A day of mountains – a late-winter drive to Skagway

I had planned a quick trip to Skagway to pick up some stuff at the post office yesterday. It turned out to be a stunningly beautiful day, though, and photography became the primary activity during a much longer day. I rather reluctantly took Cathy’s Jeep so the dogs would be more comfortable – they may be a bit spoiled 🙂

We left home half an hour after the 07:05 sunrise, with the temperature at -10°C (+14°F). This photo was shot at Km 128 of the South Klondike Highway, just north of the Lewes Lake Road.

Morning light on the peaks along the South Klondike Highway
I made a loop through Carcross to see what’s new (the new fire hall is beautiful!). This is the view up Lake Bennett from the viewing deck.

The view from Carcross up frozen Lake Bennett
The classic view of Carcross from the highway bridge was so perfect that I had to stop and walk back to get a few photos.

The classic view of Carcross from the highway bridge
A setting of f22 got both the sign and background in focus, and turning 3 photos into an HDR image dealt with harsh shadows.

The South Klondike Highway at Tutshi Lake, BC
In the area where I see lynx most often, around the huge pullout along Tutshi Lake, a lynx ran across the road a couple of hundred meters/yards in front of me. Curious as most cats are, she didn’t go far, but I never got a clear view of her.

Lynx along the South Klondike Highway
Yes, the Jeep is a pretty comfortable ride for the kids. We got this cargo liner cover a few weeks ago, and are extremely pleased with the quality and with how well it does the job. A good investment of $50US.

Jeep Cherokee cargo liner cover
I of course have spots along the highway that I shoot regularly, and this is one of them, just north of the Yukon Suspension Bridge.

The South Klondike Highway just north of the Yukon Suspension Bridge
This mountain at Log Cabin has no official name. Although it’s often called Log Cabin Mountain or Shallow Peak now, it was named Mount Halcyon during the Klondike Gold Rush, so that’s what I use.

Mount Halcyon, BC
I was surprised to see the White Pass & Yukon Route railway line plowed. The first cruise ship this year, the Nieuw Amsterdam, arrives on May 2nd. I’m really glad to see the April arrivals gone – that’s just too early to be bringing people up.

White Pass & Yukon Route railway line
Another of my favourite spots along the highway.

Late winter on the South Klondike Highway, BC
Fraser was a busy place on the WP&YR, with a locomotive, a Cat and a backhoe working to clear the large yard where trains and buses meet.

Action on the WP&YR railway (clearing snow) at Fraser, BC
A closer look.

Action on the WP&YR railway (clearing snow) at Fraser, BC
There were quite a few skiers heading into the White Pass backcountry. To bring them and their pooch out of the deep shadows, I created this HDR from 3 photos.

Skiers heading into the White Pass backcountry
The light through the White Pass was superb, though I shot a few HDR images to deal with shadows.

Late winter in the White Pass, BC
After hundreds of times making this drive, it still thrills me on days like this.

Late winter in the White Pass, BC
Nearing the White Pass summit.

This may be the last year for the William Moore Bridge – I think construction starts on the new one soon.

William Moore Bridge, Alaska
I really like Skagway’s new welcome sign.

Welcome to Skagway, Alaska
A quick stop at the post office (first building on the right) and then I decided that it was far too nice to leave. Breakfast at the Sweet Tooth Cafe would be a good diversionary tactic. I got a sunny window where I could keep an eye on Bella and Tucker and they could keep an eye on me, and the food and service was really good as always.

Broadway in Skagway, Alaska
Looking down Taiya Inlet from the Broadway Dock. The wind had a bite to it, but the sun was very warm. At 09:00 Alaska time, the thermometer said that it was +4C/39F.

Looking down Taiya Inlet from the Broadway Dock in Skagway, Alaska
Bus training was being done, with a pylon course set up at the ferry terminal, and a few buses cruising around town doing practise tours.

Bus training in Skagway, Alaska
On a side street off Broadway, a tiny “House of Negotiable Affection”, a prostitute’s “crib”. It gets little attention among all the jewellery stores and other shops vying for attention.

House of Negotiable Affection in Skagway, Alaska
Not done with the warm sun yet, I drove over to Skagway’s unmarked “middle” cemetery to get a few more photos for my Cemeteries and Graves project. This is the path up to the cemetery, which was used between 1909 and about 1970.

Path to one of the cemeteries at Skagway, Alaska
Looking over the grave markers, I couldn’t figure out a reason that this small part of the cemetery was chained off like this.

One of the cemeteries at Skagway, Alaska
Baby girl Bond, born and died in 1930 🙁

Baby girl's grave in one of the cemeteries at Skagway, Alaska
Just before 1:00 Yukon time, I started for home. There were a few RVs in the White Pass.

Truck and camper in the White Pass in the winter
Northbound at Km 52.9, another of my common shooting locations.

Northbound at Km 52.9 of the South Klondike Highway, BC
Along Tutshi Lake at about Km 62.

Along Tutshi Lake on the South Klondike Highway, BC
Another stop at Tutshi Lake was definitely called for, and the kids had a ball.

Murray Lundberg and his dogs on frozen Tutshi Lake, BC

Dogs playing on frozen Tutshi Lake, BC
The south-facing slopes of Dail Peak are getting pretty bare.

The south-facing slopes of Dail Peak are getting pretty bare.
Just a couple of weeks ago, ice climbers were having fun on these frozen waterfalls. For Highways crews working to keep ice off the highway, they haven’t been nearly as much fun!

Frozen waterfalls on the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
I made a few more stops to gather more photos for my Campgrounds & Rest Areas project, but by about 3:00 we were home.

It had been an amazing day, and I was inspired to create this poster from a photo I shot looking across Summit Lake. You can see a larger sharable version by clicking on it.

The dogs and I went for a nap, and when I had to get up just over an hour later, they stayed in bed with their cat.

Just after 6pm, I was downtown at a book launch which I’d be asked to be one of the 2 opening speakers at. The Baked Cafe was standing-room-only packed for the event. This was a project that I’m really pleased to have been able to help with, and I’ll tell you more about that in the next week or so.

Book launch for Beyond Mile Zero


A day of mountains – a late-winter drive to Skagway — 9 Comments

  1. What a beautiful day for a car ride with the kids. One picture brought back one of my own memories of last year’s trip. Incredible to see the cemetery path with no snow whatsoever; you witnessed winter and summer in one day !

    • One of things that I love about that drive is driving into a different season. It’s especially wonderful when the sap starts running and the leaves start budding – the smell is so wonderful after a long winter!

  2. Beautiful pictures, thank you so much for sharing the beauty of the magnificent “North”

  3. Your photos are gorgeous & they make me so anxious to get on the road & head up there! We’re planning a trip the end of May, if all goes well!

  4. The photo with the caption, “another of my favorite spots along the highway…” is that the RR plowed out a lakes edge or part of the old highway (mysteriously plowed)… curious, reminds me of other AK highway areas where the new highway has been moved substantially away from a lake area.

    Note: had been watching a “Gold Rush” TV program offshoot recently and recognize the Carcross Bridge area from their travels, was hoping to see something familiar.

    • Yes, that’s the railway that’s plowed. We just watched Parker’s Klondike “adventure” the past couple of nights. I didn’t like him much before – now I just think he’s an idiot. Stealing railway equipment, hunting within the city limits of Whitehorse, and pushing on into extremely dangerous conditions. He’s totally wrong about what the people did 120 years ago – the survivors built a cabin and stayed the winter when they reached those conditions. Anyway….

  5. The show was quite a disappointment – you are dead right on the ‘actors’ and their obnoxiousness and attitudes.

    What I wanted to see was boots on the ground from Dyea, in the woods, on the trail, etc…some of the video shot was impressive enough for me to enjoy that part anyway. Much of the planning (or lack therof, even w the safety crew just nearby) spoke of extreme hubris and dangerous carelessness.