Hiking in the White Pass: Summit Creek Hill

My only big hike of our 4-day White Pass staycation – climbing Summit Creek Hill – started off as a short walk to photograph flowers, but the mountain kept calling my name 🙂

The Flower Valley

Just after 2:00 pm on Friday, I decided to go for a walk in a lush little valley directly west of the South Klondike Highway beside our camping spot. Almost hidden behind a low granite ridge, it’s barely visible from the road, but is quite unique compared to the rest of the White Pass. The skies looked like the weather could go sour at any time, but it was warm, perhaps 20°C/68°F, though when the sun peeked out every now and then it was very warm. I didn’t take Bella and Tucker because they make flower photography very difficult – and as it turned out, I couldn’t (or at least wouldn’t) have climbed the hill with them.

Hiking to Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
There’s lots of water in the little valley – ponds and slow-moving creeks – and the soil is quite thick so the vegetation, though low, is thick, with lots of variety.

Hiking to Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
I’ll do some research to identify them later, but initially I’m just going to post a few of the many flowers photos I shot. Most of these pink flowers in the area are white – I assume that some mineral in the soil makes some various shades of pink.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass

Starting up Summit Creek Hill

I’ve been looking at Summit Creek Hill for 26 years now, and decided to see how a route up it might start – even YukonHiking doesn’t list a summer route. The summit of Summit Creek Hill is 1,320 meters high (4,331 feet), and the spot I camped at is about 910 meters (2,986 feet), so it’s a good climb (see the 1:50,000 topo map). A ridge on the north side looked reasonable, and it was fairly easy to get through the willows, alders and various evergreens and up a rock slide to the area of mostly bare granite, which I’m a particularly big fan of. I wear Keen sport sandals on all but the most extreme of trails, and love them, for comfort and for their grip on pretty much any surface.

Hiking bare granite on Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
Incredible. What a place to be able to get to so easily. Deep mosses and heathers between the bare granite made extremely nice walking – it would have been great barefoot if not for the fact that the reindeer moss over much of it was really crunchy.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
One of my favourites alpine flowers is the Alpine Harebell (Campanula uniflora), and these two were particularly large for the species.

Alpine Harebell (Campanula uniflora) on Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
By 3:00 pm, I had a good view of the mouth of Summit Creek and the beach that we play on.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass

Higher on Summit Creek Hill

A few minutes later, though, route-finding got somewhat more difficult, with lots of cliffs and dead-end ledges. Does this look like a “hill” to you? It sure looked and felt like a mountain to me! 🙂

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
It was great seeing the White Pass & Yukon Route’s steam train excursion from up there. I need to ride it again some day soon, though 🙂

The White Pass & Yukon Route's steam train excursion from Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
Summit Creek has some great canyons visible from the hill. So much to hike, so little time…

One of the canyons of Summit Creek in the White Pass
The view to the head of Summit Lake, with a WP&YR train at the switching area there, right on the US/Canada border. The Sawtooth Range of mountains is beyond to the right.

Summit Lake in the White Pass
Looking down on my campsite.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
The higher you go, the more extreme the granite gets. But OMG the views!

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
By 3:30, this canyon was becoming a bit of a problem, but I really wanted to get to at least that snowslide.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
One of the dead-end ledges I mentioned before. You could maybe get across that with shoes that grip well, but the drop of 80 feet or so to the right made it inadvisable to try.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
No problem, I soon found a way around that roadblock.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
There were still plenty of flowers blooming even as I neared the snow, and any little patch of soil or even decaying vegetation had life of some sort on it.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
This is where I quit. I was probably only about 300 vertical feet from the summit, but a combination of time, lack of gear (I hadn’t even taken my Spot), and being mentally tired made turning back here seem like a good idea.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass

The Descent

Ah yes, back to the flowers and very easy hiking.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
This was the only patch of ferns I saw on the mountain – a brilliant green that practically glowed.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
Reindeer moss (Cladonia rangiferina), a.k.a. reindeer lichen, with some flowers I haven’t identified yet.

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass
What better way to end the hike than with a cool dip under the very warm sun?

Hiking Summit Creek Hill in the White Pass

The hike took me a total of 2:40 from start to finish, and I saw enough that I want to go back as soon as possible to see the summit, where there’s a series of small lakes/ponds among the granite. Next time, Spot and my Garmin Summit will be with me, as well as other gear!



Comments

Hiking in the White Pass: Summit Creek Hill — 4 Comments

  1. Pingback: Yukon RV Staycation: 4 Days in the White Pass

  2. Very enjoyable. Sometimes you should record your hikes and put them on a site like everytrail.com so other people could download them and take the same hike. You know that area better than probably 99.9% of people.

    • You’re assuming that I want other people to hike where I do. When there’s a vehicle at a trailhead that I had intended on hiking, I go elsewhere. 🙂

  3. Pingback: Hiking to Bryant Lake and Glacier - The ExploreNorth Blog