A bit of granite therapy – hiking in the White Pass

I had to go to Skagway on Thursday to pick up a couple of packages at the post office, and it was one of those days that developed on the fly. I thought about taking the motorcycle, then maybe my dog with no dogs, then finally invited Bella and Tucker and packed everything I’d need if I decided to go hiking in the White Pass with the dogs. We hit the road just after 10:30.

The new bridge that will carry the South Klondike Highway over the Nares River at Carcross was a very busy place, so I drove up what was once the access road to my cabin and took a few photos from there. I haven’t seen a completion date but the way it’s looking I’d guess sometime in August.

The new bridge that will carry the South Klondike Highway over the Nares River at Carcross

The new bridge that will carry the South Klondike Highway over the Nares River at Carcross

There was hardly a ripple on Windy Arm, so I stopped near the Bove Island viewpoint for a photo. This is a good example of why I never tire of this drive.

Bove Island, South Klondike Highway
There were 4 large cruise ships docked at Skagway, and it was a very busy place. I had to go to the post office 3 times, as it was closed despite a sign that said it was open.

A cruise ship dominates Broadway in Skagway, Alaska

After picking up my packages, I took the kids for a walk to meet people at the Railroad Dock. This is something that’s always fun for all concerned, but this day was a particularly good one. Tucker can be a bit reserved, but he was right into meeting people, and he got a lot of attention – often Bella gets most of it.

We headed north at about 2:00, still without a firm plan to go hiking. I pulled in to the parking area for the International Falls trail, thought about that for a couple of minutes, then went back a couple of hundred meters to the border. Instead of hiking west on a trail, we’d hike east, off-trail. Part of the reason was that I need Bella and Tucker to be leashed to hike the International Falls trail, because of the many cliffs – on the granite to the east they can be free the entire time. At 2:35, we started up.

Parked at Km 24 of the South Klondike Highway, the Canada/USA border
We’d be roughly following the physical border, and would see two of the border monuments. This one, ust installed a few years ago, is just a few meters above the highway.

Canada/USA border monument along the South Klondike Highway
I chose to climb up our usual route, a steep chute of low vegetation with some rocks. The next photo looks south and down to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign – it’s right behind the small bus.

The Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
This route was a good decision. Mosses and lichens cover much of the granite, and Bella and Tucker were having a ball 🙂

Hiking with dogs in the White Pass
A much higher view of the “Welcome to Alaska” sign.

The Welcome to Alaska sign on the South Klondike Highway
The International Falls trail goes up the right (north) side of that unnamed creek.

The International Falls trail on the South Klondike Highway
As soon as we were out of sight of the highway, I got comfortable – Nude Hiking Day is June 21st, but close enough 🙂 A few minutes later I staged this photo at a spot where I could set the camera up on a rock. I need to buy another tripod – after my last one died, the tripod I upgraded to is just a bit too large for hiking (it doesn’t fit in this daypack).

Hiking with dogs in the White Pass
There are plenty of ponds in the high granite, and the kids took full advantage of them.

Hiking with dogs in the White Pass
The view towards Skagway – the highway is in the centre.

Hiking in the White Pass - the view towards Skagway
The dogs love getting to play in snow in June!

Hiking across snow in the White Pass in June
There are lots of glacial erratics – rocks of all sizes left by melting/retreating glaciers – through the White Pass. This view is to the east.


The view to the north, with the highway and Summit Lake. The mountain on the left is Summit Creek Hill – it’s quite a “hill” 🙂

Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
The next photo shows my favorite pond up there – so square it almost looks man-made. The smaller of these ponds warm up enough for a dip after a lengthy sunny spell, but we’ve had little sun in the past few weeks.

A pond in the White Pass granite
Some of the bowls that gather a lot of snow over the winter still have plenty of it.

A pond in the White Pass granite
Bella knows that it’s good to stop and smell the flowers occasionally – I try to be like Bella 🙂

Bella knows that it's good to stop and smell the flowers occasionally
Starting back to the car, we returned to border monument #118, seen in the centre of the next photo, looking north again.

Canada/USA border monument #118 in the White Pass
This was the first time I’d seen the new loop at the White Pass summit being used by a train. It was a huge project but sure makes the railway’s Summit Excursions more efficient.

The new loop at White Pass summit for WP&YR trains
Stormy clouds over and among the spectacular peaks to the southeast provided some good photo ops.

Stormy clouds over and among the spectacular peaks of the White Pass
Rather reluctant to leave this wonderful place, I spent some time photographing a few of the little plants that manage to survive through the extremely long winters.


I sure love being able to put a smile like that on my little girl’s face, and the White Pass always accomplishes that. 🙂

My dog Bella in the White Pass
A final dip before dropping back down to the car and starting for home.

My dogs Tucker and Bella in the White Pass
I’ll again end with a map of our route as recorded by my Garmin inReach. It wasn’t a long hike, but it was a very good one. In an hour and 40 minutes, we hiked 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles). We began at an elevation of 3,289 feet, and the highest point we reached was 3,614 feet.

Map of a hike in the White Pass



Comments

A bit of granite therapy – hiking in the White Pass — 6 Comments

  1. Hello Murray, THANK YOU for your wonderful pictures and exciting report. It’s a breathtaking area. I will come in September! I’m looking forward … ! Greetings and THANKS! Heidi

  2. Wow, the colours are amazing and it so SO crystal clear there. A bit jealous about that as we inevitably always have a bit of a haze here

  3. Nice to see what we missed seeing on our trip! I don’t think we’ll get another chance to visit Skagway, unless we fly; too far to drive from Manitoba;

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