A Day of Sunshine & Fog in the Mountains

With sunshine forecast for both Whitehorse and Skagway, yesterday looked like a good day to make the 320-km (200-mi) drive through some spectacular mountains. Cathy had bought a lot of linens at JC Penney’s last huge sale, and it was all waiting for me at the Skagway post office so I had to go anyway, but the weather forecast certainly looked like it would be a photography day as well.

I decided to only take 2 dogs with me. While they all get to go with me on short trips, Monty has decided that he doesn’t want to share the back seat of the car anymore, and on a long trip that doesn’t work for poor Bella, so Monty got a day at home without the youngsters. We left home right at 09:00, just over an hour before sunrise, with the temperature at -21°C (-6°F).

Despite the forecast of clear skies, fog was widespread on the road south. The temperature bottomed out at -24°C (-11°F) at Carcross, and a few miles further on, a glance in my rear-view mirror prompted the first photo stop to catch the wonderful colours to the north. It was now 09:44, 22 minutes before sunrise.

A winter dawn on the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
The fog visible past the Venus Mine made it clear that Tutshi Lake was still not frozen. That was a bit disappointing, because that’s where the best sunrise colours would be happening.

A winter dawn at the Venus Mine on the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
That belt of fog ahead is right over Tutshi Lake.

Winter fog over Tutshi Lake, BC
Right at sunrise, the fog cleared enough to see some of the peaks along Tutshi Lake light up.

Winter sunrise over Tutshi Lake, BC

Winter sunrise colours on the mountains along Tutshi Lake, BC
I made the usual stop at Tutshi Lake to let the dogs play. This was Tucker’s first road trip, so much about this day was new to him, including this beach with open water. As it often does in the winter going over the low pass between Windy Arm and Tutshi Lake, the temperature had jumped almost 10 degrees Celsius, to -15°C (+5°F).

A foggy winter morning at Tutshi Lake, BC
Bella and Tucker are so good together. She’s both his mommy and his teacher, and at 2 years old, barely out of puppyhood herself, is doing a wonderful job of both.

Dogs playing on the snowy beach at Tutshi Lake, BC

Dogs playing on the snowy beach at Tutshi Lake, BC

Dogs playing on the snowy beach at Tutshi Lake, BC
Tucker is always watching both Bella and Monty to see how various events should be handled. New sniffs? Let me in! πŸ™‚

Dogs playing on the snowy beach at Tutshi Lake, BC
Continuing on, the rising sun was producing some wonderful colours in the fog banks that we drove repeatedly in and out of. Reaching Summit Lake at 10:44, I was quite stunned by this scene. High winds were creating some impressive clouds over and around the mountains.

A winter morning at Summit Creek on the South Klondike Highway, BC
Starting the descent to Skagway, the wind was really screaming, and lots of snow was blowing around. Two plow trucks and a grader were at work on the Alaska side of the pass, knocking down snowdrifts as they formed across the road. Not that there was much traffic to be affected by any drifts – in the past hour I’d only seen 1 car, 1 pickup and 2 semi-trailers hauling fuel.

Winter on the South Klondike Highway north of Skagway, Alaska
The temperature climbed rapidly as we dropped down to sea level – it was -5°C (+23°F) in Skagway, but that north wind made it feel much colder. Despite the wind, though, after picking up my stuff at the post office, I decided to take the fur-kids over to the beach at Dyea – there would be lots of new stuff for Tucker to experience there! And the mountains along the Dyea Road are spectacular.

Mountains along the Dyea Road, Alaska

Mountains along the Dyea Road, Alaska
I seldom go by the pullout above Nahku Bay without stopping for a photo or 3.

Nahku Bay on the Dyea Road, Alaska
I just never get tired of these mountains. I was in a real funk a couple of days ago, spending too much time reading about the horrible things going on in the world, and days like this, out with just my dogs, surrounded by this incredible silent wilderness, really are a healing process for me.

Mountains at Dyea, Alaska
The fur-kids had a ball, and I was pleased to see Tucker go off and do some independent exploring after their play, giving Bella some quiet time.

Border collie cross Bella on the beach at Dyea, Alaska
The Taiya River estuary is an incredibly beautiful place in every season. Although it was quiet yesterday, we’re only a few weeks away from the Spring burst of activity for all manner of wildlife, with the late-March oolichan run a highlight that I need to get down for again this year.

Winter at the Taiya River estuary, Alaska
By 1:00 Yukon time (noon Alaska), we were on our way up the hill again. Before the snow fell, surveyors had marked out the location of a really ugly new bridge that’s planned to replace this unique one over William Moore Creek. If the project goes ahead, it will be just to the left of this one, and this curve will also be gone.

William Moore bridge, Alaska
The wind had increased, and a lot more snow was being blown around heading up to the summit. Sometimes that can offer some good photo ops, but it was all just a foggy blur until we got to the other side. That’s not fog ahead, that’s a cloud of snow blowing down the straight part of the valley!

A cloud of blown snow in the White Pass, BC
Looking back towards the summit from the same spot as the photo above. I noticed only a single snowmobile track in the area. We’ve gotten very little snow so far this winter, and sledders may be just staying home.

White Pass summit in the winter
I stopped a lot going through the pass (as I had planned to). Photos don’t do it justice, and I don’t have the words to tell you how incredibly beautiful it was.

Winter on the South Klondike Highway in the White Pass, BC
To properly capture the scene looking back toward the summit required a series of shots that I created this HDRI with. One of my friends used the term “magic” to describe this image, and that’s a perfect description of the feeling there. Click on this photo to see the enlarged version on Facebook.

I had a new experience at the border crossing at Fraser. I was asked to take the dogs into the office while one of the officers went through my car thoroughly. When you only see 3 cars a day, any little change is nice, I guess. All was as I had told them it was, of course, and we were soon on our way πŸ™‚

I caught this just a minute after leaving the border crossing – one of my 3 favourite shots on the day.

Winter sun and fog on the South Klondike Highway at Fraser, BC
A couple of minutes later, another stop. Tucker was always interested in what I was up to, but Bella is well used to this silliness and never stirred from her nap.

Winter fog on the South Klondike Highway near Fraser, BC
Climbing up above the snow-cloud near Fraser. I was quite amazed by how black that cloud became in places.

Climbing up above a snow-cloud on the South Klondike Highway
“Steam” rising off Tutshi Lake prompted another photo stop. It looked like an area of still water had started to freeze over a coupleΒ of miles before I shot this.

Steam rising off Tutshi Lake, BC
And one final shot of one of my favourite mountains, Dail Peak, at the BC/Yukon border. This shows you just how little snow we’re getting!

Mountains, sunshine, great dog play, and incredible photo ops – I feel much better now πŸ™‚


A Day of Sunshine & Fog in the Mountains — 13 Comments

  1. Those are absolutely gorgeous. I checked early this morning to see if you had did you blog. πŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing the photos so other people can enjoy them.

  2. Great pictures. You capture some great perspectives. Makes me want to make the drive in the winter. Last time I was there you took the train.

  3. Glad the drive lifted your spirits…How could it not?! Beautiful breathtaking photos and I love the thickly snow covered conifers. It looks like a fairytale. Thanks for sharing, you made my Monday morning much more bearable!

  4. What transitions you experienced as you made your way to Alaska and back…you’d think it was 500 miles to get that variety. From deep deep winter passes to almost winter looking beaches…as always great shots. Heck, I was smiling after the second shot!

    Think you need to take Monty on his own special day trip…