approach to the airport. After fueling, the airport was my obvious next stop. The jet turned out to be the Canadian variant – a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3. Now registered in the United States as N133HH and named “Ace Maker II”, it’s privately owned, used by Greg Colyer to perform at air shows (there are some incredible photos online). Now there’s a cool “job”! 🙂

N133HH, a Canadair CT-133 Silver Star 3

Just after I arrived, so did Simon Blakesley, who is becoming very well known for the quality of his aircraft images. We had a great chat while we were shooting the various aircraft, and waiting for the vintage jet to take off.

I always enjoy being able to add new aircraft to the database at Airport-Data.com, and C-GEMB, a 2016 Embraer EMB 505 Phenom 300 based at Fort Langley, BC, is now there.

C-GEMB, a 2016 Embraer EMB 505 Phenom 300
The next interesting arrival was N7836W, which I thought was a particularly fine Piper Super Cub. It’s actually a homebuilt, from a kit built by Backcountry Super Cubs of Wyoming. It was built and is now owned by Ted Waltman of Lakewood, Colorado. I was able to add the first photo of it with a new belly cargo pod to its listing at at Airport-Data.com.

N7836W, a homebuilt Backcountry Super Cub
I don’t have many photos of Air North’s new ATR-42s, so was pleased to see C-FVGF on approach. As I was writing this post, I was also pleased to be able to update the database at Airport-Data.com again, as it still showed this plane as C-FTJB, owned by First Air. Bought by Air North in September 2016, C-FVGF is a 1988 ATR 42-300.

Bought by Air North in September 2016, C-FVGF is a 1988 ATR 42-300
Simon and I were both trying to figure out where we might be able to shoot the CT-133 Silver Star taking off, but neither of us guessed correctly. I got it taxiing and roaring down the runway, but it was hidden by buildings when it left the ground.


It’s 9°C (48°F) with a light rain falling as I’m about to post this. I guess it will be a day for inside projects, of which I have many. Summer is forecast to return tomorrow, and I’ll be back outside – I have several possible hikes in mind for the few days.



Hiking the International Falls Trail in the White Pass

After our epic hike into an unnamed valley in the White Pass on July 5th, Greg and I opted for an easier hike the next day. We had planned on climbing Summit Creek Hill, but scaled back to what is now called the International Falls Trail. This is the third time I’ve posted about this trail – the first time was in August 2013 when I discovered that there’s a view over the Chilkoot Trail if you hike far enough, and then in July 2015 I did a short hike on it. This is by far my longest post about it, though – there are 35 photos, a video and a map in this one. This trail gets my vote as the best-bang-for-the-buck trail in the region, and is infinitely scaleable – it doesn’t matter whether you want a half-hour hike or a 10-hour one, it’s superb.

The map below is the feed from my Garmin inReach – click on it to go to an interactive map and trip report at Ramblr.


My day began early when I woke up and saw a very colourful dawn beginning. The first photo was shot at Outhouse Hill, a couple of miles from the motorhome, at 04:45. That was right at official sunrise.

Sunrise in the White Pass

While I was out and about anyway, I decided to go down the hill on the Alaska side a bit and have a look at the new bridge being built at William Moore Creek. Getting there long before the work crews should allow me to get some photos.

One of the side benefits of the new bridge is the removal of a couple of curves on the road, using the rock blasted away for the approach to the new bridge.

Removing a curve on the South Klondike Highway
This is a broad view of the new bridge site.

The new William Moore Bridge site
This is what I wanted to see. I parked and walked onto the existing bridge, and created this vertical panorama by stacking 3 photos shot at 18mm. So it’s a steel culvert about 60 feet across and 60 feet above the creek, being filled with concrete above that. I have no idea how that is supposed to be earthquake-proof, but…

The new William Moore Bridge site
Back up the hill at 05:10, the morning colours were still wonderful.

Sunrise in the White Pass
Greg and I got off to a pretty late start, and friends from Whitehorse flagged me down as we left the motorhome, to confirm directions I’d given them to the Inspiration Point Mine. I led them down the highway to a spot where I could show them the access, and by 10:45, Greg and I were back up at the parking area for the International Falls Trail. In the next photo, shot from the parking area, the trail runs up the right (north) side of the unnamed creek.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
A tour company in Skagway is running guided hikes on the trail, and I assume that’s who has installed ropes for the extremely steep drop from the parking area to the valley bottom. They’re a welcome addition!

Rope-assisted drop on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At the bottom, a creek crossing is required – it was only up to mid-calf depth. Greg has joined me in wearing Keen sport sandals for hikes now, but many hikers carry crocs or flipflops for this crossing.

Creek crossing on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The next photo shows the first waterfall, just 5 minutes from the creek crossing. A side trail goes to the bottom of the falls, and it’s so beautiful that many people don’t seem to go any further than that spot.

Waterfall on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) was at its colourful peak in many spots along the trail. These plants have woolly coats that help trap heat and buffer the wind.

Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass

Arctic lupine (Lupinus arcticus) on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The creek along the lower part of the trail is an endless run of rapids and waterfalls. The trail moves away from the creek in several areas but there are side trails to any notable spots on the creek.

One of the many waterfalls along the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Although the trail starts in Canada, you soon cross an unmarked border into Alaska. The upper waterfall in the next photo is probably the highest one along the trail.

The highest of the many waterfalls along the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Looking back towards the highway from the waterfall seen in the photo above. At this point, we were exactly an hour from the car.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
I just never get tired of waterfalls. The beauty, the power, the infinite variety, all attract me, both as a nature-lover and as a photographer.

Waterfalls on the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Just before noon we reached a large area where the creek flows across smooth, gently-sloping granite. I always spend a few minutes there. It’s seen in the middle section of the following video that I shot in 3 places along the trail.


The next photo pretty well summarizes the trail for me – flowers, a waterfall on a crystal-clear creek, and bare peaks looming above.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Now up in the alpine at 12:10, the walking was easy and the views uninterrupted.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Once into the alpine, the trail gets fainter and fainter, and often disappears as the route is snow-covered well into June.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
The average slope is much gentler in the high country, but some ledges still produce waterfalls and short but fairly steep climbs.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Flowers of many species were still abundant in the alpine, and there were so many perfect specimens that I took many photos. Some day maybe I’ll figure out what they all are. I had highs hopes for the PlantSnap app, but it says that this is a begonia. I don’t know yet what it is, but I know what it’s not 🙂

Flowers along International Falls Trail in the White Pass
You can’t get much closer than that to the source of your drinking water to be sure it’s safe to drink.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
By 1:00 pm we were encountering more and more snow, though we were able to navigate around all of it. The trail had completely disappeared – few hikers who start the International Falls Trail come this high.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 1:30 we reached one of the large lakes in the alpine, at 4,060 feet elevation (1,237 meters).

A large lake in the alpine above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Above that lake, we had to walk across some patches of snow.

Hiking in snow above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
My hoped-for destination for this hike was the saddle that looks down on the Chilkoot Trail. A snow-free route to it had melted out, clearly just in the past few days.

A snow-free hiking route the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
It’s amazing how fast some plants can recover once the snow melts off them. One of my readers has informed me that this is a Snow buttercup (Ranunculus nivalis) – thanks very much, Mary.

Flowers in the alpine above the International Falls Trail in the White Pass
A panorama looking back down on the upper lakes and back towards the highway.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 1:55, 3 hours and 10 minutes from the car, we reached the saddle. This 160-degree view of granite and glaciers, with the Chilkoot Trail far below, appears suddenly when you top the saddle. The last part of the drop from this point to the Chilkoot is extremely steep and probably not reasonable.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
I hope that you all have a place that makes you as deeply content as this location does me. But was it ever cold! The wind chill was near freezing, and we didn’t stay long.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
It’s possible to climb higher, and I have hiked to that summit, but we were happy with what we’d seen and started back down at 2:15.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Sometimes you have to get down on your belly to see tiny alpine flowers like this Arrow-leaved coltsfoot (Petasites sagittatus).

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
In the high alpine there were some wonderful areas of sedimentary rock, with some of the layers cardboard-thin.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
As usual on my hikes, I took few photos on the way down, but this spot at 3:05 was irresistible.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
At 3:55 we were nearing the creek crossing near the trailhead, and 10 minutes later we were at the car. The total hiking time was 5 hours and 20 minutes.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass
Heavy cloud had moved in as we neared the car, and by the time we reached the motorhome a few minutes later, a nasty storm was coming.

International Falls Trail in the White Pass

When we got up the next morning, visibility in fog and light rain was near zero. We packed up and headed home – to Whitehorse for me, much further to Haines for Greg.

As I finish this post off, it’s cold and wet outside – it feels like Fall. But I have plent of work that needs to be done, and when the sun does come back I have many more ideas for places to explore.



White Pass: 2 days canoeing and hiking to an unnamed valley

Pretty much ever since I started driving the South Klondike Highway between Whitehorse and Skagway in 1990, a particular valley to the east of Summit Lake near the White Pass summit has intrigued me. Clearly carved out by a massive glacier, spectacular peaks loom behind a series of waterfalls. The valley has no name, and even the mountains don’t have names. It’s a fairly popular place to go in the winter, usually by snowmobile, but nobody seems to visit the valley in the summer. Last week, though, a friend and I reached it on our second attempt by canoe and off-trail hiking, and the valley was even more wonderful than I’d imagined.

The map below is the feed from my Garmin inReach – click on it to go to an interactive map and trip report at Ramblr. Note that the routes on Day 1 and Day 2 are marked.

Map of hikes in the White Pass
After leaving the World War II Canol pipeline pump station described in my last post at about noon, Greg and I canoed back down Summit Lake, landing in a cove at what appeared to be the shortest route to the valley. The first photo was shot right at 1:00 pm, looking back up Summit Lake from the ridge above the cove where we stashed the canoe.

Summit Lake, BC
The large lake in the next photo has no name, and isn’t connected to Summit Lake. Finding a route around the countless lakes is part of the challenge, but navigating the granite ridges and cliffs is the biggest challenge.

An unnamed lake in the White Pass
It took us 50 minutes to hike from the canoe to the White Pass & Yukon Route railway.

The White Pass & Yukon Route railway in the White Pass
The bare granite provides wonderful hiking in places, and is incredibly varied. The little patches of sand may have been left thousands of years ago by the post-glacial lake that filled the valley. This is an HDR image to bring out the detail.

Bare granite in the White Pass.
A rather surprising number of flower species thrive among the granite in this land of extreme weather.

Flowers in the White Pass
I found this very odd moss (?) in one very small area. It looks like rusted steel wool.

This moss looks like rusted steel wool
The temperature had climbed to about 24°C (75°F), and Greg and I both took advantage of a couple of the smaller lakes/ponds we came to.

Swimming in a small lake in the White Pass
High above and far from the railway where such things are expected, I found a telegraph line. At this point I’m not sure what to make of that – was it laid by a company during the Klondike gold rush?

Telegraph line in the White Pass

By about 2:30 we had reached a vast area of thick brush that stopped us. Some people don’t mind bushwhacking to reach their destination – Greg and I do mind. After much contemplation, I decided on another route to try the next day, and we started back.

An oddity that we saw several of during the hike are balancing rocks left by the glaciers. Many of them had a single small rock supporting them as this one did – the main rock is almost 5 feet square.


Finding the canoe turned out to be a bit of a challenge – there are many little coves along Summit Lake, and none are very easy to get to. My inReach GPS would have made it easy if either one of us had brought our reading glasses so we could see the screen well. I had actually thought about bringing them that morning. Note to self… 🙂

Summit Lake in the White Pass
We went on quite a tour in our search for the canoe-cove, but once I spotted the unique pair of rocks seen in the first photo above, I knew where it was. We went for another dip and felt much better.

Ponds in the White Pass
By 5:30 we had stashed the canoe in a tiny cove at the mouth of Summit Creek and were walking back to the car for the 2-minute drive back to the motorhome. The beach at Summit Creek is the base for a canoe excursion aimed at cruise ship passengers, but the canoes didn’t move during the 3 full and 2 part days we were there.

Canoe excursion on Summit Lake
The sunrise on Thursday morning was spectacular, promising another amazing day to try for the unnamed valley. The next photo was shot at 04:50 from “Outhouse Hill”.

Sunrise in the White Pass
By 08:40 we were back at the mouth of Summit Creek (seen in the next photo), and a few minutes later were paddling down Summit Lake to a large bay on the east side.

The mouth of Summit Creek in the White Pass
At the mouth of the bay, this 10-foot-high granite boulder made me wonder what sort of forces could split it wide open.


A few minutes after stashing the canoe, we were at MP 23.8 of the rail line, where a boxcar used as a shelter, and a fuel tank for the bulldozers used to clear the line of snow each spring, are notable.

MP 23.8 of the WP&YR rail line
To the left of the fuel tank can be seen the wreckage of snow fences that used to give a small amount of protection to a couple of miles of the railway in this area. The gully to the left, at a spot called Gateway, is now filled but used to be crossed by a bridge.

MP 23.8 of the WP&YR rail line
Above the railway is this structure that appeared to me to have been used in surveying in some way. Posting the photo on my Yukon History and Abandoned Places group soon got the answer that it was an aerial survey marker for making maps.


Our initial bearing from the rail line was almost due south, aiming for a high, bare ridge that wraps around the southern side of the mouth of the valley we wanted to reach. To say that there’s no direct line is an understatement. Up and down, up and down, around and around and around…


To the left of Greg is an extremely old cairn, I expect marking a Klondike-era trail. I didn’t find any others.

An extremely old cairn in the White Pass
By 10:15 we were reasonably confident that the ridge we were aiming for was the route that would get us to the valley, to the upper left in the next photo.

Off-trail hiking in the White Pass
The higher we got on the ridge, the better it looked, but navigating around cliffs, ponds, and brush was a constant challenge.

Off-trail hiking in the White Pass
As remote as our location was, and as long as it had taken us to get there, the South Klondike Highway wasn’t all that far away as the raven flies.

The South Klondike Highway from a distant ridge
High on the ridge, we came to what I thought was a moose kill site. This is definitely not normal moose habitat.

A century-old moose or horse skeleton site in the White Pass
Judging by the amount of soil deposition around the ribcage, the skeleton has been there for a very long time – since the gold rush or perhaps even longer.

A century-old moose or horse skeleton site in the White Pass
This is a broad view of the site. I posted these photos to the Yukon Wildlife Viewing site and to my Yukon History and Abandoned Places group, and it’s been suggested that they may be horse bones, but also that moose do occasionally venture into places like that. Horses would tie into our discoveries of both the telegraph line and the cairn.

A century-old moose or horse skeleton site in the White Pass
As we got higher on the ridge and closer to the valley, there are some very large gullies full of brush that were hidden from lower elevations. Hiking up and around near their heads was always the best option.

Off-trail hiking in the White Pass
The power of this country is incredible. You might expect that this sort of hiking is frustrating because of the complicated navigation, but I find it exciting. Greg said a few times “I’ll just follow wherever you lead” 🙂

Off-trail hiking in the White Pass
This gorgeous slope of white heather was near the head of a small valley. At the creek beside it, now confident that we would reach our goal, we took a long lunch break. At this point, we had been running into game trails quite often, created by sheep and caribou.

A slope of white heather in the White Pass
At an elevation of about 1,100 meters (3,600 feet), we began to run into large patches of snow. The one in the next photo was over 8 feet deep.

July snow in the White Pass
At the highest point of the ridge we were climbing, I came over a bluff and was stunned by what I saw. I yelled back to Greg “I don’t know when it happened, but we seem to have died and gone to heaven.” The photo doesn’t do it justice at all. From this point, reaching the valley was easy.


I’d been wanting to reach the unnamed creek that flows out of our destination valley, and that was finally reasonable. We dropped down a bit and spent a long time at this spectacular spot.

An unnamed creek high above the White Pass

An unnamed creek high above the White Pass
This was a wonderful spot to play in the water! 🙂


I had set a time of 2:00 as the deadline for starting the hike back to the canoe. Fifteen minutes after leaving our play spot on the creek, we reached this beautiful waterfall. It was now 1:35.

A waterfall high above the White Pass
At 1:50, we reached the outer lip of the valley. We’d made it, and now we would just explore what we could. The valley steps up several times behind a series of glacial moraines.

A glacial valley high above the White Pass
High above us, the moraine of a glacier that has almost vanished was very impressive.

A glacial moraine high above the White Pass

The valley will require an overnight hike to explore properly – it’s both large and complex. What I’ve confirmed so far is that neither the lake nor the glacier shown on the government topos exist anymore. At 2:15 pm, we started back down.

We could soon see our objective – the fuel tank on the railway can be seen in the next photo. The hike back was much quicker than the hike up because we made few stops, and none of them were lengthy, although we did go for a couple more dips in small lakes along the way. I was very pleased that in this vast country, I was able to stay very close to or right on the route we had taken going up, often stepping on footprints made a few hours before – in the dry lichen we often crossed, they show up well.


At 6:05 pm, the canoe was once again stashed in the cove at the mouth of Summit Creek and we were walking back to the car. It had been 9 hours and 25 minutes since we started out from this point. Not bad for 2 guys in their 60s (Greg is 66, a little over a year younger than me).


We were already re-thinking our planned hike for the next day. Summit Creek Hill, a steep and challenging route right across the highway from the motorhome, had been the plan, but an easier option was being discussed.



White Pass Day 1: Canoeing to a World War II pipeline pump station

In the afternoon of July 3, my friend Greg from Haines arrived at my home, and we took the motorhome to the White Pass for a 4-night stay so we could go canoeing and hiking. On our first outing on July 4th, we canoed to the head of Summit Lake and made a short hike to the ruins of a Canol pipeline pump station along the White Pass & Yukon Route rail line.

I set up camp at my usual spot just south of the Summit Creek bridge on the South Klondike Highway. Although it’s right beside the highway, this part of the highway between the Canadian and American border posts is closed from midnight until 08:00. Even during the day, traffic is fairly light.


There’s a lengthy section of newly-resurfaced highway north of Fraser. It still has a lot of gravel on it, and a semi tossed a large one into my passenger-side windshield. It’s much too large to fix, and each side of the 2-piece windshield costs a few dollars short of $2,500 to replace. It’s the cost of having fun, but ouch.

Busted windshield in the RV
Right across the highway from the RV, behind a rock bluff, is a lovely series of ponds that make a wonderful spot to have a morning coffee.

A quiet spot in the White Pass
At about 09:30, I unhooked the Tracker from the motorhome, and we drove a mile north to launch the canoe at a spot where the highway goes close to the lake (there’s no boat launch on Summit Lake). I paddled up the lake, and Greg drove back to Summit Creek and walked down to meet me at the beach at the mouth of Summit Creek. By 10:30 we were well on our way up the lake. The plan was to beach the canoe near the head of the lake, about 4 km from Summit Creek.

Summit Lake, in the White Pass, BC

I’ve opened an account at Ramblr, and an interactive map of this trip is now there titled “Summit Lake – WWII pump station“.

We found a good spot to beach the canoe near the site of the Canadian Shed (more about that later), and we climbed up above the railway. There are still artifacts and wreckage dating right back to the Klondike gold rush all over this area, and trying to guess what it was is part of the fun for me. In the next photo, the railway is on the left and the head of Summit Lake can be seen in the distance.

Along the White Pass & Yukon Route railway at Summit Lake
One train arrived at the summit shortly after we did, and when another arrived, the first one backed up to our location to let the other one do the necessary switching. Most people off the cruise ships just take the shortest train ride, to the summit and back to Skagway. At the summit, the locomotives are moved to the opposite end so they’re back at the front of the train for the trip down.

WP&YR train at Summit Lake, BC
What a surprise when the WP&YR crew member (conductor?) turned out to be someone that Greg knows from Haines! Mike came over and we chatted for a couple of minutes while the switching was being done. The passenger car behind Mike is one of 2 luxury Club Cars on the line now. I got to ride in one in 2014 on a special trip to honour my long-time friend Boerries Burkhardt, a dedicated WP&YR railfan from Germany.

WP&YR train at Summit Lake, BC
The next photo looks north at the site of the Canadian shed, a 1,064-foot-long snowshed that was demolished in the 1980s.

The site of the Canadian shed, a 1,064-foot-long snowshed that was demolished in the 1980s.
We walked along the granite above the rail line, and there was wood everywhere, I expect much of it from the snowshed. The next view looks south at the Canadian shed cut.

The site of the Canadian shed, a 1,064-foot-long snowshed that was demolished in the 1980s.
Most of the pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway was removed in the late 1990s, but small sections can still be found in many locations. A brief history of this pipeline follows.

The Canol No. 2 pipeline
In 1942, the US army constructed a 4½-inch OD above-grade pipeline (Canol No. 2) from Whitehorse to Skagway. This pipeline, a tank farm in Whitehorse, and pump stations at Carcross and Summit Lake, comprised part of the larger Canol pipeline project, constructed to transport, refine, and distribute liquid hydrocarbons from Norman Wells for use in the Yukon and Alaska during World War II. The US army owned and initially operated the facilities. The White Pass and Yukon Corp. began operating Canol No. 2 in 1947, reversing the flow to supply Whitehorse and the Yukon with gasoline, diesel, and fuel oil shipped by sea to Skagway from Vancouver. In 1949, the US army resumed operating the pipeline, transporting White Pass fuels as well as their own. White Pass purchased Canol No. 2 from the US and Canadian governments in transactions from 1958 to 1961 and became the sole shipper via the pipeline. White Pass operated the Canol No. 2 pipeline from 1962 until 1994 with only minor modifications, and it was then shut down.

Map of the CANOL pipelines
Pipeline technology was in its infancy when the Canol was built. Pipe was simply laid on the ground and welded. Spills were common and often very large. The photo below (National Archives of Canada, Finnie collection) shows a section of the 6-inch main pipeline from the Norman Wells oilfield to the Whitehorse refinery.

Building the CANOL pipeline
At the pump station site just north of the Canadian shed cut, this wooden tower is the only thing visible from the rail line now. Carl Mulvihill says in his “White Pass & Yukon Route Handbook” that this structure was access to a pipeline pump valve – it’s high because of the deep snows there.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway.
The sight of a few blocks of concrete lured us further from the rail line.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
This is the foundation of the main pump station building. I have not yet found any information about this pump station other than the fact that it was part of the initial Canol construction. So much to research, so little time… 🙂

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
A closer look at the primary foundation.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
This great little freight wagon is still sitting there, saved by its very remote location.

A great little freight wagon at the pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
This garbage dump is right beside the pumping station foundation.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
This is a sampling of the bottles that are laying around – the middle one is a very distinctive ketchup bottle. We didn’t remove anything from the site.

Bottles at the pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
A broader view of the site. I should have had the drone to get a good look at it all.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
Several other buildings were scattered over quite a wide area around the pumping station.

Pump station along the Canol No. 2 pipeline between Whitehorse and Skagway
Walking back towards the canoe just before noon, two trains arrived from the north, fairly close together.

A White Pass & Yukon Route train at MP 21
Having a train in the Canadian shed cut makes it easy to see that building a roof over it to keep the snow out would have been a fairly simple job.

A White Pass & Yukon Route train at the Canadian shed cut.

A White Pass & Yukon Route train at the Canadian shed cut.
Very pleased with what I’d found, we paddled back down Summit Lake in search of a route to an unnamed valley to the east. That search would take us 2 days.

Summit Lake, in the White Pass, BC


A holiday weekend at Kluane Lake with a family of grizzly bears

My stay at home after the 59-day wander around BC and western Alberta was very short – 4 days. Then, despite mediocre weather forecasts, we made another drive out to Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake for 4 nights over the Canada Day long weekend. It turned out to be a few days of exceptional encounters with grizzly bears.

The 4 days at home were busy ones, with many jobs to get done, but I also took advantage of the sunny periods.

Murray Lundberg, home in Whitehorse after a 2-month RV trip
On the drive out to Congdon Creek Thursday night, there was a large male grizzly in this patch of flowers along Kluane Lake, but I didn’t get any photos of him. I took this photo of the flowers the next day.

Bird vetch (Vicia cracca) in the Yukon
On the left is Dwarf fireweed (Chamerion latifolium, a.k.a. River Beauty Willowherb), and on the right is the other flower, which I don’t have a name for yet, but which is quite often confused with Dwarf fireweed at highway speeds.

Wildflowers at Kluane Lake, Yukon
On Friday morning, we drove the Tracker back to our favourite beach on Kluane, at the large pullout at Km 1642.1 of the Alaska Highway. It’s a great place to play with the dogs on the sand and fine gravels.

Beach on Kluane Lake
After dinner on Friday night we went out grizzly-hunting, and were rewarded almost immediately, just a couple of hundred meters from the campground entrance. This beautiful sow and second-year cubs are the same family we spent time with here last July.

Grizzly bears crossing the Alaska Highway at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears beside the Alaska Highway at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We continued on looking for other bears, and when we returned a half-hour later, the family was walking up Congdon Creek toward the mountains.

Grizzly bears at Congdon Creek, Yukon
One cub suddenly dropped and rolled over. Odd. Then the other one laid down as well. Mom tried to convince them to continue, but it was apparently nap time, so she gave up and had one as well! 🙂

Grizzly bears at Congdon Creek, Yukon
It was very windy, and we had taken a camp site in the sheltering forest rather than one of the lakefront sites we usually prefer. We drove back towards the Slims River, where high winds can cause very impressive dust storms. They were!

Dust storm on the Slims River flats at KLuane Lake
Just ahead of the campervan in the next photo is the Slims River bridge, hidden in the dust.

Dust storm on the Slims River flats at KLuane Lake
Looking up the Slims River.

Dust storm on the Slims River flats at KLuane Lake
Back at the campground entrance, the sight of vehicles parked along the highway took us back to our little family.

Grizzly bears beside the Alaska Highway at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Mom led the way down towards the beach, a location where we had never seen bears before. As the place they were going is a popular place for tenters, I followed them down in the Tracker to see if anyone needed assistance.

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
There were no tenters, but a small camper was there, and a couple waking along the beach yelled to let us know about the bears. We stayed far back from the bears so we didn’t disturb what turned into quite a play session.

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Something suddenly spooked the bears, and off they ran, away from the camping area. When we drove back up to the highway, the couple we’d seen on the beach was walking our way, along the shoulder of the highway. They were obviously headed to the campervan, and we told them that the bears had left, but led them back to their van for safety, just in case.

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
It was now 8:30 pm, and I took the next photo just before pulling back onto the highway to return to our motorhome.

Flowers along the Alaska Highway at Kluane Lake
On Saturday morning, the wind had calmed down and I moved the RV down to a lakefront campsite that had opened up. Then it was time for a dog-walk on the beach there, and the meadows along it.

Beach on Kluane Lake, Yukon

Meadow beside Kluane Lake, Yukon
Kluane Lake has dropped about another foot from its record low last summer. This has been caused by the re-routing of the headwaters of the Slims River due to the recession of the Kaskawulsh Glacier – the Slims is the largest river feeding into the lake, and is now down to a fraction of the flow it used to have.

Beach on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Bella thoroughly enjoyed another chance to get wet 🙂

Dog swimming in Kluane Lake, Yukon
Late Saturday afternoon, some impressive thunderstorms were building along the lake, and rain was falling up by the Slims River.

Thunderstorm on Kluane Lake, Yukon

Rainstorm on Kluane Lake, Yukon
The storms never reached us, and Saturday evening was a particularly fine one, enjoying a BBQ and campfire.

Murray and Cathy at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Camping at Congdon Creek, Yukon
We picked up our first rodent hitchhikers in the RV somewhere, probably in Whitehorse during the layover. We drove into Destruction Bay but they had no mouse traps, so I MacGyvered a mouse trap of the sort we used to build in the Overwaitea Foods warehouse 35-odd years ago. I caught both mice overnight. It’s not a catch-and-release, they drown in the bucket – I really hate doing it, but they can’t live in my motorhome.

Improvised mouse trap in the RV
We planned to take in a bit of the Canada Day celebrations in Haines Junction, but got there just as everything was shutting down. We consoled ourselves with soft ice cream cones from Frosty’s – the fur-kids approved 🙂

Sharing ice cream with the dogs
Back at the campground entrance, our grizzly family was back feeding!

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
This time, the cubs led the way down to the beach, where they had another wonderful play-date.

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We spent about 20 minutes with them (about half a kilometer away so as not to disturb them), then returned to our campsite.

Grizzly bears at Kluane Lake, Yukon
Monday was our final morning at Congdon Creek, and it started off in a dramatic way, but once again the rain didn’t reach us.

Stormy morning at Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Stormy morning at Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake, Yukon
At Congdon Creek Campground, people are adapting to the grizzlies, not the other way around. More than half of the campground was closed many years ago to protect an important feeding area. The open cookhouse/shelter has now been closed so as not to attract the grizzlies to it.

Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake, Yukon
The most recent and important adaptation has been the construction of an electrified enclosure for tenters – tenting (including soft-sided tent trailers) had been banned at Congdon Creek for many years.

Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake, Yukon
The new enclosure has been getting very good reviews. A couple from New Hampshire that I talked to while taking these photos was extremely pleased with it – they had planned on sleeping in their small car at “the most beautiful campground [they] had seen.” 🙂

Congdon Creek Campground at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We pulled away from the campground just after 11:00 am, and didn’t get very far before finding another grizzly – this time an old male we hadn’t seen yet this year.

Grizzly bear at Kluane Lake, Yukon

Grizzly bear at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We weren’t nearly ready to go home yet, so stopped at our favourite beach again. We ended up staying there for about 4 hours.

Dogs playing at Kluane Lake, Yukon
We got driven into the shelter of the RV by a couple of brief rainstorms, but more often, we were watching storms across the lake while we were in sunshine.

Cathy and Murray at Kluane Lake, Yukon

After stopping for dinner at a new restaurant on the highway in Whitehorse, we were home by about 7:00 pm. I had about 16 hours to get the rig and myself ready to head out again, for 4 nights in the White Pass for hiking and canoeing with a buddy from Haines.



RV Life: Costs and Experiences during 59 Days on the Road

We got home from our 59-day RV trip around British Columbia and western Alberta on June 23rd. We’ve already been on another 5-day outing to Kluane Lake, which allowed me time to finish off my blog posts from the big trip, and now I want to finish off the story of the big trip by giving you a global look at it, including a summary of costs that may help you with RV trip planning. I posted summaries like this for the 2016 trip (56 days in BC and western Alberta), and the 2017 trip (61 days, with a Vancouver Island focus).

The Route

We travelled 4,891 miles (7,871 kilometers) in the motorhome, another 3,023 in the Tracker. The map below shows our basic route – click on it to open an interactive version in a new window.

Map of 59-day BC/Alberta RV trip

The RV & Toad

We still love our motorhome, but will make some changes when we buy another one some day. Before leaving in April, I stripped the carpet out and laid vinyl tile – we’re very happy with that big change. As well as having no carpeting, the next motorhome will have an Arctic package with double-glazed windows. Other than those 2 things, we would buy the same rig again (though GM no longer makes an RV chassis).

The motorhome is a 2007 Fleetwood Terra LX 31M, a 31-foot-long Class A with 2 slideouts. It’s on a Chevy Workhorse chassis, powered by an 8.1-liter Vortex gas engine, with an Allison automatic transmission with overdrive. You can see a full tour of it as well as a discussion about our lengthy shopping process here. The photo below was shot along the Alaska Highway on our first day of this year’s trip, April 28th. I bought the kayak last Spring, and although I don’t use it as much as I thought I would, it’s great to have it when I do want it.

RV, Tracker and kayak on the road

The Costs

The total spent during the 59 days was $10,185.77, with fuel making up 41% of that.

Fuel costs were much higher this year due to much higher pump prices. We spent $3,599.35 for 2,627 liters (578 Imperial gallons, 694 US gallons) of gas for the RV, which got 8.5 miles per Imperial gallon. We also spent $565.18 for 417.7 liters of gas in the Tracker, which got 20.4 mpg. The average price of gas was $1.363 per liter, with the lowest being Airdrie, Alberta, at $1.234, and the highest being Dease Lake at $1.619. That average is 24 cents per liter higher than last year.

Two propane fills for the furnace and stove cost a total of $70.90.

We stayed at rest areas, pullouts, and parking lots for 18 nights – costing a total of $0
We stayed at Municipal campgrounds for 4 nights, costing a total of $133.50.
We stayed at Provincial Park campgrounds for 6 nights, costing a total of $147.00.
We stayed at a National Park campground for 3 nights, costing a total of $125.60.
We stayed at commercial campgrounds for 27 nights, costing a total of $1,029.34.
The total cost for 58 nights accommodation was $1,426.44, an average of $24.59 per night.

Attractions and tours: $287.35

I spent $246.75 in Calgary to rent a motorcycle for a day, plus $43.86 for 29 liters of gas for it.

We spent $1,107.44 on restaurant meals, $203.26 on beer and wine, and $972.65 on groceries for meals we cooked ourselves.

We spent $857.62 on repairs and maintenance – $188.09 for a failed electric control module that I replaced myself, $214.20 for slide maintenance at a shop, $199.85 for an oil change on the RV, and $255.48 to replace failed sway bar links on the Tracker. For $99.99 I added a tool set that won’t leave the RV, another $99.99 got a vacuum, and I spent $67.19 for an inverter to charge the laptop, and $13.85 for a little clock.

“Working”

I spent about 130 hours writing 43 blog posts with over 1,160 photos (of the 5,295 photos in my folders after editing). The first post of the trip was on April 28th.

The Experiences

As usual, the list of memorable places and events during the trip is lengthy, but family time was what made this one very special. Camping at New Denver with one of my sisters and her husband, attending all of the events surrounding my twin grand-daughters’ high-school graduation in Airdrie, and camping at Cochrane and a day in the Rockies on motorcycles with my son are the things that will make this trip unforgettable.

I spent more time than ever at my 6 main target areas – the Fraser Canyon, the Kootenays, Crowsnest Pass, the David Thompson Highway, Tumbler Ridge, and Stewart, but in every case, this has just whetted my appetite for even more.

We had a few campground reservations, but really didn’t need to make any – no campground we went to was anywhere close to full. We averaged 133 km (83 miles) per day in the motorhome, our lowest yet by a small margin. The slower we get, the better the trips are – over and over again, we still said “I wish we could stay longer…” While we also averaged 51 km per day in the Tracker, those are wandering/exploring miles so don’t count in the same way.



Although I’ll be back into BC at least a couple more times this year (to Stewart and Muncho Lake, I hope), we’ll be in the Yukon for most of the rest of the summer.

Murray and Cathy at Kluane Lake, Yukon



The final leg, driving from Stewart to Whitehorse

On Day 58 of the trip – Friday, June 22nd – we began the drive from Stewart to our home in Whitehorse, via the Glacier Highway (Highway 37A), the Stewart-Cassiar (Highway 37), and the Alaska Highway. I expected that we’d overnight somewhere along the way – Boya Lake if the weather was good enough – but sometimes I get get-home-itis on that last stretch and push through.

The weather forecast for our homecoming was certainly not what I’d hoped for. But I had a lot of work to do when I got home anyway, so it didn’t really matter.

Weather in Whitehorse, Yukon
At 09:50 we passed by Bell Two Lodge, a gorgeous place that Cathy and I stayed at a few years ago. I had plenty of gas to reach Dease Lake, so no stop was required.


North of Bell 2, I encountered a line-painting crew. One of the vehicles had an odd warning sign on the back – I wonder if any drivers had tried to follow his directions? 🙂


The bridge across Devils Creek is one of the last steel-arch, metal-deck bridges on the Stewart-Cassiar.

The bridge across Devils Creek, Stewart-Cassiar Highway
By 11:30 I was at a rough piece of road south of Iskut. Slumping of the hill here has been a big problem since the road was built.


The Kluachon gas station at Iskut has been advertising quite heavily, and I decided to give them a try instead of filling at Dease Lake as I always have. When I saw the price, I changed my mind. The price at Dease Lake was indeed 10 cents per liter cheaper – on a fill of almost 200 liters, that’s a lot of money that was almost wasted.

Stewart-Cassiar Highway
The view north right at Km 545 (measured from Kitwanga, the south end of the highway).

The view north right at Km 545 of the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
This wide, paved pullout was perfect for a long dog walk at 4:00 pm.


It’s been interesting watching this forest grow after a forest fire swept through the area about 25 years ago.


There are very nice rest areas at the Cottonwood River, on the old highway on each side of the river.


Many people expect to find a community at Jade City, but it’s just a small tourist complex built around a rock shop, and a Highways camp.

Jade City, on the Stewart-Cassiar Highway
Just before 6:00 pm, we reached the “Welcome to Yukon” sign. After 58 days away, that crossing felt very good.


When we reached the huge rest area at the Continental Divide, I stopped to walk the dogs, and just couldn’t get going again. We’d been on the go for almost 12 hours at that point, and we’d all had enough. We camped there for the night.

We were on the road just after 04:00 on Saturday morning so we’d be home before Cathy went into town for a hair appointment. I was surprised to find so many people parked overnight at the Teslin Lake rest area.

Teslin Lake rest area, Alaska Highway
This was the view from my living room at 08:00. In 59 days, we had put 7,871 kilometers on the motorhome, and another 3,023 on the Tracker. It had been an exceptional trip, and I’ll write up a detailed summary of costs and experiences in the next few days.




Exploring the Granduc Road to the Salmon Glacier and beyond

On Day 57 of the trip – Thursday, June 21st – the dogs and I drove past Stewart, through Hyder, and up the spectacular Granduc Road. Most people turn around at the Salmon Glacier viewpoint, but we continued on to the site of the Granduc copper mine where I worked 43 years ago. A memorable encounter with a family of grizzly bears changed my plans for a long hike above the Salmon Glacier. This was the most thorough look I’ve yet had at sites along the Granduc Road, and there are 59 photos in this post.

There used to be a high-quality 13-page brochure available for the Granduc Road drive, but it went out of print a few years ago. I’ve scanned a copy and posted it here (pdf, 2.3 MB). My focus for this day was the area beyond the Salmon Glacier viewpoint at Km 37.0 from downtown Stewart. Snow or mining activity had prevented me from getting to the Granduc Mine site since 2002.

By 09:30 as we were ready to leave for the day’s adventures, the Bear River RV Park had largely emptied out. Most people just come into Stewart for a quick look, stay one night, and continue on.

Bear River RV Park at Stewart, BC
The weather forecast was calling for cloudy with showers, but this is the way the drive began, along the large estuary.

The estuary at Stewart, BC
This is the view back towards Stewart from the marina. The road for a couple of hundred feet at that point is called the Hyder Bridge because it’s completely built on pilings.

The Hyder Bridge at Stewart, BC
Entering Hyder, Alaska. There is no border post for the entry into the United States there, but Canada Customs has a post to return to Canada.

Entering Hyder, Alaska
Our first stop was a quick one at this very scenic beaver-heightened marsh just past Hyder. I took a couple of photos with the 24-105mm lens that’s normally on my camera, then got out of “lazy” mode and switched to my 10-18mm lens to get it all in.

Marsh along the Granduc Road - Hyder, Alaska
A few days of very warm weather had helped the Salmon River reach a substantial flow level. Periodic releases of a glacier-dammed lake used to fill the channel every few years, but that seems to have not happened for many years.

The Salmon River along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
At 10:45 we were nearing the Salmon Glacier, and the view back down the valley was very impressive. It’s hard to believe now that this was my daily route to work on a bus every day in 1975.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
That lovely clear blue kettle pond beside the silty Salmon River has always intrigued me, but it would be extremely difficult to get down to it. A kettle pond is formed by a huge block of ice that melts away over a period of several years, during which time river gravels have built up around it.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The “Toe of Salmon Glacier” viewpoint is 27.7 km from Stewart. The toe, also known as the glacier’s snout or terminus, is the lowest point on the glacier.

The Toe of Salmon Glacier viewpoint on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
A marmot joined us for a couple of minutes at that viewpoint. Tucker sometimes goes crazy barking and even screaming in response to animals showing up, but he’s extremely good when I tell him softly to be quiet (and keep reminding and praising him). Even with his window open and the marmot 20 feet away, Tucker didn’t make a sound.

Marmot along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The Salmon Glacier is the fifth largest in North America, though it has shrunk dramatically since I first saw it. I’ve posted two photos from 1975 and two from 2015 to show that retreat – see “Retreat of BC’s Salmon Glacier, 1975 – 2015“.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The road was in the worst condition I’d seen it, with long stretches of deep potholes. I’d seen tire tracks of some people turning around, and the snow that we reached at 11:15 prompted more U-turns. A rental motorhome from Alaska, though, was still pounding up the hill.

Snow on the Granduc Road in late June - Stewart, BC
We continued on past the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint – we’d stop there on the way back.
Meltwater from the northern tongue of the glacier, as well as several creeks, creates Summit Lake. In the next photo, Summit Lake in the distance is completely filled or covered with glacial ice. It used to break through the glacier so regularly that it was called Tide Lake when I worked here.

Salmon Glacier - Stewart, BC
One of the sites that I wanted to have a good look at was the old mining exploration camp site where John Carpenter’s science-fiction thriller The Thing was filmed in 1982. A Web site for fans of the film is run by Todd Cameron at Outpost31.com and a connected Facebook page is very active. I’ve been occasionally assisting the group since 2002 with information about access to the site – members do visit from all over the world, and a 40th Anniversary trip is being organized for June 2022.

Filming site of John Carpenter's science-fiction thriller The Thing along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Bella and Tucker were due for a play, and this little canyon served that purpose perfectly. I carried Tucker across the main braid of the creek so they could play in a large patch of snow.

Dog playing in a creek along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
I decided to have a brief look at part of the filming site next. I hadn’t planned on going very far, so didn’t put the kids on leash, nor did I take my bear spray. Do you see where this is going?

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The old road lured me on, through a small creek with particularly colourful rocks…

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
I looked up at the ridge beside us as a sow grizzly and two second-year cubs came over it. They were perhaps 200 feet away. I started yelling at Bella and Tucker and waving my arms over my head as I backed away, and they came to me immediately. The cubs both quickly disappeared off the ridgeline but mom stayed there while she assessed what all the noise was about. After a minute or so, she went back behind the ridge as well. Bella and Tucker were so focussed on me that they never did see the bears, which is exactly what I wanted. When we were about halfway back to the car, not even close to being safe yet, mom appeared over the ridge again, and I took the next photo.

Grizzly along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Once we were a hundred feet or so from the Tracker, I let the kids have a good play while I calmed down. Because I wasn’t planning to go far from the car, I had done two things that I never do – go into an area like that with the dogs off-leash, and go without bear spray. A month ago, a woman in Whitehorse had both of her off-leash dogs killed by a bear she encountered on a trail. We got lucky, and I’ll never put us in that situation again – we meet bears far too often.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The next photo shows the filming site as we drove back up to the Granduc Road.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Along the access road is this “powder magazine” (for explosives) from the mining days, in the late 1970s, I believe.

An old powder magazine along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Looking in the opposite direction from the powder magazine, this was the view.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Continuing north along the Granduc Road, I made photo stops often. This was the view looking back to the Salmon Glacier from above Summit Lake.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
It looked like we might get stopped by a rockfall, but there was room to get by.

Rockfall on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Looking down on Summit Lake. The textures of this country are incredible.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
In the lower right of the next photo, you can see one of the most memorable parts of the bus ride – a mile-long tunnel.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Because of extremely deep snow accumulations along the slopes to the left, this tunnel was cut in about 1970 to get vehicles through.

Tunnel for vehicles on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC

Tunnel for vehicles on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Driving around the tunnel, those deep snow accumulations still happen. There was just barely enough room to get by, and that probably just opened in the past few days. Many vehicles had clearly turned around here.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC

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Between the tunnel and the Granduc Mine, there are at least two other old mines, probably from the 1970s or ’80s. I need to pull the BC Ministry of Mines reports to find some information about them before my next visit.

Old mine along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC

Old mine along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
This is the north end of the vehicle tunnel. From the “T” in the foreground, cords hung that drivers would pull to open air-powered doors which sealed the tunnel. The blue building blasted into the cliff behind the Tracker housed the compressors that powered those doors.

Tunnel for vehicles on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Here’s a closer look at the second of the two mines I need to research. Access to them is fairly easy.

Old mine along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
It looked like I might be able to drive right to the adit seen below us in the next photo (an adit has one entry point to the surface, while a tunnel has one at each end).

Old mine along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The Granduc copper mine is below the road to the left here.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
At this location, there was a man-camp that housed about 500 people. Many of the employees with families chose to live in Stewart as I did – the company had apartments, townhouses, and single-family homes available, most of which have been abandoned since the mine closed in the mid-1980s.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
From the slope above where the man-camp was, this was the view of the mine access tunnel and mill, and the Berendon Glacier.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Another mine exploration camp opened in fairly recent years, but appears to be abandoned as well, though there are “No Trespassing” signs.

Granduc Mine site - Stewart, BC
This was the Granduc mill, and the buildings where we got ready to board an underground railway that took us some 15 miles – under 7 glaciers, if I remember correctly – to the work areas.

Granduc Mine site - Stewart, BC
The Berendon Glacier is the arm on the left – the one on the right, flowing from a different icefield, has no name.

Berendon Glacier on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC

Berendon Glacier on the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
I drove past the Granduc Mine a mile or so, then decided that there was no point. There’s a vast area of relatively little interest, and it’s more suitable for a multi-day exploration. I was in that area a couple of times in 1975, as that’s where the Granduc airfield was, and where the best grizzly viewing consistently was, so I took a couple of visitors there. I’d seen all the grizzlies I cared to this day.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The swath along the distant slope is a power line built about 5 years ago.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Heading back towards Stewart, I drove down to the adit I’d seen. All of the old mines close to Stewart have been stripped of equipment by collectors – only the extra distance has left this one fairly intact for now.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Judging by the thickness of that concrete base, this mine was doing basic processing of the ore before shipping it. My guess at this point, judging from the scale of the mines, is that they were mining gold or silver.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
This twin waterfall forms the backdrop to the mine seen in the two photos above. I could easily spend an entire day exploring here.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
With my major goals for the day well in hand, it was time to start looking at the smaller things. Like waterfalls, of which there are many, even beside the road. Some emerge from canyons that offer intriguing exploration possibilities when water and snow levels are lower.

A waterfall along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Other waterfalls just drop from cliffs, both natural and man-made, beside the road.

A waterfall along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
One of the waterfalls offered a shower that I just couldn’t resist. Yes, it was cold! 🙂

Taking a shower in a waterfall along the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
The long hike that I’d planned before the grizzly encounter was along the original Granduc Road, which is much lower on the slopes above the Salmon Glacier. The access to the old road is from the filming location I’d been exploring. The road was moved higher because of the number of avalanches on the lower slopes. I’ve looked for but been unable to find a date for that relocation, but I can see by the angle of the photos I’ve shot that in 1975, we were still driving the lower road. A rockslide made driving beyond this point impossible, and I’d rather lost interest in a hike anyway – among other things, we’d already been on the go for over 5 hours by then.

The old Granduc Road above the Salmon Glacier - Stewart, BC
What a place! After a long stop and short dog-walk, I was able to get the Tracker turned around right at the rockslide, and we headed back to the main Granduc Road.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
This dramatic little canyon is along the old road. That would be a great walk later in the summer.

A dramatic little canyon along the old Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
A well-camouflaged ptarmigan on a cliff just above the road.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
At the main Salmon Glacier viewpoint, I spent quite a while talking to the wife of the new doctor in Stewart. Many doctors pass quickly through remote communities like Stewart, staying only long enough to get the immigration credits they need to move to a larger centre. I was really pleased to hear that they plan to stay – Stewart deserves people who have that as their goal. The dogs and I then climbed up above the viewpoint.

The main Salmon Glacier viewpoint - Stewart, BC
Among the granite above the viewpoint is this pleasant little meadow, which I expect would soon be filled with wildflowers.

A lush meadow above the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Bella hates gravel roads, so wasn’t having a good time driving back to Stewart, but little Tucker never tires of Adventure.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Another mine, or mine exploration property, that I want to have a good look at is this one at about Km 23. If nothing else, those roads may offer great hiking.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
One area on the Granduc Road has always been bad for slides. The next photo shows the layers of gravels above it, from when the bed of the creek was some 400 higher than it is now.

Old creek gravel layers above the Granduc Road - Stewart, BC
Back in Hyder, I stopped just long enough to get a photo of this store that didn’t survive last winter’s snow load.

Granduc Road - Stewart, BC

The crossing back into Canada was quick and simple. The officer asked what took me to Hyder and I replied that I simply passed through Hyder to get to the mine I worked at 43 years ago. “Have a nice day.” 🙂

The next day would be our push to get home. It might be a one-day drive, maybe two.