Mountain Light – a Picture-Perfect Day on the Skagway Road

It seems that every time I go on a trip, I get a bit photo-manic when I get home, and yesterday was one of those days, with wonderful varied light for a drive to Skagway 🙂

I flew out of Kelowna on the 7:00pm flight on Tuesday, had dinner at the Vancouver airport during a 2-hour layover, and was back at my car at the Whitehorse airport at Zero Dark Forty-Five. Over a foot of snow had fallen in the week I was away, and that had settled to about 7-8 inches now.

My snowy car at YXY airport
Souvenirs from the trip. I didn’t have much free time so, unlike our last trip, one winery, Volcanic Hills, got all my business. The case cost me $20 as extra baggage on the 2 flights back to Whitehorse – not a bad deal. The jars are the final stock of Mom’s wonderful grape jelly, made from grapes grown in their back yard.

Souvenirs from BC's Okanagan Valley - wine and grape jelly

The weather forecast yesterday called for a bit of sun in Whitehorse, and rain showers and snow flurries possible in Skagway. Not a great day, but I had some light fixtures to pick up in Skagway so I can get back at our kitchen renovation (under-cabinet lighting and backsplash tiles being the next step).

I got away from the house about 20 minutes before the 09:36 sunrise, with the temperature sitting at -17°C (+1°F). I was behind this snowplow for a few minutes on the winding section of the South Klondike Highway just south of the Alaska Highway.

Snow plow on the South Klondike Highway
Only a couple of minutes after shooting the photo above, the sky had lit up with wonderful colours.

Winter sunrise on the South Klondike Highway
In the mountains, having a day with both sun and cloud is when I prefer shooting – I love the contrasts available.

Winter sunrise on the South Klondike Highway
Peaks along Windy Arm, at 10:01.

Snowy peaks along Windy Arm, Yukon
I found myself making a lot of stops 🙂

Snowy peaks along the South Klondike Highway, Yukon
About 4 inches of snow had fallen at Tutshi Lake overnight. The plows hadn’t gotten to the parking lot yet, but I went in to give the dogs a run.

Tutshi Lake, BC
The light at Km 48.6, just north of the suspension bridge, was wonderful, and I took a few shots there. This was the view back to the north.

Snowy peaks along the South Klondike Highway, BC
And the next two photos are looking to the east from that spot.

Snowy peaks along the South Klondike Highway, BC

Snowy peaks along the South Klondike Highway, BC
South of Fraser at 10:56, I could see that the pass ahead was blanketed in thick cloud.

The White Pass in the winter
I got stopped for a few minutes just past the summit by Alaska Highways crews who were knocking down some of the cornices that were threatening to drop onto the road. We’re getting much more wind than normal this winter, so cornices are much more of a problem both on the highway and for backcountry recreation (snowmobiling, skiing and snowshoeing).

Traffic blocked on the South Klondike Highway
These are the sort of fleeting views I really enjoy – drama that only lasts for a few seconds and then closes in.

Cloudy peaks near Skagway, Alaska

Cloudy peaks near Skagway, Alaska
I didn’t spend any time in Skagway this time. I just picked up my stuff, then went down to the Small Boat Harbor to see how that project is coming along. There’s a whole lot of rock being moved now, from a quarry just north of town.

Small Boat Harbor - Skagway, Alaska
For a long time I couldn’t figure out what was going on at the Railway Dock, but I see now that they’re driving some new pilings.

Railway Dock - Skagway, Alaska
By 12:46pm I was already north of Fraser, headed home.

Snowy mountains along the South Klondike Highway
Some particularly dramatic light stopped me a couple of times along Tutshi Lake.

Snowy mountains along the South Klondike Highway

Snowy mountains at Tutshi Lake, BC
A large patch of sunshine prompted me to stop above Tutshi Lake with the idea of getting some dog portraits, but I couldn’t convince them to get up on the berm for me. Some things work better with two people – one with a camera, the other with dog cookies 🙂

Tutshi Lake
Kayla did stick her head out far enough for me to get this portrait, though. She’s 13 years old now, and every day she’s with us is such a bonus.

Kayla at 13 years old
The view down Tutshi Lake from that spot. That’s pristine wilderness ahead – there’s no access except by boat, and very, very few people ever go there.

Tutshi Lake, BC
Looking south from the pass between Tutshi Lake and Windy Arm

Looking south from the pass between Tutshi Lake and Windy Arm
A couple of the mountains above Windy Arm.

Snowy mountains above Windy Arm, Yukon

Snowy mountains above Windy Arm, Yukon
I just missed seeing an avalanche being brought down by a bomb dropped by helicopter. The conditions would have been perfect! I was stopped for a few minutes – those vehicles were the first ones through after the avalanche came down.

Fresh avalanche on the South Klondike Highway
My turn…

Fresh avalanche on the South Klondike Highway
Those peaks right above the highway are mostly rather unstable sedimentary rock, so nobody climbs them.

One final shot of Carcross from the highway bridge.

Carcross, Yukon in the winter

I was home by 2:45. Still not recovered from the stress of last week, I went to bed for a couple of hours. I actually almost stopped for a nap in the sunshine at Tutshi Lake. Now, Friday morning, it’s back to clearing snow 🙂


Mountain Light – a Picture-Perfect Day on the Skagway Road — 11 Comments

  1. Once again, beautiful pictures! I’m a bit embarassed to tell you this, but about two days ago it dipped down to about 56 F in West Palm Beach, and Joe and I started a fire in the fireplace to keep warm 🙂

  2. Marvellous capture of the dramatic light on the mountains. Just to mention a few, I love the unclimbable sedimentary rock peaks and the dawn light hitting the eastern side of the ridge. Love Kayla’s portrait – you want a dog like that to live forever. Best wishes for your father’s on-going recovery; healing is not “instant”, unfortunately, at such a respected age, so I guess it will be a while before he has another Casino outing!
    Best Regards,
    Marie G.

  3. Murray, your pictures never cease to amaze me and the one of Kayla is really nice, hard to believe she is 13…..great road companion I’m sure. Thanks as always for sharing.

  4. Once again…..That was so enjoyable… There are so many beautiful pictures there that I could never, ever pick a favorite. I know what you mean about your dog…our little dog died last April and I still miss her.

  5. Loved these pictures. Thanks for sharing your beautiful countryside. You can be sure I’ll be stopping by again.

  6. It’s great to see this place is finally getting the attention it deserves! Keep up the terrific work.