A laid-back solar eclipse long weekend at Kluane Lake

When we went looking for a place to camp for the Discovery Day long weekend, Kluane Lake was the only place that had sun forecast. As it turned out, we had little sun and lots of cold screaming wind. But it was a great weekend anyway – we had nice campfires each evening, hiked the Spruce Beetle Trail for the first time, and got clear skies for the solar eclipse.

We drove out to Congdon Creek Campground on Kluane Lake on Friday night. We set up in site #24, up in the forest. We generally move down to a beach site, but because of the winds, stayed there for the weekend. Sunrise on Saturday was lovely, but clouds soon moved in.

Sunrise at Congdon Creek Campground on Kluane Lake
The first thing that I wanted to see at the campground was the newly-built electrified enclosure for tents. Because of grizzlies, tenting has been prohibited at Congdon Creek for several years, and the enclosure was built as a test project. It’s located at the east side of the campground, in a section of the campground that was closed permanently a dozen or so years ago.

Electrified enclosure for tents at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
The electrified fence is powered by solar panels that are well hidden behind a grove of trees.

Electrified enclosure for tents at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
There are 8 tent sites, each with its own parking spot. Outside the enclosure are bear-proof lockers, as well as a couple of picnic tables and firepits.

Electrified enclosure for tents at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon
When picking a tent site, there is a variety of natural areas and raised platforms to choose from. Each tenter is asked to fill out a survey. I hope that the results will be made public – I’d like to see if campers are as impressed as I am.

Electrified enclosure for tents at Congdon Creek Campground, Yukon

We took the dogs out onto the beach for a walk on Saturday morning, but the wind was so awful that we stayed in the forest for our many other walks. Up in the forest, you’d hardly know that it was windy except for the sound – it didn’t affect our campfires at all.

On Sunday, Cathy had a craving for a soft ice cream cone, so we drove to Haines Junction (87 km east) for that treat.

On the way back to the campground, we stopped to walk the Spruce Beetle Trail at Km 1596 of the Alaska Highway. It’s always intrigued me, but neither of us had ever walked it – whenever we go by, we’ve always been on a mission to get somewhere.

Spruce Beetle Trail, Yukon
The Spruce Beetle Trail is in an area that was particularly hard hit by the infestation of spruce bark beetles than began in 1992. Interpretation is excellent.

Spruce Beetle Trail, Yukon
The trail is about 1½ km long, and we spent 40 minutes on it. There are fairly minor grades up and down, but lots of tree roots to navigate over.

Spruce Beetle Trail, Yukon
This appears to be a man-made modification, many years ago, just for fun, I expect. I found it to be quite amusing.

Spruce Beetle Trail, Yukon
Most of the trail is in the forest, but there are two viewpoints, the one shown in the next photo, and another much broader view across the valley to the mountains. It was a very good stop, well worth seeing.

Spruce Beetle Trail, Yukon
The big event Monday was the solar eclipse. At Kluane Lake, the sun would be 48% covered by the moon. We drove a couple of kilometers to a large pulloff. I had planed to go to Sheep Mountain where Parks Canada was doing something eclipse-related, but we could see that clouds covered the sky there.

Pulloff on the Alaska Highway along Kluane Lake
I had brought my welding helmet for viewing the eclipse. It’s far from optical-quality glass, but I got this photo of the peak coverage through it. It would be pretty cool to see a total eclipse.

Solar eclipse in the Yukon - 48% coverage
After seeing the peak, we continued on to Sheep Mountain, where the sky had cleared a bit and a few people were still watching. Cathy borrowed viewing glasses from a woman who got hers from an astronomy club she belongs to.

The Dall sheep are starting to come lower on Sheep Mountain now, but it will be a few weeks before they’ll be seen on the highway. In the next photo, there are small groups to the left and right of the centre.

We were in no hurry to leave on Monday, and stayed until late afternoon. Congdon Creek remains our favourite campground in the territory.

It’s now 06:25 on Wednesday, August 23rd. I have the motorhome ready to go again, and in a couple of hours, the dogs and cat and I are heading down the Alaska Highway into BC, to Muncho Lake and then Summit Lake. The forecast is for mostly sun once we get past the Yukon’s clouds and showers, and there are a lot of hiking trails and routes to explore. I’ll have neither Internet nor cell access, so the next post will be in about a week when I get back home.


A laid-back solar eclipse long weekend at Kluane Lake — 2 Comments

  1. After 50+ years of beekeeping I’ve had a few bear issues, all black bears. Typically you need to bait the electric fence to get them to bite the wire. Tuna cans and bacon work well. However, even with baiting, there is a tendency for them to just walk through the fence.

  2. We know some tent campers in the Sierra’s of CA and other parts west who have taken to bringing a portable powered fence… too many habituated camp bears – no idea if it works but it sure seems to provide them some peace of mind. But griz…oh boy, that better give them a serious buzz to the nose.

    I guess cattle and sheep ranchers would know best if electrified fences keep out the bears.

    There must be some solid evidence or they wouldn’t have open the area up to tent camping again…too much liability.