Out the Alaska Highway to Kluane Lake

With the beautiful light returning, I’m getting road fever, so on Monday I decided to take Bella and Tucker on a drive out towards Kluane Lake. My post on Facebook as I started out said, “I probably just need a bunch of fresh air and mountains to get better – headed west…” – I actually had no idea where I might get to.

As I left Mary Lake at 09:45, the skies were rather dreary, but the weather report said it was sunny out Kluane way. The first photo was shot on Fireweed Drive a couple of blocks from home, with the temperature at -11°C (+12°F).

Fireweed Drive, Mary Lake, Yukon
I wasn’t feeling particularly well, and had lots of rest stops planned. Our second one was at 11:15, at the Takhini Valley Rest Area, Km 1487 of the Alaska Highway. The Milepost incorrectly calls it the Takhini Burn Rest Area because it’s located in a large area burned by a wildfire in 1958. I took my car, so the kids were happy to be able to get out and stretch often – it’s not the most comfortable vehicle for them.

Takhini Valley Rest Area, Alaska Highway

Takhini Valley Rest Area, Alaska Highway

Marshall Creek is in the dip ahead, at Km 1560. It was great to see clear skies just ahead.

Marshall Creek at Km 1560, Alaska Highway
We made a long stop at the Kluane Range Rest Area at Km 1566, one of my regular stopping places.

Kluane Range Rest Area at Km 1566, Alaska Highway
The smoke at Haines Junction was awful. It seemed to be mostly from a fire at the garbage dump, with possibly some wood stoves adding to it. On a clear day this is one of my favourite views in the territory.

Approaching Haines Junction on the Alaska Highway
There’s what I needed – right at Km 1620, with blue skies and the peaks of Kluane. Ahhhh…. 🙂 Just west of Haines Junction I hit a strong south wind, and the temperature climbed quickly to -4°C (+25°F).

Km 1620 on the Alaska Highway
About to drop down to Christmas Creek, at Km 1629.6.

About to drop down to Christmas Creek, at Km 1629.6 on the Alaska Highway
I should buy the long-abandoned Kluane Lake Lodge as a summer base – the beach there is wonderful. But the last time I saw it for sale, in March 1993, they wanted $198,000 – maybe for 1/4 of that.

The long-abandoned Kluane Lake Lodge on the Alaska Highway
I decided to go as far as Sheep Mountain in the hope of seeing some Dall sheep.

Sheep Mountain, Alaska Highway
This is a closeup of the road surface at the spot in the photo above – that’s compressed snow and ice. It’s nice to have awd.

Compressed snow and ice on the Alaska Highway
Looking across Slim’s River Flats, a vast expanse of sand in the summer.

Looking across Slim's River Flats, a vast expanse of sand in the summer.
A coyote crossing the flats – I can’t imagine that hunting is any good out there. So far we had seen a small band of wild horses and a single elk. Tucker loves seeing wildlife!!

A coyote crossing Slim's River Flats, Yukon
Pressure ridges (caused by expanding ice) always fascinate me, and Kluane Lake builds some beauties.

Pressure ridges always fascinate me, and Kuuane Lake builds some beauties.
This was the furthest west I drove – there were no sheep. I did a U-turn here at Horseshoe Bay and started for home. I really wanted to walk down to have a close look at that pressure ridge, but I had no energy left.

Pressure ridge on Kluane Lake, Yukon
Back on November 21st, a large dog (a Caucasian Shepherd) named Tserber got lost along Kluane Lake, and his family is still looking for him, as he’s sighted occasionally but nobody can get near him. They have a Facebook page, and there are signs like this everywhere along the highway starting in Haines Junction. Heartbreaking… 🙁

Back on November 21st, a large dog (a Caucasian Shepherd) named Tserber got lost along Kluane Lake, and his family is still looking for hi
I took very few photos on the drive home, despite some wonderful light. I felt awful. I knew that Kluane would be too far but had to do it anyway.

Peaks along the Alaska Highway west of Haines Junction
Stopped for another rest at Km 1566, I could see that the sun had some warmth now, with snow melting off the back of the car. I tried to get some sleep here but Tucker needed to protect me from every vehicle going by so I soon gave up that idea. Tucker takes very good care of me.

Heading home in the lovely afternoon light at 4:16, right at the Km 1516 milepost.

Southbound at Km 1516, Alaska Highway

By the time I got home I was “done,” and went straight to bed. How far is too far now? I don’t really know, since I didn’t feel well right from the start. Cathy wants me to give up my plan to go back to Vancouver Island in mid-April, but I’m not willing to do that yet.


Out the Alaska Highway to Kluane Lake — 7 Comments

    • Thanks, Paul. The winter trips are quite an experience, aren’t they? Most of my really wild Alaska Highway stories are from winter trips – best told over a beer or 3 🙂

  1. Some spectacular shots… the long look winter views are stunning. Good idea on the Lodge. Would make a great RV camping area for a few vehicles too.
    Wild horses – any back story on that … you’d be able to share? I grew up with the same in the Sierras of CA, near Yosemite NP.
    Better that you keep doing the trips…that extra stress of winter driving (albeit w your AWD and snow tires and vast driving experience) adds up too. I know your fatigue is now different than prior to the fall.

    • Thanks, Brad. Nobody seems to know for sure where these horse came from – odd. The government rounded up a bunch and killed them at various times in recent years, claiming they had some disease. This little band, though, sees to be doing well. I think everyone who drives the highway regularly loves to see them.

      I just don’t what to do about the driving yet. I know I wouldn’t be able to handle traffic with my brain in this state. Somewhere out there is somebody with an answer…

  2. I’d still do the Vancouver trip but make sure you have a comms device and at least double how long you think it will take to get there. Most importantly listen to your body. TBIs definitely suck…

  3. Thank You for sharing your day out. I always enjoy your post, you are quite the educator. I hope you get stronger and fully regain your health. I hope they find Tserber. When ever I think I have it tough all I have to do is look at the Coyote you photographed in Winter Alaska trying to survive in the Wild and I remember how easy my life really is, GOD Bless him!

  4. There’s what I needed – right at Km 1620, with blue skies and the peaks of Kluane. Ahhhh…. 🙂
    I can so relate to that one – we have had a lousy January with next to no sun, so even though I know there will be some pain involved I just have to get out there to chase that next picture of a bald eagle in the light (-: