There used to be a little gem of a lake on the outskirts of Whitehorse. Easily accessible, Ear Lake had been a popular destination for almost 100 years – even poet Robert Service used to go there, and in a 1905 poem about the future of Whitehorse, he envisioned it as a park.
The first 4 photos below were shot in 1990 – you can see part of the reason it was so popular. Another major reason was that the lake was very shallow and so it was by far the best swimming lake in the region.
When I first arrived in Whitehorse, Ear Lake was known as Whitehorse’ nude beach. In practice, the part of the lake closest to the road access was for folks who wanted to stay clothed to some degree, the far end was for those who didn’t like tan lines.
The gravel pit close to the lake was a minor nuisance during the week because of noise and occasional dust when the wind was blowing from the north, but it did nothing to curb people’s love of the place.
Now fast-forward 20 years. The road around the lake still offers a beautiful, peaceful scene.
Yesterday, I came around a corner in my car and met this bald eagle. Shooting into the sun through my windshield had no chance of producing a great photo of the brief event (about a minute), but it was a memorable meeting anyway.
Ear Lake itself, however, is a very different place than it was 20 years ago. The next 2 photos below show the lake from the hill far above the road, shot 2 days ago when I hiked in from the Schwatka Lake (Yukon River) side. Although there’s more water than there was 10 years ago, virtually nobody visits the lake anymore.
What happened to Ear Lake? Well, nobody knows for sure, but about 15 years ago just after a major expansion of the gravel pit, the gravel extraction seemed to have somehow “pulled the plug” on the lake. That accusation was of course denied, and maybe it was just a coincidence, but that was the way the timing of the draining of the lake appeared.
This close look at the beach shows why nobody comes to once-beautiful Ear Lake anymore. Perhaps okay as a place to walk your dog, but not much else. *sigh*